TFRLCP Council Meeting

Transcript


September 11, 2019

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

COUNCIL MEETING

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay. Good morning, everybody, and welcome. Particularly, I want to thank everybody for making the effort to come in this morning.
This is one of the more fun committees to serve on and it's a great program and I think we'll see some great opportunities this morning.
So with that, I'll start the meeting.
But I might start with introducing everybody. I guess we'll start with Mr. Scott.

COUNCIL MEMBER SCOTT: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Just want to introduce yourself and work around and --

COUNCIL MEMBER SCOTT: I'm Dave Scott. I'm from Richmond, Texas, and glad to be here.

COUNCIL MEMBER RIOJAS: Gilbert Riojas, Hebbronville, Texas. Happy to be here.

COUNCIL MEMBER PARKER: Liza Parker with the State Soil and Water Conservation Board. Thank you.

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: Tim Kleinschmidt sitting in for Commissioner Sid Miller. I'm the General Counsel of the Department of Agriculture.

COUNCIL MEMBER JACKSON: Kathleen Jackson. I'm one of the board members of the Texas Water Development Board and I'm sitting in for our Chairman, Peter Lake, who sends his greetings and this is a special privilege and honor for me. My late husband was a rice farmer in Southeast Texas and, you know, when we were courting he said, "We make the perfect couple because people have to have food and they have to have energy," and I was in the -- working in the oil and gas industry. So it's just I really kind of admire the work that y'all have done for a number of years and I appreciate the opportunity to be here today.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, welcome. Thank you. Reed Morian with Parks and Wildlife Commission.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I'm Ted Hollingsworth. I'm staff here at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: Natalie Cobb Koehler; Cranfills Gap, Texas.

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: Good morning. My name is Roel Lopez. I'm with the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute.

COUNCIL MEMBER CLARK: Good morning. I'm Darren Clark. I'm on the Easement Program staff with NRCS in the state office in Temple. I'm here filling in for Salvador Salinas.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Welcome.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: Good morning. My name is John Zacek. I'm from Victoria, in the banking business and the livestock cow/calf business. Longtime banker in Victoria for 37 years. Glad to be a part of the group and it's been very, very enjoyable and learned a tremendous amount over the years.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Good. But before proceeding with any business, Mr. Hollingsworth has a statement to make.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code, referred to as the Opening Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of this meeting.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you. Action Item No. 1 is Review and Approval of the Minutes from November 19th, 2018, and they're in your binder, if everybody wants to take a minute to review.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: Mr. Chairman, having had the packet prior to this meeting, I've read the minutes and I would make a motion to approve them as presented.

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: I'll second.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you. Motion made and seconded. All in favor please say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any opposed? Hearing  none, the motion carries. Briefing Item No. 2, I think I've already welcomed everybody. I will say this is our annual meeting for 2019. I did say that we have some interesting applications. And with that, I'll move on to Briefing Item No. 3, very important. It's your Ethics Review for Returning and New Council Members. Mr. Murphy, please make your presentation.

MR. MURPHY: Good morning, Chairman Morian, Council members. I'm James Murphy, staff attorney for the program and I'm presenting on the Opening Meetings law, the Public Information Act, our contracting laws, and other ethics laws that apply to you as members of this Council. This presentation is a required statutory training under Chapter 84 of the Parks and Wildlife Code. But most of you have served on this Council before and in an abundance of caution because we have some alternate members here, we're going to go ahead and take five minutes and go through this training. I'm also available to answer any question you may have either here in this Council meeting today or if you have, you know, individual questions for me, please feel free to contact me after the meeting or, otherwise, I'm happy to go through any questions you may have about these.

All right. So let's start with the Open Meetings law. You heard the declaration from Ted on this at the beginning. And to have this meeting today, it was necessary to comply with that statute. There's a video that you were informed of in a letter that was sent out very early on when you were first appointed to this and we do recommend that you watch that video if you have not. It does have important information on the Open Meetings law.

Some of the key points to remember are that public posting of this meeting is required prior to the meeting occurring. We must have a quorum of Council members. The Council's actions are limited to what's on the posted agenda. So no additional action items, and there are sanctions for that. Today we're going to have three action items for your consideration. One of them are the minutes you've already approved and these items
were all properly noticed to the public.

Turning to the Public Information law, it's sometimes called Open Records law. That's Government Code Chapter 552. There's a recommended video online for this, as well. The Ethics Commission makes this easy on you guys in that it does provide a series of videos and trainings on its website. Just recommend that you go and review those periodically, especially after there's been a legislative session. There are some tweaks to the Ethics laws normally each session.

One thing in this packet and part of the reason you have some updated slides is we do have some updated hyperlinks to some of these videos and other training materials and so wanted to get you the most current links to those to assist you in tracking them down. If you would like an electronic copy of these documents with those hyperlinks, please just let me know.

TPWD has two public information officers in our Legal Division, Elizabeth Cater and Chris Kadas. Either one of them will be your point of contact if for some reason the Council does receive a public information request.

Turning to the Administrative Procedures Act, this is -- there are two major components to this. One of them is with respect to contested case hearings. That's a quasi-judicial function that this Council does not have. So it's really not relevant to our work here today. But this Council does have rule-making authority and there's specific State law requirements on how to properly notice, take public comment on rule-making proposals. Thus far, the Council has not seen a need to issue rules and, you know, but certainly that authority is available to you. And if we go through that, staff and me will be available to help ensure that all of the procedural requirements are met.

I'm just going to highlight a few other major areas for you, try and make this fairly quickly so we can get to the good stuff, the projects. These are just a few of the very important Ethics laws to be aware of. Certainly misuse of government property, personnel services and information is something to be aware of. But there's some newer provisions relating to revolving door and this would be when you leave the Council or are about to leave the Council, your term is up, there are three new restrictions out there on that just making sure that there's no sort of favoritism made in issuing of grants by this Council.

Again, we have some recommended trainings online. I think one really important requirement to highlight is you do have an annual personal financial statement due April 30th of each year. We're a little ways off from that, but I do encourage everybody to just make a calendar reminder to do this each year. It is an important requirement.

One other key requirement, of course, is prevention of conflicts of interest. If you do perceive that you may have a conflict of interest with any of the applications before you today, we just ask that you publicly announce that on the record and recuse yourself from voting on that particular item. And if you have questions about whether or not you are affiliated in a way that might either be a conflict of interest or an appearance of a conflict, please feel free to contact me and I'll review to determine if there is, in fact, a real issue there.

Lobbyists are a particular area of Ethics laws. One area to keep in mind -- we don't expect a whole lot of lobbyist influence in this Council; but one thing to keep in mind is that even if you receive a permissible gift from a lobbyist, it is still put into the official list of gifts provided and so you will show up on a lobbyist activities report if certain thresholds are met there.

Contracting laws, again, there's some required videos here. There have been some issues at some other agencies with appearance of favoritism in contracting. So there have been some enhanced restrictions and procedures associated with State contracting. Rest assured that staff here and your Legal Division is very aware of these requirements and we will ensure that the grants that are issued to the land trusts are appropriate and go through the procedural requirements of the State for issuing these grants.

