Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
May 29, 2003Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 29th day of May, 2003, there came on to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, beginning at 9:00 a.m. to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
Katharine Armstrong, Austin, Texas, Chairman
Ernest Angelo, Jr., Vice Chairman, Midland, Texas
Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas
Ned S. Holmes, Houston, Texas
Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas
Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
Kelly W. Rising, M.D., Beaumont, Texas (absent)
Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas (absent)
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
PUBLIC HEARING REGISTRATION
May 29, 2003
List of Speakers:
Mr. L. W. Ranne, Freshwater Angler, 7880 Carr St., Dallas, TX 75227
Mr. Russ Bourquein, Dove Sportsman Society, 1327 Glourie, Houston, TX 77055
Mr. Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association, 401 Isom Rd., San Antonio, TX 78216
Mr. Ralph Donaho, JDC Ranch (illegible) Rancho Del Cielo-Clayton Williams-CE Miller Ranch, P. O. Box 3076, Hwy. 118 FM 50, Kent, TX 79855
Mr. James L. Donnell, Jr., Donnell Ranch, Fowlerton, TX 78021
Mr. Malcolm W. Calaway, P. O. Box 1076, Alpine, TX 79831
Mr. C.M. Van Eman, P. O. Box 9037, Midland, TX 79708
Mr. William A. Gearhart, Jeff Davis Co., Box 98, Valentine, TX 79854
Jaimie Hayne, Catto Gage Ranch, 110 E. Crockett, San Antonio, TX 78205
Billie Mac Jobe, Jobe Ranch, 6 Briarwood Cr., Pecos, TX 79772
Mr. Stanley Jobe, #1 McKellogon Canyon, El Paso, TX 79930
Mr. Will Kirkpatrick, The Fishing Schools, Rt. 1, Box 178 DC, Broaddus, TX 75929
Mr. Jon Means, J., Means Ranch Co., Box 489, Van Horn, TX 79855
Mr. Homer Mills, Ranch, SFCR Ranch, Lykes 01 Ranch, Kelley Ranch, P. O. Box 851, Alpine, TX 79831
Mr. Bob Nunley, Box 308, Sabinal, TX 78881
Mr. Gregg Owens, J.L. Davis, 807 Brazos, Suite 700, Austin, TX 78701
Mr. Stuart Sasser, 45 Hewit Place Corpus Christi, TX 78404
Mr. Lane Sumner, Jobe Ranch, Box 3008, Kent, TX 79855
Mr. Beau White, Brite Ranch, 2438 FM 535, Rosanky, TX 78953
Mr. Jason Wrinkle, The Nature Conservancy, P.O. Box 150, Dryden, TX 78851
Mr. Nelson H. Puett, 108 Bluff Park Circle, Austin, TX 78786
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: The meeting is called to order. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Cook has a statement to make.
MR. COOK: Thank you, Chairman. A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State, as required by Chapter 551 of the Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Law.
I would like for this action to be noted in the official record of the meeting. So that everyone will have a chance to address the Commission in an orderly fashion today, the following ground rules will be followed. The Chairman is in charge of this meeting. And by law, it is her duty to preserve order, direct the order of the hearing, and recognize persons to be heard.
I will be assisting the Chairman today as sergeant-at-arms. We have sign-up cards for everyone wishing to speak. And the Chairman will call names from those cards one at a time. Each person will be allowed to speak from the podium one at a time. When your name is called, please come to the podium, state your name, who you represent, if anyone other than yourself.
Then state your position on the agenda item under consideration, and add supporting facts that will help the Commission understand your concerns. Please limit your remarks to the specific agenda item under consideration.
Each person who wants to address the Commission will have three minutes to speak. I will keep track of the time on this handy little thing right here, and notify you when your three minutes are up.
When your time is up, please resume your seat so that others may speak. Your time may be extended if a Commissioner has a question for you. If the Commissioners ask a question or discuss something among themselves, that time will not be counted against you.
Statements which are merely argumentative or critical of others will not be tolerated. There is a microphone at the podium, so it is not necessary to raise your voice. I also ask that you show proper respect for the Commissioners, as well as other members of the audience.
You will not be recognized out of turn by raising your hand or interrupting others. Disruptive or offensive behavior will be grounds for immediate ejection from the meeting. If you would like to submit written materials to the Commission, please give them to Ms. Lori Estrada, right here to my right. And she will pass those materials to the Commission. Thank you, ma'am.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Mr. Cook. Next is the approval of the minutes of the previous meetings, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Madame Chairman, I've got a possible correction on page 30. In discussing the prairie chickens on line 15 or so – there is no decline or decrease – instead of increase.
