TPW Commission

Work Session, August 23, 2023


TPW Commission Meetings


August 23, 2023






CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good morning, everyone. Before we begin, we'll take Commissioner roll call. Aplin present.







CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you. We obviously have a quorum. We're missing Commissioner Foster and Commissioner Bell who will not be able to attend today.

I want to thank everybody for coming for the August 23rd, 2023, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Work Session, Wednesday Work Session. Before I -- we're going to get started at 9:07 a.m.

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


DR. YOSKOWITZ: Yes, Chairman.

Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agendas have 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.

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

Before we proceed, I'd like to announce that Work Session Item No. 17, Grant of a Utility Easement, El Paso County, Approximately 3 Acres at the Franklin Mountains State Park has been withdrawn. So we will not be talking about that today.

The first order of business is approval of minutes from the previous Work Session held May 24, 2023, which have been distributed. I would accept a motion and a second from Commissioners.




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

(Chorus of ayes)

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

We'll roll right into Work Session Item No. 1, which is the Update of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Progress in Implementing the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Land and Water Conservation and Recreational Plan. David.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Thank you, Chairman.

Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, my name is David Yoskowitz, Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I would like to provide you an update germane to the Land and Water related plan and functions inside the Agency. As is customary, I will start off with an Internal Affairs update.

The Department's Office of Internal Affairs staff members Major Mike Durand and Assistant Commander Jarret Barker provided a presentation to the game warden/state park police cadets regarding the Department's complaint process, various types of complaints received by Internal Affairs, internal investigation case law, and who their Internal Affairs teams consist of. Major Mike Durand and Assistant Commander Barker attended the Game Warden Academy and state park police officer graduation ceremony, which was held at the Texas State Capitol.

We would like to, again, congratulate the newest of our commissioned peace officers and look forward to watching them succeed and serving Texas and the Department in the years to come.

We'd also like to recognize and congratulate Internal Affairs Staff Services Officer Mrs. Patty Vela on her upcoming retirement at the end of this month. For the last 34 years, Patty has been a valued coworker and friend to the Department and we wish her luck in the next phase of her life.

Next I'd like to brief the Commission on a couple of major staffing changes with the retirement of Clayton Wolf as Chief Operating Officer and at the end of the month, retiring from the Department. We assessed the overall needs of the Agency relationship both internal to the operations of the Department and also to our external stakeholders and what we found is that the Chief Operating Officer was carrying a lot of the load for both and it was in the best interest of the Department and the Agency to begin to divide those responsibilities.

So the Chief Operating Officer going forward will be primarily focused on internal operations, but also having significant -- still significant external functions. And then Chief of Staff will be focused primarily on external relationships with our stakeholders. Craig Bonds was selected as Chief Operating Officer and our Chief of Staff is Allison Winney and they began their roles on July 1st.

You are likely to know Craig in the past. He was our Inland Fisheries Division Director and has served in that position for over eight years. Craig holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University and a master's degree in fisheries management from Virginia Tech. He's a graduate of the Governor's Executive development Program, National Conservation Leadership Institute, and the Department's former Natural Leaders Program.

Allison has been with the Department for almost five years as our Senior Government Relation Specialist and liaison -- very important position -- to the Sunset Commission. In her role as the Sunset liaison, she led the compilation of almost a 500-page report for Sunset review and successfully ensured the passage of that bill in the previous Legislature. Served in also in the office of the Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and served as a Chief of Staff in the Texas House of Representative. Allison is a native of San Antonio and holds a Bachelor's Degree in political science from Baylor University and master's of science degree in information systems and security and an MBA in management from Our Lady of the Lake University.

Thank you to Allison and Craig for taking on these responsibilities. Very much appreciate that.

I also want to extend my gratitude to Clayton. He has been rock solid for the Department for 30 years. And in the short time that we've worked together, I can't express enough the grace that he has given me and shown me in my transition to the Department as Executive Director, the advice that he's given me, calling me out when it was needed, and I really appreciate that over the last several months. And he has, in fact, over the last two months, he decided that best to step back as Deputy COO and help in the transition with Craig and Allison.

So thank you a lot for that. Very much appreciate that, Clayton.

With these changes that are happening and with Craig moving on to the position of Chief Operating Officer and with a significant retirement of Mitch Lockwood, we've had a few significant changes in leadership within the divisions that I need to make you aware of.

The first is the vacancy of the Director for Inland Fisheries and Craig and his team are working on filling that as soon as possible and we expect that to be filled by late October or early November. In the meantime, the Deputy Director Tim Birdsong has stepped into that position as acting Division Director. With the retirement of Mitch Lockwood as the Big Game Program Director, Alan Cain -- who you'll hear from later this morning -- has stepped into that position and accepted that position as the Big Game Program Director. Alan has held multiple positions within the Wildlife Division, including the position of White-tailed Deer Program Leader, in which he had led for the past 13 years. Commission will interact with both of these individuals over the next several years.

Some great news that we found out recently with the recognition for our State Parks and the great work that they continue to do. Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards Program honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development, and agency recognition. Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of who they serve through the collective energies of community staff and elected officials. Texas State Park is one of the four finalists this year across the nation and they will be finding out in October of this year in Dallas at the National Recreation Parks Conf -- Association Conference if they are the finalist and they are the winner. So it's a great honor just to be selected in those four. So congratulations to the team in the State Parks Division.

Continuing on with some awards and recognitions. Jeff Raasch, a Conservation Partnership and Joint Venture Program Leader in the Wildlife Division, was recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region with the External Partnership of the Year Award. The award recognizes external partners who have made significant contributions accomplishing the goals of the Fish and Wildlife Service mission in the Southwest Region. And, in fact, just a few weeks ago, Jeff was recognized with our Employee Recognitions Award for similar partnerships that he's developed over the course of his career in supporting the Department's mission.

Texas Wildlife Association recently presented Mr. Austin Stolte with the Volunteer of the Year Award. To highlight the importance of volunteers each year, TWA recognizes members that have gone above and beyond in their service to the organization with this award. Austin has served as the Texas Youth Hunting Program Lead Hunt Master since 2012 and led 22 hunts on eight different ranches during that time. Recently he teamed up with other Department staff to host a TYHP fishing trip on the Devils River. Congratulations to Austin.

And then Region 4 Wildlife Diversity Biologist Mr. Trey Barron was awarded the Outstanding Wildlife Conservation of the Year by the Victoria County Soil and Water Conservation -- Trey -- District. Trey is the Diversity Biologist for South Texas and the Coast and was recognized through this award for his skill in working with private landowners to incorporate wildlife habitat management into their agricultural business models. Trey helped to administer the Landowner Incentive Program to multiple landowners within Victoria County to remove brush and restore native prairies.

Congratulations, Trey.

And we have some exciting news that the Commission knows about, but is worth once again noting, and that is the acquisition of Honey reek -- Honey Creek Ranch that adds 515 acres to the Honey Creek State Natural Area. It was a collaborative effort between the Department, the Nature Conservancy of Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and importantly the landowners Ronnie and Terry Urbanczyk. This acquisition will safeguard water resources and provide enhanced opportunities for recreation and relaxation in this addition to the state natural area. The 515 acres are now acquired through the Urbanczyk's help in completing this mosaic through this region. As you can see in the slide, that dark region adds this opportunity to expand conservation easements in this important watershed.

The 25-million-dollar purchase was made possible by federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, state appropriations for land acquisitions, and private donations. We'd like to thank our additional partners helping preserve this land, water, and wildlife for all Texans, including Horizon Foundation, Karen Hixon, Knobloch Family Foundation, Mays Foundation, Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation, Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, the Meadows Foundation, and Amy Shelton McNutt Charitable Trust.

Just a quick update on Bastrop State Park dam repair. This was a significant event that happened in May 2015. As I understand it, it happened actually during a Commission meeting. The dam embankment was breached after significant rainfall and flooding. The dam repair project sought to rebuild the dam and implement improvements to strengthen it against potential issues of a similar sort in the future and bringing it up to standards to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality dam safety rules. Construction started on the repair of the dam or replacement of the dam in January of 2021. This dam, when completed, has reestablished the lake to the same acreage as it was before, approximately 12 acres, and the cost of the overall project was approximately 10 million, with final completion just this past May.

We had the opportunity a handful of weeks ago for the Department to dedicate the newest addition to the game warden fleet of a 33-foot Metal Shark Relentless to a fallen, but not forgotten, Game Warden Sergeant Chris Wilson. Sergeant Wilson served the people of Texas as a game warden from 2004 to 2021. During his tenure with the Department, Sergeant Wilson worked 12 years in the field patrolling lakes, rivers, bays, and ranch land prior to promoting to Sergeant Investigator assigned to the Special Investigations Unit.

The patrol vessel Chris Wilson, as inshore and offshore vessel, will help Texas game wardens continue their efforts towards conservation law enforcement, public safely -- safety border security and port security.

And traditionally the portion of this meeting is typically dedicated to sharing updates on the progress the Department is making towards achieving its strategies and objectives within the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, referred to as the Land and Water Plan. But for this meeting today, we will use the bulk of this time on the agenda to profile ongoing efforts to update the Land and Water Plan that is looking forward into the next ten years.

As you are aware, the Department's recent review by the Sunset Commission led to changes in the statutory requirements for the Department's Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, refining its scope and shifting our mindset as it is to the role in relationship to our Natural Agenda, which is our strategy document.

The Land and Water Plan is expected to summarize the status of trends of Texas, natural and cultural resources, and identify specific strategies and actions to be undertaken by the Department to achieve its visions and goals. To guide the revision of our Land and Water Plan, Chairman Aplin appointed Commissioners Rowling, Abell, and Patton to serve on the depart -- Department's Commission subcommittee for conservation and recreation planning.

And at this time, I'll turn it over to Commissioner Rowling who chairs the subcommittee.


The Land and Water Plan serves to guide and evaluate the effectiveness of Texas Parks and Wildlife in conserving the natural and culture resources of Texas and is now scheduled to be updated every ten years. The roles of our subcommittee have been to provide guidance, direction, oversight of the planning process and steps being taken by the Department to update the Land and Water Plan, as well as guide Texas Parks and Wildlife programs in identifying future conservation/recreation needs for the state. In looking ahead the next ten years, the subcommittee will monitor, review, and assess the performance of the Agency in fulfilling the goals and objectives outlined in the Land and Water Plan.

To launch this Land and Water Plan update, we assembled a writing team that includes representatives from all Texas Parks and Wildlife divisions. The writing team is coordinated by Tim Birdsong, Deputy Director of the Inland Fisheries Division. I've asked Tim to provide an overview of the process being taken to update the Land and Water Plan.

Go ahead, Tim.

MR. BIRDSONG: Thank you, Commissioner Rowling.

Chairman, Commissioners, my name's Tim Birdsong. I'm Deputy Director for the -- for the Inland Fisheries Division and I'm here to update you on progress in revising our Land and Water Plan.

So the Land and Water Plan has a ten-year planning horizon that identifies specific objective strategies and measurable actions and it serves as a tool to guide and evaluate effectiveness and performance of the Department in fulfilling our mission. And progress in implementing this plan is evaluated every five years, although many of those measurable actions contained in the plan tracked and reported on by our divisions and programs annually.

And as was noted by Commissioner Rowling, the subcommittee for conservation/recreation planning was tasked with guiding this revision process. They're also tasked with coordinating with the Department to identify broader outdoor recreation and conservation needs for the state and then once the plan is assemble, they'll monitor and evaluate progress of the Department in implementing the plan.

So here are the members of the writing team that were appointed by the Executive Director and these writing team members were expected to offer broad representation of their respective divisions into this planning process. Also key to the planning process were our 14 advisory committees. These are Commission appointed advisory committees and Commission appointed members, up to 24 members on each committee with balanced representation of stakeholders on each of those schematic areas. And at this Commission Meeting, you're considering adding a 15th advisory committee that would focus on boating and waterways.

