Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., April 3, 2002

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. Nomination for Oil and Gas – Tyler State Park
Staff: Ronnie Ray
12
3. Petroleum Pipeline Easement – Cameron County
Staff: Dennis Gissell
13
4. Easement Assignments – Travis County
Staff: Jack Bauer
14
5. International Paper Land Sale – Middle Neches River
Staff: Gary Graham
Committee Only
6. Land Donation – Orange County
Staff: Jack Bauer
15
7. Land Acquisition – Fort Bend County
Staff: Jack Bauer
16
8. Land Acquisition – Harris County
Staff: Jack Bauer
17
9. Land Acquisition – Nueces County
Staff: Jack Bauer
18
10. Land Acquisition – Bexar County
Staff: Jeff Francell
19
11. Land Acquisition – Brazoria County
Staff: Jeff Francell
20
12. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee
January 16, 2002

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 16th day of January, 2002, 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 2:30 p.m., to-wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTENDANCE:

Katharine Armstrong , Chair
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
Donato D. Ramos
Philip Montgomery, III
Joseph Fitzsimons
John Avila, Jr. (absent)
Al Henry (absent)
Mark E. Watson, Jr. (absent)
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: Robert Cook

Mr. Cook briefed the Committee on two charges related to the TPW Sunset Bill, S. B. 305. The first provision he addressed was to discontinue use of the designation “historical park” in publications and signs. Parks Division staff evaluated TPW historic properties and consulted with the Texas Historical Commission and the Historic Sites Advisory Committee in order to rename the various sites appropriately. Mr. Cook noted that recommendations for these changes are contained in Item No. 3, “Naming Historic Sites and Parks.” The second provision Mr. Cook addressed was to develop a Statewide Land and Water Resource Conservation and Recreation Plan. He reported that the Chairman appointed an ad hoc Land and Water Conservation Committee to work on the outline of this plan. They met in December to review it with staff, and will continue to work with staff in development of the plan. He expressed his appreciation to the following members: Commissioner Montgomery; Commissioner Henry; Commissioner Ramos; Dealey Hernon, a partner with Herndon and Stauch Associates; Chairman Emeritus Lee Bass; Barry Miller, Chief of Staff in the Speaker’s Office; and Chairman Idsal.

2. LAND TRANSFER – LAKE RITA BLANCA STATE PARK

Presenter: Walt Dabney
Mr. Dabney pointed out that H.B. 2108 grants TPW two million dollars per year to effect transfer of Department sites to local entities, with the provision that they continue to be managed for park purposes. He related that Lubbock Lake Landmark had been transferred to Texas Tech University, and the transfers of Old Fort Parker and the Jim Hogg site at Rusk are being processed. Mr. Dabney stated that if the Committee approves the potential transfer of Lake Rita Blanca State Park to the City of Dalhart, staff would proceed to negotiate a contract.

Lake Rita Blanca is the northern-most state park in Texas, located just outside the city of Dalhart. TPW has a 101-year lease with Dallam and Hartley Counties and there are no plans for development at the site. The 1668-acre park contains a shallow lake with excellent shore vegetation, making it valuable waterfowl habitat. The proposed transfer would contain stipulations that it be managed for the same purposes.

The item was placed on the January 17, 2002 public agenda for public comment and action.

3. NAMING HISTORIC SITES AND PARKS

Presenters: Walt Dabney and Dr. Wilson E. Dolman
Dr. Dolman, Director of Professional Services for the Parks Division, talked about the 1999 study prepared by the Texas Historical Commission, with TPW participation, entitled the “Texas Cultural Heritage Plan.” Recommendations from this study were incorporated into the Sunset Bill draft and subsequently amended. Section 31.2(b) states: “The Commission may not classify a historical park – a historical site as a historical park.” Also, Section 36 amends TPW Code, Section 13.0053 to say, “The Department may not refer to a historical site as a ‘historical park’ in a departmental publication or on a departmental site.”

Dr. Dolman described the research and coordination carried out to formulate the recommendations contained in this briefing item. Input was received from the Historic Sites Advisory Committee, the National Park Service, all field staff who would be affected, the Executive Director and the Deputy Executive Director Terry Colly of the Texas Historical Commission, and Assistant Attorney General Joe Thrash.

Twenty-eight of the sites can easily be renamed by changing “Historical Park” to “Historic Site.” Three special cases, however, require an alternative approach. In the first one, Goliad, has a major recreational component and three additional sites administered from that park: Zaragoza Birthplace, Mission Rosario and Fannin Battleground. Therefore, the recommendation is to drop the term “Historical” from the name “Goliad,” which applies more to the area, and add the name of the actual historic feature there, “Mission Espiritu Santo,” as a historic site.

In the case of Stephen F. Austin, the historical component is separated from the recreational park by approximately one-half mile of private property. The historical component is on the original town site, one of the old plazas of San Felipe de Austin. Consequently, the recommendation is to designate San Felipe as a state historic site but does not add any additional facilities to the system.

