Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., Jan. 20, 1999

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. TxDOT MOU
Staff: Roy Frye
Committee Only
3. Trustee Assessment and Restoration Program
Staff: Don Pitts
Committee Only
4. Public Access on Wildlife Management Areas
Staff: Gary Graham
Committee Only
5. Land Donation – Bexar County
Staff: Mike Herring
8
6. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee
November 4, 1998

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 4th day of November, 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 Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at 10:55 a.m., to-wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTENDANCE:

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

Carol Dinkins moved to approve the minutes of the last committee meeting and John Avila, Jr. seconded the motion.

III. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED FOR COMMITTEE ACTION:

1. BRIEFING - CHAIRMAN'S CHARGES

BRIEFING - TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION ASSESSMENT B HISTORIC SITES

Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Mr. Sansom asked Larry McKinney to make a presentation before beginning the briefing items. Dr. McKinney described the successful series of posters depicting Texas ecosystems which are produced by the department and introduced a subseries on prairies and grasslands, with the first poster showing blackland prairies. Dr. McKinney presented the first signed edition to Mickey Burleson.

Mr. Sansom stated the chairman's charges directed him to take a serious look at the agency's assets. This was covered fairly well in the finance committee meeting. The legislature also directed that the Texas Historical Commission assist the department with this objective and Mr. Sansom introduced Deputy Director Larry Oaks, who joined Dr. Dolman and Mr. Cook to present an update on the progress of the historic sites study. Dr. Dolman explained the study originally included 40 designated sites in the Park System, plus the Sam Rayburn House which is operated by the Historical Commission. The consultant team decided to add two additional parks (Stephen F. Austin and Mission Tejas), which the department had not previously designated as historic due to their limited historical resources in comparison to their primary use as recreation parks, bringing the total to 43 sites. The study was authorized by Rider No. 20 of the appropriations bill for the Historical Commission, 75th Legislature, as well as Speaker Laney's interim charges to both the State, Federal and International Relations and the State Recreational Resources Committee. The scope was determined cooperatively between department staff and Texas Historical Commission staff, with the focus on five major areas: (1) An assessment or review of the architectural repair and maintenance needs of the designated sites by a recognized, well-known historical architect; (2) An examination of the historical significance of each site by Archie McDonald, professor of history at Stephen F. Austin University and a former commissioner of the Texas Historical Commission; (3) A separate assessment by John Crane of the Summerlee Foundation which addresses the interpretive needs of the individual sites; (4) An archeological assessment by Mike Davis of the Historical Commission staff; and (5) A study of marketing needs by a marketing consultant, Marge Lee who was formerly director of marketing for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

There were four progress meetings attended by department staff and other interested parties during this study. Representative Bob Turner and members of the press participated in extensive discussion with staffs of the two agencies during the meeting held at Fort McKavett. A joint meeting was held in Austin on October 15th to begin the process of developing consolidated recommendations from the specialist draft reports. The final report will contain: A list of major repairs identified for each site, with adjustments for those that are duplicated in the 1998 and 1999 Capital Programs; an annual maintenance program based upon site-specific conditions; a process for determining statewide historical significance of the existing inventory, as well as identifying any major voids; marketing plans for the sites with potential to attract significant additional revenue; improved interpretive programs based upon site-specific needs; recommendations for specialized staff training targeted for the specific needs of historic sites (such as management, marketing, interpretation and collections); and recommendations to establish an organizational identity for the historic sites.

Dr. Dolman introduced Larry Oaks, Deputy Executive Director of the Historical Commission, who said he wanted to convey that the two agencies continue to have a constructive partnership and are committed to keeping it that way. Mr. Oaks discussed the latest edition of the Historical Commission's newsletter called The Medallion, which contains information about the major program they have unveiled promoting trails throughout the state (such as the Forts Trail), ten of which were set up about 30 years ago. The Historical Commission may obtain an appropriation from the legislature to revive at least four or five of those ten trails. Parks and Wildlife Department has facilities in all ten and will continue to work closely with the Historical Commission to improve the properties and market them to Texans and visitors from all over.

Mr. Oaks stated the final draft of the study should be ready in about two weeks. It will contain three elements: The Executive Summary, the actual report itself with the five areas that Dr. Dolman discussed (about 30 pages), and an appendix containing the reports of the five consultants with their general recommendations, followed by specific recommendations for each site.