And just a few additional ones to highlight. These are probably pretty well-known to you, but State property only for State purposes; no travel reimbursements for alcohol expenses; you cannot try to influence the passage or defeat of legislation or influence elections with your official position here on the Council.

Lastly, we do not have any policies here for the Council. When it was previously at GLO, they did not issue any formal policies for the program. There are some Texas Ethics Commission policies for you to keep in mind. These are available on the website, as well. And certainly the Department has numerous polices that we've issued over the years for how our employees are -- conduct their business and including an ethics policy that applies to all employees here at Parks and Wildlife.

And with that, I'm here to answer any questions. Yes, sir.

COUNCIL MEMBER SCOTT: Can you elaborate a little bit on the change of the Open Meetings Act?

MR. MURPHY: Certainly the Open Meetings Act -- and is there a particular change that you're referring to, sir?

COUNCIL MEMBER SCOTT: What constitutes a violation.

MR. MURPHY: Certainly. So we do have basic requirements associated with Open Meetings where we have a ten-day notice provision. I don't believe that has changed in some time. We do have a number of other -- and let's just go back to the slide here and -- up, up, up. So we do have -- I think as it pertains to the business of this Council, I'm not sure there are any significant changes to be aware of. Largely, it's the same ten-day notice. It's limited to the action items that are publicly noticed, and we do have to have a quorum of members vote on any action. Ted, was there anything else that came to mind on that?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: You might want to mention where these get -- these agendas get published.

MR. MURPHY: Oh, sure. These get published through -- largely through the Texas Register. In addition, there will also be notices posted on our website and posted -- occasionally, we'll also do some outreach for certain
meetings where we might send a specific e-mail to some of the land trust attendees that have filed applications.

COUNCIL MEMBER SCOTT: Good.

MR. MURPHY: Any other questions? Thanks very much.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, thank you for your presentation. With that, we'll move on to Briefing Item No. 4, which is the Update of the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program Existing Programs and Mr. Abernathy is going to --

MR. ABERNATHY: Good morning, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, everybody. Thank you so much for coming. We had a hard time getting everybody together today, but we made it.

So I have a lot of projects. I'll be your entertainment for the rest of the day. We have several projects to go through, and we'll just get started. So what I wanted to do is a little old business to update you on the projects that were passed two years ago and what the status is.

Again, you've seen this map. This is the location of all of our current projects. I know it's hard to see. A little bit bigger back here and you've got it in your book, but I want you to look on that right-hand column. We've got a ton of closed projects. We finally got -- Pietila just closed last week. That was one of the largest holdouts that took forever, but it adds over 5,000 acres in the far West Texas habitat to our program.

We have two more. Santa Anna and Krause are literally ready to close, but they're waiting on some funding transfers from NRCS. And then we have two more, which are Bartush and Collins, and they have had to extend their contracts. They have money that is good through September of next year or 2020 -- I'm sorry -- 2019 and they'll be the end of 2020 and we're going to finish those up real quick, too. And then we actually had a withdrawal, and I think I showed y'all this last year. Spoonbill Farms withdrew because they were getting pressure by pipeline companies and they chose to take that route and so they withdrew from our program.

Is there any questions on any of the projects?

All right. That was easier than I thought.

So No. 5, sir, shall I -- want me to just go through?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yes.

MR. ABERNATHY: Okay. Oh, I'm ahead of my technical support back here.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: You're going to present the Item No. 5 --

MR. ABERNATHY: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: -- 20-21 Program?

MR. ABERNATHY: Yes, sir. That's the meat of why we're here today. I think we're ready.

Okay. I just want to -- this picture came from Inspiring Oaks. It's one of our properties.
It's over near Wimberley. That's a family of river otters, which really shows the how healthy that river system is. And it was taken by Chase Fountain, which is our TPWD resident photographer and I just really liked that picture and so you may see a couple more today.

So these are all of the applications we received. We received 11 total applications. Nine of them -- or nine different land trusts submitted applications. Nine different counties are represented, and we had anything from 200 to 2,000 acres. They requested $3 million. Now, y'all know we only get $2 million. So we had to -- we had to sort that out. We had to decide which ones we wanted to keep, and I'm going to talk about that on the next section.

All of our projects were active working lands, like that we reiterated in our last meeting where we revised the criteria. So our land trusts met those conditions. They understood your desires. And we had habitats from all over Texas and, again, we're really centralized in Central Texas; but we actually have one, a new one, in the far -- in the coastal area, which is the Oyster Bayou Ranch. And you can see there's -- most of them are centered around Medina and -- I'm sorry, not Medina -- Bexar and Travis Counties and Uvalde Counties.

Another picture from Inspiring Oaks. So these are the criteria that y'all revised last year. I just wanted to bring that back up. So we added more points to threats of development. We added more points to watershed value and we added more points to fish and wildlife value and we reduced the term on the conservation easement because we always accept perpetual terms.

Okay. Oh, let me go back. Just that little line at the bottom, these are ranked -- or these are shown to you in the order that we ranked them. We have a selection committee and I'll show you that on the next section, as well.

So Honey Creek Spring Ranch is brought to us by the Nature Conservancy. It's owned by the Honey Creek Spring Ranch LP. And I want to do a quick disclosure here on this one. There's a staff member at TPWD who is part of the family that owns Honey Creek. It had no bearing on our selection of it and the Legal Department has reviewed this item and determined there is not a conflict of interest, but we felt that disclosure was proper.

It's over -- it's almost -- it's over 600 acres and they're asking for $572,000 from us, $2 million from NRCS, and it works out to about $900 per acre and the total value is $5 million. It's in Comal County. So this is number one, and you're going to see here in a second why.

This has the headwaters of Honey Creek. It's a flowing river under a cave. It has karst species. It has -- it just has a tremendous value to protect. It's been in the same family for over 150 years, and it just rose to the top. Now, I can't show you all of the criteria of everything that came into all of these selections because it's just too much. I'm trying to show you some highlights of why we picked it out.

Again, it was ranked No. 1. They still have great livestock. They've been in the same family since 1871. It's adjacent to Guadalupe River State Park and Honey Creek State Natural Area. So it's got that combined open space which gives it more points. And like I said, it contains Honey Creek Cave, which is the largest cave system in Texas, and it has a flowing river that's a tributary to the Guadalupe. And they did document -- there's some species in there -- they haven't actually like done a DNA test, but there were some blind salamanders in there and we all know that blind salamanders are at least rare, if they're not threatened.

Spicewood, brought to us by Hill Country Conservancy. The landowner is Christopher Harte. It's in Burnet County. A little over 500 acres. There's asking 212 -- almost $213,000. They're asking 2.3 million from NRCS and they're providing a cash match out of the sale of 141,000. So that brings the price per acre down to $379 and the total value for that property is about $3 million.