MR. COOK: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: I believe that's correct.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Can someone from staff verify that?
MR. COOK: Yes.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Okay. Any other comments on minutes of the last meeting?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Move approval.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Second.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Opposed?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Motion carries. Next is the acceptance of gifts, which have also been distributed.
Grand Total $310,619.20
Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So moved.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Second.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: All opposed?
Donations of $500.00 or More
Not Previously Approved by the Commission
May 2003 Commission Meeting
Donor, DESCRIPTION, Purpose of Donations
1. Chevron, CASH, Sponsorship for Youth Hunt in Region I
2. Saltwater Fisheries Enhancement Assoc., GOODS, L.E. Region 10 District night vision equip.
3. Doskocil Manufacturing Company, Inc., GOODS, Hunter Education Program
4. Coastal Conservation Association of Texas, GOODS Coastal Law Enforcement
5. Harris County, GOODS, Support of TDCJ Program Pollution Control
6. Friends of Pedernales Falls SP, GOODS, Park Operation separate space for computer
7. Best Manufacturing Program, GOODS, 2003 Abandoned Crab Trap Removal
8. Coastal Bend Bays & Estuary Program, GOODS, 2003 Abandoned Crab Trap Removal
9. CSB Fishbites, GOODS, 2003 Abandoned Crab Trap Removal
10. H.E.B., GOODS, 2003 Abandoned Crab Trap Removal
11. Natural Resource Committee, GOODS, Assist Landowners
12. Parks & Wildlife Foundation Texas, FOUNDATION, Events to collect broodstock and other fish for Marine hatcheries
13. H.E.B., CASH, To support a program that makes communities strong
14. Advance Electrical Systems, Inc., GOODS, Remodeling of Hill Country SNA
15. Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, FOUNDATION, Funds for Goliad State Historic Site
16. Park & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, FOUNDATION, Funds for Fort Boggy State Park operations
17. Wal-Mart Foundation, FOUNDATION, Purchase equipment for Game Wardens in Region 4, District 2
18. Park & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, FOUNDATION, Enhance the Bass Program in Texas
19. The Roger Foundation, FOUNDATION, New signage for Visitors Center
20. Reliant Energy, CASH, Completion of Sponsorship package
21. Bushnell Corporation, CASH, Corporate team registration fees
22. The Browns-ville Convention, CASH, Completion of Sponsorship package
23. Natural Legacy, CASH, Corporate team registration fees
24. Brunton Co, CASH, Corporate team registration fees
25. America's Electric Power, CASH, Corporate sponsor of events
26. Friends of the Fulton Mission, CASH, T-21 Project provide 20% match
27. Friends of Enchanted Rock State Park, CASH, Enchanted Rock ST Natural Area
28. Texas Bighorn Society, GOODS, Desert bighorn sheep project
29. Swarovski Optik North American LTD., FOUNDATION, The Great Texas Birding Classic
30. Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, FOUNDATION, State Parks operations & maint.
31. Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas, FOUNDATION, Fish & Wildlife operations & maint.
32. Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce, CASH, The Great Texas Birding Classic
33. National Wild Turkey Federation, GOODS, Skid steer loader with tracks
34. San Antonio Parks Foundation, FOUNDATION, The Great Texas Birding Classic
35. Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, CASH, The Great Texas Birding Classic
36. Rosemary Knobloch, GOODS, Interpretive Collections for SP
36. Ambrose Erlanson, GOODS, Interpretive Collections for SP
36. Bruce Blakemore, GOODS, Interpretive Collections for SP
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Motion carries. Next are the service awards.
Mr. Cook, would you please make the presentation?
MR. COOK: Thank you, Chairman. At this time, we always take a few minutes in the process here to recognize folks who are retiring, and employees who are setting certain marks of service time with us. And today we have a few that are special folks that we want to tell you about and recognize.
Receiving a retirement certificate today from the Law Enforcement Division with 36 years of service, a friend of mine, Wes Clogston, Commander Game Warden from Spring, Texas.
Wes Clogston began his employment with TPWD in February 1967. He graduated from the 20th Game Warden Academy held at Texas A&M University. His first duty station was at High Island, Texas, for a period of just over four years, and was later assigned to Walker County.
Wes was honored in 1978 as a Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year. He has held the ranking of District Supervisor at Kingsville, Texas, and Tyler, Texas. And since 1996, Wes has served as Major Game Warden of Region IV, based in the North Houston Regional Office, which encompasses the upper and middle Gulf Coast of Texas. Retiring with 36 years of service, Wes Clogston.
