Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., June 3, 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 meeting.  
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Terrestrial Database
Staff: Vivian Ackerson
Committee Only
3. Kidfish Community Development Grant Program
Staff: Phil Durocher
Committee Only
4. Conservation Easements and Land Trusts
Staff: Mike Herring, Carolyn Scheffer
Committee Only
5. Government Canyon State Natural Area Master Plan
Staff: Dan Patton
Committee Only
6. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee
April 15, 1998

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 15th day of April 1998, 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 1:55 p.m., to-wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTENDANCE

Mickey Burleson, Chair
Lee M. Bass
Nolan Ryan
Dick Heath
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
Carol E. Dinkins
John Avila, Jr.
Susan Howard-Chrane
Ray Clymer (absent)
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

Dick Heath moved to approve the minutes of the last committee meeting and Nolan Ryan seconded the motion.

IV. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED FOR COMMITTEE ACTION:

1. BRIEFING - CHAIRMAN'S CHARGES

Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Mr. Sansom discussed the Chairman's Charges for all committees regarding the study of the agency, particularly with respect to its facilities, the inventory of properties it manages both now and in the future, the issues related to its customers, what their behaviors will be, what their needs and desires are, and their support of conservation, which have been consolidated into the "RFP" (Request for Proposal). He introduced Dr. Peter Witt, chair of the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Sciences Department of Texas A&M University, to give an update on the RFP.

Dr. Witt noted a working title has been adopted for this study: "Texas Outdoors, A Vision for the Future." Over the last three months, working with a variety of different groups, the following issues have been identified:

Who pays the bills for outdoor recreation in Texas? Some traditional activities the department undertakes, such as fishing and hunting, subsidize activities undertaken by others.

The population base of the state is going to change dramatically. In particular, the growth of the Hispanic and African-American population as a percentage of the total population will be dramatically different. An implication from that is that the Hispanics and African-Americans are underrepresented as users of outdoor recreation opportunities.

TPWD's roles of management, conservation and stewardship are not understood to a high degree by the public. A broader base of understanding within the population is needed to support land-use changes and wildlife and fishery protection.

What is TPWD's mission? Does the public understand the economic development role, or do they have a different image? Outdoor attractions such as scenic beauty, watchable wildlife, hunting and fishing, dramatically attract more people than man-made theme parks, and could be better promoted.

Getting more youth outdoors is an issue, with development of community outdoor programs to attract additional users of park and wildlife opportunities as well as to deal with some of the social issues behind the involvements of those users.

There is a need for more information about who the users are in order to develop a future system. There is a need for an ongoing source of money to finance TPWD's infrastructure.

There is a need to protect the natural and cultural resources not currently part of the system.

More people in Texas live in urban areas; will there be more or less demand by these people versus those who live in the rural areas for the kinds of opportunities that TPWD has traditionally provided?

Dr. Witt stated the overall purpose of the study is to determine public and private lands and facilities and what is required to ensure that historical, natural and recreational resources will be adequately provided, maintained and held in the public trust for present and future generations. There is emphasis on the opportunity side rather than the stewardship side, as that was the mandate. The outcome will be a framework of roles, relationships, policies and resources at the public, private and nonprofit level necessary to address outdoor recreation and conservation needs and demands identified through the study. There will be research-based facts for justifying any of the recommendations, with clear priorities for action based on documented evidence and the logic for acquisition, management, disposal and partnerships for outdoor recreation and conservation lands.

Dr. Witt pointed out there are four basic elements to the study: Supply analysis (what, where, who has it, how available is it, what does it cost to use?); population or demand analysis (who wants to use it, what are the changing patterns over the future time period?); matching supply and demand (will supply equal demand and as demand changes, what do we need to do about supply?); and economic impact of people using open space, outdoor recreation opportunities.

The biggest increases in opportunities in the future will be at the private level. The study will look at current participation by Texas residents and selected activities through the year 2030, trying to identify parks and recreation use by particular demographic groups and looking at recreation behavior trends with urban/suburban influence. A statewide telephone survey is being conducted; the economic impact at ten selected TPWD sites is being analyzed; public input was also obtained from the parks, recreation and natural resources summit on February 20, 1998 at the Capitol. The survey results component should be completed by June 15, with technical reports due by July 15 and the final report due approximately October 15.

John Avila, Jr. asked if the surveyors are definitely obtaining completed surveys from Hispanics and African-Americans, as well as data from city parks and urban areas where they are most likely to recreate. Dr. Witt described the efforts being made such as regionalizing the survey and obtaining input from 3,000 people rather than the typical 1,000. They're also prescreening calls to be sure they are talking to enough Hispanics and African-Americans in order to obtain a true representation of each region. They are talking to local park and recreation directors about the kinds of opportunities they're having to provide and what that will mean in developing the state system, such as local park fund grants, cooperative relationships, whether we need more regional park areas around metropolitan areas, and what other states have dealt with these issues and come up with innovative methods.

