Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., May 30, 2001

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. Amendment to Redfish Bay "Prop Up" Zones
Staff: Bill Harvey
Committee Only
3. Status of Giant Salvinia
Staff: Rhandy Helton
Committee Only
4. Nomination for Oil and Gas Lease – Fayette County
Staff: Kathy Boydston
8
5. Land Acquisition – San Patricio County – Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Staff: Karen Leslie
10
6. Land Acquisition – El Paso County – Franklin Mountains State Park
Staff: Karen Leslie
11
7. Land Exchange – Houston County – Weches Cemetery Assn-TPW
Staff: Jack Bauer
12
8. Land Disposition – Travis and Williamson Counties
Staff: Ronnie Ray
13
9. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee
April 4, 2001

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 4th day of April 2001, 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 9:16 a.m., to-wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTENDANCE:

Carol E. Dinkins, Chair
Lee M. Bass
Dick Heath (Absent)
Nolan Ryan (Absent)
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
John Avila, Jr.
Alvin L. Henry
Katharine Armstrong Idsal
Mark E. Watson, Jr.

II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: The minutes of the last committee meeting were approved.

III. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED FOR COMMITTEE ACTION:

1. BRIEFING – Chairman’s Charges

Presenter: Andrew Sansom
Mr. Sansom noted that on the charge to implement and advocate fish and wildlife resource needs in statewide water planning, Dr. McKinney will present an update on all water-related issues.

Mr. Sansom stated that on the charge related to House Bill 2108 of the 76th Legislature, three sites have been transferred to local government (Old Fort Parker State Historic Park to Limestone County; Lubbock Lake Landmark to Texas Tech; and Jim Hogg State Historical Park to the City of Rusk). Also, staff is currently working with the City of Port Lavaca on the possibility of transferring the Port Lavaca State Fishing Pier.

2. BRIEFING – Water Policy

Presenter: Dr. Larry McKinney
Dr. McKinney updated the Committee on rule making with the Water Development Board, Senate Bill 1, and legislation regarding water. He stated that the graphs indicate the water demands for the next 50 years do not look as dramatic as the increase in population during that same time period, mainly due to the assumption that agricultural use of water will decline and the remaining growth and demand will be primarily urban. The numbers assume an enhanced level of conservation across the state and continued mining of surface water and groundwater, which would deplete the aquifers.

Dr. McKinney pointed out that 30.1 million acre feet of water come into Texas' major bay systems each year and this water is the underpinning for productivity in Texas estuaries. Statistics show there is presently a 10 million acre-foot cushion, giving staff time to work with the water development communities and others in meeting water demands to make sure the bay and estuary inflows continue. This year the Rio Grande River, one of the 15 major rivers, stopped flowing into the sea. This was caused by a number of things such as aquatic vegetation and water diversions by dams and weirs.

Dr. McKinney explained that the Colorado River Management Plan Review, which takes place every five years, is an opportunity to ensure some portion of those waters are specifically reserved for fish and wildlife. Environmental recommendations have only applied to about 5,000 acre feet of the Guadalupe River in the past, but due to a recent change to divert about 40,000 acre feet to supply the City of San Antonio, staff has now been able to apply environmental conditions to all 40,000 acre feet.

Regarding current legislation, Dr. McKinney reported that Senate Bill 2 did not make it out of committee because it had some 40 amendments that needed to be considered. Cindy Loeffler was called to the capitol to review the current and proposed amendments. The bill currently contains provisions that would recognize fish and wildlife as a legitimate use of water and would move the Texas Water Trust to come under the purview of the Department. One focus of S.B. 2 is to look at groundwater recession and deal with the proliferation of small groundwater districts forming to manage water, enabling them to work together for the benefit of the aquifer and to set standards for the districts to achieve. Protecting spring flow is another issue for them to look at.

Dr. McKinney discussed the new reservoir development proposed in regional plans and Senate Bill 1 and the process by which new permits would be issued. Recently received information indicates the Water Development Board included some $272 million in mitigation costs for these new reservoirs. He mentioned specifically that the Marvin Nichols project contains $119 million in mitigation costs, due to its location in the best remaining bottomland and hardwood areas in the state.

Chairman Bass, Commissioner Watson and Mr. Sansom have helped with S.B. 1 planning, working more closely with the planning groups and helping to define the Department's role. Dr. McKinney said this has been successful. On April 6, 2001, the Water Development Board will publish a new set of rules to guide the next round of planning over a period of five years; these rules contain the issues TPW requested. They cover everything from participation of nonvoting members to the fact that the next round of planning needs to look at fish and wildlife issues and incorporate them with a clear discussion of costs, as well as plans of the various water management strategies, including the costs of mitigation. The Board will meet in April, May and June to approve the regional plans; then the second round of S.B. 1 planning will begin.

Dr. McKinney stated that one outcome from the meetings with the Chairs was the process to define streams of unique and ecological value. TPW staff proposes to define them so that the designation would prevent reservoirs from being constructed on that site, with that being the only impact. Staff has identified potential streams that are important ecologically and this will be used as a tool by the regional planning groups to evaluate their water management strategies.

In October 2001 the Board will adopt a state plan. In January 2002 the first state plan will be published.

Commissioner Henry noted that the Conservation Task Force incorporated water issues in their study and produced positive recommendations and strategies.

IV. ADJOURNMENT: Session ends at 9:40 a.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Conservation COMMITTEE
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
May 2001

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Bill Harvey

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Amendment to Redfish Bay "Prop Up" Zones
May 2001

I. Discussion: In June 2000, the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted rules establishing the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area. The purpose of this designation was to establish rules for management of seagrass resources within that bay system. As part of that effort, the Commission approved a plan for Redfish Bay that set aside three voluntary “prop up” areas in which boaters were asked to cease operation of propeller driven motors. Historically, operation of propeller driven vessels has resulted in fragmentation of seagrass beds in Redfish Bay and these three areas were among those most seriously affected by “prop scarring.”

In April 2001, members of the Seagrass Conservation Task Force recommended creation of an additional running lane within a voluntary “prop up” zone in an area of Redfish Bay named Terminal Flat. Modification of this zone would allow egress from the area with minimal disturbance to seagrasses and could result in greater compliance with the prop up designation. In reviewing the request, staff agrees that modification of this area would serve to enhance the current compliance with the “prop up” designation and recommends that the run lane be added to the Terminal Flat. Creation of this running lane does not require rulemaking.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Rhandy Helton

Conservation Committee
Briefing
Status of Giant Salvinia
May 2001

I. Discussion: Staff will brief the Committee on the Status of Giant Salvinia in Texas. The status will begin with a brief description of the exotic plant and will en with a report of the current distribution of the plant in Texas. Staff will describe past attempts to stop the spread of this plant in the state and will discuss future plans for containment.


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Kathy Boydston

Conservation Committee
Action
Nomination for Oil and Gas Lease – Fayette County
May 2001

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Karen Leslie

Conservation Committee
Action
Land Acquisition – San Patricio County
May 2001

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenter: Karen Leslie

Conservation Committee
Action
Land Acquisition – El Paso County
May 2001

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter: Jack Bauer

Conservation Committee
Action
Land Exchange – Houston County
Weches Cemetery Assn-TPW
May 2001

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 8
Presenter: Ronnie Ray

Conservation Committee
Action
Land Disposition – Travis and Williamson Counties
May 2001

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


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