MR. CLOGSTON: Thank you.
MR. COOK: Wes can probably tell you some stories about how you get stationed at High Island first.
MR. CLOGSTON: I'll be real smart and clap.
MR. COOK: Real smart. That's right. Thanks, Wes. We appreciate it.
MR. COOK: And now in our service awards, first off we have William C. Provine, Bill Provine, in the Inland Fisheries Division with 35 years of service. And hopefully Bill is going to stay with us, Manager V here in Austin.
Bill began his career in 1968 as a Fisheries Biologist at the Sheldon Wildlife Management Area, shortly after graduating from Texas A&M University. In 1970, he was promoted to District Supervisor. And in 1971, accepted a position as Supervisor in the newly formed Fisheries Research Branch.
In 1977, he moved to San Angelo as the Inland Fisheries Regional Director, and served in that role until 1997, when he became the Chief of Inland Fisheries Research and Management.
After all these years, he says he's most proud of the Division's tremendous staff, their many successes in carrying out their mission, and his part in making sure that while being fiercely loyal to this agency, they never forgot who they really worked for, the anglers of Texas.
He has earned the respect of his colleagues, and provides the kind of leadership that makes the Inland Fisheries Division the envy of many other state agencies. And if that's not enough for you about his accomplishments, I'm sure he will be more than happy to show you the picture of the huge kudu he bagged in Africa last year, one of the largest ever taken.
With 35 years of service in the Inland Fisheries Division and the anglers of Texas, Bill Provine.
MR. COOK: He just happens to have that picture in his pocket.
MR. PROVINE: I do.
MR. COOK: Thank you.
MR. COOK: Next, with 30 years of service, James D. Heater, Auditor V in the Executive Office here in Austin, with 30 years of service.
David began his employment with TPWD in March 1973, serving as an auditor in the Internal Audit section of the of the Department. In 1992, David took the position of auditor in the newly created Internal Affairs Division of the Department, where he now serves as Senior Auditor.
Throughout his career as an auditor at TPWD, David has provided excellent service to both the Department and the citizens of Texas by making sure the buck stopped in the right place. David will continue to work to ensure that every last dollar is accounted for. With 30 years of service, David Heater.
MR. HEATER: That's great.
MR. COOK: Thanks, David.
MR. COOK: Lynn Salmon, Program Administrator IV, State Parks Division, Wichita Falls, Texas, with 30 years of service. Lynn began his career as a seasonal worker at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, where he worked for seven summers while going to high school and college.
After graduation, he spent two years as a Park Ranger I at Copper Breaks State Park. He transferred to Bastrop State Park as the Assistant Manager, and worked there for nine years. Then he was promoted to Park Manager at Lake Lewisville State Park and worked there eight years before transferring to Lake Arrowhead State Park as Park Manager, where he serves today. With 30 years of service, Lynn Salmon.
MR. COOK: I had a little conversation with this next gentleman this morning. And I won't get into the detail there. Mike Pittman in the Wildlife Division, with 25 years of service as a Manager II out at Alpine, Texas.
Mike came to TPWD in 1972 as a summer student for the Wildlife Division on the Chapparal Wildlife Management Area. In 1973, he was employed again as a summer student on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, and worked there for an area manager it says here, named Bob Cook. And I remember him, but I don't remember him working much.
He was permanently employed by TPWD in 1978 as a Wildlife Technician in the Edwards Plateau Regulatory District. In 1980, he moved to Fort Davis as a Wildlife Biologist in the Trans-Pecos Regulatory District.
Mike became Area Manager of the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area and the Ocotillo Unit of the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area in 1995. Since March 2002, Mike has been the project leader for the Trans-Pecos Ecosystems Wildlife Management Project including the Black Gap Wildlife Area, Elephant Mountain Wildlife Area, Ocotillo Unit, and the Sierra Diablo Wildlife Management Area.
With 25 years of service, my friend, Mike Pittman.
MR. COOK: One thing that we don't do, we don't give the awardees the microphone for any length of time.
MR. COOK: Daniel W. Moulton in the Resource Protection Division is celebrating 20 years with the TPWD. He is a Program Specialist V in Austin, Texas.
Dan began his career with TPWD in 1983 in the Wildlife Division as a Program Leader for the Waterfowl Habitat Acquisition and Development Program here in Austin. Dan was instrumental in the program to collect Stamp/Print revenues and Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Grant Funds.
He assisted the Department in acquiring wetland-wildlife management areas, and developing wetland habitats on the coast, and in East Texas, and in the High Plains.