But over the last year, we've taken steps to review the 2015 version of the plan and identify any new programmatic strategies that are being implemented or were added by the Department since that last plan was produced. For example, the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program was still embedded within the General Land Office when the last plan was developed and so there was no mention of our investments and conservation easements and efforts to protect working lands from development.

So programs such as that were added as strategies, programmatic strategies, in the draft plan. That draft plan was then shared with our advisory committees and with the public and a series of questionnaires were disseminated where we invited public review and input. The stakeholder input that was provided was then reviewed with the subcommittee at a workshop held in May and the subcommittee members provided direction and guidance to the Department on specific edits and additions that needed to be made to the plan and our writing team worked throughout the summer to add in those specific strategies and actions and to plan for specific projections or deliverables that would -- that could be met over the course of ten-year life of this plan.

So we're sharing a draft plan with you today. It's included your Commission book. A media release was also distributed this morning inviting public review of the draft plan and we'll be inviting public input on the plan through the month of September. We're also requesting your review and recommended edits and additions to the plan throughout the month of September. So we'll take public input that's provided and desired edits that you identify and make changes to the plan during the month of October and then present hopefully a final version of the plan for your approval at your November meeting.

The scope of stakeholder input that we received centered on rating the importance of those specific programmatic strategies that were identified in the plan. So 176 unique strategies, programmatic strategies, were identified that relate back to the various programs and initiatives being implement by The Department. So the importance was evaluated. We also asked respondents to rate the performance of the Department in delivering those initiatives. We also asked respondents to prioritize, among the strategies, to identify the most important things that we should be investing in as a Department and we also invited input on additional recommended strategies that should be incorporated.

So we had 372 survey responses. 116 of those were from advisory committee members. That's about a 42 percent response rate, 43 percent. We had 269 committee members, which is a strong level of response for any survey such as this.

We also asked respondents their affiliations with outdoor recreation and conservation organizations. Of the 372 respondents, they identified 160 different outdoor recreation and conservation organizations and this is pretty representative of the organizations that on our advisory on our advisory committees.

This wheel shows the number, the percentage of the overall comments that were attributed to specific thematic topics. You can see the -- we had a strong number of comments that centered on the outdoor recreation opportunities that we offer at Parks and Wildlife state parks and WMAs and state natural areas and followed by comments on our natural resources management efforts, public lands management. We also received a number of comments on emerging issues, such as our engagement in siting energy development such as wind farms and also comments on climate adaptation strategies. And you can see, you know, fewer comments were submitted on some of those other topics.

We took all of those comments and formulated this draft plan that is in your Commission book. The three goals that are identified in the draft plan center around science-based stewardship of natural and cultural resources; providing outdoor participation opportunities; and educating, informing, and engaging Texans in support of our mission.

Embedded under those three goals are 14 specific objectives that cover those thematic topics that are listed on the left side of the screen. Up under those 14 objectives are 104 specific strategies that really relate more to the efforts of our teams and programs. And then we added 61 measurable actions and I'm going to highlight those -- a subset of those actions in the subsequent slides.

As I said earlier, this is a ten-year plan. We'll evaluate progress every five years. And so what I've -- what I've attempted to do is package for a few thematic topics just what -- what those outcomes would look like. What would we accomplish if the Department follows through on our commitments over this first five-year timeframe of the plan.

And so for that FY '24 through '28 timeframe under the Fish and Wildlife management thematic area, we'll have conducted 60,000 Fish and Wildlife surveys. This relates to our historic routine monitoring of our coastal resources. It relates to our surveys of waterfowl and migratory -- other migratory birds, our Mule deer, Bighorn sheep surveys, our fisheries survey that are conducted, reservoirs and streams so on. So 60,000 surveys that would be conducted over that five-year timeframe, 75 applied research projects that provide the science to help refine and form our resource managements decisions, 50 science communication events, and 4,000 public seminars and workshops that center on fish and wildlife conservation management efforts, 7500 regulatory consultations with other state and federal agencies engaging in processes like the Clean Water Act, permitting process administered by the Corps or other -- other state and federal agencies making sure that there's consideration of fish and wildlife resources in regulatory decisions.

We're also committing to conservation status assessments for a number of our imperiled and rare species and we're committing to restore five species to a portion of their native range over the next -- again, over the next five years. Our commitments in public waters center around continuing our fish stocking programs, investing in fish habitat restoration, including restoration of oyster reefs, large scale management of aquatic vegetation in Texas lakes, management of aquatic invasive species, expanding access through paddling trails and new fishing access areas, maintaining our urban fisheries initiatives, updating our statewide assessment of ecologically significant streams, and we're also committing to invest in voluntary water transactions. That would be water agreements with voluntarily, you know, landowner partners or river authorities, other controlling authorities to manage lake levels or river flows in a way that benefit recreation and conservation of fish and wildlife resources.

On public lands, there's a commitment to develop a state park land acquisition strategy to design and construct five new state parks. That's really a ten-year outcome, as noted there on the slide. Hosting 35 -- 31.5 million park visitors, we're committing to add new trails, new local parks through our Recreation Grants Program, committing to maintain 1.4 million acres of public hunting lands.

On the private lands front, we'll continue to invest heavily in tech guidance to private landowners to develop wildlife management plans and wildlife management agreements. We'll support 35 new conservation easements over the next ten years protecting 56,000 acres of private working lands through our Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program. We're also committing to enhance the scope and functionality of a particular database and GIS framework that Wildlife Division maintains to be able to better track our investments and cost share habitat incentives, such as through our Land Owner Incentive Program or Grasslands Restoration Incentive Program, a number of other incentive programs that are offered in different regions around the state or statewide.

For outdoor participation, many of these planned outcomes center around commitments in our R3 Plan too. And then also we'll continue to invest in our Hunter Ed, Boater Ed, Angler Ed, shooting sports programs, as well as our Texas Outdoor Family Program exposing Texans to camping.

Our game wardens will continue to invest significantly in enforcement of fish and wildlife laws and boating laws and we also have committed to conduct assessments of our laws and regulations and enforcements surrounding two key issues. One is fish and wildlife habitat protection. The other is related to aquatic invasive species management. So that will -- those assessments would likely result in potential regulation changes to better protect fish and wildlife habitat and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

And that's just a subset of the 61 measurable actions that are committed to in the plan and you have, again, a copy of that plan in your Commission book. So we'll have a series of webinars that we're offering. One for our advisory committees next Thursday where we'll step through this updated draft of the plan and provide some instructions for how to submit comments and we'll also have two public webinars the next two Fridays to accomplish the same. So we'll step through the plan, talk about major changes or differences between the 2015 plan and this newly proposed plan that would begin in 2024, and step through opportunities to provide -- provide public comment.

Again, this is second round of public comment on the plan and then we're asking for your review and input and we would request that you provide that to the Executive Office through Allison Winney or Dee Halliburton by the end of September and we'll incorporate your edits and comments and public comments, provide you with an updated draft in your next Commission book in October and then, again, that you review and approve the final plan at your November meeting.

And with that, I'll take any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Tim.

Commissioners any questions?

Couple things couple comments. I want to -- you know, this is a big deal, the planning and preparation going into what -- this is what we do, land and water conservation. So I want to thank James and Bobby and Blake for stepping up and being willing to work on this. This is -- this is the direction and, you know, where we're headed and so I think this is vitally important. So there's a lot of good stuff there. I really appreciate the work.

I want to go echo -- David talked about Clayton. Clayton's another week?

MR. WOLF: (Nods head affirmatively).

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Can -- you know, in my six years, I just can't tell you what a stabilizing force you've been for this Agency and this Commission. I just can't say even enough. So thank you, Clayton, for everything you've done and for everything you continue to do. You love this Agency and you love this state.

And we couldn't be in better hands than Craig and Allison.

David, I think you made a great decision with those two and separating it because Clayton has been carrying the mail on that and it's a lot. And so I think it's a great decision. So I want to welcome the leadership, Craig and Allison, and thank Clayton. So thank everyone for that.

Tim, thank you for your report.



COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Quick question. Tim, on -- you go back to planned actions, public lands, 150 new local parks. So tell me about -- is -- are we -- do we really believe that we can construct 150 new parks from fiscal year '24 to '28?

MR. BIRDSONG: So annually there's a commitment to invest in 30 new local park construction projects. So there is a clarification there. Those might not all be brand new parks, but that's a level of investment that currently happens annually through our Recreation Grants Program.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: So they may -- these are enhancements maybe to current parks.

MR. BIRDSONG: They could be. But, I mean, it's -- these are grants to cities and counties for the most part to create new local parks through the Recreation Grants Program.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: But do you think it would be possible to create 150 new local parks in four years?

MR. BIRDSONG: I think that's the current investment that's been made --


MR. BIRDSONG: -- historically. And it's also I believe -- and Rodney can correct me if I'm wrong. But I believe this is Legislative Budget Board measure. So there's -- there's an ongoing commitment there for that same level of productivity.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So what we do is -- and I can't remember the number -- for a population base, there's a limit, Rodney? What is it? 500,000 and then 750 or a million for bigger populations?

MR. FRANKLIN: Yes, sir. We have -- for the record, Rodney Franklin, State Parks Director. And I think that number represents basically just the amount of investments and the grants that we give, so.

And you're right, Mr. Chairman, there's levels for large urban areas, rural communities. And the number of grants we give, enhance either existing local parks or go to create some new ones. So I think that 150 isn't just isolated to creating new parks; but just the investment, the number of grants we give.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Yeah. So Commissioner Hildebrand brings up a good point. There will be some new parks, there will be some addition; but these are basically largely driven by communities that put in for a grant that we provide a grant based on a criteria system and then it's up to that community to go invest the money in the park as they kind of see fit; but it's all part of a process that they apply for every year.

MR. FRANKLIN: That's -- that's absolutely correct.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So but it's a good point, Jeff.

But it does -- it does enhance the opportunities to be outdoors in the local communities and it's a really effective -- cost effective way to -- for us not only cost effective, but also the management of it. So it's a pretty good program.

Anybody else questions about the...

COMMISSIONER ABELL: Just to that end, I don't know what the expanded language is in the plan; but we might want to clarify that specific one that it's, you know, investment in new parks or enhancements to, you know, existing parks at 150 different locations something like that.

MR. BIRDSONG: I'll make sure that's addressed if it's not already worded that way.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And, Tim, the last thing I would say, you know, any good plan really is it's a function of being well-thought-out, which it seems as though you have done that. But then it is a process of reinforcement and so that we are revisiting the plan and so it's not just a three-ring binder on the shelf and three years from now, we turn around and say, oh, you know, we haven't gotten to -- we've gotten to 50, 50 local parks versus we should be on pace to be at 75.

So I would just ask that we have some form of feedback on a quarterly basis as to how we are doing relative to our five-year plan because this may be the single most important document the Parks and Wildlife has over the next five years. I mean, this is the -- this is the map as to what we should be doing for five years and so we need to revisit it often and if we are off course, we need to make revisions and get on course. I mean, it's how any business executes on a business plan.

So I would ask that we have a form of feedback on this on a quarterly basis as to how we're doing relative to the plan.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Yeah, Commissioner, I've had an opportunity to talk Tim and some of the team about this and talk about incorporating key performance or key progress indicators so we know that we're on track. So we've had a chance to discuss that build that in.

COMMISSIONER ROWLING: Yeah, Commissioner Hildebrand, you probably know this. But the directive from the Sunset Committee was to make all these different things in the whole document more quantifiable. I think a lot of the language was even more -- we've tightened it up and put parameters around it. Now we just need to track it because I think many of these things were -- there was no number, period. And now we need to be tracking it, and now we've put numbers around these things.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Yeah. Great, great points, Commissioner.

