Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, April 14, 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. 1999-2000 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Regulations
Staff: Jerry Cooke, Phil Durocher, Hal Osburn
3
3. Migratory Gamebird Proclamation – Early Season
Staff: Vernon Bevill
Committee Only
4. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Staff: Hal Osburn
Committee Only
5. Public Lands Proclamation and Candidates State Parks for Public Hunts
Staff: Herb Kothmann
4
6. Expansion of Public Hunting Opportunities
Staff: Gary Graham
Committee Only
7. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee
January 20, 1999

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 20th day of January 1999, 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 10:00 a.m., to wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTENDANCE

Lee M. Bass, Chair
Mickey Burleson
Nolan Ryan
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
Carol E. Dinkins
Susan Howard-Chrane
Ray Clymer

II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Chairman Lee Bass entertained a motion by Commissioner Angelo to accept the minutes of the November 4, 1998 meeting of the Regulations Committee. The motion to approve the minutes was seconded by Commissioner Burleson.

III. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED FOR COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION:

1. ACTION - 1999-2000 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation

Presenters: Phil Durocher, Robin Riechers, and Jerry Cooke

Chairman Bass modified the agenda to begin the meetings with the Regulations Committee rather than Infrastructure in deference to Commissioner Avila's schedule and began presentations with Item 3, 1999-2000 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation. Chair recognized Robin Riechers of the Coastal Division who presented proposed rule changes regarding coastal fisheries. Rules for red snapper and king mackerel would be changed to help increase the spawning success of both species, aid law enforcement due to consistency between state and federal waters, and reduce angler confusion. King mackerel minimum length limit would be increased from 23 to 27 inches. Red snapper bag limit would be reduced from four to five fish, and the bag limit for captain and crew on for-hire vessels would be zero. These rules are contingent upon final approval of the National Marine Fisheries Service. Chairmen Bass inquired how much would the mackerel changes reduce take. Mr. Riechers stated it would only impact 5 percent of trips, as most fish are larger than 27 inches.

Chair next recognized Phil Durocher, Director of the Inland Fisheries Division, to present freshwater fishing regulation proposals. The proposals reflect public input that has been received from scoping meeting, press releases, and newspaper articles since the November Regulations Committee meeting. This year's changes focus on four areas: simplification; increased fishing opportunity; endangered species; and clarification. In the area of simplification, several regulations that we implemented were experimental and have not meet objectives. We propose to change these regulations back to the statewide standards. The first group of reservoirs is Brownwood, Champion Creek, and Coleman. These reservoirs currently have a 16-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag for largemouth bass. The next group consists of Lakes Striker, Tyler State Park, and Weatherford. We propose to change these regulations back to the statewide standard, a 14-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag. We initially had included two other reservoirs, Bridgeport and Georgetown, which had 14-18 inch slots. Since then, staff has evaluated fall samples and has detected some improvements in the populations. Anglers have also expressed some satisfaction with the current limits. We have decided to leave those in effect for at least one more year. Chairman Bass asked how many years have those been in effect. Mr. Durocher said between 4 and 5 years. Mr. Durocher continued with the second area of simplification. An experimental 18-inch minimum length limit for blue catfish was put on two reservoirs, Fort Phantom Hill and E. V. Spence. We have evaluated these populations for 5 years and have not seen any improvements in the angling quality. Therefore, we wish to change the limits back to a 12-inch minimum length and 25 fish daily bag limits that are the statewide standards for blue and channel catfish. Our next area is increasing angling opportunity. We wish to make a minor change to the minimum length of bass that can be weighed at lakeside weigh stations at three of our catch and release lakes, Purtis Creek, Raven, and Gibbons Creek. That length would be changed from 22 to 21 inches and will allow more anglers to weigh bass. Also, we propose to change the limit at Lake Murval in Panola County from a 14-inch minimum length limit to a 14-21 inch slot and a five fish bag with only one fish 21 inches or greater. This reservoir has historically produced trophy bass. Staff is concerned about a build-up of smaller bass, which makes the population structure ideally suited for a slot limit. We held a scoping meeting in Carthage and most of the 40 people at the meeting were opposed to this regulation. Their primary concern is impact on tournaments, and we had anticipated this opposition. We are asking to carry this proposal to the next level to allow more input from other anglers. We will use this input in our final recommendation to the Commission in April. We also propose to change the statewide limits for walleye from a 16-inch minimum length limit and 5 fish daily bag to no minimum length limit and a bag of 5 fish with only two allowed to be under 16 inches. This change is primarily in response to an effort to improve the quality of walleye angling in Lake Meredith, which is the primary walleye fishery in Texas. The next area of change addresses concerns endangered species in the Trans-Pecos. The Pecos pupfish is native to the Trans-Pecos and is threatened by non-native fish introduced as bait, especially by hybridization with sheepshead minnow. TPWD has entered into a conservation agreement with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of New Mexico to limit the use of bait fish to those currently found in the Trans-Pecos that do not pose a threat to the pupfish. This action should prevent the need for listing the Pecos pupfish as endangered. Finally, language specifically prohibiting the use of pole and line underwater was deleted during sunset and needs to be reinstated. Chairman Bass asked whether the last item included a prohibition on using spears to take fish. Mr. Durocher said no as spears are legal for taking non-game fishes, and the devices in question are being used to take large catfish. Chairman Bass followed asking if this can be a significant resource issue. Mr. Durocher stated, although there are no specifics, larger catfish can be vulnerable to these techniques, and we have outlawed similar methods such as grabbling. Chairman Bass inquired about any additional handling mortality at the catch and release lakes due to the decrease in size limit. Mr. Durocher answered that if the fish are handled properly any increases in mortality would be minimal although there is always some mortality involved anytime you handle fish. Lastly, Chairman Bass asked for a information on a possible legislative proposal on fishing tournaments. Mr. Durocher responded that staff has a briefing paper that can be distributed to the Commission and any questions could be answered at Thursday legislative briefing.