The question was asked how the parks used in the study were determined and Dr. Witt explained they were picked in consultation with TPWD staff, in order to keep the cost of the study down and to some degree for convenience sake, as well as obtaining use patterns from smaller and larger parks. There was a suggestion to take written survey requests to predominantly minority school districts and Hispanic and African-American chamber of commerces, and a suggestion for proposals to affect the changing demands for recreation. Dr. Witt explained that once we understand some of the reasons for nonuse, then educational programs might be encouraged (such as the outdoor woman and youth programs), and marketing the physical and mental benefits of enjoying the outdoors. The one element the study is not attempting to forecast is what new activity will be popular in 15 years.

2. BRIEFING - TERRESTRIAL WILDLIFE DATABASE

Presenter: Vivian Ackerson

Cancelled due to lack of time. Request to brief the Commission at the June-3-4, 1998 Meeting.

3. ACTION - Land Donation - Harris County

Presenter: Mike Herring

Mike Herring described the significance of the San Jacinto Battleground and the priority for protecting and consolidating surrounding lands. This item covers two additional properties. The owners of a 19-acre tract located north of the Battleground on the San Jacinto River are willing to donate it to the department. The second tract is 30 acres on Battleground Road which the Port of Houston Authority is willing to purchase and donate in order to fulfill part of their mitigation responsibilities. Both of these properties will add significantly to the park resource, without adding operational expenses.

After discussion about the donations of over 1,000 acres of land around the San Jacinto Battleground area in the last 10 or 12 years and when to appropriately recognize the donors, Nolan Ryan moved that the item be placed on the consent agenda for the full commission on April 16, 1998, and the motion carried.

V. ADJOURNMENT - 2:35 p.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
June 1998

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Vivian Ackerson

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Terrestrial Database
June 1998

I. Discussion: Staff wishes to brief the Commission on the current status of the Texas Wildlife Information System (formerly the Terrestrial Wildlife Database). The presentation will be an exhibition of TWIS objectives and achievements, data currently in TWIS and future data needs, a review of intended applications, and an overview of connectivity issues with respect to GIS and the Internet.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Phil Durocher

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Kidfish Community Development Grant Program
June 1998

I. Discussion: In September 1997, Inland Fisheries began advertising for a KIDFISH Community Development Grant Program. The purpose of this new program is to provide financial support for community projects which create or enhance fishing opportunities for kids. Only those communities where KIDFISH events have been conducted, or where a future event is scheduled are eligible for the grants.

The total allocated for the program in 1998 was $50,000. Grant awards will be made by the Department from Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds, and range up to $10,000 per year. All communities which hosted previous KIDFISH events were sent application packets, along with requests from other communities.

Staff has reviewed the applications and pending Federal Aid approval, the following communities have been selected to receive grants this year: College Station, Wichita Falls, Denison, La Grange and San Antonio. The city of Bonham was not selected, but staff will work with them to enhance future grant application submissions.


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Mike Herring

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Conservation Easements and Land Trusts
June 1998

I. Discussion: The purpose of this briefing item is to provide a status report to the committee regarding staff actions concerning efforts to promote conservation easements and land trusts as private lands conservation tools.


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Dan Patton

Conservation Committee
Action
Government Canyon State Natural Area Master Plan
June 1998

I. Discussion: In August 1993 the Executive Director executed a joint funding agreement with the Edwards Underground Water District, now the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA), and the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) to purchase approximately 4700 acres of the Government Canyon property. In February 1996 approximately 1121 acres were appended to the site through a title transfer from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to TPWD.

Departmental staff, working in a planning team with representatives from EAA, SAWS and a non-profit citizens group, Government Canyon Natural History Association, have prepared a Master Plan for the property. Planned facilities include an Interpretive Center, camping sites, picnic sites, and trails. Planned recreational activities include hiking, mountain biking, equestrian, camping, picnicking, and nature study.

The proposed development plan was presented at a public hearing on June 11, 1997 in San Antonio. Those in attendance expressed overall support for the plan. The plan was again presented in San Antonio on January 8, 1998. Again those in attendance expressed general approval of the plan. Some concern was expressed regarding the allowance of equestrian use in the property as it relates to water quality. This issue has been addressed by limiting equestrian use to areas off of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.

The proposed Master Plan for Government Canyon SNA has been reviewed and approved by our partners, the Edwards Aquifer Authority and the San Antonio Water System.

In order to proceed with design, funding of $85,500 for survey, testing, and professional services and $130,000 for archeological clearance of the facility development area and trail system will be requested in the FY99 Capital Program at the August 1998 Commission Meeting.

II. Recommendation: The staff recommends the Conservation Committee adopt the following motion:

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation Committee approves the Master Plan for Government Canyon State Natural Area to guide the management, development, design intent and construction of interpretive, recreational and support facilities at Government Canyon State Natural Area as detailed in Exhibit A."

Attachment - 1

1. Exhibit A – Master Plan - Available upon request


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