As you can see, it's just -- it's hard -- again, I know these maps are really hard to see. I'm just trying to give you some reference where it's at. It's just -- it's got some pretty good habitat. It's got water. The landowners are actively managing. They're doing some prescribed burns. So, again, this was ranked No. 2. They're doing -- this one's primarily wildlife management. It's one of our ones that is not -- just has a bunch of cows on it, but they're also managing for habitat and species.

It actually was awarded the Lone Star Steward Award in 2018 by this Agency and there's several acres of hardwood oak and quality ag land and grasslands and riparian areas and there's over 200 acres of Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat, as well.

Okay. The Donop River -- the Donop Llano River Ranch. And I'm sorry, I'm going to have to drink a little water today. This is brought to us by Texas Ag Land Trust, what we refer to as TALT because we're lazy. Perry Donop Ranch, a little over 400 acres in Mason County. They're asking just under $80,000 from us and this is almost a giveaway project. I mean, the economics are for a $2 million property, they're asking $80,000 for us to do the due diligence and the acquisition. There's no NRCS request. There's no cash match. And that brings the per acre all the way down to $188 per acre. It's just a really good deal.

And it's just a long, narrow strip. It's right there on the Llano River. And there is -- you know, the application talked about some of the -- it's Mason County. Because it's more popular, people are -- there are some imposing -- impending threats of development and so this is one of the criteria that we considered. It's right on the banks of the Llano.

So, again, No. 3 by the selection team. Grazing and wildlife are the primary working uses. It's been family owned since 1860, 1859; bisected by Willow Creek; and, again, the development threat is increasing in Mason County. So they want to protect this property as an open space.

Montell Creek Ranch, this is owned by the Worley Miller Land Trust, just under 400 acres in Uvalde County. They're asking $240,000 from us. No NRCS request. Let me just expand on this a little bit. They actually requested $100,000 from NRCS. NRCS denied them the $100,000. When we did the review and looked at our money, we felt that the extra $100,000 was worth this property. So we internally increased their request from $140,000 to $240,000 and it still brought the price per acre -- it's a little high at 600,000 -- $600 per acre, but it has a market value of half a million dollars and we just thought that it had some criteria in it that was worthy of keeping.

As you can see, it's bisected by MontellCreek. It has some really nice watershed features. Has some karst features. There's just a lot that we thought was worth keeping. Again, ranked No. 4. It's a wildlife and livestock ranch. Been in the family since 1945. They've got several caves and springs. So, again, lots of karst features. If you understand karst topography, that's where our groundwater comes from, that's what impacts the water quality, and so it's really important to protect those areas. And, again, it's split through the -- Montell Creek runs through the center of it.

The Open V Ranch by Texas Ag Land Trust. This is Sky Lewey. If y'all know Sky, she lives in Uvalde County. She's been a champion for resources for a very long time. She's probably bugged a lot of people over the years for money and help and protecting the Frio.

So 200 acres. She's requesting $317,000, no NRCS match, and they're providing a $260,000 cash match for the market value of about $520,000. And I've actually been on this property before and she has -- she has river frontage. She has open pastures. She has what are called -- these are -- I don't really understand them a lot. They're called, like, they're Champion trees. They literally are trees that are noted for their longevity and for how long they've been around.

So this was ranked No. 5. It's grazing and wildlife. It's family owned since 1965. Sky got the -- she got the Lone Star Steward Award in 2014; 108 acres of riparian forests; 41 acres of pasture; and 51 acres of native pasture. And she -- they have found several -- what we call a species of greatest conservation need have been found on that property.

The 5-H Ranch brought to us by Green Spaces Alliance. It's owned by the 5-H Corporation, 249 acres. They're asking $77,500 from us, no NRCS request, and they're providing a $19,000 cash match for a price per acre of $311 in Bexar County.

This one on the surface is not really exciting; but if you look at the photo -- and I know it's hard -- this is right off of I-35. It has industrial areas on the west and to the north of it and we felt that there was a buffer capability on this property. It has some impoundments which slows down pollution and it has some waterfowl properties that we thought were important and we just felt that this one was worth protecting. And you can see it's got some open water, fishing, still running livestock.

So the 5-H Ranch was ranked No. 6 by the selection team. Again, grazing, fishing. They used to have oil in times of need and they also have a cell tower on site and it's been in the family since 1945. It has 75 acres of improved pasture; 50 acres of ponds and wetlands; and about 30 acres of woodlands. And, again, as I mentioned, it's on I-35 and it's a really rapidly developing area. So we thought the open space criteria was important.

Oyster Bayou -- did I miss one? I think I might have. I may have missed a slide, Mr. Chairman. I'm sorry. I may have left one out for Oyster Bayou. We'll get to it.

So Oyster Bayou is on the coast. It is a what we call a rotational rice farm. It's an active rice farm. I don't have the acreage with me because I don't have the property in front of me. As you can see, they plant rice and then they harvest rice and in the interim when they flood those wetlands -- ah, thank you. Okay. I'm glad y'all have this in front of you.

So this is Galveston Bay Foundation, owned by Halley Ray Moor. It's 460 acres and they're asking $230,000 from us and an equal match of $230,000 from NRCS and a cash match of $60,000 provided by them.
So the cost per acre of $500. And, actually, this was ranked No. 1 by the NRCS because of its criteria.

So as you can see, lots of migratory bird habitat; but it's still an active farm. This is one of our few -- this is one of our few farms. I mean, most of our properties are just cattle ranches; but these guys are turning soil. So, again, ranked No. 8 by the selection team. Again, farming, wildlife, active farm for over 50 years, almost 400 acres of rice farming, and 70 acres of ponds and wetlands and they've been working on that property for a long time trying to get the habitat enhanced and focusing on recreational waterfowl hunting as a side to the rice farming.

The JTW Ranch, again, Texas Ag Land Trust, bought and owned by Andrew Walker, 433 acres in Dimmitt County. They're asking $125,000; $250,000 from NRCS; and they're matching $125 out of the sale of the property. Estimated market value of 500,000. As you can see, they have river frontage. They have active grazing, improved pasture, open water which is waterfowl habitat.

Ranked No. 8. They've had this -- this ranch has been working since the 1900s. The current landowner bought it in 1988. They have over 433 acres of native and improved pastures and there's some development going on because the Eagle Ford Shale development. So there's pressure for lots of different purchases and fragmentation over there. So they wanted to protect this property, as well.

The Sechrist Ranch, again, Texas Ag Land Trust by Richard Sechrist. This is 210 acres in Gillespie County. $281,000 requested from us; $421,000 from NRCS; and another $281,000 providing a cash match. This one's a little more expensive. It worked out to be $1,400 per acre. Estimated market value 20 -- $2.5 million. You can see they're actively grazing. It looks like they're doing a rest-rotation grazing there. Fence line comparison. We've got watershed, native pasture, a lot to protect.