 

The chair recognized Gary Graham, Director of the Wildlife Division, who introduced Jerry Cooke, Director of the Upland Wildlife Ecology program. Mr. Cooke then went through the staff-proposed changes to the hunting provisions of the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation and the nature of public comment received in the scoping meetings. Chairman Bass asked why the staff was withdrawing a proposed change to regulations dealing with possession of wildlife resources. Mr. Cooke responded that there were some technical difficulties that needed to be worked out before staff felt comfortable with making the change. Continuing, Mr. Cooke went through a group of proposals that originated with the public and constituent groups. Chairman Bass asked if staff's intent was to get a better sense of public opinion before taking a position. Mr. Cooke responded that that indeed was the case. Commissioner Ryan asked when the public meetings would take place. Mr. Cooke replied that they would be held in March. Commissioner Angelo inquired as to whether public proposals from Hill Country counties would reduce harvest. Mr. Cooke said that he felt they probably would not. Commissioner Angelo then asked what the goal of the proposal was. Mr. Cooke responded that the petitioning group wanted to reduce hunting pressure during the peak of the breeding period. Chairman Bass then adjourned the meeting temporarily. When the meeting reconvened, Mr. Cooke asked the committee if there were any further questions on the Hill Country public proposal. There were none. Mr. Cooke then addressed a department proposal to introduce extra tags. Mr. Sansom added clarification that the proposed tags would be in addition to the tags currently on the hunting license, and Mr. Cooke added that the revenue would be used to fund additional public hunting opportunity. Commissioner Ryan asked if the tags were restricted to use on public hunting lands. Mr. Cooke responded that staff had envisioned the tags for use in conjunction with management-plan driven permit programs, as well as on public hunting lands. After a discussion to clarify that the proposal contained elements from the general public as well as from staff, Commissioner Howard-Chrane moved to authorize staff to publish the proposed 1999-2000 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation in the Texas Register for public comment. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Ryan and passed unanimously.

Note: Prior to the end of this presentation, the Regulations Committee recessed and reconvened with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) for a joint meeting (see Item 2). After the joint meeting, the TPW Commission moved into executive session for the purpose of considering a land acquisition and pending litigation, and then the Regulations Committee reconvened to continue the presentation of Item 1.

2. BRIEFING - Joint Commission Workshop (TPWD, TNRCC, and TWDB)

Presenters: Craig Pederson, TWDB; Ken Petersen, TNRCC; Andrew Sansom, TPWD; Kimberly Iannelli, Texas Water Foundation

On January 20, 1999, a joint meeting was held at Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters involving the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the implementation of Senate Bill 1 of the 75th Legislative Session, as well as to discuss issues to be addressed during the 76th Legislative Session. The following commission and board members were in attendance: from TPWD - Chairman Lee Bass, Susan Howard-Chrane, Ernest Angelo, Jr., Mickey Burleson, Carol E. Dinkins, Nolan Ryan, and Ray Clymer; from TWDB: Chairman William B. Madden, Charlie Geren, Wales Madden, and Jack Hunt; from TNRCC - Chairman Robert Huston, John Baker, and Ralph Marquez.