In 1992, Dan became the Wetlands Biologist where he coordinated the Coastal Texas Mapping Project, to develop Coastal National Wetlands Inventory maps, and a Nueces County wetlands atlas.
In 1996, Dan became a Conservation Scientist/Wetland Ecologist with the Coastal Studies Team in the Resource Protection Division, where he serves today. With 20 years of service, Dan Moulton.
MR. COOK: Anne Presley, in the State Parks Division is celebrating 20 years. Program Administrator II, San Felipe, Texas. Anne Presley started with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1983 as a Seasonal Worker at Sea Rim State Park. She became a Park Ranger II in July '83. After spending four years at Sea Rim, Anne moved to Stephen F. Austin State Park in 1987 as a Park Ranger III.
She was the swimming pool instructor until 1994, then became an Interpretive Ranger. In April 1999, Anne was promoted to the Assistant Manager position at Stephen F. Austin State Park. With 20 years of service, Anne Presley.
MR. COOK: That concludes our retirement certificates and service awards. I believe I have a Pacific Combat Zone coming up. I have my schedule with me here, right up here. I'm sorry, but –
Chairman and Commissioners, I would like to introduce you to Admiral Chuck Grojean. Admiral Grojean is the Executive Director of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation, which is one of our State Parks' major partners.
The Foundation's past achievements include the acquisition of the adjacent HEB property for the creation of the National Museum of the Pacific War. The Foundation then raised $3 million to rehabilitate the building as the George Bush Gallery, and to design and construct exhibits, with $1 million left over as an operating endowment to assist with operating costs.
Currently, the Foundation has ambitious plans to construct a $9 million addition to the National Museum that will complete the exhibitions on the War in the Pacific, and provide much-needed archival and curatorial space for the historical collections.
In addition, they have committed to raise $3 million as an operational endowment.
Today, they are here today – excuse me. They are here today to present their most recent accomplishment, the construction of a Pacific Combat Zone exhibiting large-scale artifacts, including a World War II PT boat and a TBM Avenger like the one flown by President George H. W. Bush.
ADMIRAL GROJEAN: Chairman Armstrong and Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners, it's my pleasure to be with you today. The Board of Directors of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation is appearing before the Commission today to officially present the latest addition to the Admiral Nimitz State Historical Site and National Museum of the Pacific War.
This new addition, named the Pacific Combat Zone, consists of two large buildings, one containing an exhibit of a World War II TBM, on the deck of an aircraft carrier. And the other containing an exhibit of a South Pacific PT Boat base, with the very famous – I'm sure you know of it, World War II PT Boat, ready to take off on a mission.
The site also displays an island landing zone with a mock-up of Japanese defenses at a United States Landing Craft. The final exhibit in the guided tour of the zone is a forward medical unit in a Quonset hut, where the visitor is told of casualties of the Pacific War, and the poignancy of those sacrifices.
The Pacific Combat Zone was opened 18 months ago, and has received universal praise. It has proven to be a very popular addition to the museum. Here is the location of the World War II island assault reenactments that occur on six weekends of each year.
These are very highly acclaimed. The cost of construction and the exhibits at the Pacific Combat Zone was $1,216,400. The Foundation takes pleasure in making this presentation today. It looks forward to an even greater attraction to the public in the future which was just spoken of by Mr. Cook.
It recognizes the added cost of operation of a larger facility, and intends to add $3 million to the museum and operational endowment over the next few years. With this addition to the museum, the board of directors requests the Commissioners to consider an increase of admission fees to the museum.
General Bill Boles, a member of our board of directors, will explain the rationale for this request. Thank you.
GENERAL BOLES: Thank you, Admiral Grojean. Chairman Armstrong, members of the Commission, it's unfortunate that our Chairman of the Board, Ken Burenga could not be with us today. But he had other plans he wasn't able to change.
But he did ask me to speak on behalf of the Board of Trustees in supporting a request for increase in fees to the National Museum of the Pacific War. This latest addition represents a significant addition to this site.
When I joined – first became affiliated with the Nimitz Foundation in 1995, it consisted of the Nimitz Hotel. That was it. Since that time, we've added the Bush Gallery. We've added this Pacific Combat Zone. That's a good three to five hours of educational experience for anyone who visits.
They're climate-controlled buildings, and as Admiral Grojean mentioned, the combat zone is with a tour guide, and much of it is seated.
The price of this – of admission to this museum should not be compared directly to admission fees in state parks. I know where you consider it as an activity-use fee, and not a standard park fee. But the educational experience that is provided to the clientele is totally different from that of camping, fishing, and hunting provided to those seeking recreation.