This was ranked No. 9, and we'll get into that when I get into the next section. Livestock and wildlife. It's been in the ranch -- in the family for over 70 years and it has White Oak Creek runs through the center, which is a tributary to the Pedernales. And we all know what Fredericksburg is becoming like. So threat is very high.

Okay. Twin Oaks Pantermuehl, this one actually is right down the road from where I live. It's right off of Hoffmann Lane in New Braunfels. Brought to us by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust, 338 acres, and they're asking $500,000 with zero NRCS request and a $5,000 cash match. So the price per acre was pretty high at $1,400, almost $1,500 per acre. Estimated market value $2.7 million.

And as you can see, it's surrounded by development to the north, east, and to the south. Those are also divisions. And it's an active working ranch. They have cattle. They have goats. They have some farmland.

But we ranked it No. 10. I can just tell you right now why we ranked this one No. 10. We felt that it was too little bang for the buck. It was just a little too much money for the area of protection. So, again, primary -- primary working land is grazing. It's been in the family for over 50 years. Again, Comal County is considered the second fastest growing county in the United States. It's got 338 acres and 51 are used for crops and 29 are for improved pasture and hay. The rest are in native grass pasture.

Thumbtack Ranch I believe is our last property, by Pheasants Forever. It's owned by the Thumbtack Ranch. It's 2,000 acres in Zavala County. They're asking $550,000. They're asking NRCS match of $1 million, and they're opting -- or providing $500,000 in a cash match for the price per acre of $275. Estimated market value is $2 million.

So, again, we can talk about this in the next section. This property -- Council Member Jackson asked me why we didn't select it for funding and I'll go into it a little bit. We can talk about it more in the next section. But because this is truly a corporate retreat and because the request was 25 percent of my appropriation and because the cost per acre is over -- you know, about $1,400 an acre, we just felt that it wasn't appropriate for the program.

Ranked No. 11. Again, they clearly state it's a corporate hunting retreat. They're not -- they don't try to disguise it as an active ranch that just gets hunted on the -- they don't -- they're not doing that. And it hasn't been touched for a long time, so it is a native brush and they do have some -- it's a -- there's a hunting lodge, there's cabins, there's quarters, there's a bunkhouse. I mean, this is a commercial operation, and that also kind of had an impact on our determination.

And that's it for this section. Are there any questions?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chris, you might want to point out that the value give, that's the estimated value of the conservation easement, not the fee simple --

MR. ABERNATHY: Yes, sir. That's right. That is the conservation value estimate and that's provided to us and sometimes it's provided to us by the land trust. We ask that they get what we call a broker's opinion of value to give us a little more tighter margins, but what we've found -- especially in regards to appraised value. So when we get a contract with a land trust, one of their tasks is to get this formally appraised. And in the past, we have had -- so if the appraisal comes in greater than the estimate, then that changes the dynamics of the funding or if it comes in less. So they have to be really close on their estimate.

And that's a good question to talk about because that impacts our process and how long things take because if the money is -- so say the money -- say it's appraised for more than what they thought, they can do a couple of things. They can either ask for more money, which I don't have any more money to give. Once I appropriate all my funds, we don't have any more. So they look to NRCS and that's a hard task, too. So then they start trimming land off to reduce the appraised value to match the original appraised value and that presents problems as well because now they're no longer -- they're not offering 300 acres. They're offering 250 acres. I mean, so there's a lot of dynamics built on that one number that happen internally in our agencies, between our Agency and NRCS just based on that appraisal. I just thought y'all should know the background on that.

COUNCIL MEMBER JACKSON: Chris, one of the things the kind of occurs to me in kind of looking through all of the candidates here that we're considering is that we've talked a lot about the financial value and that's kind of one of the indicators; but certainly one of the drivers of the program from the water aspect is the ability to kind of preserve and, if you will, conserve either recharge or the impact that it could have from conserving and making sure that water quality is preserved.

And I think one of the things that the program has done just a great job at, you know, oftentimes if it's important enough to do, it's important enough to measure. And so there's been a lot of work, you know, in terms of measuring what that benefit is and I was just wondering -- I know the A&M folks are here. I know that they've done some work in that area; but I think that's an important kind of point to bring forward is that each and every one of these projects provides either a benefit for water quality or for recharge or for both and that in the process, you've actually quantified that.

So, you know, oftentimes we say that water conservation is a water supply and so there's a huge benefit, you know, from that aspect for these projects and I didn't know if that's something you could talk a little bit more about.

MR. ABERNATHY: I may -- Mr. Chairman, I may defer to Dr. Lopez because this is his bailiwick.

But you're 100 percent right. We focus -- because you know we added to the criteria to focus on water quality and habitat and we do. We look for demonstrable BMPs, best management practices -- you know, riparian grazing, water distribution, protection of waterways, stream crossings, all of the things that impact water quality, bank stability, vegetation, temperature, all of those things. But we do not have a method -- we, when I say -- TPWD doesn't have a method for measuring the quantifiable impacts.

Dr. Lopez's group certainly does, and he's produced some publications towards that and I'm going to let Dr. Lopez fill that in.

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: Okay.

Mr. Chairman, I guess a little bit of background for those that may be new to the program. The initial focus of the program and continues to be the focus is the protection of working lands, as well as the enhancement
of water -- both quantity and quality. So early in the process, we were involved -- as part of the Council -- in the assessment of water. You know, trying to quantify those benefits and so forth.

It's somewhat challenging. I think in looking at the applicants, they attempt to do that in describing, you know, qualitatively what the value of water is. There may be ways of trying to do that in a more quantifiable way. More recently we were involved in an assessment of water or really the value of conservation easements more broadly from a wildlife, water, ag perspective.

The Texas Land Trust Council also did a similar sister report to that effort. And so between those two reports, I think there's numbers that can be used in future applications if there was that interest.
So to your point, there's some basic information that can be used and assumptions made, along with some of the work that the Texas Water Development Board and the regional plans, in particular, offer. So those are the
two linkages that I see.

I'm not sure if that helps, Chris.

COUNCIL MEMBER JACKSON: We talk about structural versus nonstructural in terms of, you know, benefits for, again, enhancing water supply and certainly I think the point here for this program is that, you know, you look at the properties and, you know, in your heart you just believe that you're moving forward and you're doing the right thing; but also there's been that work effort from a science standpoint that A&M has participated in, to kind of generate that, if you will, quantifiable data and kind of this attempt to put together what the financial benefits are associated with making this investment.

So I think it's a huge point moving forward that, you know, as you noted earlier the two kind of drivers behind the program and things that you're trying to achieve was, you know, in one area water quality and then the other, you know, working lands and that preservation of ag land that really both of those are being accomplished and being measured as we move forward in the program.

I also noted that it was really great to see -- and you mentioned this with Oyster Bayou. First of all, Galveston Bay Foundation. I think that's the first time they've come in and they've done great work in the past, I mean, in other areas. So in my mind, it's great to see them come in as a partner.