After each commission called its individual meeting to order, Chairman Madden of the TWDB presented Water Smart Campaign t-shirts to the commissioners to highlight the TWDB Water Smart Water Conservation Program. Each agency then gave presentations regarding Senate Bill 1 implementation and forthcoming issues.

Craig Pederson, Executive Administrator of the TWDB, began the presentations by stressing that in implementation of SB1, sound scientific decisions require the right information, and that the TPWD, TWDB, and TNRCC (hereinafter the "agencies") have worked very well together on data collection, integration, and dissemination. Regarding TWDB duties, implementation has been completed on the following: regional water plans, groundwater district management plans, certification process, water bank and water trust rules, the general obligation bond, the drinking water rates revolving fund, agricultural water conservation loans, priority groundwater management area process, the StratMap initiative, network optimization activities, regional water planning data and Texas Geographic Information Council implementation. The implementation item yet to be completed is the final water plan due in 2001, which can not be completed until regional water planning groups have submitted their plans.

Roddy Seekins, deputy for resource information at the TWDB, discussed initiatives related to data coordination among the three agencies and providing data to regional water planning groups. A multi-agency data steering team helps guide these efforts and has worked with a broader group to get regional water planning on the web. Another group, the Texas Water Monitoring Council, will tie in with TWDB's work to build an electronic data exchange system in an attempt to optimize access and use of all water data in the state. Yet another group with multi-agency representation, the Texas Geographic Information Council (GIC) works to coordinate GIS information. The GIC has worked with TNRIS, or the Texas Natural Resource Information System, a common library that all state agencies and the public can use to access maps, photographs, and other types of natural resource related information. Finally, StrapMap, or Strategic Mapping Initiative, is a program where the state has initiated mapping efforts and then enrolled the federal agencies to double the financial input of the state to produce compatible base maps for the state.

Mr. Pederson then identified several long range and legislative issues. The TWDB is presently facing a huge challenge in retention of staff. Salary enhancement is their number one issue. Regarding policy issues, the interbasin transfer issue is an obvious one that all three agencies are aware of. Water Marketing is another area where activity and action are anticipated by the TWDB. A research project in progress will be completed around February 1 to address water-marketing issues. TPWD and TNRCC have been asked to review the report. Financing is not expected to be on the agenda for this session, but may be a sleeper for regional water planning groups as they recognize what needs to be done to meet their 50-year water supply needs. Some $683 million in projects were financed last year alone, with little slow-down expected in the future.

Groundwater is another issue that is expected to receive a lot of attention due to the number of people in the state considering the option of creating new groundwater districts. Mr. Pederson also expects groundwater to be an issue that will get a lot of attention during this session of the legislature. Successful groundwater management requires better information. Some new modeling work is being done in-house and there will be a greater demand for this kind of knowledge in the next round of regional water planning. Some of the money requested by the TWDB for regional water planning for the second round of planning is expected to be used for groundwater availability modeling.

Bill Mullican of the TWDB discussed the GAM, or groundwater availability modeling. The justification for this program is basically identical to that for WAM, or surface water availability modeling. The GAM will provide functional models of the major and minor aquifers of Texas. Three regional water-planning groups have included in their scopes of work the development of new groundwater availability models. The TWDB is presently developing two "numericals" - one for the Trinity Aquifer and one for the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Speaking for the TNRCC, Ken Petersen, Deputy Director for the Office of Water, emphasized two aspects of SB1 regarding implementation. First, from the rulemaking side, SB1 has four rulemaking packages. One, water rights enforcement issues for a water master program includes two different aspects of water utilities. Those are the retail side and the water utility's oversight and regulation generally. There is also a rulemaking package to look at going to more flexible water utility rates for public policy purposes, including trying to merge marginal or substandard systems with larger systems. TNRCC Commissioners have approved those three rulemaking packages. The last package relates to water rights and groundwater management issues, including issues related to multiple uses of water rights, state and local banks permits, notice, emergency transfers, groundwater management and supervision and enforcement provisions relating to groundwater districts. This last package is scheduled for a TNRCC work session.