And periodically looking at things lets us know where we're headed and to be able to adjust, so it's a great point.

Tim, great presentation. Great work from everybody.

Anybody else have any questions or comments for Tim?

Thank you.

MR. BIRDSONG: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: We'll move on to Work Session Item No. 2, it's the Financial Overview.

Reggie, there you are. Good morning, Reggie.

MR. PEGUES: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Reggie Pegues, Chief Financial Officer, and this morning I will be going over several items that will be action items for you tomorrow.

Before I begin, I'd like to make sure you have an updated Exhibit B for your Commission books.

And I'll be covering the following topics: Operating and capital budget summaries, your Exhibits A and B; budget and investment policies, your Exhibits C and D; state parks list for performance measures, Exhibit E; and then deposit options for 15 percent of boat fees.

First, I'd like to begin with the operating and capital budgets. And before I begin, I'd just like to mention a modification to the process. In the past, we've tied to the amounts in the General Appropriation Act. Based on feedback from the Commission, we're now building in estimated unexpended balances from FY '23 into FY '24. Hopefully this will reduce the impact of budget adjustments throughout the fiscal year.

This first slide is cross-walk from the General Appropriations Act, or GAA, to the FY '24 operating budget. Starting with the General Appropriations Act, we start with Article 6, which is the base appropriation for Parks and Wildlife. We have 488 million dollars of that. Next component we separated is in Article 6 is contingency for the Centennial Park Fund of 1 billion dollars. This is contingent upon the passage of Proposition 14 in the November election. If that passes, then this billion dollars will be transferred out of General Revenue into -- outside of the Treasury into a new funding source. If the measure does not passed, then our budget will be reduced accordingly by a billion dollars and we're working with the Comptroller on the mechanics of how this will happen.

Next we have 21 million of directed local park grants, followed by 82.5 million for payroll related fringe benefits. This is our retirement, insurance, Social Security, benefit replacement pay. This gives us a total amount in the General Appropriations Act of 1.6 billion dollars. And normally that's where we would stop, but now we're going to move forward and add in these additional unexpended balances or UB from FY '23.

The first item is Senate Bill 30, which was the Supplemental Appropriations Bill. Tech -- it's for appropriation year '23, but it went into effect early June. So it's practice for the Agency to take those funds and move them into the upcoming fiscal year and it's split into three components.

The first component is 125 million for park acquisition, 23.8 million for new vehicles, and then 15.7 million for two new law enforcement aircraft. Next we have an adjustment to our construction capital budget of 2.2 million and then an estimated UB of 20 -- from '23 into '24 of 174 million of federal funds. About half of this amount is due to delays in our Local Parks Program just due to some shortages at the nationwide level that are kind of cascading to the state level. The next item we have 20 million of appropriated receipts. About 15 million of that are donations related to the Artificial Reef Program. That gives us adjustments of 261 million, giving us a proposed budget of 1.9 billion.

And of those estimates -- since those are estimates -- at some point during the year, we will change those numbers from estimates to actuals; but hopefully they'll be small -- small budget adjustments in subsequent Commission meetings.

This next slide is that 1.96 billion by method of finance. The largest component at 1.4 billion at 72 percent is general revenue, which includes the centennial park funding. Federal funds of 256 million at 13 percent. Account 9, which is our Game, Fish, and Water at 10 percent. These are our hunting and fishing and boat related revenues. Next is our Account 64, which is State Parks Fund funded by state park fees at 3 percent. And other of 2 percent made up of about 10 million in the Lifetime License Endowment Account, various appropriated receipts, and interagency contracts and plate funds.

This next is a breakdown by object of expense. This should correspond to your Exhibit B. We have salary and other personnel costs of 221 million. This is about a 13 percent increase from '23 and part of that is due to an across-the-board salary increase that I'll go into later detail. Next we have the related fringe benefits. Operating of 1.1 billion. Again, that number includes the billion for the Centennial Park Fund. Grants of 52.1 million, which includes the 21 of directed local park grants I mentioned and then a capital budget of 130.9 million of which I'll go into a later slide in more detail.

Next I'll show you Exhibit B. It's a breakdown by divisions by dollar amount and FTEs. Again, the largest amount is department-wide with a billion dollars. I will provide a breakdown of that particular division. And also we have our FTEs. We typically budget to our capital of 3160.9. But in reality, due to vacancies throughout the Agency, we typically come in well below that number.

As mentioned, this is a breakdown of our department-wide budget. This is kind of a special holding budget for items that either are going to be held there temporarily and moved to other divisions or they don't lend themselves to what's going on in other divisions.

Starting off the top, we have the billion dollars for the Centennial Park Fund. Again, depending on Proposition 14, if that's approved, we will move this out into the appropriate budget and strategies. Next is a small adjustment for our estimated federal apportionment of 18.8 million, which will be moved out to the division budgets once it's received. As mentioned, an across-the-board salary increase of 10.4 million. This is 5 percent or 3,000, whichever amount was greater for all state employees. In addition to that, we had an exceptional item for targeted salary increases. This is in addition to the across-the-board to address positions that are high turnover or high vacancy and that was 3.3 million.

And we're currently in the process of allocating those funds. So once -- once those numbers are finalized, they will be moved out to the actual operating divisions.

Next is our 7.8 million for payment to license agencies. These are our Academy's, Walmarts. 1.6 million of strategic reserve, these are for initiatives that occur throughout the year. That kind of gives us a little discretion of moving this funding around. And next we have 100,000 of pass-through plates. These are plates that the Agency administers on behalf of other entities. We have our own separate plates that are allocated to the divisions.

Next, as mentioned, is the breakdown of our capital budgets. We have 30 million for land acquisition. About 10 million of that related to migratory game bird, 72.4 million of construction, minor repairs in the Parks Division of 10.3 million; information technology of 9.7. This includes PC replacement and also upgrades to the boat registration titling system or (inaudible) of about 2.3 million. Transportation items of 4.8, capital equipment of 2.9, and then cybersecurity of about 700,000.

Next moving on to our budget and investment policy resolutions, these items have not changed in several years; but we are required to review them annually. First is the budget policy. This authorizes the Executive Director to administer the Agency's budget on your behalf. Key components are any budget adjustments greater than 250,000 that aren't federal or bond related require Commission approval and any donations that exceed 500 dollars require Commission acceptance.

Next is our investment policy. As a state agency, TPWD is subject to the Public Funds Investment -- Public Funds Investment Act and that requires if any funds are invested outside of the Treasury that we have an investment officer. Currently all TPWD funds are in the Treasury, so there's no need for an investment officer at this point. I mentioned the Centennial Fund, that those funds would be moved out of the Treasury if it's approved; but specifically in that legislation is that those funds -- even though they're outside the Treasury -- they will also be administered by the Comptroller. So there will be no need for an investment officer if that -- if that funding passes.

Next is your Exhibit E. This is a listing of state parks that you're required to approve at the beginning of each biennium. And throughout the biennium, there may be additions or deletions; but any of those adjustments will be presented at the next biennial meeting for your approval. And going into '24, we have 88 state parks.

This last item are deposit options for 15 percent of boat revenues. We currently have the ability to transfer 15 percent of boat-related revenues from Fund 9 -- the Game, Fish, and Water Safety Account -- into the State Parks Account to address any kind of cash flow concerns. We haven't used that provision in many years, but the option is there. We don't recommend a need for this option at this point. If that changes, we will notify the Commission. But if a transfer were to take place, it'd be approximately 3 million dollars.

And tomorrow is the recommendation that I'll be making for approval of several action items. And this concludes my presentation. I'll be happy to take any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Reggie.

Commissioners, any questions on the financial overview?


Reggie, how much interaction did you have with the -- the Land Conservation and Recreation Plan Committee in terms of developing your budget so it -- it is -- it overlays what we are trying to achieve in fiscal year '24 and '25? I mean, we now have a five-year plan. And so does your budget take that into consideration or did you -- do you generate your budget totally independent of the fine work that they did?

MR. PEGUES: I think Tim mentioned earlier that there are committees made up of several -- members of several divisions. I have -- I have two -- one of my performance measures people is on that committee, so there's some coordination.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. So you think all the initiatives that we're trying to do in fiscal year '24 relative to this five-year plan will be -- will be determined through your budget? We could find those items in the budget?

MR. PEGUES: I think with the addition of the money for the park acquisition fund of the 125 million, our existing funding, and if the centennial fund goes through, I think we're in a good position for that.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: You know, just a recommendation. In much the same way that we are hopefully going to create some kind of system wherein we relook at our five-year plan, we just -- we need to be looking at our budgets on a quarterly basis. How do we do actual versus variants? And once again, if we need to change course, we change course and spend less money or spend the money in our budget. So it would just be nice to see that on a quarterly basis versus on an annual basis.

MS. WINNEY: Chairman, Commissioner Hildebrand, if I could also address your question, Commissioner. Allison Winney, Chief of Staff.

So when we were going through the sunset review process, that was one of the criticisms that we had with regard to our strategic plan with the Land and Water -- Land and Water Plan and how that was going to be incorporated into our Natural Agenda. Our Natural Agenda is our strategic plan for the process of using LBB measures. And so as we were going through this process, we wanted to make sure that the Land and Water Plan was able to be incorporated into the Natural Agenda, which is what we provide to the Governor's Office of Budget and Planning, as well as to the Legislative Budget Board, which then moves into the LAR.

And so having those different plans work together is absolutely vital for what we are able to provide. And so the Land and Water Plan will then be incorporated into that Natural Agenda using those new strategic objectives and those new action items, which do include our key performance measures through the LBB.

And I think with what Reggie was mentioning, that is something that will then be incorporated and as we're looking through that through the five-year process and that the Natural Agenda as well provides that five-year timeframe so that they all are incorporated together and provide the necessary information to our oversight agencies.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Great. Thank you. Look forward to seeing that, really the holistic view on some -- some form of systematic basis quarterly, monthly, whatever it is --

MS. WINNEY: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- as to are we achieving the goals that we've set out to achieve. That -- to me, that's the most important thing.

MS. WINNEY: Yes, sir. Absolutely.


MS. WINNEY: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: One more the question, Reggie. You -- you know, certainly the Centennial Fund, we've got to get voter approval on it and hopefully we will achieve that in September. In that event, we've talked a little bit about where that money is going to reside. We've talked about UTIMCO and various state investment funds. Have we given that more thought? Because a billion dollars, you know, sitting in the Treasury generating a 3 percent return is well different than a billion dollars sitting in something that's generating 15 percent rates of return. So have we given that any thought as to how we're going to try to achieve that?

MR. PEGUES: Yeah. We -- as I mentioned, the fund's going to actually be administered and investigated by the Comptroller through the Texas Trust Safekeeping Company. So they -- they've got an investment strategy that lists their various investments. So our involvement from investing part is going to be transferred to them. Our role is going to be basically estimating the amount that we need for any given fiscal year and requesting a drawdown. But all the investment responsibilities are going to be with the Comptroller.

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Chairman, Commissioner Hildebrand, my understanding also is that the Commission will have really oversight, as it should, of that billion dollars and influence on how that is invested and should have influence on how that is invested. So we'll try -- we'll run that to ground and come back to with you on a little bit -- with a little bit more details.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: It's an important point --

DR. YOSKOWITZ: Yeah, very.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- certainly. So we need to be good stewards of this money and 15 versus 3 is being a good steward. So, thank you.

COMMISSIONER ROWLING: On the Centennial Fund, is there a mandate that we've been given as far as timeframe to use it?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Not that I'm aware of.