The current $5 fee is far below that of comparable museums in Texas and in surrounding areas. For example, the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum charges $10, with a discount for Seniors and students.
The D-Day museum at a neighboring state just to the east charges $10. They also have received about $11 million from their state. They have received – they have about a $150 million campaign going on at this moment to increase their capability.
The American Empire Heritage Museum charges $9. The director of the museum has submitted a schedule for admission fees which the Foundation strongly endorses. Chairman Burenga asked that I go on record as supporting that. The basic admission would be increased to $8 from the current $5. And there are various changes in there to lower for seniors, for military, and for students.
Commission, I thank you for this opportunity, and we ask for your favorable consideration. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you very much. Are there any questions of Admiral Grojean or the General from the Commission?
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I do.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Phil Montgomery. I'm sorry, you can step back to the podium.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I'd like to question our staff on the fee increase question, is where are we on that request, and are we pursuing it?
MR. DOLMAN: Bill Dolman, Parks Division. The short and simple answer is this would be considered along with the other fee review proposals that are currently in the works, including the annual pass to State Parks, and the current schedule is to bring this to you – before your review and for posting authorization in the August meeting.
And so we do intend to examine this request very closely. And I was aware that they were supportive of it.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Are you all supportive of it, Bill? Do we know?
MR. DOLMAN: Certainly, we think it's realistic to adjust the fees. And we certainly need to do it appropriately so that we deal appropriately with the school groups, veterans, and senior citizens. That will certainly get a look. But yes, I think we will be coming forward with something that will not be too far from what the staff recommends.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Just speaking personally, I've had the opportunity to discuss it with the Admiral and his staff in the past. I didn't realize you were coming today, but I strongly support it. I think the Nimitz is one of the assets we have of legitimate national significance and quality.
It does a great job maintaining an important part of our national heritage. And to the extent we can help them within the very limited means we are given by the Legislature, I sure want to see us do it. So I strongly encourage you to proceed on quickly, and let them have a little more control of their destiny.
MR. DOLMAN: If the schedule follows through, this would be effective approximately January 1, along with the other fees that were being reviewed.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Any further questions? Joseph Fitzsimons?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'd like to echo the Commissioner Montgomery's comments, because having been fortunate enough to be at the Museum of the Nimitz Foundation for the Pearl Harbor Anniversary last year, it's worth more than you charge. I guarantee you. We've been back several times, and it's a great facility, and you're working hard. And I think they need the help they're asking for.
MR. DOLMAN: We appreciate the Foundation. We would not be where we are without them.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Any further questions? Thank you very much.
MR. COOK: Thank you, Chairman.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: At this time, I would like to inform the audience that everyone is welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting. However, if anyone wishes to leave, now would be an appropriate time to do so.
Please be reminded to move away from the doorway as you are leaving, so as to let everyone through the doorway.
MR. COOK: Thank you, Chairman, Commissioners. Tonight on PBS stations across Texas, a special hour-long documentary will air. It is called, "Texas: The State of Water," and provides an in-depth look at the water challenges facing our state.
Communications Division Director Lydia Saldaña will preview a portion of the documentary for you today.
MS. SALDAÑA: Thanks, Bob. As you know, we have a half-hour public television series that airs each week on all Texas PBS stations at varying times. The program that airs tonight is the first single-subject hour-long video documentary ever produced by Texas Parks and Wildlife, and our first program to air on the same night in prime time on all Texas PBS stations.
It would not have been possible without sponsor funding provided by Brazos Mutual Funds through the Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas. The documentary was produced in association with KERA television in Dallas, and they provided the high-definition equipment and editing facilities that made the program possible.
This is one of the very first documentaries produced in Texas in this high-def format. This documentary is part of a multi-year water communications initiative that began last July with a special issue of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.
The book, Texas Rivers, by John Graves and Wyman Meinzer, was published by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Press last summer, also a part of this initiative. We'll continue to cover water issues in our Passport to Texas radio series, and a new website is debuting today.
The July issue of the magazine is on press right now. This year's special issue features Texas bays. We're promoting tonight's documentary with a schedule of radio and newspaper ads around the state, and there's been news coverage across the state as a result of our media relations efforts supporting it.
Before we roll the tape, I'd like to introduce a few folks who were involved in the production. First, Richard Roberts. Richard is hiding in the back there. Richard Roberts is the head of our media productions branch, and executive producer of the program. He has been working hard and long on this program the last couple of months.
Also here with us is Curtis Craven, who is a freelance producer working on the program, and Randall Maxwell, who did the editing here in Austin. Both of those are former Parks and Wildlife employees. Here is a preview of what you'll see tonight.