Mr. Oaks extended an invitation for the Committee and/or the full Commission to meet with members of the Historical Commission in three or four weeks to study the recommendations, devise a strategy for obtaining resources, and come to an agreement on which recommendations need to be carried out as soon as possible. Chairman Bass reported he had spoken with Chairman Nau and they agreed it would be most productive for the two Commissions to meet after studying the draft report for a week or ten days. Mr. Oaks promised that a draft could be submitted to the full Commission by November 15 and there would still be enough time for fine-tuning. Chairman Bass agreed to contact Chairman Nau with some proposed dates for a joint meeting in order to quickly finalize the report and initiate a program to which everyone could be committed.

2. ACTION - LAND SALE - WOOD COUNTY

Presenters: Mike Herring and John Yarbrough

Mr. Herring introduced John Yarbrough, Parks Regional Director for the northeast Texas area, and noted that this subject had been a briefing item at the last Committee meeting; therefore, he did not go into great detail. Governor Hogg Shrine State Historical Park is in the city of Quitman, Wood County, and commemorates Governor James Stephen Hogg. It contains 27.7 acres and two buildings which are historic in nature. The city of Quitman wants to operate the site as a local park and due to the fact that it duplicates two other park units and is primarily of local interest, staff feels the transfer of jurisdiction is appropriate. The most appropriate method of transfer is contained in Parks and Wildlife Code 13.009, which authorizes the Executive Director to sell real property if the property is no longer suitable for the purpose for which it was acquired. Compensation to the Department would be the City's acceptance of operation and maintenance responsibilities for the site. The Department would retain some oversight and maintenance responsibilities of the two buildings and furnishings, due to their historic importance. A management agreement has been drawn up that will allow the City to administer all the facilities.

Mr. Herring explained that the motion for the full Commission is in two parts. The first authorizes the Executive Director to sell the property in consideration for the City's assumption of operation and maintenance; the second authorizes the Department to retain some interest in the two buildings to protect the historical integrity and authorizes us to enter into a memorandum of understanding for operation of the unit. Dr. Dolman has reviewed this with the Historical Commission and they support the actions described above. Mr. Sansom stated he had discussed this with the Hogg Foundation (the original donor of these properties through the Hogg family), and they are supportive as well.

The question was raised regarding proper signage for the site, since the Department would no longer be operating it. John Yarbrough explained the agreement with the City spells out that information on our web site and in Department publications will still designate the site as a historical park, operated by Quitman rather than the state of Texas, in order to maintain a tourist identity for that area. Mr. Sansom thought it would be a good idea for the department to develop some form of nomenclature to fit all the situations where there is a designation that might be misleading in terms of operation of the facility. Mrs. Burleson requested the staff to study the matter and bring some specific suggestions for the Committee at their next meeting. Chairman Bass suggested that Dr. Dolman discuss the matter with members of the Historical Commission so that it could apply to all sites that are historic in nature and provide a cohesive plan for better marketing.

Mr. Angelo asked if the City had specific plans for the park. John Yarbrough explained the Mayor initiated a one-half cent sales tax and structured the City's first park board not only for baseball and soccer, but also for the historical park. Mr. Sansom noted that when he and Dr. Dolman met with Mr. Oakes and Chairman Nau, they commented the positive thing about this transaction is that it is an avenue for local government to become more involved in historic preservation.

Carol Dinkins moved to approve the staff recommendation to forward the item to the full Commission and the motion carried.

3. ACTION - USE OF METAL DETECTORS ON DEPARTMENT LANDS

Presenter: Dr. Karen Harry

This item was discussed at the last public hearing and Chairman Bass requested that Carol Dinkins investigate the matter and report back. Commissioner Dinkins stated she discussed the petition a number of times with Dr. Harry; Paul Shinkawa prepared a memorandum that addressed the legal issues; she and Dr. Harry also had a conference call with Larry Oaks of the Historical Commission. Commissioner Dinkins then asked Dr. Harry to brief the Committee on the study and the staff recommendations.

Dr. Harry reviewed the petition asking the Department to change its rules that currently ban the use of metal detectors on state parklands. It was requested that metal detectors be allowed in certain designated current-use areas, such as playground and picnic areas, swimming areas and beaches. After studying both the existing rules and the petition, staff found the rule currently only applies to state parklands but not to wildlife management areas or other department lands. To remedy this situation, Mr. Sansom signed Executive Order 98-02 on November 2, 1998, which states managers of parklands and other departmental lands may authorize the use of metal detectors only under specific situations for scientific purposes or to search for lost personal property, and specifies the conditions under which they can authorize these searches.

