Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., Nov. 5, 1997

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. Master Planning Process
Staff: Bill Palmer
Committee Only
3. Fiber Optic Conduit Easement – Lake Houston and Village Creek State Parks – Harris and Hardin Counties
Staff: Mike Herring
8
4. Tyler State Fish Hatchery
Staff: Mike Herring
Committee Only
5. Water
Staff: Larry McKinney
Committee Only
6. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee

August 27, 1997

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 27th day of August, 1997, there came on 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 11:52 a.m., to-wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTENDANCE

Mickey Burleson, Chair
Lee M. Bass
Nolan Ryan
Dick Heath
Ray Clymer
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
Carol Dinkins
John Avila, Jr.

II. OPENING STATEMENT - Committee resumed -

A motion was made by Dick Heath and seconded by Carol Dinkins to approve the minutes.

(Note: Minutes were approved after Item No. 1)

III. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED TO THE COMMITTEE:

1. BRIEFING - Annual Charge to Committee

Presenter: Chairman Lee M. Bass

Lee M. Bass, Chairman of the Parks and Wildlife Commission, read the new charges to the Committee, noting the name change to "Conservation Committee" is appropriate due to the fact that conservation on lands other than those actually owned and managed by the department is a significant purview of this committee. Under the general heading Conduct Strategic Review of Agency Assets, he stated the first part was in response to legislative directive to continue working towards formalizing a strategy for this department's state historic sites in coordination with other public entities, not only the Texas Historical Commission, but also support groups, local groups, various affected communities and diverse constituencies. Next, Assessing Natural and Cultural Resource Conservation needs and priorities for the department as it enters the 21st century, should be a broad overview of our needs and where we are, to use as a tool to address strategic planning for the future in a much more deliberate manner. The committee should determine if existing assets are reflective of department priorities and to what extent either way, thereby working towards developing facility philosophy and standards (such as what type of infrastructure, recreational opportunity and user group conflicts, or lack thereof the department should strive to achieve).

The second general heading, Emphasize Conservation and Stewardship of Natural Resources on Private and Public Land in Texas, should be used as a priority to strengthen cooperative strategies for conserving biological and cultural resources which involve other public agencies and private landowners, with emphasis on conservation easements, cooperative agreements and other innovative techniques not requiring acquisition. This includes promoting conservation through nature tourism, education and outreach efforts, in order to affect the 97% of Texas that is not in the public domain. Strategies relating to those activities should be developed and honed, with an eye towards new innovative methodologies, and the philosophy for resource management on department lands should be refined to allow the agency to be better at it.

The third item, Improve Access and Increase Compatible Uses of Department Lands, requires examining what level of development is needed on each and every type of site against the economics of doing so, such as deciding what is most appropriate for a specific site, what it would cost to build and maintain and what the return on investment would be, in order to determine if it make sense from a business point of view.

The last item, Develop, Plan and Initiate the 75th Anniversary of the Texas State Park System during 1998, is a wonderful opportunity to develop a plan for marketing our resources.

2. ACTION - Nomination for Oil and Gas Lease - Gus Engeling WMA - Anderson County

Presenter: Mike Herring

Mr. Herring stated staff recommends the request to nominate two tracts of land out of the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area for oil and gas leasing both be approved for off-site drilling, with no surface exploration, at the $150/acre cash bonus price with a fixed royalty of 25 percent and a $10/acre rental for a three-year lease. Both tracts are along the perimeter and could easily be drilled offsite. Nolan Ryan moved that the item be put on the full commission's agenda for August 28, 1997, with the staff recommendation to approve it. The motion carried.