(Whereupon a documentary videotape was played.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you, all. Thank you, Lydia. I've seen more of this than this particular preview. The last preview I saw was 20 minutes, and I was very impressed with the quality of the work, which is – it is beautiful.
But also, that I think we present a balanced view of what the issue is all about, without telling people what to do, but that it's something that they need to start thinking about. And I'm very impressed with this effort, and also remind everyone that this is a comprehensive effort. That every July for the next four years we will have a special water issue in our magazine that will lay out some of the challenges that Texans must wrestle with.
We all understand what a complex issue this is, and that there will be no simple answers. But we've all got to get – we've got to prepare ourselves. And I think Parks and Wildlife is doing a good job in informing people of this, I believe, the most important resource policy issue that we face in the future.
Thank you, Lydia.
Are we done? Are we ready to go on? The first order of business is the approval of the agenda, which we have before us. Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Move for approval.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: All opposed?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Oh, let me back up here. Before we move for approval, Item Number 10, Land Acquisition in Houston County, has been withdrawn. So let me ask for another motion, please.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So moved.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: With it withdrawn. Okay. COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Second. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Opposed?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: This brings us to Agenda Item Number 2, Hunting and Fishing License Fee Changes.
Mr. Gene McCarty, will you please make your presentation?
MR. MCCARTY: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Gene McCarty. I'm Chief of Staff for the agency. The item I bring before you today is proposed increases in hunting and fishing license fees.
First, let me give you a little background on license fees in the agency. Our license fees – our hunting and fishing license fees were last increased in 1996. That's over seven years ago. In 2001, the agency did a fairly extensive evaluation of license fees.
Associated with this evaluation, we had a survey conducted of anglers and hunters in the state. That survey indicated that 90 percent of licensed resident anglers and hunters were satisfied or very satisfied with the job done by Texas Parks and Wildlife.
And nearly half indicated their support for an increase in license fees to increase funding to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The question is, what do we need additional fees for? What do we need additional revenue for?
We need additional revenue to address a number of growing demands of those – inflation and increased costs since 1996. We need additional wardens in the field. We need to address a number of critical issues facing the state, such as chronic wasting disease.
We need more technical guidance on our private lands. We need to address our aging fish hatcheries. And we have a number of legislative initiatives that we're going to have to address in this coming biennium, such as aquatic vegetation control, golden algae research and response, and the potential impacts of a recently passed retirement incentive, and to address the Comptroller's revenue estimates.
In the session beginning, the Comptroller indicated that we had about $179 million worth of revenue for this coming biennium. However, our proposed budget is approximately $190 million for this upcoming biennium, leaving us about $11 million short over the biennium.
We proposed and published a number of fees – increased fees in hunting and fishing licenses. Before you here is a just a brief summary of some of the key licenses, the super-combo from – going from 49 to 59, the resident hunting from 19 to 23, the non-resident hunting from 250 to 300, the resident fishing from 19 to 23, and the non-resident fishing from 30 to 50.
Through the public hearing process, it was brought to our attention that the duplicate TCP – Texas Conservation Passport, was included in our proposal for an increase. And the State Parks Division is currently doing a full review of that.
So we would propose – one amendment that we would propose to the proposed fees would be to remove that from consideration. Public comment has been very, very light. Only 158 comments on the proposed hunting and fishing license fee increase. Of these comments, we had seven public hearings across the state.
They were – the comments in those seven public hearings were mostly in favor of the increase. We also received numerous comments by telephone, by written correspondence, and on the website. These were generally opposed to the fee increase.
Texas Parks and Wildlife staff would propose that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department adopts amendments to 31 TAC 53.1 through 53.6, and 53.8 concerning license fees, with changes to the proposed as published in the April 25, 2003, issue of the Texas Register. Do you have any questions?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Do we have any questions or comments from the Commission?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Madame Chairman?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Commissioner Angelo?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: You know, we've considered the fee increases for really over the last three years. And I think it's important to emphasize as we proceed with this, that some very significant belt tightening is taking place in the Department, and that all the necessary fiscal responsibility, I think, has been exercised to bring about the proper rationale for increasing fees.
I think the time has come to do it, and it's appropriate, and the magnitude of the fee increases that are being proposed are certainly within the bounds of inflation and all of the other things that increase the cost of operating not only Parks and Wildlife, but everything that anyone does in their own personal life.
So I think it's the proper thing to do. I do think it's important that we emphasize the fact that we have been fiscally responsible, and done the things necessary to justify these increases.