Paul Shinkawa reviewed the Antiquities Code and Dr. Harry met with Larry Oaks, Texas Historical Commission, and Joe Thrash, an attorney who works for the Office of the Attorney General. Their legal interpretation is that the primary law governing cultural resources on state lands is the Antiquities Code of Texas. This code establishes the Texas Historical Commission as the custodian of all cultural resources (all sites and all artifacts, prehistoric or historic), within the public domain of Texas. No one can remove cultural objects from state land or break the ground surface on state land without receiving prior legal authorization for that specific project or incidence. Secondly, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department does not have the authority to provide that legal authorization. Such authorization can only be obtained from the Texas Historical Commission.

Dr. Harry remarked the review was primarily on the legal aspects; however, she pointed out staff believes there are philosophical issues as well. Authorization for use of metal detectors would conflict with the Department's mission statement and internal goals, which are to protect and conserve the cultural and natural resources of Texas. Therefore, staff recommended the petition be denied.

Mickey Burleson pointed out she initially received a lot of mail in favor of the use of metal detectors, but recently there has been as much mail opposed to their use. Carol Dinkins moved to deny the petition and the motion carried.

4. BRIEFING - LANDOWNER INCENTIVE PROGRAM

Presenter: Peggy Horner

Ms. Horner is the program leader for the Nongame and Rare Species Program. She briefed the Committee on the voluntary program the Department initiated to help private landowners with the cost of management for rare resources on their property. Texas is one of the most biologically diverse states in the country with over 7,000 species of plants and animals. About 250 of these species are either state or federally listed as endangered or threatened and over 500 are considered rare or species of concern. In 1996 the Department decided to try a financial incentive program to determine if that would increase conservation of rare species on private lands. This is the first such program in the United States and the funding source for this five-year project is through the Endangered Species Act - $100,000 a year for each of the five years.

The Landowner Incentive Program Advisory Committee was established to help draft guidelines and review the applications from interested landowners. This Committee is made up of a group of people representing a very diverse constituency. The guidelines they set limit the awards to $10,000 per applicant per year; projects can extend several years; landowner cost share is not required but is encouraged; each project has a confidential management plan, a payment schedule and a signed contract that is custom designed for each landowner. It is now Year Two of the program and there are 14 signed contracts that span 16 counties throughout the state, representing a total of 6,500 acres and 27 rare species. There is about $200,000 obligated to landowners and most are willing to cost-share about 50 percent as well.

Ms. Horner reviewed some of the projects such as the Black Hawk Project in Jeff Davis County, the Attwater's Prairie Chicken Project in Austin County, the Lesser Prairie Chicken Project, the Texas Poppy Mallow Project, a multi-species project in South Texas involving the Texas tortoise and the indigo snake, and the Ocelot Project in South Texas.

Ms. Horner pointed out that $500,000 won't last forever and the Department is trying to solicit funds through private donations and partnerships in order to broaden the program to include other nongame species and to improve habitat restoration in general. The Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 1998 may provide a large amount of money which could be used efficiently in this program.

Mickey Burleson commented that she asked for this briefing after seeing it presented during an international meeting of ecological restoration groups. She stated she was impressed because the program was accomplishing so much with so little money. She asked that members of the Committee look for additional funding and also try to determine what incentives might work in addition to the financial ones. Dr. Gary Graham, Director of the Wildlife Division, talked about working with Dr. Larry McKinney and others on tax incentives and technical assistance incentives as an approach to reach conservation goals. Proposition 11 was discussed, as well as economic-based incentives or nature-based tourism such as the Coastal Birding Trail and the World Birding Center. Mr. Sansom added that the Department's current incentive program is a successful model for the whole country, after substantial resistance in the beginning by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service against using Section VI funds for this purpose.

Mr. Angelo asked if the landowners volunteered to participate or if Department staff must solicit their participation. Ms. Horner said it's been done both ways. The first year information went out through the media and 160 applications were received, but some were not well-focused. The larger landowners with rare species were contacted through field staff, so it's worked both ways. Dr. Graham mentioned that various methods of communicating an incentive approach are being experimented with so that we will be poised to transfer money to the landowners in an effective way, should larger amounts of money be obtained.

5. Other Business - There was no other business.

IV. Meeting adjourned at 12:00 p.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
January 1999

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Roy Frye

Conservation Committee
Action
Memorandum of Understanding
With the Texas Department of Transportation
January 1999

I. Discussion: The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the department are developing a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will guide interagency coordination of environmental reviews of TxDOT transportation projects. The revised MOU is required by Transportation Code, §201.607. TxDOT has initiated the rulemaking process and will publish the MOU in the Texas Register after review by the TxDOT Commission. The department proposes to adopt the MOU by reference. A public hearing has been scheduled for the proposed MOU at 10:00 am on January 22, l999 at the Dewitt C. Greer State Highway Bldg.