MR. PEGUES: There's no given timeline. Basically if this -- if this is approved, the funds will transfer out of General Revenue into a separate -- into a separate fund account outside -- outside of the Treasury and then it just has a perpetual life and then we just make requests for draws out of that funding. But there's no particular time limit on appropriation.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Blake, as I understand it -- and as to Commissioner Hildebrand's point -- it will be invested. The corpus remains, but the earnings are available to this Agency and the Commission to figure out what to do with them towards new parkland acquisition and development. So the corpus remains the same, the billion dollars, and then every budget, every biennium we have the opportunity to go and ask for the earnings that have acquired and there's your 3 to 15 percent's a big -- a big deal on --

COMMISSIONER ROWLING: Yeah, that answers my question. The point of my question is the investment. It's not put there to go spend it. It's an investment; so we have money to spend, right?


COMMISSIONER ROWLING: It's not -- the billion dollars is not --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: No. The billion dollars remains and under Jeff's scenario, that's a -- you know, that's a big number. That's 120 million dollar delta every two years, so -- well, I guess that's every one year. And so it's a two-year -- you know, we work on two-year biennium. But the fund remains intact and we get to use the earnings off of it for the development of opening new parks in the state and developing parkland that we buy, so.

MR. PEGUES: Yeah, correct. We will provide a projected cash need each year and if those funds -- with the LBB. If those funds are approved, they'll transfer to our accounts.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: And while we're on this subject, although probably not supposed to do it, we shouldn't count our chickens before they hatch. We have an election, Proposition 14. And for all of -- everyone that loves parks and loves the resource, there's your opportunity to get out and make your statement on how you feel about it. But this -- this requires a constitutional amendment that will happen in the election cycle, and it's Proposition 14.

Anybody have any other questions/comments on Reggie's budget?

It's kind of nice to see that billion dollar number down there, isn't it?

MR. PEGUES: It's sweet.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Reggie.

If there's no further questions, I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item No. 3, Fiscal Year 2022 and Fiscal Year 2023 Internal Audit Update, Proposed Financial '24 Internal Audit Plan. Brandy, good morning.

MS. MEEKS: Good morning, Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Brandy Meeks. I'm the Internal Audit Director. This morning I'd like to update you on the status of our fiscal year '22 and '23 internal audit plans and recent external audits and assessments, as well as explain our fiscal year '24 annual risk assessment methodology and present to you our proposed fiscal year '24 internal audit plan.

So this slide shows the status of our fiscal year '22 internal audit plan. As you can see, those projects with the yellow font to the right under status are the three projects we still have remaining on that plan. We plan to roll the audit of the Local Recreation Grants, as well the Infrastructure change order process advisory to next year's plan. And then we are in the reporting phase for the LCP easement receivable advisory.

So this and the next slide shows the status of our current audit plan. And again in the yellow font to the right under status, you can see that the TAC 202 cybersecurity audit is currently in fieldwork phase. We are in the reporting phase for our patch management processes audit. We plan to roll the Sea Center and TFFC point-of-sale inventory advisory to next year. We are currently following up on all open audit recommendation items that are due in Q3 and Q4. And then still in progress is also our state park continuous monitoring project. Completed since the last update in May has been our fiscal year 2024 risk assessment and our proposed annual audit plan.

This slide shows the status of our fiscal control audits. We had 18 of them on this year's plan. Eleven of them are complete, four of them are currently in the reporting phase, and only three of them are in the fieldwork phase. So I do anticipate that all of these will be complete by the end of the first quarter.

And so to recap fiscal year '23, we've successfully on-boarded two new auditors. We've completed through fieldwork 72 percent of our fiscal year '23 internal audit plan, despite being short-staffed for the first half of the year and this includes those projects carried forward from fiscal year '22.

We worked with Financial Resources staff to successfully refute over 10 million dollars in costs questioned by the OAG during the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program Grant. And we represented the Agency by serving as the Vice-Chair and now Chairperson on the State Agency Internal Audit Forum. This is a SAC subcommittee comprised of chief audit executives from Texas' 24 -- 25 largest state agencies. We also participated in two quarterly team-building activities last year.

And so I'd just like to say that I'm very proud of my team. I have a team six, seven including me and I think we've worked really hard this past year and we have a -- we have a good thing going. So I'm looking forward to next year.

As far as external audits and assessments, the Texas Workforce Commission is still in progress with the six-year personnel policy and procedure system review. We've also issued the RFQ for the Deepwater Horizon Texas Trustee audit for calendar years 2020 through '22. And then new to the slide is the Office of the Governor's monitoring of the Coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery fund. And as you can see from this slide, no external audits or assessments have been completed since our update in May.

And so now I'd like to kind of change course and discuss our next year's audit plan. Texas Government Code 2102 requires that the internal audit develop a risk-based audit plan by working with our Agency's management to identify risks to the Agency's functions, activities, and processes. And then once we've identified risks, we are to evaluate the probability of occurrence and the impact that those risks would have to our financial, managerial, compliance, and information technology systems should those risks occur.

This slide shows how we, as an Internal Audit, meet the requirements of Texas Government Code of 2102. So first we consider division level risk factors such as recent internal and external audits; time since the last audit; recent turnover within the division, especially with management positions; the division's budget; the division's contract dollars, as well as the status of their performance measures and these factors together give us a divisional level risk score.

Next we identify Agency risks by interviewing all division directors, as well as other selected managers and we brainstorm as a team using our Agency knowledge and past audit reports. But during our interviews with management, we not only discuss the risks that the perceive to their divisions, but any external risks they -- they perceive, either from outside the Agency or from outside of their division. We also identify any issues or concerns they're experiencing the IT systems that they utilize.

So for all the risks identified during this process, we discuss and score the probability of occurrence and the impacts these risks would have to our financial, managerial, compliance, our reputation, and the IT system should those risks occur. We input this information into a risk matrix to ensure a consistent evaluation among all identified risks.

And lastly, using the divisional level risk factor scores and the impact scores, we're able to rank and identify what we believe to be the top risks to the Agency.

So from the results of the annual risk assessment, we identified possible audit and advisory projects to address the top-ranked risks. We also analyzed the resources needed to complete those projects and presented the risk assessment and possible audit projects to Executive management for discussion. Our proposed fiscal year '24 internal audit plan is the result of those discussions. We presented this plan, along with the risk ranking which include the high risks not addressed by the proposed plan, to the Audit Committee for input, review, and comment. And at this time, I'd like to present our proposed fiscal year '24 internal audit plan.

So as you can see, up at the top we do have carryover projects from fiscal year '24 and '20 -- I mean, '22 and '23 and we discussed those on Slides 2 through 4. The risks that gave rise to those projects in the first place still exist, so we do want to roll those forward.

So new projects that we'd like to complete this next year include a cloud computing and share point cybersecurity audit. We'd like to do 14 fiscal control audits, nine for our law enforcement offices, and five for state parks. We'd also like to audit the external public safety programs that we have in this Department. And then we also, of course, will be following up on any of our external and internal audit recommendations throughout the year. We're also due a peer review this next fiscal year. So we will be coordinating with SAFE to assign a Chief Audit Executive from another large agency to come in and look at our Department. They will be making sure that we're operating in compliance with our standards.

And then we'll also -- we've also budgeted hours for other special projects, investigation, and liaison activities. And one of those liaison activities last year was working with financial resources to refute those over 10 million dollars of questioned costs. So things like that arise during the year as well.

But two projects that I do want to be involved on -- involved in and complete this next year, we'd like to complete the development and beta test our state park continuous monitoring activities and dashboard and then we'll -- we also kind of want to be a fly on the wall during the BRITS rewrite and that's our Boating registration, information, and licensing system -- or titling system, excuse me. So we'll work with IT to just make sure we're in some of those meetings to identify up front if we see some control weaknesses during that rewrite.

And so we would like to recommend that the Commission adopt the following motion: That the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approve our fiscal year '24 internal audit plan as listed on the previous slide and as listed in your Exhibit A. And so we request that this item be placed on tomorrow's agenda for public comment and action, and I'm available for any questions if you have any.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Brandy.

Commissioners, any questions on the internal audit for Brandy?

Hearing none, thank you, Brandy.

MS. MEEKS: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: If there's no further questions, I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

We'll move into Work Session Item No. 4, Commission Policy on the Use of Eminent Domain, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Policy. Good morning, James.

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

During consideration of whether to authorize the use of eminent domain to save Fairfield Lake State Park during the June 10th Special Commission Meeting, you asked staff to develop a policy that ties the Commission's hands on the use of eminent domain where it could be used to acquire parks only in exceptional and unusual circumstances. The policy I present today creates a three-part analysis.

The 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.

The next step is that if the property does not fall under those categories, then we'll determine 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. If the property is not a residence, farm, or ranch and the property 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 this slide: The amount of previous public investment or taxpayer dollars in the property; level of public support for the acquisition; the number of visitors served by the property while dedicated to public use; and, of course, the features of the property, the natural and culture resources there.

Here's a summary of public comment received as of yesterday morning. We've had quite a few additional comments. We are now up to 55 total comments, with 48 percent agree and 52 percent disagree. Looking through these comments this morning, nearly all of them are about the Commission's previous decision to authorize the use of eminent domain for Fairfield Lake State Park. So dialing down on the comments that are specific to the policy, we currently have seven. Of those seven, three now agree with the policy as written or with the policy with slight modification and four disagree with the policy. Of the disagrees, those are split two and two between those that are saying that the policy goes too far to restrict a constitutional authority and statutory authority of the Department that should not be restricted and then two say it doesn't go far enough, the policy should essentially eliminate the use of eminent domain and require all voluntary transactions. So really a pretty even split in what we received from the public.

We did receive one comment letter though that I'd like to highlight for you. This comes from Texas Wildlife Association and it recommends deletion of the phrase "or similar outdoor recreation area" from the definition of extraordinary and unusual circumstances. They have a concern about the potential inclusion of leased public hunting lands offered by private loan -- landowners. This is an important program here at the Department where landowners open their gates to allow the public to come in under a lease and hunt. We certainly did not intend to have coverage of those kind of lands or eligible for eminent domain and certainly it's a critically important program and so I'm comfortable with addition of that edit and that it would provide greater assurances to our private landowners as to our intent with this policy.

And I will skip ahead here on the slides just a little bit. This is that edit. If you are interested, this is the definition of exceptional and unusual circumstance. And as you can see there, we've deleted the language recommended by TWA. If that is something that you are interested in pursuing today, I can make that edit for our consideration tomorrow in the vote.

So our request today is that this item be placed on Thursday's agenda for public comment and action and I'm available for any questions. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, James.

Let me just kind of set the stage here a little bit for everybody. Earlier this summer, we as a group decided for them to bring this subject to discuss and although we absolutely have the authority legislative -- and we've had it for a long, long, long time -- for eminent domain, we wanted to allay any concerns that we're going after farms, ranches, homes, that that's kind of -- and you hear about that from time to time. So what we're discussing here is putting restrictions on ourselves that are not required, but we did discuss it at the last meeting and it would raise the level of situation that eminent domain would be available to this Agency.

And so the current Fairfield State Park that kind of started this, absolutely falls still within this authority. It was an existing state park, and so I just want to kind of remind everybody how we got here.

So we'll open this up for discussion to any Commissioners and then obviously we need to talk about this edit as well. So any Commissioners, any -- Vice-Chairman.

VICE-CHAIRMAN SCOTT: Dick Scott. I personally think that what we talked about three months ago or whenever it was, I think that was a good idea. I like the wording, and I like the way the deal lays out. I think it's valid for everybody to understand that our position is eminent domain is a very, very unique situation. So I like -- I like the way you've worded it, and I agree with what you're saying.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Vice-Chairman.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Vice-Chairman.