And also, to point out that the fees are not being increased for senior citizen licenses and for youth, because both of those areas are significant in terms of trying to minimize the loss of license sales that frequently occur when you do increase fees.
And hopefully we can minimize the loss, since one of our biggest goals is to increase the number of people that participate in hunting and fishing. I think it's the proper thing to do.
MR. MCCARTY: Yes, sir. We will do everything in our power to try to make sure that we get a good information campaign on those particular issues.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: I think that's great.
MR. MCCARTY: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Any other questions from the Commission? Comments. If there is no further question – any further discussion? Do I have a motion to approve?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: I move approval.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.
MR. COOK: We have public comment.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Oh, my goodness. Do we have public comment on this? Here, we go. Agenda Item Number 2, we have two comments. Oh, I can't believe this. Is there a number – the second one, Kirby Brown, could you get ready to speak?
MR. RANNE: Madame Chairman, Commissioners, I'm Executive Director of Freshwater Anglers Association. We support the fee increase. Actually, the price is not even a consideration. I spend more money a year for more oil to grease my reels when I go fishing. So to do the job that we must do, we need the increase. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Kirby Brown?
MR. BROWN: Thank you, Madame Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Kirby Brown with Texas Wildlife Association. We appreciate the opportunity to work with you during the process of looking at fees, and what is going on, and appreciate the staff involving many of the stakeholders in that process.
We think the fees are in line with inflation, particularly since the last increase almost seven years ago. And we appreciate the Commission not raising fees for youth and seniors. We think that's very important. We support the proposal to continue the quality public hunting, technical guidance, management efforts on TPWD areas and state parks, and law enforcement. Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Kirby.
We don't have, I would presume, further comments on this. So could I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Repeat the motion.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I second it.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Okay. Thank you. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Opposed?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Motion carries. Agenda Item Number 3 is an action item, Boat Registration Fee Changes. Mr. Gene McCarty, could you please make your presentation?
MR. MCCARTY: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Gene McCarty. I'm chief of staff for the agency. The item I bring before you today is proposed increases in boat registration and titling fees.
To give you a little background on boat registration fees, much – very similar to hunting and fishing license fees, boat registration fees were, again, last changed in 1996, seven years ago. Texas ranks among the top five states in terms of boat registration and titling, thus requiring a great deal of effort on the part of the agency.
Now, why do we need additional fees? What will we do with these additional fees? We have a critical need for redesign and update of our boat registration system. We need to increase our efforts in boat-theft enforcement. Boating fuel cost for law enforcement is increasing significantly. BMI enforcement continues to be an issue, and continues to be a problem that we need to put additional resources to.
And boating and fishing in state parks – we recently had a piece of legislation that changed the distribution of funds derived from boat registration fees, and allows us to put 15 percent of those funds into support for state parks.
Just a real brief summary of the proposals – and you can see – I won't go through these. You can see that they're generally in line with the similar kinds of proposed increases that we have on hunting and fishing licenses.
I would call your attention to the fact that boat registration fees are a two-year fee. So if you want to look at your annual cost, it's half of what is presented here.
Again, on this item, overall public comment was extremely light. We received 61 comments directed towards boat registration fees. In our seven public hearings across the state, the public comment was mostly in favor. And those comments received by telephone and by website were generally opposed.
Staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department adopts amendments to 31 TAC 53.1, concerning vessel and motor fees set by the Commission as published in the 25 October 2003 issue of the Texas Register. Have any questions?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Does the Commission have any questions or comments? Thank you, Mr. McCarty. There being none, we have no public comment, either registered. So Chairman, entertain a motion.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Motion.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: We have a motion for approval. And a second?
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: All in favor, please say aye.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Opposed?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: The motion is adopted. Item Number 4 on our agenda is the – an update on the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, Early Season, presented by Vernon Bevill.
MR. BEVILL: Thank you, Commissioner Angelo, members of the Commission. I'm here before you today to kind of bring you into an update on where we're at in the process of working with Fish and Wildlife Service in the establishment of migratory game bird seasons for the 2003/2004 hunting season.
There will be, as always, a few minor changes. Most of the changes made to seasons and regulations are of calendarship-type changes. We are looking at one change that will kind of clarify where we would like to be with teal seasons in the future.
And since the Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations Committee meeting is later in June, then we will not be able to solidify the early season regulations until shortly thereafter. And I will be speaking to that scenario shortly.
For teal, we think we'll have a nine-day teal season again this year. However, the prairies have suddenly gotten very wet. And the protocol for a 16-day teal season is that the teal – the survey of blue-winged teal needs to demonstrate that they are at the North American Waterfowl Management Plan goal of 4.7 million birds.