3. ACTION - Nomination for Oil and Gas Lease - Chaparral Wildlife Management Area - Dimmit and La Salle Counties

Presenter: Mike Herring

Mr. Herring noted the department only owns a one-sixth mineral interest in the Chaparral, for a net mineral acre amount of approximately 2,400 acres. The item was revised to reflect the action taken by the Parks and Wildlife Board for Lease at their meeting which was prior to this one due to scheduling and bidding deadlines. The $150 bonus bid was reduced to $75 per acre since the bid could not be for 100 percent mineral interest, and the conditions were changed to require a compensation of $2,500 for surface damages per drill site rather than $4,000, and $1,250 per acre for any additional surface damage rather than $2,000 per acre. Approval of this item would ratify the Board for Lease changes, which is set for October bidding by the General Land Office. Mr. Ryan asked if the changes would be for this specific lease only, with the answer being yes. Mickey Burleson discussed the fact that the changes were suggested by people at the General Land Office, who are experts in this field. She recommended approval at this time. Carol Dinkins moved to pass the item to the full Commission with the changes approved and the motion carried.

3. ACTION - Nomination for Oil and Gas Lease - Bob Sandlin State Park - Titus County

Presenter: Mike Herring

Mike Herring stated the department owns all of the minerals under Lake Bob Sandlin State Park for a total of about 650 acres and they can be drilled off-site, so therefore the recommendation is for no surface entry, a cash bonus of $150/acre, 25 percent royalty and $10 per acre rental fee (our standard conditions). Ernest Angelo moved to pass the item to the full Commission and the motion carried.

4. BRIEFING - Lease of Department Lands - Cameron County

Presenter: Kathryn Nichols

Ms. Nichols discussed the 1,017-acre Barnes tract in the southernmost portion of Cameron County, which was authorized for acquisition by the commission in March 1993. The tract is significant to conserving coastal wetlands, as well as a key parcel in the long-term conservation of the Boca Chica area. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is purchasing the 12,400-acre Playa Del Rio property in addition to nearby locations already owned by the agency; the General Land Office owns the 216-acre Brazos Island tract While public ownership of these significant natural resources offers a certain degree of protection from adverse uses such as subdivision development, it does little to protect from unregulated uses such as off-road vehicles, trash dumping and drug trafficking. The Cameron County Parks Department has expressed its willingness and desire to assume administration and management of a unified park site on the beach front portions to provide security and stewardship. The County is willing to invest approximately $500,000 to provide an administrative and visitor center, off-beach parking, restrooms, interpretive facilities and on-site residence. Additional law enforcement cooperation and assistance would be received from the U. S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and our agency.

Staff recommends we join in a lease to the County for these properties for park purposes, as the best way to provide long-term stewardship and management of the site. The department is authorized to lease lands to other governmental entities for park purposes under Parks and Wildlife Code 13.006. Proposed staff approach is the recommendation that the executive director take all necessary steps to lease the park property known as the Barnes Tract in Cameron County to the Cameron County Parks Department.

A related project would be the possibility of using a million dollars of enhancement funding awarded to the department in 1994 by the Texas Department of Transportation (intended to acquire the north beach portion of Playa Del Rio, which will now be acquired by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service), to purchase other parcels and the GLO-owned Brazos Island property instead. If TxDot authorizes the money for the new property and if we're able to identify matching funds, the new acquisition would be presented to the commission at a later date.

Ken Conway, parks director of Cameron County, was introduced and stated the County would be good stewards of the property in the interest of the partners and also in the interest of maintaining public recreational use to an important resource.

IV. ADJOURN - 12:15 p.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Bill Palmer

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
November 1997

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Bill Palmer

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Master Planning Process
November 1997

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Mike Herring

Conservation Committee
Action
Fiber Optic Conduit Easement
Lake Houston and Village Creek State Parks
Harris and Hardin Counties
November 1997

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 8.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Karen Harry

Conservation Committee
Action
Closure of the Tyler State Fish Hatchery
November 1997

I. DISCUSSION: Once Phase II (Hatchery Construction) at the Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens is completed, the Department will no longer maintain the Tyler State Fish Hatchery. As a result, this property will revert to the Greenbriar Orchard Company.

II. RECOMMENDATION: The staff recommends the Parks and Wildlife Conservaton Committee adopt the following motion:

"The Conservation Committee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission finds that the Tyler State Fish Hatchery will no longer be maintained by the Department for the purpose for which it was acquired and therefore the Executive Director is authorized to notify the Greenbriar Orchard Company that the Commission has approved the reversion of the property."


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Larry McKinney

Conservation Committee
Action
Water
November 1997

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


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