Any other Commissioners, any comments/questions?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: I'd just say, Mr. Chairman, I mean I think it's an outstanding revision to what we're currently allowed to do and very infrequently do -- does a state agency actually voluntarily reduce its ability to use eminent domain or limit its ability to execute its duty. And so I'm just -- I couldn't be more pleased that we are pulling back and I think this should signal to people that we very reluctantly use eminent domain and we all understand Fairfield is a very unique event and I just think it's an outstanding revision. So, thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Commissioner.

Anybody else?

I believe that I'm fine with the edit. Is everybody -- you see the edit. I think it was not intentional. I think the edit is an improvement. I'm glad they brought it to our attention. So y'all are -- if everybody's fine with the edit and with the Commission policy on the use of eminent domain, then if there's no further questions, I'm going to put this on the Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action tomorrow for Thursday.

Thank you, James.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: With regard to Work Session Item No. 5, Boating Waterway Advisory Committee, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules, do the Commissioners have any questions or comments? We have a presentation available if you feel like you need to be brought more up to speed on it, if not, we'll just -- I'll put it on the Commission agenda. So is everybody fine with that, or would you like to hear the presentation?

Okay. Hearing none, then we'll put that on the Commission Meeting agenda for Thursday.

Same thing on Work Session Item No. 6, which is the Fish Pass Proclamation. You remember we discussed this at great length. There's a recommended adoption of proposed changes. If any question -- Commissioners have any questions, then we'll -- Les will be available to do a presentation. If not, it will be on -- I'll put it on the agenda for tomorrow's Commission Meeting, Fish Pass Proclamation. Everybody good with that?

Okay. We'll move on to Work Session Item No. 7, Chronic Waste Disease Detection and Response Rules, Recommendation Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Alan Cain.

Congratulations, Alan, on the new job.

MR. CAIN: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Well deserved.

MR. CAIN: Appreciate that. Thank you.

Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, I'm Alan Cain, Big Game Program Director in the Wildlife Division. This morning I'll be presenting proposed changes to add new CWD zones in several areas around the state, as well as certain requirements for CWD positive facilities and tomorrow I'll be seeking adoption of these proposed changes.

So the proposed changes include staff's new containment and surveillance zones. And just as a reminder, a containment zone is an area that's defined by the Department where CWD has been detected and the surveillance zones are Department defined areas with where CWD could reasonably be expected. So staff are proposing to establish containment zones in Hunt, Kaufman, and Bexar Counties in response to free-ranging detections of CWD and to establish surveillance zones in Bexar County in response to a free-ranging detection of CWD in that area and to establish C -- surveillance zones in Sutton, Zavala, Frio, and Brooks County in response to detection of CWD in multiple deer breeding facilities in those counties. Staff are also proposing additional surveillance requirements for CWD positive deer breeding facilities. And lastly, to correct a few typographical errors related to lat/long coordinates in previous CWD zone delineations that were adopted back in May.

So as the Commission may recall, staff proposed a containment zone encompassing a portion of Hunt and Kaufman Counties that extended 5 miles from the boundaries of two positive release sites that are epidemiologically linked and these are trace facilities to the positive breeding facility in Hunt County. One of the positive release sites was the property where the CWD positive breeding facility is located and the second positive release site is a direct trace about 2 miles away from the other positive facility. Both release sites are high fence.

And to date, we've collected 1,050 samples in the entire surveillance zone. So that area in yellow there and the red too. And other than those two trace release sites, we have not detected CWD outside of those areas.

Now TPWD protocol for establishing a containment zone has typically been a 2-mile zone around free-range CWD positives and epi-linked or these trace-out release sites and 5 miles around other free-range positives that are not associated with a positive release site or a positive facility. We've applied this approach in both Medina and Kimble Counties.

Now although staff initially proposed this 5-mile buffer or 5-mile containment zone, staff recommend that the Commission tomorrow adopt changes to the containment zone to reflect a 2-mile boundary that is consistent with what's in our CWD management plan and our protocol, as well as containment zones sizes that are established by Texas Animal Health Commission in this same area which is a 2-mile zone.

And just as a reminder, the current 5-mile zone is in effect as a result of the emergency rule implemented in May by the Department and if adopted, this change that is recommended, then the 2-mile zone will replace the 5-mile zone in that particular situation there.

Also as a reminder, CWD positive free-ranging deer was detected Bexar County in the city of Hollywood Park in the San Antonio area. Staff are proposing a surveillance zone -- so that's that area outlined in yellow again -- and a containment zone in red and will seek adoption of the zone boundaries at tomorrow's meeting. The zone size here is much smaller than traditional zones for rural free-ranging populations such as in the Trans-Pecos and reflects the fact that this is an urban deer population with very small home ranges and very limited dispersal in that area. Essentially landlocked -- landlocked deer populations. So very little, if any, hunting occurs in the area and this zone would primarily impact rehabilitation facilities that may hold deer that may be located in the zone and those entities in the zone that could possibly use perm -- deer permit such as the Trap, Transport, and Process Permit, which Hollywood Park does utilize or disposal of road kill or other sick deer that the city may be removing in those particular areas it needs to dispose of.

The next zone to be considered for adoption at tomorrow's meeting is in response to the detection in a captive breeding facility in Sutton County. It was a 45-month-year -- 45-month-old buck. No other positives have been detected in that facility, including the pen-mates to the positive that had been removed for testing. They were all not-detected. This zone would encompass 28 property owners in the area which is all those areas in gray, including what would be under the yellow too in the surveillance zone.

The next zone to be considered for, again, for adoption at tomorrow's meeting is in response to detection in a captive breeding facility in Zavala County in a 35-month-old buck. That facility has removed 18 additional deer that were pen-mates or exposed deer and with one additional result that was a CWD positive deer in that facility and this zone would encompass 16 property owners.

The next zone staff are proposing is in response to detection in a captive breeding facility in Frio County in a 24-month-old doe and the facility has removed 18 additional deer that were pen-mates or exposed deer, which resulted in five additional CWD positives in this particular facility and the zone would include 167 landowners in this particular area.

And so I just wanted to illustrate that the Frio and Zavala County zones that I just discussed are relatively close proximity to each other and there's two other zones that the Commission adopted back in -- I believe it was May that are also in Zavala and Frio Counties. And the two with the stars on the map are the ones that are being considered for adoption tomorrow. The other two up at the top there without the stars are the existing zones that have already been adopted. And so it'd be a total of four zones in this area. Hunters would be able to use check stations in Uvalde, Hondo, Pearsall, and a drop box in Lytle.

The last zone being considered for adoption tomorrow is in response to detection in a captive breeding facility in Brooks County in a 24-month-old doe. No other positives have been detected in this facility since the initial detection. An additional 65 deer that were pen-mates or exposed deer have been removed and tested with no additional positives. This zone would affect or include about 49 landowners.

Staff are also proposing to establish rules for CWD positive breeding facilities that are not specifically addressed under current rule. The proposed changes that I will seek adoption of tomorrow include requiring CWD positive facilities to euthanize all animals confirmed to be CWD positive via an antemortem test within seven days of confirmation so that they can be postmortem tested. And this requires -- change would also require positive facilities to inspect their facility daily for mortalities and immediately report those mortalities if they're found to the Department and require positive facilities to submit postmortem samples for CWD within one business day.

These proposed rules -- changes -- would make requirements for positive facilities consistent with how we handle epi-linked facilities, other breeder facilities that are essentially trace-outs and additionally the timely removal of these antemortem positive deer reduces opportunity for CWD to spread in the facility or add additional site contamination and it also provides us important epidemiological information related to that particular facility. And the proposed change, this proposed change here has being vetted through the CWD Task Force and received support for these particular changes.

To date, as of this morning, we've received 271 total public comments. 76 percent in agreement and about 24 percent either agree[sic] or slightly disagree or disagree with specific parts of that proposal. There were a number of written comments submitted regarding the proposed rules and here's some of those comments that are germane to the proposal: We had concerns about the impacts of these particular zones on hunter participation in these areas. One individual suggested we needed -- needed more CWD drop boxes during archery season, suggesting it was too hot, he needed to be able to get his deer to a check station or drop box quickly. We had others that suggested the zone sizes weren't large enough to protect wild deer. We had some individuals suggest that zones should expire after two hunting season if there's no detections. Some suggested zone sizes are misleading since it includes property boundaries that are partially encompassed and actually extend outside of that, which was illustrated with those gray property boundaries. Also had some that suggest that zones should only include contiguous neighboring properties to the positive facility.

We've also received several letters or e-mails of support from several organizations and individuals, including the Texas Wildlife Association, the Texas Conservation Alliance, the Tex -- the Nature Conservancy, Mr. Greg Simons. We also received a letter from the Texas Deer Association in partial opposition. Essentially they would like the proposal to include or allow for movement from a containment zone for breeders that are non-epi-linked, so they're not positive facilities, but they would have their own custom testing plan. We've also received a letter from Senator Perry with his concerns over the Department's use of the emergency rule in -- earlier this July, I believe, for the requirements for antemortem testing from breeder to breeder and then ear tags on that.

And so again tomorrow, staff are seeking permission to place this item on the agenda for tomorrow for consideration for public comment and adoption. And I'll be happy to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Alan, thank you.

Commissioners, any questions for Alan?

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Yeah, Patton. Could you refresh my memory again on the -- you know, on the gray area as it would contrast with the yellow?

MR. CAIN: Yeah. Let me go back just to reference --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: And pick -- if you want to go to Brooks County, it'd be appropriate because it --

MR. CAIN: Okay.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: And I'm unclear if I need to disclose or not be included in the vote since all of my ranch is in that --

MR. CAIN: Yeah, so --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: -- gray and yellow area.

MR. CAIN: So the way the rule was -- what's in current rule is that if we establish these 2-mile zones, that any -- or any zone, any property that is wholly or partially included in the zone, then the whole property's in the zone. So, for example, in this area if your property -- maybe you -- most of it extends outside the zone, which would be part of those gray areas, but you have 100 acres that falls inside the zone, then your whole property is subject to the zone rules, which would include mandatory testing and carcass movement restrictions.

And then the way we determine essentially what's the gray area or property owners affected is based on the tax appraisal district plat data and so most of that stuff's available online, we download it, and just anybody that's touching that yellow surveillance boundary, which is, again, a 2-mile zone around that property, positive facility property, then they're affected and caught up in the zone.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Okay, thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Alan, on the proposal summary when you started, I wasn't taking notes. So the Bexar, Brooks, Frio, Sutton, Zavala, all of those counties, I heard you say at least one of them were free-ranging in that high population area as far as residential I think that's in Bexar?

MR. CAIN: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Are any of the others free-ranging or are they all --

MR. CAIN: So the Hunt County -- Hunt/Kaufman County containment zone, there's -- just to clarify, there's free-range positives there but they're on epi-linked release sites. So they're release sites that received positive deer from that positive facility in Hunt County. One of them is basically adjacent release site. It's the same property where the pens are located and the other one's about 2 miles down the road and it's received trace-out deer essentially from that positive facility.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: But Bexar, we don't -- it's free-range --

MR. CAIN: Bexar --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: The others -- the others are part of a --

MR. CAIN: Yeah, so I should clarify. Once a deer is turned out on a release site or it's just on ranch, it's -- there all considered free-range, but I think it's important to make the distinction that the deer in Bexar County that was positive is just a deer that's not associated with any breeder facility, any release site. It's just a native, free-range deer walking around out there. The ones in Hunt County, those are still free-range deer technically in the pasture walking around, but they're -- they're associated these trace-out release sites.


MR. CAIN: Associated --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: But Brooks, Frio, Sutton, Zavala, all of those are associated --

MR. CAIN: With a breeder facility.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- with a breeder facility. Bexar we don't know.

MR. CAIN: Yeah, it just...

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. I have another question on the proposed requirements. Seven days after testing positive antemortem, inspect the facilities daily, and report mortalities and then the postmortem. Is there any requirement or is it best practice or we find in cooperation -- in other words, when you inspect -- inspect your facility daily and the deer isn't passed, but is clearly very sick, are we getting those reports ahead of time before the deer actually passes?

