Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., Jan. 21, 1998

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Item
No.
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous Executive Sessions.
1. ACTION – Land Acquisition – Brewster County
2. ACTION – Litigation – Jefferson County
3. BRIEFING – Land Acquisition – Brazoria County
4. Other Business
 
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Nomination for Oil and Gas Leases
- Sheldon Lake State Park – Harris County
- D. R. Wintermann Wildlife Management Area – Wharton County
- Copper Breaks State Park – Hardeman County
- Fort Griffin State Park – Hardeman County
- Jasper Fish Hatchery – Jasper County
Staff: Mike Herring
11
3. San Jacinto Battleground Master Plan
Staff: Bill Dolman
10
4. 75th Anniversary Plan
Staff: Bill Palmer
Committee Only
5. Land Lease – Jack County
Staff: Andy Goldbloom
12
6. Land Acquisition – Brewster County
Staff: Jack Bauer
13
7. Land Donation – Limestone County
Staff: Kathryn Nichols
14
8. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee
November 5, 1997

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 5th day of November, 1997, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at 9:25 a.m., to-wit:

I. COMMITTEE ATTENDANCE

Mickey Burleson, Chair
Lee M. Bass
Nolan Ryan
Dick Heath
Ray Clymer
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
John Avila, Jr.
Susan Howard-Chrane

II. OPENING STATEMENT

The opening statement was read into the record by Andrew Sansom, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

With the addition of Susan Howard-Chrane to the Committee Attendance, Ray Clymer moved that the minutes be approved and Dick Heath seconded the motion.

IV. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED FOR COMMITTEE ACTION:

1. BRIEFING - Chairman's Charges

Presenter: Andy Sansom

Mr. Sansom stated he has been working with Ms. Burleson, the committee chairs and Chairman Bass to finalize the process for issuing the "RFP" (Request for Proposal), which will supply expertise from the academic community and the private sector to look at issues involving consumer research, asset management and other things.

Bill Palmer met with Texas Historical Commission's Chairman Nau recently and reports positive progress. Also, there was a successful meeting held October 31, 1997 to formalize and discuss measures to increase the amount of land trusts and easements on private property in Texas. In another area relating to advocacy and tourism, Lydia Saldana has become very active in the Texas Travel Industry Association and many of our staff participated in their board meeting in the valley recently. Next year the theme will be nature tourism and the Department will be featured as the primary keynote during 1998.

Lydia Saldana and Bill Palmer discussed the 75th State Park Anniversary events and activities which are being developed and will be presented at the January meeting, with the kick-off scheduled for March 2, 1998, at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park.

2. BRIEFING - Master Planning Process

Presenter: Dan Patton

Mr. Patton showed slides indicating the current master planning process. There are currently three possible procedures, the first being the regular master plan produced by the Infrastructure Division consisting of the long-term process of four phases to develop a master plan, doing a full-season resource inventory for birds or animals and also a complete site resource inventory. The second procedure is a master plan that is outsourced, developed with a partnership and an AE firm from the private sector, with limited control on the standardization process. The last procedure is a management plan (short-term master plan) with a shortened resource inventory period for timely public use, such as Kickapoo Caverns. He explained that currently the Commission approves acquisition of land, but doesn't act on a site again until the final master plan is developed. Also, the public only has input during meetings regarding the concept plan.

Mr. Patton explained the four different phases involved in the current process. The Preproject Phase is when they set up teams, identify partners, develop partnerships, assess the best use of land, establish goals and deliverables, and conduct a public meeting on the concept plan proposal. The Site Evaluation Phase consists of collecting site date such as cultural/natural resources, topographic and land-use restriction information, documentation of history, and finding out the regulatory requirements. The Programming Phase establishes goals and objectives, project scoping, preliminary budget and schedule. (This is the phase that has been combined with other processes because it's redundant.) The Master Planning Phase is where the plan concept is drawn to identify roads, utilities and structures, after which there is a public meeting and then the draft plan is presented to the commission.

Mr. Patton discussed examples of master planning projects, starting with Kickapoo Cavern State Natural Area. There was an illustration of the minimum time for a management plan and the maximum time for a master plan (almost four years, most of which was in the three-year site analysis process). The actual schedule was also shown, beginning in 1990 and including a three-year resource evaluation and site analysis, after which it was put on hold for financial reasons. The project is now in the last planning phase after having been given the approval to proceed.

Chris Beckcom was introduced and there was discussion regarding planning issues for Government Canyon State Natural Area, such as possibilities for trails for horses, bikers and/or hikers. The partners in this project (the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the San Antonio Water System and the Government Canyon Natural History Association recently submitted their written comments on the draft plan that was published in August and there was one public meeting on the plan, following the process previously outlined by Mr. Patton. The Commission discussed the possibility of asking for more public input, due to the controversy regarding the plan. They also discussed the length of time required to do natural and cultural resource surveys and the need to capitalize on the resource while still protecting it.