The environmental review process as guided by the existing MOU has been very positive, giving TPWD influence in the review, design, construction, and operation of highway projects. Notable achievements resulting from the positive relationship established between TxDOT and TPWD have been the establishment of mitigation banks leading to the acquisition of the Old Sabine Bottom and Tony Houseman (Blue Elbow Swamp) Wildlife Management Areas, in addition to many other projects that have included a wide array of other environmental measures.

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

"The Conservation Committee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes staff to publish the proposed adoption by reference of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Texas Department of Transportation (located at Exhibit B), in the Texas Register for public comment."

Attachments - 2

Exhibit A - Proposed adoption by reference
Exhibit B – TxDot MOU media download(PDF 183.3 KB)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Exhibit A

Proposed Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes the repeal of §69.71 and new §69.71, concerning Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Texas Department of Transportation. The new section adopts by reference the provisions of 43 TAC §2.22, which contains the text of an MOU required by Transportation Code, §201.607. The new rule is necessary to implement the statutory duty of the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to enter into cooperative agreements for the protection and preservation of the natural environment. The proposed rule will function by codifying procedures providing for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) review of TxDOT projects that have the potential to affect natural resources within the jurisdiction of TPWD.

2. Fiscal Note.

Robert Macdonald, Wildlife Division regulations coordinator, has determined that for each of the first five years that the proposed rule is in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rule.

3. Public Benefit - Cost Note.

Mr. Macdonald also has determined that for each of the first five years the proposed rule is in effect:

(A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing the repeal as proposed will be multi-agency cooperation in the protection and preservation of wildlife resources and habitat in this state.

(B) There will be no effect on small businesses. There are no economic costs to persons required to comply with the rule as proposed.

(C) The department has not filed a local impact statement with the Texas Workforce Commission as required by Government Code, §2001.022, as this agency has determined that the rule as proposed will not impact local economies.

(D) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rule.

4. Request for Public Comments.

Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to Roy Frye, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-4579 or 1-800-792-1112.

5. Statutory Authority.

The proposed repeal and new section are proposed under Transportation Code, §201.607, which requires each state agency that is responsible for the protection of the natural environment or for the preservation of historical or archeological resources to examine and revise their memorandum of understanding with the Texas Department of Transportation.

The repeal affects Transportation Code, §201.607.

§69.501. Memorandum of Understanding. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts by reference the provisions of 43 TAC §2.22 (relating to Memorandum of Understanding with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department).

This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Don Pitts

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Trustee Assessment and Restoration Program
January 1999

I. Discussion: The purpose of this briefing item is to provide the Commission an overview of the success of the Trustee Assessment and Restoration Program in achieving habitat restoration and preservation for oil and chemical spills. Activities of this program responsible for carrying out the department’s designated Natural Resource Trustee authority have resulted in more than $8 million worth of restoration activities encompassing almost 11,000 acres of habitat. The most recent pending settlement would include $891,000 that is dedicated to enhance visitation at Mustang Island State Park to compensate for lost visitation during spring break 1995 as a result of an oil spill.

This briefing will:


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Gary Graham

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Public Access on Wildlife Management Areas
January 1999

I. Discussion: In the fall of 1995, the Commission presented Department staff with the charge of improving access to all Texas Parks and Wildlife lands. The Wildlife Division has been developing site specific public access enhancements on many wildlife management areas. Currently the division is responsible for managing 50 WMAs totaling approximately three-quarters of a million acres. Of these, 31 WMAs are TPW owned while 19 are managed under license agreements with other agencies. Wildlife management areas are true multiple-use sites utilized by sportsmen, land managers, wildlife viewers, tourists, and students alike. Long known for exceptional hunting opportunities, the WMA system provides unique wildlife viewing, hiking, primitive camping, bicycling, horseback riding, and fishing opportunities during designated time periods when compatible with the primary goals of the area. Even more important than the recreational opportunities offered are the wildlife management techniques demonstrated on many of the WMAs. Here is a chance to experience firsthand the benefits of sound land stewardship practices such as hunting, grazing, prescribed burning, brush control, and other wildlife habitat management techniques.


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Mike Herring

Conservation Committee
Action
Land Donation – Bexar County
January 1999

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


Top of Page
Back to Top
Back to Top