MR. CAIN: We don't have a requirement for them to report sick deer or deer that look sick ahead of time in these positive facilities. It's just when a mortality occurs that they're required to report.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. Commissioners, any other questions on Item No. 7?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Sure. So have we made efforts to -- you know, we've talked about more of a radius approach to distances from the point where the disease was detected. So, for example, your Slide Item 7-3, 2-mile containment zone versus 5, how are we creating those containment zones?

MR. CAIN: So the 2-mile -- well, the 2-mile zones are obviously it's just, you know, we're drawing a circle basically, a 2-mile buffer around the positive --


MR. CAIN: -- property.


MR. CAIN: 2-mile radius --


MR. CAIN: -- around the positive property. So in -- for example, in Medina and Kimble County where we had a detection in a CWD positive breeding facility and then subsequently on that release site, we created a 2-mile buffer around that property boundary because it was associated with that epi-linked site and it was -- you know, those are high-fenced sites thought to be contained there.

5-mile buffers were established like in Medina County when you had a free-range positive out there that was unrelated to any epi-linked facility. And so quite frankly, it was probably an oversight when we established that because those are both in epi-linked facilities, those two positives are out -- the free-range positive's are out on the landscape there. And what we -- if the Commission were to adopt what staff is recommending, it would be that 2-mile zone and that would be consistent with what Animal Health Commission has already adopted for the Hunt County containment zone as well. And so we'd like to be consistent with their regulations and consistent with how we applied this approach in the past.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Great, understand. Last question and this may be a much longer discussion than we can have. But August 22nd, 2023, letter from Andy Schwartz to Director Yoskowitz and it's interesting just reading through sort of the comparison between CWD and scrapies and -- I mean, I'll read the last sentence: In summary, TSE is caused by CWD in sheep, scrapie, and deer are so similar epidemiologically that they would be managed the same by the TAHC.

Just any comment on that?

MR. CAIN: I think what I would say is that Dr. Schwartz is right. I mean, it's a TSE and so we're going to treat it the same in that free-ranging setting out there, you know, where we establish zones and if it's in a facility, you know, we work through herd plans like Animal Health Commission does with any disease out there, reportable disease.

And the fact is, it doesn't -- I mean, I think as Dr. Schwartz pointed out in that letter, it really doesn't matter whether you call it CWD or scrapie. It's still a TSE. It's still -- we don't have a cure for it. It, you know, shed prions in the environment, there's contamination, you can't get rid of this and so we need to be mindful of that.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay, great. The letter's interesting in that it just talks about how scrapies and the reduced prevalence of scrapies over time, which I didn't realize. I believe there hadn't been a positive scrapie's case in seven years in Texas --

MR. CAIN: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- is that correct?

MR. CAIN: I think according to the letter is what he has. And, you know, there's some folks that say, well, scrapies is causing it or it's out in the environment. But obviously to your point, there's just -- it's been seven years since we've had cases and even if you look in an area like Medina County where we've been sampling since 2015 and if you look at a 20-, 25-mile radius around there, we've probably had 20,000 samples and I think we've got free-range samples, hunter-harvested samples and we've only got 14 or 15 positives there. If CWD was in the soil -- I mean, scrapie was in the soil and it was causing that, we would likely have picked up --


MR. CAIN: -- a lot more positives. So I think Dr. Schwartz's letter is very pertinent to the situation and provides a good level of support for how we're approaching this disease management.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Just last point: Only two states have had cases of classical scrapies in goats in the past seven years. Texas has had none.

MR. CAIN: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And the last was, I think, was in the panhandle that we've seen in 2016. So --

MR. CAIN: In sheep.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- anyway, interesting facts and so --

MR. CAIN: It is.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: But you're in agreement generally with --

MR. CAIN: Oh, yes.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: -- what Dr. Schwartz says?

MR. CAIN: Certainly, yeah.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: That's a good point, Commissioner. Thank you. And I enjoyed the -- reading the letter and understanding better because frequently we get in these discussions that it's not CWD, it's scrapies, and we -- I find it gets a lot of discussion where according at least to -- by the way, for the people listening, Dr. Schwartz is the State Veterinarian and Executive Director of Texas Animal Health Commission. So highly regarded individual. And so this was helpful for me as well that it would be managed the same regardless and I feel like we spend a lot of time talking about that subject. So this letter was helpful for me as well. Thank you.

Commissioners, any other questions for Alan?

Hearing none, I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Alan, thank you.

Now we're going to move into Work Session Item No. 8, Chronic Waste Disease Detection and Response Rules Additional Provisions, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register, Mr. Alan Cain.

MR. CAIN: All right, back at it again. Again, for the record, my name's Alan Cain, Big Game Program -- Program Director in the Wildlife Division. I'll be seeking permission to publish proposed amendments to CWD detection and response rules in the Texas Register for public comment.

So staff are proposing 11 amendments to the rules governing CWD detection/response management in deer breeder permits that stem from deep concerns expressed by a variety of stakeholders and organizations, including hunters, landowners, researchers and veterinarians and citizens in response to the current trajectory of CWD in Texas.

TPWD has received four separate formal petitions for rule-making in response to the recent and continued outbreaks of CWD across Texas. The fact that the source of these outbreaks is still unidentified or undetermined and -- for some of these infected facilities that we're dealing with. Also as a result of the demonstrable lack of compliance from trace release site properties with CWD testing requirements.

And so I want to provide a little context to kind of set the stage and so I'll briefly recap the CWD trajectory in Texas over the past few years. So in 2018, there were five counties with free-ranging cases of CWD, as well as five infected deer breeding facilities. And so -- and just five years later, we now have 12 counties with free-ranging cases of CWD and a total of 26 infected breeding facilities, including a new suspect detection in Kimble County as of Monday of this week.

And since 2020, we've had CWD detections in 20 breeding facilities. And, again, not including the one that we just learned about this week. So eight of these 20 breeding facilities have already been depopulated and of those 12 that are remaining, with deer remaining in them, one is under a research herd plan option. I think they're in year three. One is slated to receive indemnity funding from USDA, Department of Ag -- or the USDA to depopulate that facility hopefully here soon. And eight others are awaiting herd plans. One is held up pending litigation and two have been generally unresponsive to our request to sit down and develop a herd plan since this past August or since last August of last year.

So the vast majority of CWD positive animals have occurred in breeding facilities, and that has increased over time as you can see from the chart. Again, those in blue are the breeder deer positive, the yellow is -- they're still free-range deer, but they're in these breeder release sites and then free-range is just other deer not associated with these facilities.

And I just want to note that of the 411 positives in breeder facilities, 341 of those positive animals were or are remaining in five breeding facilities and that includes one facility that has 124 positives in it that's yet to be depopulated that's under litigation right now with the Department.

Additionally, the transfer of nearly 6,000 deer sent to over 300 trace-out release sites scattered across about half of the Texas counties has elevated concerns that the free-ranging population on these release sites or in the surrounding areas have potentially been exposed to CWD. Especially since many of these trace release sites are not in compliance with their herd plans or simply not testing.

In 2023 alone, breeding operations, release sites, and landowners have all been impacted by the far-reaching discovery of CWD detected and confirmed in nine new breeding facilities, at least that's what these stats are. I don't have the tenth one on there from earlier this week. And as well as they're impacted by the movements associated with CWD exposed deer from these positive facilities. And as you can see from the statistics provided on the slide, we've got 293 total trace-out facilities in over 95 counties where these -- affected from these nine confirmed detections.

And so as such, staff are proposing several manage -- measures to manage and mitigate CWD risk associated with wide deer movement, improve rules -- rule compliance among epi-linked release sites; modify rules associated with the Trap, Transport, and Process Permit; and modification of carcass movement restrictions and carcass disposal rules.

So to mitigate the risks associated with movement within and between breeding facilities, staff are proposing, one, antemortem testing prior to movement from one breeding facility to another breeding facility. So antemortem testing prior to release has been an integral part of our general surveillance strategy and is responsible for identifying five CWD positive facilities this year alone.

Next, staff are proposing a requirement to -- for six months of residency for breeder deer prior to being eligible for a transfer to another breeding facility or release site. Staff also propose to remove the three-year sunset provisions governing antemortem testing of breeder deer prior to release, in addition to establishing a deadline for antemortem testing for Category B breeding facilities. And so a Category B breeding facility is simply a trace-out breeding facility that does not have 100 percent of those trace deer available for testing in their facility and so, hence, the antemortem testing requirement. And require the antemortem tests in those areas to occur within 60 days of notification by the Department.

Staff are also proposing to eliminate the provision that allows deer breeders to transfer fawns to external facilities for nursing purposes. So essentially no more nursing facilities. And to further reduce risk of live animal movement, again, from those nursing facilities the -- and to further reduce risk of live animal movement from nursing facilities and the complex epidemiological investigation, staff propose to eliminate provisions allowing breeders to transfer fawns to external facilities there.

Okay, moving on. To mitigate risks between breeder facilities and release sites, staff are also proposing to reproduce statutory provisions governing the required permanent visible ID tags in breeder deer to facilitate prompt removal of CWD exposed animals so that disease status of epi-linked release sites can be determined. So essentially put a visible tag in the ear, require that. If we have trace-out deer on release sites, it allows for easy identification and hopefully quick removal to help mitigate those risks. And on the same vein, staff further propose to prohibit the release of breeder deer prior to April 1 of the year following their birth to ensure that no animal can be released between six- and nine-months of age that would otherwise not be required to retain identification.

And so just wanted to highlight. This chart shows the pulse of transfers of breeder deer to release sites from 2021 to 2023. And just a special note, you'll see these peaks in August and September prior to the antler cutoff deadline and also again in spring from March to May. And so in light of these ten new CWD positive facilities and associated trace-out release sites, establishing -- these associated trace-out release sites -- establishing the emergency rule that we did back in July requiring visible ID was imperative to ensure that release site owners and the Department are able to track down or remove trace animals to mitigate CWD risk in free-ranging deer. So we'll get this rule -- the emergency rule in place before the big push of release in this -- likely to occur in the next two or three weeks into early September.

Next, staff propose rules that are designed to increase compliance among epi-linked release sites. So those essentially, again, trace-out release sites. And as I mentioned earlier, there's been sustained noncompliance from epi-linked release sites, with only 40 percent actually submitting all of the required harvest and testing information. Therefore, staff propose that the trace -- trace-out release sites must remove every trace animal in 60 days either by lawful hunting or as specifically authorized by the Department. And just so the Commission is aware, as of September 1, the Department would be able to authorize individuals to take game animals for disease purposes. That's a result of some legislation that was passed this past Legislative session. And the prompt removal of CWD exposed animals is a requirement for epi-linked breeding facilities and so staff are seeking essentially consistency with breeding facilities and these trace-out release sites as well.

Next, staff are proposing that landowners that participate in the Managed Lands Deer Program that refuse to comply with the testing and reporting requirements for these trace-out release sites be deemed ineligible for participation in the program. And these proposed changes would align with the current rules governing MLD Program related to landowners that discourage hunters from testing deer in zones where it's mandatory.

Next, staff propose a simple rule change to the Trap, Transport, and Process Permit that would require the permittee to submit all CWD samples within seven days of collection. Currently the TTP rules only require the permittee to submit the test results to the Department by May 1st of that permit -- permit year. Staff are proposing this change in response to the CWD detection in Bexar County where the samples for the positive deer was collected in late January via the Triple T, TTT Permit, but we didn't receive those test results until May 1. And so consequently, we were not able to respond as quickly as we could have and so modifying that rule would allow the Department to respond sooner in the event that there is a positive in those particular scenarios.