Regarding the issue of water availability modeling, Petersen explained that going into SB1, eight of the 23 river basins in the state had been modeled, yet the models were over a decade old and did not provide the kinds of information regional water planning groups would require. Nor did the kind of water availability model needed for SB1 implementation exist "off the shelf". To meet this need, an interagency project management team consisting of the TNRCC, TWDB, and TPWD was formed to address the WAM needs. In addition, TNRCC retained Parsons Engineering to provide technical management oversight and assistance in order to obtain private sector input. Two models have now been selected - one is the Texas A&M University WRAP model to perform the accounting side of the modeling, and the other is the University of Texas GUI, or graphical user interface, to help facilitate the use of the WRAP model for technical and laypersons alike.

The TNRCC is on schedule to complete 22 of the 23 models by the end of calendar year 2001, which is a requirement of SB1. Contracts are currently under way for five basins with negotiations for a sixth basin in process, all of which will be delivered by the end of this calendar year as required by SB1. The first basin model to be completed, the Sulphur River Basin, should be running by early February.

Following completion of the model, the agency is tasked to deliver certain kinds of information to all water rights permit holders, including how much water they have available under their water rights permits at drought flow, 75 percent of normal and 50 percent of normal, how much they have available on a firm basis, how much water might be available on a cancellation basis, and how much might be available for effluent re-use projects. This later information should be available to the stakeholders some time near the end of March.

Regarding the cost of the water availability models, Mr. Petersen expressed that, despite a good guess based on available information, the TNRCC had identified $3.16 million of additional funding needed to complete the models. By comparison, the cost of a water allocation in another state reached $10 million for a single model, whereas Texas will receive 22 basin models for just under $10 million.

Jeff Saitas, Executive Director of the TNRCC, discussed the upcoming legislative session. He identified the never-ending generation of federal programs handed down by the Federal EPA to the state of Texas and how these programs typically are handed down without the finances to implement them. The largest issue for the TNRCC going in to the legislative session thus, is how to deal with the major federal environmental initiatives.

After nineteen years of negotiations, Texas has received delegation of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System. Though funding for the first half of the program was received via the last legislative session, that is, the part for permitting large cities and industries, there was a second part that came with the program delegation. That parts relates to storm water and the pollutants that are concentrated in runoff water that eventually finds its way into surface and groundwater of the state. That part is considered to require quite a substantial permitting effort and a large part of that will fall at the feet of 216 small cities in 55 areas of this state. Thus, the first piece of funding that the TNRCC will be seeking is that to implement the storm water related portion of the NPDES program.

The second big challenge the TNRCC faces involves the Federal Clean Water Act. Not only must the state deal with water quality issues, it must also deal with the quality of that water and whether it will serve the uses that it is available for. The program to deal with this challenge requires the establishment of total maximum daily loads. That process involves the identification of all water segments in the state that may be threatened or impaired based on the pollutant loadings that they have. These segments can be a bay, lake, or stream segment, and 147 of have been identified so far. Two things within each segment must also be identified. One is how much pollution loading the segment can take and still be safe. The second thing to consider is what the appropriate water quality standards are. The segments must be physically measured and then a determination is made as to whether the measurement is above or below the standard. Then, for measurements above the standard, you must identify where the measured pollutant came from and then determine how to fix the problem and who is going to pay for it. In summary, the program creates a challenge of enormous magnitude.

TNRCC is addressing three issues related to human and animal waste. That agency inspects 48% of the wastewater treatment plants in this state once a year. The agency is asking to increase that to 58% in an attempt to bring more assurance to the people of Texas that that the water in the state is safe. Another wastewater concern the agency faces is the growing number of developments that lack centralized wastewater systems. Many of these developments are putting in independent on-site sewage management systems. The TNRCC will be asking for the ability to increase the percentage of inspections of these plants from 33% to 48%. In addition, the number of animal feeding operations are also on the increase, perhaps by as much as three times the present size in a few years. Currently, TNRCC inspects about 19% of these per year and is requesting authority to increase that to 38%.

In closing, Mr. Saitas stated that some money is also available for following through on the implementation plans for Galveston Bay and Corpus Christi Bay. He also briefly discussed the upcoming Sunset review process that all three agencies will soon be going through. Mr. Saitas gave credit to Dr. Larry McKinney and Andy Sansom for their vision and initiative to encourage the agencies to work as a group in identifying some solutions that may be used to help set the agenda for the process before it begins.