And then also the fact that it is production agriculture and I think kind of what we know is that, you know, when you have, you know, producing lands -- in this particular situation with the rice crop -- that almost kind of draws the wildlife habitat. I remember my own personal experience. One evening my husband said, "Let's go drive down to the big lake and I want to show you something," and I had no idea. I thought he had been out working in the field and it was some new levee or some new piece of equipment. And when we got down there and we kind of waited and then right at sunset, the whole area -- the whole sky filled with Roseate Spoonbills and beautiful sight and, of course, they were there in part because of the stewardship and the production agriculture that was ongoing.

So to me it's the perfect match. It's that you've got -- you're trying to preserve agricultural lands and then you get that benefit from habitat and all of these projects that you, I think, are moving forward and you're recommending demonstrates that.

MR. ABERNATHY: Appreciate that, ma'am.

Mr. Chairman, you know and we -- I was excited to see this one too because the stand -- the run of the mill for this program are livestock operations and we understand that. I mean, that's what Texas' bread and butter is built on; but it was very -- I really enjoyed seeing, like you said, the rotational farming aspect. Because this concept that agriculture and habitat and water quality cannot go hand in hand, I think, is just not true. I think with proper stewardship, we certainly can have both. And I think al of these properties are demonstrating that and that's why we picked them.

Mr. Chairman, are you ready for the next one?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, I just want to second what Mrs. Jackson said. These projects seem to be more straightforward and easier to identify with than the ones we had last time. Is that because of our -- we changed some of the criteria --

MR. ABERNATHY: I believe so, sir.

That's my opinion. I think the -- because the land trust members were here last time and they -- I think they heard you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: They heard it.

MR. ABERNATHY: And they talked to you about what they wanted to do and then they heard your desires that we wanted more active properties, more active working lands, and they went out and they beat the bushes and they found these properties.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, it looks like it paid off, so for whatever reason.

Ted, do you want to --

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I also believe the fact -- we've had some real successes and we've got two cycles now under our belts and landowners are beginning to see the benefits on their neighbors' properties. That they can, in fact, have a conservation easement. It doesn't have to be "The government took over my property" and that they can continue to do what they've been doing, reap some financial benefits from that, and I think as -- I think success breeds success.

And I also agree with Chris that our partners, the NGOs, have heard what the Council has said, have seen the projects that have been successful, have been selected. And as they work with the landowners in their geographic area of expertise, they have found those good matches and brought those forward and are doing a better job each cycle.

COUNCIL MEMBER RIOJAS: How do you continue grow that? I mean, the success of that program, how do you continue to market that and get that out there and really showcase that? Because, I mean, the changes that have happened have been significant for the better. So how do you continue to grow that? To increase it, say, from the 11 applicants to 20 or how do you keep growing that?

MR. ABERNATHY: Mr. Chairman, we need more money if you want 20 applicants because I had to turn down three of them.

But the marketing issue is huge, and it weighs on me a lot. The only outreach that I've done physically was last year I went to the Texas Soil and Water Conservation Board in Fort Worth. I had a vendor booth. But 90 -- I'd say 98 percent of the people that visited me did not even know that our program existed. I think we need to rely on our partners that are -- and I do believe the districts are the liaison to the ag community, personally.

They are trusted. There's a trusted relationship there and I think that we need to rely on them and, obviously, NRCS is talking about our program, as well; but I think we need some ambassadors out there that know about our program and that they talk to those landowners and say, "Hey, did you know this existed? I mean, we could take care of your property, preserve it, protect it for your family and, you know, it's pretty low cost impacts to you."

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: Mr. Chairman?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yes.

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: To that point, I think the ambassadors for this program, frankly, are the land trust community themselves. They all know the program very well. Many of them are in this room.
The -- and being able to continue to sort of tell the story on the value of the conservation of working lands is part of that process to maybe at some point try to grow the program would be the ideal. So you could have
20, 30 applicants and so forth.

As an action item, if the chairman is interested, I can share two reports with the Council -- the -- from the Texas Land Trust Council that did an assessment of conservation easements as long -- as well as Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute. There are two reports that sort of tell the story that I think would be helpful.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: That would be wonderful.

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: To kind of give you some background.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Please.

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: So I'll do that as a follow-up action, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you. Yep.

MR. ABERNATHY: Mr. Chairman, that would be really good because you know when we meet in 2020, we won't have any projects to approve; but we'll have kind of a housekeeping, updating meeting and that would be perfect, Dr. Lopez, to do that there, if that's the Chairman's --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Wonderful.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: Mr. Chairman, I might just add, you know, we -- one of the easement holders, one of the groups, asked me about approaching centers of influence in the Victoria area and we brought in all the CPAs from the general area and allowed them to come in and make a presentation about what a conservation easement is and what it does. And everything from the things that we're talking about here at this meeting today to how do you do the generational passing of property, you know, leaving them intact without having to split properties up and have them resold and, again, everything that reinforces our mission and what we're about.

And so from an estate planning standpoint, you know, the light went off with these CPAs that often are the guiding light for property owners that don't know about these things and I wasn't even able to make the -- we hosted it at the bank, but I wasn't even able to make the meeting and every CPA that attended thanked me for, you know, allowing -- you know, bringing that group to Victoria. So, again, another way to reach out and really touch a lot of people and sometimes it's the centers of influence as opposed to the property owners themselves. And I can tell you not a one of those CPAs knew anything about it. So just thought that was worth commenting on.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah, very good point.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I would like to add that our partners, our NGO partners, really are actively -- TALT in particular; HCC, Hill Country Conservancy; Texas Land Trust Council, have all hosted regional meetings and others -- I'm leaving folks out -- but have hosted regional meetings where they have opened the doors, invited landowners in, and talked about the tools in that "Preserve my ranch toolkit," but have done a lot to emphasize the value and the potential value of conservation easements and the fact that this program exists. So as they have successes, they're going out and spreading the word.

COUNCIL MEMBER JACKSON: And I think continuing to share the information and the data about how it benefits, you know, Texas as a whole. So certainly it's targeted towards the individual landowner and individual family and their benefits associated with that; but there are greater benefits -- you know, those that we talked about earlier -- in terms of water quality or water supply that really just, you know, drives people to want to do things not just that benefit themselves, but benefit their children and their children's children.

MR. ABERNATHY: Anything else,

Mr. Chairman? Are we ready for the next one?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any other comments?

If not, we'll move on to Action Item No. 6, Consideration of Staff Recommendations to Award Grants for Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021.

Mr. Abernathy.