And lastly, staff propose changes to carcass movement restrictions in CWD zones in addition of statewide carcass disposal rules. So staff recognize that proper -- proper carcass disposal is an important management strategy to minimize unintended spread of CWD, especially in areas where CWD is not yet known to exist and so staff recognize that also that carcass restrictions can be burdensome on hunters in CWD zones, especially with the Department's updated approach where we're using these 2-mile zones and we shrunk those down, oftentimes, there's not a check station available or we don't have an opportunity to put one in those zones and it doesn't allow for hunt -- the new rules that we just adopted them in May, allow for hunters to leave those zones with heads; but this change would provide some opportunities for those hunters.

And so as such, staff propose that hunters be allowed to trans-park -- transport carcasses outside of CWD zones, provided that each hunter receives a check station receipt and the receipt would serve as a documentation that the animal has been presented to the check station and tested. Furthermore, this provides the Department with a means of notifying the hunter in the case of a CWD positive result if it's detected and facilitate following up about what that hunter's done with the carcass and the -- quite frankly, the venison, which is our standard practice that we do now.

We're also proposing carcass disposal rules which would require any unused carcass part that's not retained cooking, storage, or taxidermy purposes to be disposed of in the following manner: Either directly or indirectly transported to a land -- a permitted landfill that's permitted by TCEQ or buried 3 feet deep and covered by 3 feet of soil or return -- those unused parts, returned to the property where the animal was harvested. It'll also be an offense for any person to dispose of any part of an animal that the processer does not retain for cooking, storage, or taxidermy purposes except in the method that's listed on the slide there.

And lastly, there would be some clarifying language that will be added to indicate that only heads of CWD susceptible species from containment or surveillance zones in the state, Canadian provinces, and other states or other areas outside of Texas where CWD has been detected could be transported to a taxidermist, provided all brain material, soft tissue, spinal column and -- are disposed of prior to entering Texas or disposed of in a landfill in Texas that's permitted to receive such waste.

So staff seek permission to publish the proposed amendments to the rules governing CWD detection, response, and management in deer breeder permits to the Texas Register for public comment.

And that concludes my presentations. I'll be glad to try and answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Alan.

Commissioners, questions/comments?

On the prior slide, the movement restrictions, that's only for deer from CWD zones. Is that surveillance and containment?

MR. CAIN: So --


MR. CAIN: -- there's -- there's two parts to that. So if you're in a containment or surveillance zone in the state, the rule would allow carcasses to be transported out of the zone as long as you go to the check station and get a receipt. So we've -- we've checked that deer and then you can take it out to a deer processer. You can take it back to your final destination and process at your house as long as the unused carcass parts are not disposed of in the landscape. They've got to be --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: But it's surveillance or containment zones?

MR. CAIN: Both of them. Essentially before you leave a containment zone with a whole carcass, you've got to come by and check with us. But carcass disposal -- whether it's containment zone, surveillance zone, or anywhere else in the state -- you'd have to dispose of the carcass parts either in a permitted landfill, bury it, or take the unused parts back to the site of harvest.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Is it only for an animal that came from a CWD zone? If you're a non-CWD zone or --

MR. CAIN: The carcass would apply statewide to everybody, even if you're not in a zone, the disposal requirements would.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. And we're going out for public comment on this is the recommendation, right?

MR. CAIN: Yes, just for public comment.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Okay. If you'll scroll back...

MR. CAIN: And I'll mention that the CWD Task Force did support this idea of CWD carcass disposal rules, something statewide, so.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: If you'll scroll back to Item 8 point 8 dot four -- dash four.

MR. CAIN: The Category B?

CHAIRMAN APLIN: No. Go back to the CWD positive breeder facilities from '20 to '23, the graph. There.

MR. CAIN: Okay.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So we're in an emergency order and we're going to go out and seek permit and then this will come before the November Commission Meeting, correct?

MR. CAIN: Yes, these 11 amendments.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So what you're seeing here on this slide is the positive deer, the slope of the graph and what happened in the '22 to '23 and we should note that we're still in '23, so that's a partial year and the slope of graph is -- is really, really extreme. And so then if you'll go to Slide 8-10, it shows the transfer, the movement. So we're sitting there with that kind of slope and increase and then we're looking at August/September, traditionally the number of deer that will be moved. What does the axis on the left tell us, Alan?

MR. CAIN: That's the number of deer being transferred out by month or by -- yeah, by month. So --

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So in 2022, there were over 6,000 moved. So one could assume that in '23, there could be a similar amount.

MR. CAIN: Sure.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: So between the slope on the curve of the spread and the number of facilities that have it and this knowledge that August and September is the highest -- September is the highest movement -- was the reason we felt necessary to do the emergency order and then now go through the process of public review, discussion, debate.

But that's the reason, David, that we felt like this was necessary and so I wanted everybody to understand we don't take emergency rules or emergency orders lightly. I mean, to me the data was very compelling and it would have been reckless to do anything different. So I just wanted to mention that and that's how we got to where we are right now.

So, Commissioners, any other questions for Alan on Work Session Item No. 8?

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Mr. Chairman, I've got a couple of questions.

The tags, so those are visible tags. Those would be required to remain in the deer permanently?

MR. CAIN: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And do you also have to tattoo the ear of the deer as well?

MR. CAIN: Yes, it's required in rule.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: And what's the penalty if someone takes that tag out and then releases it into the free-range?

MR. CAIN: Stormy? Zero?

MR. KING: Class C.

MR. CAIN: Oh, it's a Class -- it's a Class C. So it would be --

MR. KING: But it would be --

MR. CAIN: It would be --

MR. KING: (Inaudible).

MR. CAIN: Huh?

MR. KING: Good morning. For the record, Stormy King with LE. You're asking specifically what the penalty would be for removing the tag? It would be a Class C misdemeanor citable offense.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. I mean, do we think that that is enough disincentive to...

MR. KING: It's hard to tell honestly.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Well, you've got an opinion. What do you think?

MR. KING: Well, at times it comes down to whether not so much as to what the disincentive involved with the penalty, but what the likelihood they may be able to do it in a manner which is undetected. So we try to account for that in the rule to be very specific about that requirement continues to apply once the deer have been released. I think for -- you know, the approach now, I think a Class C misdemeanor would be sufficient.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. All right, thank you.

Secondly, have we determined is CWD transferred via semen?

MR. CAIN: There's -- I don't know that we have. There may be some research I'm not aware of. We do know that prions are in semen and they adhere to things like stainless steel very well. So it's very plausible that through artificial insemination practices it's certainly a possibility that it could be spread that way.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: But just a possibility. We don't know?

MR. CAIN: I don't recall off the top of my head any research that's actually shown that AI has caused that; but it's -- with all the research that shows where prions exist in semen and other fluids and then it's very likely. I think, in fact, right now if I'm not mistaken maybe Dr. Greenlee up in the Midwest is working on some of this right now and he may be finishing up the research and coming out with a paper on that. But I can get back to you with some more information about that.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Thank you. Because obviously that would change -- you would think about some restrictions around semen transfer if, in fact, that is the case. But I'm not -- I'm not saying we need that now. We need to verify the data.

MR. CAIN: Yeah, and that's been discussed in the task force and so that's still something to consider. But we'll -- we'll get back to you on that.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Got it. And then the last thing is your Slide 13. So regard -- and I do think to the Chairman's point, we need a bit more clarification on CZ verse -- and SZ in terms of what is required. Here it's a bit ambiguous in terms of moving these deer around.

But my question to you is this: Is -- every deer lease that I've ever been on, the deer is gutted on the site. Typically that is put into a trash pit, gut pit, whatever you want to call it. Is that still allowed?

MR. CAIN: Yeah. If it's at the site of harvest and you throw the guts there or if you quarter it and throw the spine there, that's perfectly acceptable. It's not leaving that site of harvest. It's just what we want to avoid is people hauling the whole deer back to their house from wherever, anywhere in the state, and then cleaning the deer and then taking the spine and the head and pitching it out in the back forty, so now you have the potential to expose other deer if that carcass was truly infected. And so that's the intent behind the statewide carcass disposal rule.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Understand. Okay, great. Thank you very much.

MR. CAIN: All right.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Commissioners, any other questions for Alan?

COMMISSIONER ABELL: Commissioner Abell.

Alan, I was looking at Slide 12, the transfer modification. I remember several meetings ago we had an issue where, you know, a breeder that was in compliance on a postmortem test with the dates that were in place at the time and we had let that get out because -- I can't remember if it was 21 days or something like, but animals had been transferred within the allowable window. So I see we're closing this down to seven days. My question is: Do you think we have any other blind spots that we're not aware of where people could be in compliance, but there's still workarounds where we're letting it get out?

MR. CAIN: Well, let me clarify because the 8-12 is the TTP Permit, it has nothing do to with moving deer. It's act -- and sorry for the probably not clarification earlier. The TTP Permit allows entities, whether it's a private ranch or generally used by cities or entities like that to trap and euthanize those deer and then they've got to donate the carcasses. And so in Those situations, as long as we impose the seven-day deadline, we're getting the sample results back quickly like we would any hunter-harvested deer out there. But --

COMMISSIONER ABELL: Okay. But my point was previous to this, you said it was once a year, put May --

MR. CAIN: May 1 --


MR. CAIN: -- they had to report and so that gives us this timeline, it's tightening that up and so there's not any other holes that I'm aware of --


MR. CAIN: -- as far as deer because these are dead deer. I mean, they're not --

COMMISSIONER ABELL: Right. That was my question.

MR. CAIN: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER ABELL: Is there anything that's --


COMMISSIONER ABELL: -- still out there that we're not aware of that needs to tighten up.

MR. CAIN: Yeah, good question.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: In the TTP, Alan, in the submission for the samples, do all the deer have to be sampled?

MR. CAIN: Right now, it's just the first -- or they have to submit 15 CWD -- they have to have 15 CWD not-detected test results, I believe -- or, no, I'm sorry. Fifteen samples have to be submitted and there's been some discussion by some individuals asking that 100 percent of these deer be tested for people that utilize the TTP Permit and that's something we still need to work through with the Department internally and then take it back to our task force and White-tailed Deer Advisory Committees.

And I just want to make sure we move forward cautiously because this permit is critical for some areas like Hollywood Park, Lakeway, these cities that that's the only tool they have. Hunting's not available because of other rules permitting the discharge of firearms and so if we put too many restrictions on them, like testing requirements or something that discourages use of that permit, we have a worse problem with too many deer.

We can look at things like they pay for the first 15, the Department does the other. The rest of those, that's something we consider. But at some point on some of these places if you're catching hundreds or thousands of deer over a couple years, well, you, you know, sample enough that maybe we don't need additional tests there. We kind of have an idea whether the disease is there or not and so there's different aspects we need to work through with that.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Well, you're right. This is an important tool, especially a few -- couple years ago -- I don't remember -- we took away the tool of Triple T.

MR. CAIN: Right.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: And so with that -- with that no longer available currently, then, you know, this is an important tool. So very good, thank you.

Any Comm -- Bobby.


So if a landowner was given a TTP Permit at a ranch and the ranch was in a surveillance zone, then by virtue of the fact that you've got a bunch of dead deer that came from an area, all of those deer would have to be sampled, right, for CWD?

MR. CAIN: I think so.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: You've got a convergence of --

MR. CAIN: I may have to ask James because the rule, I can't remember if it's specific to hunter-harvested deer because these are under a specific permit, but --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: Right. So you wouldn't even have to use -- if you were also MLDP, they -- your TTP dead deer don't come off your MLDP tags, right?

MR. CAIN: No, they're --

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: It's completely --

MR. CAIN: What I would say is that, yes, I mean all deer in that zone need to be sampled; but I don't -- I think -- I can't remember how the rule is worded right now, if it's just hunter-harvested deer.

COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: But one wouldn't superseded another. It --


COMMISSIONER PATTON, JR.: They would kind of have to work together I suppose. But anyway, I was curious about that.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: If you will, Alan, if you'll clarify with that and get back --

MR. CAIN: Yeah.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: -- with Commissioner Patton on that.

MR. CAIN: Okay.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Commissioners, any questions on Work Session Item No. 8?

Hearing none, I'll authorize staff to publish rules in the Texas Register.

Thank you, Alan.

Work Session Item No. 9 is the Statewide Oyster Fishery Proclamation, Temporary Closure Oyster Restoration Areas in the Galveston Bay, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good morning, Emma. How are you?

MS. CLARKSON: Good morning. I'm doing good. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, fellow Commissioners. For the record, my name is Emma Clarkson. I'm the Ecosystem Resources Program Director in the Coastal Fisheries Division. Today I'll be presenting a proposal to publish an amendment in the Texas Register to temporarily close two oyster restoration sites until November 2025.

Natural Resource Code TPWD Chapter 76 grants the TPWD Commission the authority to close an area that is being reseeded or restocked. Multiple reefs in the Galveston Bay System are being planted with cultch material to restore degraded and lost substrates. The temporary two-year closure gives the oyster larvae that recruit to the fresh cultch the opportunity to grow to harvestable size and repopulate the reef.

Successful oyster restoration projects are dependent on that larval recruitment and growth within the first two years. All of our restorations have been successful and reefs that were closed for two years are still healthier than natural reference reefs up to nine years later.

This picture shows the oyster growth on a restored and closed restoration is site in Aransas Bay. As you can see after the restoration, oyster growth creates that really structural habitat and the two-year closure allows the structure to develop uninterrupted by dredging activity and allows two cohorts of oysters to recruit to the site and grow to maturity.

This month, August 2023, two reefs in Galveston Bay are being restored using the cultch planting method. Funding for these restoration projects were generated from the CARES Act, the Federal COVID Relief Act. Over 3.7 million dollars are being invested into the restoration of these harvestable reefs. Cultch will be placed in a 3-inch to 5-inch flat layer and the temporary closure is requested only for the exact footprint of the restoration site and not the entire reef on which the restoration occurs. A total of 64.4 acres would be temporarily closed.

This map shows the location and acreage of the proposed temporary closure in Galveston Bay, where the dark areas are the land, the light is the water, and that light gray -- if you can see it -- is the oyster reefs. The red boxes indicate the proposed closure areas, temporary closure areas.

This summer we had three industry workshops along the coast to engage oyster industry members in site selection for these restoration projects, as well as future restoration projects. Once the sites were selected, we involved three -- four industry members in our field sampling trips to obtain consensus on the restoration plan. So basically these restoration projects were developed in concert with members of the industry having their input. They came out on the boat with us. The actually went out and did their own sampling and we planned these projects together.

So we respectfully request to publish this amendment in the Texas Register. We propose that both sites aforementioned will be temporarily closed for the two harvest seasons and will reopen in November 1st, 2025.

That concludes my presentation, and I can take any questions you may have.

VICE-CHAIRMAN SCOTT: Any questions from any of the Commissioners?


So the cost -- it's a great project certainly. I've always had an issue though with the cost, and I understand it's a complex process. But 64 acres costs us how much to do this?

MS. CLARKSON: It's 3.7 million.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: So it's about -- what -- 50,000 dollars an acre. So it's expensive. Are there any techniques/processes on the horizon that could potentially make this a much less expensive process that is having comparable results? I mean, those pictures are fantastic and hopefully you have those kind of results over the whole 64 acres. But are there any, you know, new technology? I know people have looked at putting baskets out. And so is there any hope that we could do this in scale at a much lower cost per acre?

MS. CLARKSON: Thank you for the question. I'm glad you asked that because that is something that we're taking very seriously. If you look at the cost of cultch over time, ten years ago it was $76 per cubic yard for turnkey. That includes mobilization, deployments, not just the price of the materials. Now it's over $210 per cubic yard through the bidding process.

Through the Oyster Restoration Work Group that we formed at the directive of the Commission, we've been working with industry members and we're actually going to be putting out a request for proposal so that industry members can start bidding on the construction projects because they anticipate having lower costs in terms of the equipment being less, the heavy barges and things like that.

And so we are exploring a new bidding option for potentially having a different -- a different group of bidders hopefully that aren't your classic construction companies. And so we are -- we're opening that up in hopes of finding something.

The material we're very restricted in that, you know, it can be porcelain, crushed concrete, limestone, river rock. Unfortunately all of those things are quite expensive, with recycled shell being the most expensive. We're currently working on a variety of oyster restoration projects with partners looking into recycled shell from shell recycling programs and things like that. It's all expensive. All of the cultch material is expensive, but we're hoping through this new bidding opportunity we'll find a better deal, so.

COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: Okay. Well, I hope we do find some technique that we can do this more cost effectively in scale. I mean, that could be a game changer. I know there's -- Jim Blackburn is out there. He's doing some things. So just creativity in the private sector is probably going to solve this better than state agencies.


COMMISSIONER HILDEBRAND: So anyway, let's keep tapping them for their expertise.

MS. CLARKSON: Absolutely.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Commissioner.

Any other questions/comments on oyster restoration?

You know, it's a great thing. As we've talked a lot about oysters and as the demand for oysters goes up, the population grows. I mean, we need every avenue we can to increase production and so clearly this is one of the ways to do it. So thank you for the report.

If there's no further questions, I'll authorize staff to publish the rules in the Texas Register.

MS. CLARKSON: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Emma.

Work Session Item No. 10, Implementation of Legislation During the 88th Texas Legislative Session, House Bill 1740, Relating to the Issuance of State Parklands Passports to and a Waiver of Certain Fees for Certain Veterans, Active Duty Armed Forces Members, Certain Family Members of a Person who Died While Serving in the United States Armed Forces, Recommended Adoption and Proposed Changes. Good morning, Timothy.

MR. BRADLE: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Dr. Yoskowitz. For the record, I'm Timothy Bradle. 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 held earlier this year.

This 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 Services. While House Bill 1740 authorizes the Texas Parks and Wildlife to issue the passes, I'm here today to present the -- to present the need to revise the Texas Administrative Code for the implementation of the passes. If approved tomorrow, the passes will be become effective starting September 1st of this year.

Now I'll brief you on each of the three new passes. House Bill 1740 language provides free entrance to members of the United States Armed Services who are 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. This 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. But I'd like to point out that there is already an existing disabled veteran's pass which will remain in effect due to its allowance 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, staff would like to recommend this for a motion for approval at tomorrow's Commission Meeting.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my presentation.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Timothy.

Commissioners, any questions about Work Session Item No. 10?

Hearing none, I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for comment and action.

MR. BRADLE: Thank you, sir.


Work Session Item No. 11 is the Implementation of Legislation During the 88th Texas Legislative Session, House Bill 2755, Related to Minimum Instruction Requirement for Boating Education Program by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Good morning, Cody.

MR. JONES: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners, Director Yoskowitz. For the record, my name is Cody Jones. I'm Assistant Commander in the Law Enforcement Division and the Boating Law Administrator. Today I'll be presenting recommendations for adoption of proposed changes to the minimum instruction requirements for boater education program as required by House Bill 2755.

During the 88th Texas Legislative Session, the Legislature enacted House Bill 2755, which amended Parks and Wildlife Code 31.108 and requires that Parks and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules to approve boater education courses 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 the amendment of the law, course conformity narrowly focused on a requirement to comply with established standards adopted by 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 the Texas Administrative Code Section 51.81 would alter current rules to require all boater education courses to satisfy the minimum American national standard adopted by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in effect on January 1st -- excuse me, on June 1st, 2022, in order to be approved by the Department. All current vendors used by the Department would meet this requirement.

To date, we've received five public comments all in favor of the proposal and zero in opposition. So at this time, staff requests that this item be placed on Thursday's agenda for public comment and action. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Cody.

Commissioners, any questions, Work Session Item No. 11?

Hearing none, I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Thank you.

Work Session Item No. 12 is the Implementation of Legislation during the 88th Texas Legislative Session, Senate Bill 1839, Relating to the Offense of Selling or Purchasing Shark Fins or Products Containing Shark Fins, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Rules. 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. Today I'll be presenting a proposed rule that would identify 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 18 -- Senate Bill 1839, which amends Parks and Wildlife Code 66.2161 to authorize the Commission to promulgate rules stipulating the method and circumstances for the destruction and disposal of shark fins at a restaurant or other place of business.

The proposed rule, 57.979, unlawful possession of shark fins, Section A, states that it is unlawful for any person to upon detaching a shark fin from a 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 by 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 states that in this section, the following term shall have the following meaning: No. 1 would be destroy, to treat the shark fin by emersion -- emersion in 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 then the second term would be immediately and would mean at once without delay, promptly.

As of today, we've received five comments on this item. Three -- three agreed completely, and two disagreed completely. The two that disagreed completely, I will note that their disagreements were not specifically with the rule, information within the rule that we're presenting here today; but more with that they did not -- that they disagreed with the fact that a lawful shark that had been possessed and harvested lawfully, that they could not -- that someone could not sell the shark fins off of those. So not necessarily directly tied to this subject, but the broader subject of the -- the -- not allowing of the sale of shark fins from a lawfully obtained shark.

With that, staff -- staff recommends that this item be placed on tomorrow's agenda for public comment and action. And if you have any questions, I'm free to answer any of those for you.

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Thank you, Les.

Commissioners, any questions for Les, Work Session Item No. 12?


What's the penalty for improper disposal?

MR. CASTERLINE: So within the entire chapter of the Parks and Wildlife Code where it -- in the section where it deals with any of our shark fin violations, a first offense is a Class B Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor, which the fines could range from 200 to 2,000 dollars or 100 -- 180 days in jail or both. Upon -- upon the conviction where you had had a previous conviction, you would have an enhancement up to a Class A misdemeanor, which could lead to fine of 500 to 4,000 dollars or up to one year in jail or both. So it enhances after the first conviction.


CHAIRMAN APLIN: Commissioners, any other questions for Les?

Okay. Thank you, Les.

If no further questions, I'll place this item on the agenda for Thursday's Commission Meeting for public comment and action.

Thank you.

Work Session Item No. 13 through 19 will be heard in Executive Session.

At this time I'd like to announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meeting Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time for the purpose of deliberation of real estate matters under Section 551.072 of the Open Meeting Act or seeking legal advice under Section 551.071 of the Open Meeting Act, including advice regarding pended -- pending or contemplated litigation.

We will now recess for Executive Session at 11:30 a.m. and we will return as soon as we finish. As a note, everyone might know we have a -- 2:00 p.m. is the public time for public comment. So that will begin at 2:00 p.m. promptly. So we'll be back as soon as we can, but definitely by 2:00 p.m. Thank you.

(Recess taken for Executive Session)

CHAIRMAN APLIN: Good afternoon and welcome. As required by the Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meeting Act, let the record show that this Executive Session of Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is commencing on -- sorry. We'll now reconvene the Work Session on August 23 at 2:04 p.m.

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







CHAIRMAN APLIN: We're now returning from Executive Session where we discussed the Work Session Real Estate Items No. 13 through 18 and Litigation Item No. 19.

If there's no further questions, I'll place Items 13 through 16 on the Thursday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Regarding Action Item No. 17, has been withdrawn.

Regarding Action Item No. 18, Fairfield State Park Update, no further action is needed at this time.

Regarding Action Item No. 19, Litigation Update, no further action is needed at this time.

No Commissioners have any questions/comments, then, Dr. Yoskowitz, this Commission has completed its Work Session business. I declare us adjourned at 2:05 p.m.

(Work Session Adjourned)



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

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