The five parks in Category 2 present more of a concern, due to the fact that they are major historical sites with significant recreational areas. After meeting with the Assistant Attorney General to determine the legal ramifications, staff recommended that either the state park designation or the historic site designation, whichever is the most descriptive, be maintained consistent with the terms of the statute. Lady Bird Johnson specifically requested that LBJ State Park not be called LBJ State Historical Site, because of possible confusion with the National Historical Park. Staff decided the state historic site designation could be retained because of the Sauer-Beckmann Farm at LBJ and the two other historic cabin areas, thereby making it “LBJ State Park and Historic Site.”

Dr. Dolman then described the third category, where it is recommended that the term “Historical” be dropped entirely from the designation. He cited the examples of Mission Tejas and the Texas State Railroad, primarily recreational parks with historical elements that are not original to that specific site.

Dr. Dolman stated the proposed name changes are consistent with the actual historical resources and with current Commission policy on naming. Also, they would not involve the expense of wholesale replacement due to the fact that the name changes would be phased-in. Since there was no contrary direction from the Commission, staff will implement this policy as an administrative action.

IV. Meeting adjourned at 2:55 p.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1

Conservation COMMITTEE
Chairman's Charges
April 2003

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Ronnie Ray

Conservation Committee
Nomination for Oil and Gas – Tyler State Park
April 2002

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Dennis Gissell

Conservation Committee
Petroleum Pipeline Easement – Cameron County
April 2002

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Jack Bauer

Conservation Committee
Easement Assignments – Travis County
April 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 14.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Gary Graham

Conservation Committee
International Paper Land Sale – Middle Neches River
April 2002

I. Discussion: International Paper, Inc. (IP) has announced plans to sell 33,000 acres of bottomland hardwood and historical longleaf forest habitats by the end of 2002. The sale represents a continuation of disposition of forestland holdings by IP across the United States to meet financial obligations following the purchase of Champion Paper Co. IP has asked the Department to consider presenting a bid. The property connects Davy Crockett and Angelina National Forests along the Neches River between Highways #59 and #69 in Tyler and Angelina Counties. This is a priority tract for consideration as a research and demonstration facility for longleaf pine restoration by the Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW) Wildlife Division and as a statewide-significant recreation site by the Parks Division. The purpose of this Item is to present information regarding the significance of the site to the Conservation Committee.

Until recently, Champion Paper Company owned these lands and TPW enjoyed cooperative forest and habitat management responsibilities for the timber management operation. Wildlife Division staff demonstrated with the Champion Paper forest managers that sound forest management equates to sound habitat management. The involvement of TPW staff with Champion Paper timber managers provided the opportunity to realize the resource significance of this property. This corridor represents very high biological, recreational, and water resource values on a land mass sufficiently large to have significance at an ecological scale. Longleaf pine and bottomland hardwood systems are the most heavily impacted in East Texas. Some of the tract includes pine plantation on historical longleaf pine sites. The tract would support restoration of longleaf pine while producing sufficient merchantable timber to fund restoration and site management activities.

The river reach of the Neches between Highways #59 and #69 is 20 air miles in length but contains over 60 river miles of a potentially premier East Texas water-and-woods experience for river enthusiasts. Few opportunities remain for development of significant river access to a river system that is within two hours of several major metropolitan areas such as this section of the Neches. A portion of the upper and middle Neches that includes this reach is under consideration for inclusion as a “Wild and Scenic River” for the natural resource values that are associated. The Neches River flows uninterrupted from Palestine to the B.A. Steinhagen reservoir. Few East Texas rivers have remained untouched by reservoir development. Consequently, the hydrologic balance of the section of the middle Neches under discussion remains intact. Instream flows in support of aquatic systems including wetlands and the floodplain remain healthy.

In a briefing to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on May 20, 2001 concerning status of the Black Bear in Texas, this specific tract and associated adjacent forestlands were recognized as being the most highly suitable remaining habitat in Texas for this species. The pure size of the tract and the complexity of bottomlands and uplands provide the landscape diversity necessary to function as the last, large contiguous system capable of supporting all historically occurring species.

Because of the biological significance and recreational opportunity of this land holding, several federal land resource agencies including the National Forest Service (NFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and National Park Service have expressed interest in seeing the tract conserved. Texas Parks & Wildlife staff and the conservation community including Ducks Unlimited, Inc. are also very interested in seeing the tract conserved. All interested parties are in active discussion regarding preservation alternatives. Multiple state-federal ownership has positive long-term conservation merit.

Attachment – 1

1. Exhibit A – Locator Map


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit A

Locator Map

Middle Neches River Conservation Project Area Schematic between Davey Crockett National Forest and Angelina National Forest


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenter: Jack Bauer

Conservation Committee
Land Donation – Orange County
April 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 15.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter: Jack Bauer

Conservation Committee
Land Acquisition – Fort Bend County
April 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 16.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 8
Presenter: Jack Bauer

Conservation Committee
Land Acquisition – Harris County
April 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 17.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 9
Presenter: Jack Bauer

Conservation Committee
Land Acquisition – Nueces County
April 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 18.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 10
Presenter: Jeff Francell

Conservation Committee
Land Acquisition – Bexar County
April 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 19.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 11
Presenter: Jeff Francell

Conservation Committee
Land Acquisition – Brazoria County
April 2002

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 20.)


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