MR. ABERNATHY: Yes. Okay. So internal process for this is that I collected what I thought were the greatest minds of TPWD and I brought them together. So on July 9th, we got together. We all met. And I want to point out -- and you'll see I put it in quotes here -- if you remember during the last meeting, Council Member Rex Isom requested that we add what he termed an agricultural industry representative to the selection team and we did that. They provided a selected person whose name is Jay Evans. He's a ranch manager and a ranch consultant. He's here in Austin, but he has properties and he manages properties all over Texas. And he agreed to come and participate with us and it was really, really enjoyable. We enjoyed him. He fit right in. He just made a huge contribution. So I just want -- I know the font is really tiny. Maybe it's in your notebook. You can read it. But we had Justin Dreibelbis. He's the Program Director for Private Lands. He's back here. I had my manager Ted Hollingsworth. We had Tim Birdsong. He's the Chief of Habitat Conservation with Inland Fisheries. Greg
Creacy, he's the Natural Resources Director. Jason Singhurst, he's a Plant Community Biologist in Wildlife Division, me, and Mr. Evans. We all were present for a single day and we reviewed all of these projects over the course of a day and made our selection.

Unfortunately, all things are based on money. I wish I had more money, but I don't. So what you see here is each of the projects by their score, their internal score, because we used the criteria and then that creates an average score. And I give you this running total on that right-hand column to kind of show you how much its increasing as we're approaching my maximum budget amount.

And I apologize. What you have in your notebook, actually it was an error. I made a mistake and we found it and so this is the correct number where it talks about the budget amount of 1.875. So just -- this is the correct amount.

So if you'll see -- for Montell Creek, you'll see this is where we added $100,000 request that NRCS had not provided. So we get to this maximum of $1.854 at JTW Ranch and I have available to spend $1.875. So I have almost maxed out my appropriation, minus $20,000. We would like to fund Sechrist Ranch and Twin Oaks; but, again, we ran out of money. And as I mentioned earlier, Thumbtack Ranch we just felt because it was a corporate retreat, a commercial operation, not an active property or an active ranch, it just didn't really meet our criteria for funding.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: Chris, you may have said something about this earlier and I may have missed it; but in the slides, you show Oyster Bayou as No. 8?

MR. ABERNATHY: Yes, sir.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: But if you actually count down that list right there, it's actually No. 7. You have No. 8 listed twice --

MR. ABERNATHY: Oh.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: -- in the slide.

MR. ABERNATHY: Thank you for pointing that out. You're right though. It was No. 7. JTW was last.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: JTW is actually eight.

MR. ABERNATHY: Yes, sir.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: So you have --

MR. ABERNATHY: Yeah. If you -- yeah.
The point between them was less than .25 points; but, yes, sir, I did make that mistake.

Okay. So I don't know if there's questions for how we derived our scores or about the funding. I'm happy to talk about that.

So here's the summary. There are eight projects recommended for funding. Seven of those for full funding request and one of those -- again, Montell Creek -- includes an NRCS deficit of $100,000. The combined project area is three point -- or 3,300 acres. Project value, almost $13 million in project value. And we're recommending $1.85 million be funded and that gives us a funding ratio of $7 to one for value.

So this is kind of just a little history. This is the TR -- the Texas Farm and Ranch Land Conservation Program value for the previous funding cycles. In FY 18-19, we had $2 million. We had -- we awarded $1.8 million to seven projects and it had a total value of $16 million for a leverage of nine point -- nine to one. It was a really good year. This year, 2021, we're appropriating $2 million. We have $1.85 million to eight projects in seven counties and the project value is 16.5 million to an average -- a leveraged amount of seven to one. So the average cost per acre to date, we're only spending -- it's less than $200 an acre that we're spending, which is a really good deal. I wish I would buy property for $200 an acre.

So this is my motion I need from you, Mr. Chairman: The Council awards Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program funds to the eight projects as recommended by staff.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Just to refresh my memory, in -- so the actual easement values are -- these are approximations. The final conservation easement has not been --

MR. ABERNATHY: Exactly, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: -- negotiated?

MR. ABERNATHY: It's post-award.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Right. So let's say some -- the value -- people want an additional building site or some other use, so the value goes down. Would Sechrist be the next one that you would come back to us for if there were additional funds?

MR. ABERNATHY: Yes, sir. It would be the -- it definitely would be the next one. But the difference -- so -- because they asked for $500,000. I mean, that's 25 percent of my funding and that was just hard. You know, it would take us up to almost 2 million --

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chris, wasn't the Sechrist Ranch 281,000?

MR. ABERNATHY: 281? Okay.

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: Would you give it to them, or reallocate it to somebody else that might have asked for --

MR. ABERNATHY: You mean if one of our
others, for some reason, the value changed? We would
probably give it to the next one in line. But to be
honest, that's a history issue that I have not
participated in. So I'm going to ask Ted to talk about
how they did that in the past.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yeah. Historically, we have had a couple of projects that came in. The applicants were at the table in very good faith; but either by the time the appraisal was done, the value had gone up -- you know, there are places in the state where values are changing rapidly -- and then there was a request back -- and it's usually a delta by the time you take into account the ratio of 20, 30, $40,000 and in a couple of cases, we've been able to actually scrape that together out of the balance of the budget. In a couple of cases, we've had to -- we've had to rely on the NGO to either invoke the good will of the landowner to take a little less than at appraised value and in one case that we're still -- I hope we're very close to closing -- the landowner opted to remove a couple of pastures from that property that would be protected by the conservation easement in order to get the value to match up.

So we try to work very hard with those projects that y'all have authorized us to fund. In the event -- in the event a project were to fail to close and there was enough funding left over then to reach down to the next project in the list, we would consult with the Chairman or we would have asked that the Council provide that direction in this meeting that should that occur --

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: An alternate?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: -- that would be the alternate project to fund.

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: So there would be some value to us actually voting to recommend, say, Sechrist as an alternate in the event the funding were to become available, in addition to the eight currently recommended by --

MR. ABERNATHY: Mr. Chairman, I think that would be -- I think that would be a good, safe thing to do. We could -- because I really don't think we could go as far as Twin Oaks. I think that's too much money. But I think Sechrist -- yeah. I mean, if you want to give us that latitude, that would be very good.

MR. MURPHY: And I'm sorry to interject.

Yeah. One item we did have as an action item in the past Council meeting was delegation of authority to staff to move to the next selected project if one of our funded projects did fall through. So staff does believe that in the instance that Ted just described where a projects did fall off for one reason or another, that we have authority to then move to the next highest scoring project.

But to your point, to declare that you think that Sechrist is the next project up, would clarify for us where we go next if one project were to fall apart or savings were somehow gained. So I think it is important for the Council to bless the whole list and approve the whole list, rather than just the awarded projects, if that makes sense, so that we know what the next one up, the next highest scored project is in the event of a change with one of the awarded projects.

MR. ABERNATHY: Thank you.

So we need to -- what I'm hearing is we need to do some modification on the fly of our motion.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, I would just add that -- to give you the authority should funds become available to negotiate the Sechrist Ranch. I'm not prepared to recommend --

MR. ABERNATHY: Other two.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: -- the next two at this point. Something else may come up that -- well, there won't be time for that; but my suggestion is that we approve the Sechrist should the funds become available.

MR. ABERNATHY: Do we just want to add that? Tack that onto the end of the motion that we have now? Something to that effect?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Do we need a motion to that?