The final example was San Jacinto Battleground and our partnership with the Museum Association, where the AE firm works for them, with us.

Mr. Patton recommended combining the Master Planning Phases into three phases, with public and Committee approval involved in each phase, for all Department lands so that the process would be standardized. Dr. Dolman stated about half the areas owned currently have approved master plans. Mr. Sansom said due to financial reasons and limited staff, decisions to proceed with master plans were usually based on demand for public access. There was Commission discussion about deciding at the beginning of a project how much money would be allotted so there'd be no need to do a master plan that would exceed that amount. The philosophical question was also raised as to the need for guidance on what customers will be wanting in the way of facilities and the need for specialized data on future trends in outdoor behavior. A need to devise criteria for ranking sites for master planning with a cost/benefit analysis was stated--guidelines on how we define our priorities--and a request was made for an explanation of the line item under master planning in the next Capitol Budget with a methodology on how the prioritization was made.

3. ACTION - Fiber Optic Conduit Easement - Lake Houston and Village Creek State Parks - Harris and Hardin Counties

Presenter: Mike Herring

Mr. Herring described the request for an easement to lay fiber optic conduit through Lake Houston and Village Creek State Parks, following an existing gas pipeline and using a cable-mounted plow. There would be very little impact on the resource and the standard conditions and ten dollars per rod per year for a ten-year lease would apply. Nolan Ryan moved that the item be put on the full commission's agenda for November 6, 1997, with the staff's recommendation to approve it. The motion carried.

4. ACTION - Tyler State Fish Hatchery

Presenter: Phil Durocher

Mr. Durocher introduced Dr. Gary Saul, the new director of Inland Hatcheries Programs. He then stated that upon completion of Phase 2 construction of the Athens freshwater fishery in April or May 1998, the Department will no longer maintain the Tyler State Fish Hatchery. It will then revert to the Greenbriar Orchard Club, who conveyed 17.92 acres of land in 1925 to the State of Texas to establish and maintain a fish hatchery. He asked that the commission adopt a resolution to that effect. The resolution would also thank them for their 70 years of support and commitment to the fishermen of Texas and would be framed and delivered to the Greenbriar Club in Tyler. Mr. Durocher pointed out that twenty acres belong to the Greenbriar Club and 21 acres belong to the department, with 75 to 80 percent of it being in the 100 year floodplain. Negotiations are continuing with several fish farmers in the area for a lease that would continue operations at the hatchery, with the department being paid with fish they produce. Ray Clymer moved to place the item on the agenda for the full commission's consideration November 6, 1997, and the motion carried.

5. BRIEFING - Water

Presenter: Dr. Larry McKinney

Dr. McKinney briefed the commission regarding El Nino, which occurs every four to seven years around Christmas. The east/west tradewinds normally create upwellings, bringing in water from the Antarctic and making a cold area in the Pacific Ocean. During El Nino the tradewinds diminish (they may even reverse) and the area becomes quite warm. Sea surface temperatures rise and the sea level begins to rise on our side of the ocean. The unusual thing about this year is that El Nino started in September rather than at Christmas and it's quite intense. In September it reached the size of the largest El Nino on record in 1982 and 1983 and scientists are not sure if it will continue to get larger through the winter or diminish before the end of winter, with very little effect. If it does persist, the coastal and surrounding areas could expect more rain during the fall, a colder and wetter winter and spring, and potentially a cooler and wet summer. El Nino cuts the potential for hurricanes in half and that's one of the reasons we had so few this last season, due to the early onset of El Nino. The wildlife population is in very good shape to pass through a cold and wet winter, if that is the case, due to the tremendous habitat and vegetation growth last season. In Texas, the overall water perspective looks good, except for the Trans-Pecos where there is always a shortage of water. Reservoirs are in good shape except Falcon remains 40 ft. below normal, Amistad is 33 ft. below normal and Choke Canyon is 20 ft. below normal, but they're all up from last year.

Dr. McKinney also briefed the commission on Senate Bill 1 and the areas staff is involved in such as water planning data, scientific studies and rule-making for turning the bill into regulation. The nominations for the 14 regional committees (anyone willing to participate) are tentatively due by December 1 and the proposed planning regions may be final by January 15. The guidance principles, framework that will tell the regional planners how to operate, are due to be adopted by February. Staff is helping develop rules for identifying and conserving river and stream segments of unique ecological value. The main goal in the regional planning is to give our constituents the opportunity to participate in a constructive way. The Water Development Board held meetings in each of the proposed 14 regions and people were concerned about where the lines are drawn, the speedy timeframe, and who will be on the committees. If the regions change radically, they will move the deadlines. Our agency is targeted to provide GIS data to the regions by August 1998 and we're in great shape to fulfill our legislative directives.