Andrew Sansom, Executive Director of the TPWD, began his discussion by explaining that the concept of consensus water planning had initially been a foreign concept, but thanks to the leadership of legislators, Senate Bill 1 has been become a reality. Mr. Sansom emphasized that the three agencies had taken SB1 seriously, that he and Craig and Jeff had met formally at least once a month, and that the staffs of the three agencies had been working together each day. He then introduced Dr. Larry McKinney, Senior Director for Aquatic Resources at TPWD, to discuss SB1 implementation.

Dr. McKinney began by stating that the TPWD's strategic goal is to assure adequate water quantity and quality to protect the health and productivity of Texas rivers, lakes, and bays. The cooperative efforts of the three agencies in meeting that goal work to the benefit of us all. A core water team at TPWD lead by Cindy Loeffler is responsible for implementation of the department's SB1 duties, which fall into two main areas. One is assuring that departmental commitments under a joint agency MOU to implement SB1 are met, and then to fulfill the department's statutory obligations under SB1. The department has kept on track with both of these by focusing efforts in three main areas: planning support, technical assistance and data development, and rule development.

In the area of planning support, the agency has appointed TPWD staff representing all geographic areas of the state to provide technical assistance to the regional water planning groups regarding environmental water needs. Technical information has also been made available via the Internet. An area in which these agency representatives may be especially helpful to regional water planning groups is in considering designation of areas of unique ecological significance that they may wish to protect.

In rule development, TPWD supports the sister agencies with their obligations and tasks under SB1, which are tremendous. The job has not been easy but staff has done a good job and one that they can be proud of. One area of particular interest here is the portion of SB1 that allows individuals to put water rights into a Texas Water Trust to be held for environmental purposes. The department anticipates the development of some incentives for water right holders to participate in this initiative because aside from purely conservation motives, real incentives to use the Water Trust do not exist. Staff are looking at the department's own water rights and how they might fit in to this program.

An area where TPWD has perhaps the greatest ability to support SB1 implementation is in technical assistance and data development. One example of this is the seven priority groundwater management reports that are required of the department, four of which have been completed and three that are in draft form as of the time of this joint meeting. Another special project the department provided technical assistance on was with nuisance aquatic vegetation on the Rio Grande. Vegetation there had become so thick that water flow had become severely impeded. Department staff with expertise in this area was able to provide assistance in developing management alternatives and eventually helped implement a successful solution to the problem.

Other areas where TPWD technical expertise was utilized in SB1 implementation were in assisting with water availability models and bay and estuary inflow requirements. Staff assistance in these areas will provide assurance that the water flows necessary to keep our bays, lakes, and streams healthy will be considered in the models "up front", as opposed to those issues being considered only as an afterthought. The advantage to this kind of approach is that environmental water needs can be addressed "head up" in a progressive way, rather than falling into a counter-productive bit-by-bit pattern of permit analysis. A permit-by-permit pattern is divisive and will not effectively accomplish the goals of protecting the state's waters. The great support we have had in working cooperatively with our sister agencies on this issue will help us meet our fundamental goals.

Developing recommendations for freshwater inflows is another area where TPWD has worked with its sister agencies. Recommendations and reports for three bay and estuary systems have been made and four systems remain to be completed. That these will be completed on schedule is very important because they will mesh together with water availability. The ability to look to the future and make some decisions now, before the opportunities became more limited, is very important to meeting the department's goals. Andy Sansom made some concluding remarks, starting with the observation that in the past, virtually every project involving water in Texas resulted in a skirmish among state water management agencies, and how the SB1 process has a built-in mechanism that helps avoid that now. With respect to aquatic vegetation infestation problems, Mr. Sansom expressed hope that more of the management decisions involving those issues will be pushed to local levels, while we as an agency are increasing our ability in terms of research, planning, and investigation of alternative management strategies. Regarding the Sunset process, the SB1 consensus approach has allowed the agencies to avoid duplication of efforts. The Sunset process should provide further opportunities to identify efficient ways for each agency to do the things they can do best. In closing, Mr. Sansom expressed appreciation for the opportunity to participate with the sister agencies in a process that all can be proud of.