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: I can do it if you want. I'll make that -- I'll do it right now for you. I move that the Council award Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program funds to the eight projects as recommended by the staff and also that we recommend the Sechrist project as the alternate project should funding become available.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Motion by Mr. Kleinschmidt. Seconded by Dr. Lopez. All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any opposed? Motion carries. Thank you.

MR. ABERNATHY: Thank you.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And, Chairman, we may also want to add that Chris and I actively keep our eyes and ears open for other opportunities to bring funds to into the Farm and Ranch Land Conservation Fund, which is the name for the dollars that are appropriated. The statute certainly gives us the authority to do that. We've chased down a couple of leads that haven't quite produced funding yet; but should that happen, we would -- we would -- should we amass enough funding to fund beyond the Sechrist project, for example, we would call another meeting of the Council to let it be known that there were funds sufficient to fund additional projects and that -- and work with the Chairman to either determine if another funding cycle were appropriate, to go back out and solicit more applications or if the Council would prefer to fund a project that's already been -- we already have an
application in hand for. But we are -- we haven't been successful, but we were authorized by statute and are actively watching for opportunities to add funds to the Farm and Ranch Land Conservation Fund.

COUNCIL MEMBER PARKER: Mr. Chairman, I had one comment to make about the selection process. I'm sitting in for Rex Isom today and he wanted me to reiterate his appreciation for the Council allowing an industry representative to be on that review panel and he wanted me to let you know that he has since spoken with Mr. Evans and he was very pleased with the process.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: I'm glad to hear that because I think it may have made an impact on this process.

MR. ABERNATHY: We enjoyed having him. I originally would liked to have had him kind of just step up and talk to y'all about the process and what he saw because I really want to make sure that the Council understands that we want to be as transparent as possible and not have any bias of any means and I think he was able to witness that and I kind of wanted to bring him in to say that, but the man's a busy man and I just -- I ended up not doing that. But I'm glad that he was able to talk to Mr. Isom and let that -- let that be known.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Well, please tell him we appreciate his efforts, so.

COUNCIL MEMBER PARKER: I'll be sure to.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah.
Okay. That --

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: I'd like to thank the review team for their efforts because these submitted projects are just wonderful. The natural resources that we can lend conservation efforts to, this is great selection. Thank you very much to the whole review team for your efforts. This was a great presentation of projects, of natural resource projects --

MR. ABERNATHY: Thank you.

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: -- to extend conservation efforts to.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. Action Item No. 7, Discussion and Consideration of Assignment of the Qualified Holder for the Easements on Tomlinson Farms, Stopover Ranch, and Baldpate Farms from Texas R.I.C.E.
to Katy Prairie Conservancy.

MR. ABERNATHY: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Mr. Abernathy.

MR. ABERNATHY: We're almost done. So this has a little background I have to just kind of talk about. So prior -- when the Texas Farm and Ranch Council was under the General Land Office in 2014 and 2015, they authorized what are called the CIAP funds, these Coastal Impact Assistance Program funds, to be spent -- to be given to Texas R.I.C.E., which is a land trust down in Matagorda County and they placed conservation easements on those three properties that you see: Stopover Ranch, Baldpate Farms, and Tomlinson Farms.

Now, Texas R.I.C.E. is managed by a man named Bill Stransky and Bill admitted to me personally, "I love getting these projects, but I'm not necessarily crazy about managing these projects." He's the -- he likes to go get them and find them and build wetlands, but the longterm management of a conservation easement really isn't what he prefers to do. So he is in -- he's almost in a partnership with Katy Prairie Conservancy.
They interact quite a bit. And Katy Prairie Conservancy is an accredited, well-funded, well-staffed land trust out of Houston and basically Bill Stransky asked them, "Would you take these projects over for me?"

But because it was the CIAP money, it requires Fish and Wildlife approval and before it gets Fish and Wildlife approval, it requires our approval.
So there's the background. KPC has willingly said that they would love to take over these properties and they're asking -- we had a request, a formal request from KPC asking the Council to authorize the transfer of
these properties.

So we have two motions and I'll -- we have two motions. Let me go back to why we have two motions. So I have -- in your book, you have landowner consent forms from the landowner of Stopover Ranch and from Baldpate Ranch. You do not have a landowner consent form from Tomlinson Farm. It is coming, but we don't know when and since we're not going to meet again this year, we have a provisional -- the second amendment -- I'm sorry, the second motion I'll show you is kind of a provisional amendment that says, "When we get one, you guys will approve that, as well."

So let me just go back to the motion real quick. So this is the first motion for the first two properties: You authorize the transfer of the conservation easements on the Stopover and Baldpate Farms from the current holder, Texas R.I.C.E., to Katy Prairie Conservancy.

Okay. The next one is: Upon receipt of a signed consent approval letter from the landowner, the Council approve -- conditionally approves transfer of conservation on Tomlinson Farms from current -- so it's essentially the same motion, but just with that caveat that says once we get that signed form, then you guys will authorize that transfer. That's all I have.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: Mr. Chairman, I have a question.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yes, sir.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: For legal or otherwise, if this recommendation is made as far as transferring of the easement to --

MR. ABERNATHY: Katy Prairie.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: -- to Katy

Prairie, is that appropriate or is -- should we consider others that might want that same opportunity? I'm asking a question because I do not know the answer to that.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: That's a good question. I think these properties fit into the Katy Prairie --

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. All three of these are in Southeast Texas. All three of them are or at one time were rice properties and are managed for water impound -- seasonal water impoundment. Katy Prairie Conservancy has recently been through an exercise where they reevaluated their mission. Their mission now expands beyond just that original core Katy Prairie to those Southeast Texas prairies and I would say in professional judgment, that they are the appropriate steward of those easements.

MR. ABERNATHY: And I would second that because --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: I know --

MR. ABERNATHY: -- they have that working relationship with Katy Prairie. Bill Stransky and Katy Prairie, they work very close hand in hand. And he almost -- the term I use is a birddog. He's really good at finding those properties that want to participate and then he wants to bring them to somebody like Katy Prairie as opposed to just managing those.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: They've done a marvelous job protecting the prairie out in west -- west of Houston and without them, it would be a different landscape out there. As bad as it is now, it would have been a lot worse. But I'm sure there are other people that would be qualified to do it, but this seems like a logical fit to me.
So is that two motions? One --

MR. ABERNATHY: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: And the second one provisional upon receiving -- okay. I'll entertain a motion. Dr. Lopez?

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: Sure. So I'll make the motion that the Council authorizes the transfer of the easements to the Katy Prairie as outlined on the slide above.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Do I have a second?

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: I'll second.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you very much, Ms. Koehler.

All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any opposed?

Now, I need to go back and -- actually to six and seven. I was told no one has signed up to speak, but we have a number of representatives here and if anybody would care to get up and address the Council, please feel free.

MR. ABERNATHY: Mr. Chairman, can we have the other motion first?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Huh?

MR. ABERNATHY: May we have the second motion before that, please?

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Oh, I thought you made both of them at once. Okay.