TNRCC and the Water Development Board anticipate 40 rule-making packages to translate Senate Bill 1 into rules. Our agency's focus in that has been to develop rules on how the water trust will work, allowing individuals who hold water rights to set aside those rights for environmental purposes--dedicating them to maintaining instream flows or inflows to basins and estuaries, either in perpetuity or for some prescribed amount of time, and still maintain those rights. Staff will do a briefing on water in January with advisory groups to get some input on how to develop these rules and also as a way to get the information out.

V. Other Business

Presenter: Lisa Fitzgerald

Mr. Sansom requested that Lisa Fitzgerald give an update on comments received regarding the public-use plan for Hueco Tanks State Park. The document made some proposed operational changes at the park in order to protect the resources and still allow compatible uses. Ms. Fitzgerald stated the plan was released for public comment for the period of time from September through October, 1997, with considerable comment being received. Representative Norma Chavez has now requested that a public meeting be held in El Paso, after staff has met with the Native Americans who are interested in visiting the park and relating their concerns (the Tiguas, the Kiowas and the Apaches). Therefore, no date for the meeting has been set at this time. Discussion was held regarding the rock climbing issue and the fact that less than one-third of the park will be restricted from climbing in order to protect the natural resources present at the park (or less than one-tenth of all the climbs).

VI. Meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Bill Palmer

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
January 1998

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Mike Herring

Conservation Committee
Action
Nomination for Oil and Gas Leases
January 1998

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 11.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Bill Dolman

Conservation Committee
Action
San Jacinto Battleground Master Plan
January 1998

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 10.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Bill Palmer

Conservation Committee
Briefing
75th Anniversary Plan
January 1998

I. Discussion: This item will be an update regarding the department's plans to observe the 75th Anniversary of the State Park system.

HISTORY

On September 12, 1923 under the leadership of Governor Pat Neff, legislation passed in the previous session became effective and created a system of state parks for the people of Texas. Although there had been some outstanding properties in public ownership prior to the creation of the system (San Jacinto, for example), this was the first attempt to create a system of state parks for the people of Texas. From this beginning in 1923, the Texas State Park system has grown and has become recognized as one of the most outstanding state park systems in the nation. Today, Mother Neff State Park southwest of Waco and 124 other parks honor Governor Neff and his vision.

COMMISSION CHARGE

The Conservation Committee has charged the department to: Develop, plan and initiate the 75th Anniversary of the Texas State Park System during 1998.

STATUS

A work group from the department has had several meetings and developed a 75th Anniversary Strategic Plan to guide the overall activities of the anniversary celebration. Key Strategic Issues to be addressed include:

STRATEGIC ISSUE 1

How can we build awareness and support for Texas State Parks?

STRATEGIC ISSUE 2

How can we increase funding for the state park system through endowments, donations, and other fund raising efforts?

STRATEGIC ISSUE 3

To be effective, an initiative such as the 75th Anniversary of state parks will need to be supported by a well-designed set of collateral materials. How can we efficiently develop such a set of materials?

STRATEGIC ISSUE 4

How do we keep staff informed and committed to the project?

STRATEGIC ISSUE 5

How do we ensure that staff and all people involved in this effort maintain a sense of fun and enjoy the work?

HIGHLIGHTED EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
KICK-OFF EVENT

Plans are underway to host a major kick-off event for the 75th Anniversary on Feb. 24, at the state capitol. Plans call for a reenactment of the legislation that created the state park system and cutting of a giant cake in the shape of Texas with each park marked.

OPEN HOUSES

Each park will host an open house, often in conjunction with a prescheduled event. Parks will seek local sponsors.

MAJOR EVENTS

Parks close to major media markets will host larger, expanded events. These will be in conjunction with prescheduled events and will be targeted to media outlets.

TRAVELING EXHIBITS

Ten traveling exhibits depicting the history of Texas State Parks will be developed. Eight will go to each park region for use at the open houses and other events, one will stay in Austin headquarters , and one will be available as a backup and for special events.

FUND RAISING AND SPONSORSHIPS

The 75th Anniversary will be an opportunity to increase the visibility and funding for the Lone Star Legacy Program and will offer numerous opportunities for sponsorships.

STATEWIDE CONFERENCE

Plans are underway to convene the first-ever statewide conference on Texas State Parks. The conference will be held in the fall of 1998 and will be cosponsored by the new state park advocacy group, Texans for State Parks.

COLLATERAL MATERIALS

Numerous collateral materials are being developed that include a slogan, logo, TPWD magazine articles, news releases, and more.


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Andy Goldbloom

Conservation Committee
Action
Land Lease – Jack County
January 1998

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 12.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenter: Jack Bauer

Conservation Committee
Action
Land Acquisition – Brewster County
January 1998

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 13.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter: Kathryn Nichols

Conservation Committee
Action
Land Donation – Limestone County
January 1998

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 14.)


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