Kimberly Iannelli, Executive Director of the Texas Water Foundation, spoke briefly about the Texas Water Foundation, a new institution that will provide support to continue the momentum of Senate Bill 1. Ms. Iannelli expressed appreciation for the support the foundation has received from each of the three agencies so far, and gave special thanks to the TPWD for helping produce a promotional video that showcases the objectives of the foundation. A plea was also made by Ms. Iannelli to each agency to let the foundation know what kinds of educational tools were currently available for promotion by the Foundation. A Foundation program to be held April 15 to May 15 of this year will be called "Water Time in 99". The Foundation will print and distribute a calendar of any water-related events going on in the state during that time period. In addition, the Foundation will work with TPWD to produce an Internet field trip geared to K-12th grade students.

3. ACTION - Rulemaking Petition - Crappie Population at Joe Pool Lake

Presenter: Ken Kurzawski

Chair recognized Ken Kurzawski of the Inland Fisheries Division to present a petition for rulemaking. A petition for rule-making was received requesting that the 10-inch minimum length limit for crappie on Joe Pool Reservoir be removed effective from December to the following February 15th. Only the 25 fish bag would be in effect during this period. The petitioners believe that crappie are overabundant and undersized in Joe Pool and the population would benefit from the harvest of some of these crappie. Our surveys do not indicate an overabundance of crappie. All sizes of crappie are low in abundance in Joe Pool, and their abundance is below the average abundance of other Metroplex reservoirs. Abundance prior to 1998 has actually declined. Evaluation of the current crappie population in Joe Pool indicates the population would not benefit from removal of the length limit; therefore, staff recommends that the petition be passed on the full Commission with the recommendation it be denied. Chairman Bass asked for a motion to put this item on the consent agenda. Commissioner Ryan offered the motion and was seconded by Commissioner Burleson. The motion passed unanimously.

4. ACTION - Public Lands Proclamation and Candidate State Parks for Public Hunts

Presenters: Gary Graham and Ron George

The chair recognized Gary Graham, Director of the Wildlife Division, who introduced Deputy Division Director Ron George. Mr. George addressed the proposed amendment to the Public Lands Proclamation and went through the new units proposed for units of the state park system. Commissioner Angelo moved to authorize staff to publish the proposed amendment to the Public Lands Proclamation. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Howard-Chrane and passed unanimously.

5. BRIEFING - Status of Eastern Turkey Restoration Program

Presenters: Gary Graham and Marcus Peterson

The chair recognized Gary Graham, Director of the Wildlife Division, who introduced Markus Peterson, Small Game Program Leader. Mr. Peterson began by providing historical and biological background information on eastern wild turkeys in Texas, and the history and effectiveness of previous restoration activities. He then addressed the status of current restoration activities in various eco-regions. Mr. Peterson stated that the program has been a success, and pointed to a variety of factors underlying the successful restoration effort. Mr. Peterson then outlined the staff's strategy for the future and the nature of future research and assessment efforts. Various Commissioners asked technical questions about the source, cost, range, and hardiness of out-of-state birds.

IV. OTHER BUSINESS

BRIEFING - Update on Light Geese Regulations

Presenters: Gary Graham and Brian Sullivan

Chairman Bass then called for a briefing on the status of the Light Goose Conservation Season. The chair recognized Gary Graham, Director of the Wildlife Division, who introduced Brian Sullivan, Waterfowl Program Leader. Mr. Sullivan provided a status report on the department's efforts to introduce a conservation season as part of a broader international effort to control snow goose overpopulation and prevent the destruction of breeding habitat. Mr. Sullivan relayed to the committee the particulars of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulation changes, and the inclusion of light geese in the department's Hunters for the Hungry program. Mr. Sullivan also reported that public comment was overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed conservation season. Chairman Bass then asked about potential federal changes to baiting regulations. Mr. Sullivan furnished the committee with a timeline for potential action, as well as staff's feelings for the eventual impacts of federal action.

V. ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, Chairman Bass adjourned the January 20, 1999 meeting of the Regulations Committee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at 3:55 p.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
April 1999

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenters: Jerry Cooke, Phil Durocher, Hal Osburn

Regulations Committee
Action
1999-2000 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
April 1999

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 3.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Vernon Bevill

Regulations Committee
Action
1999-2000 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
April 1999

I. Discussion: Responsibility for establishing seasons, bag limits, means, methods, and devices for harvesting migratory game birds within U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) frameworks is delegated to the Commission under Chapter 64, Subchapter C, Parks and Wildlife Code. Parks and Wildlife Code, §64.022 authorizes the Executive Director, after notification of the Chairman, to engage in rulemaking.