MR. ABERNATHY: No, sir.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay.

MR. ABERNATHY: I just want to make sure we've got all our T's crossed.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. Do you want --

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: All right. So I'll move that upon receipt of a signed consent and approval letter from the landowner, that the Council also authorizes the transfer of the property to the Katy Prairie Conservancy as outlined in the slide above.

MR. ABERNATHY: Thank you.

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: That's the lawyer speak part of it.

MR. ABERNATHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: There's a motion. And a second is --

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: I'll second that.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Thank you.

Any more discussion? All in favor say aye.

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Any opposed? It carries -- it carries unanimously.

Again, my offer to speak which was supposed to be before the motion; but -- so there are no speakers, so.

And our business is concluded; but in closing, I'll echo the comments that other people have made to all the staff that this was a much smoother, much more rewarding process than the last one. That's what you like to see is improvements. So thank you for all your hard work.

MR. ABERNATHY: Thank you.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And we certainly appreciate the active interest of the Council members and the feedback you provided the last couple of cycles to get us to this point where we understand what your goals are and where we can communicate that with our partners and bring projects that y'all can support and be proud of. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: We may have to throw some -- something controversial in because some people drove longer than they spent here at the meeting, which I want to thank everybody. That's quite an effort to come in here and I didn't expect it to go this smoothly, I can assure you. Although, I liked everything I saw. But I hope to see all of you at the next meeting, which will be the first part of the year to, I guess, get an update.

MR. ABERNATHY: Mr. Chairman, how about whenever you -- whenever you like. I would love for Dr. Lopez to give me those thoughts about presenting some of the data that you -- or is that how we -- where we had kind of ended up?

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: Okay.

MR. ABERNATHY: Yeah. So I guess what I'm looking for --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: That would be great.

MR. ABERNATHY: -- is agenda ideas.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: And I think you just get the information here and Parks will send it all out.

MR. ABERNATHY: And if there's other agenda items that the Council would like to talk about or discuss, we'd be happy to put those on the agenda; but I just need some feedback.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: All right. Let us think about that because it's hard to ask somebody to drive here from Houston and --

MR. ABERNATHY: It is. I understand that.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: -- give them a cup of coffee and turn them around.

MR. ABERNATHY: There's sweets in the back.

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: I would be curious, you know, if we had the authority on any unexpended funds to advertise to the program. Do you know?

MR. ABERNATHY: So I get -- you know, I get $2 million. So out of that, we have 10 percent that's pulled off for operational costs. Part of that is -- I hate to say it -- you know, fees and, you know, my costs; but there are some operational funds available for travel and for outreach. I mean, we look for avenues to do that; but sometimes it's -- we don't always get notified. I'll be honest. We're not really in the pipeline sometimes or it's too late to be considered for a vendor position or, you know, like a presentation or something.

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: Right. By the time you know they're available, it's too late to --

MR. ABERNATHY: Yeah, yeah, that's kind of what happened. So we just need to somehow improve those pipelines.

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: Do you -- are we running into any situation, budgetary, where we're returning any funds to the state or are we spending it all?

MR. ABERNATHY: No. I mean, I think I had like 800 bucks --

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: Good job.

MR. ABERNATHY: -- out of last year's funds.

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: Good job.

MR. ABERNATHY: My accountant's pretty good about that.

COUNCIL MEMBER KLEINSCHMIDT: Okay. Good job.

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: I mean, are you going to like Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Conference or anything else that you might could set up vendor --

MR. ABERNATHY: No. And that's what I -- I guess, my point is I need to get -- either be made aware of which ones are happening and when they're happening and where they're happening, other than just
an active internet search and getting on some kind of an e-mail chain. No.

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: Well, and is there something that you could send to us that's like this program in a nutshell? Do you know what I'm saying?

MR. ABERNATHY: You bet.

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: Something easy that we could hand --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: A one-pager.

MR. ABERNATHY: It's a big nut. But, yes, we have --

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: Something that gives like just a little marketing, little blurb? I mean, I'm --

MR. ABERNATHY: We could definitely generate that.

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: -- the county attorney. I could keep it in my office because I have tons of ranchers that come in daily to talk to me about trespassing or hot checks or something like that. I mean, just anything that we could advertise --

MR. ABERNATHY: Almost like a poster?

Would a poster be --

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: Yeah, or just a little, you know, half sheet; but nice, colored -- something that says, "Hey, is out there."

MR. ABERNATHY: We could definitely work on that.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: We could probably also get them in like the Natural Resources Committee at Cattle Raisers that -- when we have our committee meetings. That would be a perfect venue to have yourself and maybe one of the easement holders like TALT or somebody like that that's --

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: Right.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: -- doing a lot of the --

MR. ABERNATHY: I'd really like to get a landowner, too.

COUNCIL MEMBER ZACEK: That would be a good venue.

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: Especially estate planning. They have it at Cattle Raisers every year. There's tons of attendees in there. That would be just a good little place, just have this little thing just --

MR. ABERNATHY: Yep.

COUNCIL MEMBER KOEHLER: -- set out for them.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Let me propose a follow-up that we -- we do have a -- we do have a brochure, a colored brochure that I think is pretty compelling. Let us get that updated. Let us get that out to every member of the Council and also with that, a request that you reply that any venues that you're aware of where our presence might help get that word out.

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: Mr. Chairman, I'm a member of the Texas Land Trust Council, a board member. And, again, on behalf of the land trust community, they're really active in getting the word out with regards to this program. They attend a lot of those venues and so forth. They do workshops, easement planning type of activities.

So I think doing something like that, obviously, is not going to hurt; but I think the land trusts in Texas are very much aware, appreciative of the program, and would like to grow the program and support the program and have in the past. So they continue to move forward and try to do that and leverage that information to the landowners.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Get the Legislature to give us more money.

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: Right. Well, and I think that's actually a good conversation --

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah.

COUNCIL MEMBER LOPEZ: -- to have and we can't start early enough, so.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yes. Wonderful.

Any other comments or suggestions, topics to discuss?

Do you have anything to add, Ted?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I like that more money.

CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah.

All right. With that, I'll move that the Council has completed its business and declare us adjourned at 10:20 -- what is that -- 10:23. And, again, thank you for your willingness to attend and serve. It makes a difference. Thank you.

In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council, we hereby affix our signatures this _______ day of ___________________, __________.


_________________________________________
S. Reed Morian, Chairman

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Peter Lake, Member

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Rex Isom, Member

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Roel Lopez, Member

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Sid Miller, Member

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Salvador Salinas, Member

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Thomas R. Kelsey, Member

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Leslie L.W. Kinsel, Member

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Natalie Cobb Koehler, Member

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Gilbert Riojas, Member

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George D. Scott, Member

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John Zacek, Member




C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS   )

COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as hereinbefore set out.

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

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of ________________, ________.


___________________________________

Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
CSR No.: 8311
Expiration: December 31, 2020
7010 Cool Canyon Cove
Round Rock, Texas 78681
(512)779-8320