At present, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has not issued the annual regulatory frameworks for migratory game birds. Since the current regulations reflect the Commission's policy to provide the most liberal harvest provisions permissible under the federal frameworks, staff recommends retaining those provisions (adjusted for calendar shift) should the Service frameworks remain unchanged from last year. Should the Service issue frameworks that alter any existing options or offer new options for hunter opportunity, the department will adopt the most liberal provisions possible, while affording needed protection to the resource.

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

"The Regulations Committee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes staff to publish proposed amendments to 31 TAC §§65.315, 65.318, 65.319, and 65.320, concerning migratory game bird regulations, in the Texas Register for public comment."

Attachment – 1

1. Exhibit A – Proposed Migratory Bird Proclamation


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Exhibit A

Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Proposed Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission proposes amendments to §§65.315, 65.318, 65.319, and 65.320, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation. The amendments adjust the season dates for both early and late season species of migratory game birds to account for calendar-shift, and are necessary to implement commission policy to provide maximum hunter opportunity possible under frameworks issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). The Service has not issued regulatory frameworks for the 1999-2000 hunting seasons for migratory game birds; however, the department intends to follow commission policy in adopting the most liberal provisions possible under the frameworks in order to provide maximum hunter opportunity.

2. Fiscal Note.

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

3. Public Benefit-Cost Note.

Mr. Macdonald also has determined that for each of the first five years the amendments are in effect:

(A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing the rules as proposed will be the department's discharge of its statutory obligation to manage and conserve the state's populations of migratory game birds, as well as the implementation of commission policy to maximize recreational opportunity for the citizenry.

(B) There will be no effect on small businesses. There are no additional economic costs to persons required to comply with the rules 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 the department has determined that the rules 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 rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

Comments on the proposed rules may submitted to Vernon Bevill, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4578 or 1-800-792-1112.

5. Statutory Authority.

The amendments are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64, which authorizes the Commission and the Executive Director to provide the open season and means, methods, and devices for the hunting and possessing of migratory game birds.

The amendments affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 64.

§65.315. Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits - Early Season.

(a) Rails.

(1) Dates: September 11-26, 1999 [12-27, 1998], and October 23 [24] – December 5, 1999 [16, 1998].

(2) (No change.)

(b) Dove seasons.

(1) North Zone.

(A) Dates: September 1-October 30, 1999 [1998].

(B)-(C) (No change.)

(2) Central Zone.

(A) Dates: September 1-October 17, 1999 [18, 1998], and December 26, 1999 [1998] -January 7, 2000 [6, 1999].

(B)-(C) (No change.)

(3) South Zone.

(A) Dates: Except in the special white-winged dove area as defined in §65.314 of this title (relating to Zones and Boundaries for Early Season Species), September 24 [25]-November 7, 1999 [8, 1998], and December 26, 1999 [1998]-January 9, 2000 [1999]. In the special white-winged dove area, the mourning dove season is September 24 [25]-November 7, 1999 [8, 1998], and December 26, 1999 [1998]-January 5, 2000 [1999].

(B)-(C) (No change.)

(4) Special white-winged dove area.

(A) Dates: September 4, 5, 11, and 12, 1999 [5, 6, 12, and 13, 1998].

(B)-(C) (No change.)

(d) Gallinules.

(1) Dates: September 11-26, 1999 [12-27, 1998], and October 23, 1999 [24, 1998] - December 15, 1999 [16, 1998].

(2) (No change.)

(e) September teal-only season.

(1) Dates: September 11-26, 1999 [12-27, 1998].

(2) (No change.)

(f)-(g) (No change.)

(h) Sandhill cranes. A free permit is required of any person to hunt sandhill cranes in areas where an open season is provided under this proclamation. Permits will be issued on an impartial basis with no limitation on the number of permits that may be issued. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

(1) Zone A: November 13, 1999 [7, 1998]-February 13, 2000 [7, 1999].

(2) Zone B: November 13, 1999 [28, 1998]-January 23, 2000 [February 7, 1999].

(3) Zone C: December 18, 1999 [January 2, 1998]-January 23, 2000 [February 7, 1999].

(i) Woodcock: December 18, 1999 [1998]-January 31, 2000 [1999]. The daily bag limit is three. The possession limit is six.

(j) Common snipe (Wilson's snipe or jacksnipe): October 17, 1999 [1998]-January 31, 2000 [1999]. The daily bag limit is eight. The possession limit is 16.

§65.318. Open Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits - Late Season. Except as specifically provided in this section, the possession limit for all species listed in this section shall be twice the daily bag limit.

(1) Ducks, mergansers, and coots. The daily bag limit for ducks is six, which may include no more than five mallards or Mexican mallards (Mexican duck), only two of which may be hens, one mottled duck, one pintail, two redheads, one canvasback, and two wood ducks. The daily bag limit for coots is 15. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, which may include no more than one hooded merganser.

(A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: October 16-19, 1999 [17-20, 1998], and October 23, 1999 [24, 1998] - January 16, 2000 [17, 1999].

(B) North Zone: October 30 [31] - November 7, 1999 [8, 1998], and November 13, 1999 [14, 1998] - January 16, 2000 [17, 1999].

(C) South Zone: October 23 [24] - November 28, 1999 [29, 1998], and December 11, 1999 [12, 1998] - January 16, 2000 [17, 1999].

(2) Geese.

(A) Western Zone.

(i) Light geese: October 30, 1999 [31, 1998] - February 13, 2000 [14, 1999]. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

(ii) Dark geese: October 30, 1999 [31, 1998] - February 13, 2000 [14, 1999]. The daily bag limit for dark geese is five, which may not include more than four Canada geese and one white-fronted goose.

(B) Eastern Zone.

(i) Light geese: October 30, 1999 [31, 1998] - February 13, 2000 [14, 1999]. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20, and there is no possession limit.

(ii) Dark geese:

(I) White-fronted geese: October 23, 1999 [24, 1998] - January 16, 2000 [17, 1999]. The daily bag limit for white-fronted geese is one.

(II) Canada geese and brant: October 30, 1999 [31, 1998] - January 30, 2000 [31, 1999]. The daily bag limit is one Canada goose or one brant, except during the period from January 17-30 [18-31], when the bag limit is two in the aggregate.

(3) Special Youth-Only Season. There shall be a special youth-only duck season during which the hunting, taking, and possession of ducks, mergansers, and coots is restricted to licensed hunters 15 years of age and younger accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older. Bag and possession limits in any given zone during the season established by this paragraph shall be as provided for that zone by paragraph (1) of this section. Season dates are as follows:

(A) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: October 9, 1999 [10, 1998];

(B) North Zone: October 23, 1999 [24, 1998]; and

(C) South Zone: October 16, 1999 [17, 1998].

§65.319. Extended Falconry Season - Early Season Species.

(a) It is lawful to take the species of migratory birds listed in this section by means of falconry during the following Extended Falconry Seasons:

(1) mourning doves and white-winged doves: November 8 [9] - December 25, 1999 [1998]; and

(2) rails and gallinules: December 16, 1999 [17, 1998] - January 21, 2000 [22, 1999].

(3) woodcock: November 24-December 17, 1999 [1998], and February 1-March 10, 2000 [1999].

(b) (No change.)

§65.320. Extended Falconry Season - Late Season Species.

(a) It is lawful to take the species of migratory birds listed in this section by means of falconry during the following Extended Falconry Seasons. Ducks, coots, and mergansers:

(1) High Plains Mallard Management Unit: no extended falconry season; and

(2) Remainder of the state: January 17 [18] - February 1, 2000 [2, 1999].

(b) (No change.)

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

Issued in Austin, Texas on


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Hal Osburn

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
April 1999

I. Discussion: Staff will brief the Regulations Committee on the federally mandated Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. The briefing will include its history, its responsibilities, the Department’s role regarding dual jurisdiction over species in marine waters off Texas, and current issues impacting the Council and the Department.


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Herb Kothmann

Regulations Committee
Action
Amendment to the Public Lands Proclamation
Establishment of an Open Season on Public Lands 1999-2000
Proposed Hunting Activities on State Parks
April 1999

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 4.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenter: Gary Graham

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Expansion of Public Hunting Opportunities
April 1999

I. Discussion: The Chairman at the January 1999 meeting directed staff to develop additional public hunting initiatives to enhance public hunting opportunity. Staff has conceived several approaches, including the implementation of the bonus white-tailed deer tag, expansion of the dove lease program to include additional species, the creation of special drawn-hunt packages for a variety of species, and a limited program to lease private lands for deer hunts. Revenues derived from the expanded opportunity would pay for the administrative overhead of the program and provide for additional opportunity in the future.


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