If they are at that goal, then we will have a 16-day teal season. We get a lot of comments from – and questions about teal season starting in April, and generally, we have made the teal season as late as we could in September.
What we would like to do in the future is if we have a nine-day season, set that season for the last two weekends – two full weekends of September. If it's a 16-day season, then set it for the last three full weekends in September, so that we can thoughtfully address comments coming to us earlier than we know the final answer.
For mourning doves, we are proposing basically the same season as last year, with calendar shift, with one exception. The south zone, every seven years – the 20th of September falls on a Saturday. The Commission policy has been to open the south zone of the dove season on the Friday after the 20th of September. We cannot, by Federal regulation, open that zone earlier than the 20th.
Since it falls on a Saturday this year, we are proposing to open the south zone on the 20th, rather than waiting until the next Friday to open it. We think that will provide more opportunity, and we'll actually probably be able to engage more white-wing hunting opportunity by opening a little earlier rather than a week later.
And for our special white-wing zone, and special white-wing season along the Rio Grande, we are proposing the 6th and 7th and the 13th and 14th as the four-day hunt periods for that special hunt. The remainder of the season in that area will follow the general dove regulations for the south zone.
We captured public comments for almost a year following the setting of the seasons, and we've had 65 public comments, almost half of which came as a result of a little consideration that took place down on Galveston Island regarding dealing with conflict between bird-watchers and sandhill crane hunters. So 32 of those comments related to the sandhill crane season on Galveston Island.
We've had a little bit of background noise on folks that would like to go back to a 60-day season and a 15-bird bag in the central and south zone. But if we went back the other way, we would have the same background noise. So it's not a big issue, I think.
We've had a little bit of comment on our desire to change the zone line east of Houston. But the biological evaluation requirements are that for the amount of opportunity that would be created, particularly given our budget circumstance, is something that we feel is negligible. And we have not had a formal request for that yet. So we feel like this would not be appropriate to pursue that change or consider that change.
Both the early season regulations process and now the late season regulations process, which is – which takes place in late July into August, has a changed time line for the Fish and Wildlife Service. And in fact, the selection process for the late season – we have to have our selection letter in to them for the regular duck and goose season prior to the Commission meeting in August.
And in case of the early and late season, the director does have the authority to make those selections on behalf of the Commission, and that would have to be the case this year, given that the change in their schedule for requiring us to provide them with our selections.
So with that, that's the update I wanted to give you. I'd be happy to answer any questions.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Do we have any questions from the Commissioners, particularly on the issues? Do we have any questions about this?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: We have no questions or comments, Vernon. You've done such a great job.
MR. BEVILL: Thank you, Katharine.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: You've answered everything that could possibly come up.
MR. BEVILL: I appreciate it.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Okay. Well, thank you very much.
MR. BEVILL: I think you do have a public comment.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: We have four – we have one public comment. Russ? Okay. Help me out here.
MR. BOURQUEIN: Bourquein.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Okay. However, Mr. Bourquein. Come on up.
MR. BOURQUEIN: Thank you, Madame Chairman and Commissioners. Good morning. My name is Russ Bourquein. I'm chairman of the newest wildlife chapter in Texas. It's called the Dove Sportsman Society. It is my intent for the next few minutes to give the Commission the following, a brief overview of our organization and what it's all about, a summary of our activities over the last year, where we're going as an organization, and field any questions from you folks.
So who are we? In short we're an organization dedicated to the improvement of the habitat for the mourning and white-wing colonies of the State of Texas. The membership enlistment of the young hunter, the season hunter, the landowner, the rancher, farmer, outfitter, and hunting operation entrepreneur and the communication of this effort throughout the State of Texas, utilizing a number of strategies that we employ, including our website, which is dss-houston.org.
Summary of our activities – what are we doing? What have we done? Well, we were established in February 2002, I'm proud to say. We're the only Texas chapter. We hosted two gatherings in South Texas, for the ranching communities in 2002.
Through our affiliation with Quail Unlimited, we organized two separate seed sales in Uvalde and Dilley, totalling 82,000 pounds of milo and sunflower seed.
In 2003, our spring seed sales transacted in Dilley, Texas and Carrizo totalled 81,000 pounds of milo. And it's fairly interesting to note the Carrizo Springs sale of 840 pounds – excuse me, 840 bags, sold out in 45 minutes.
The chapter was featured in the Houston Chronicle in 2002. Our chapter was – excuse me. DSS attendance included sporting clays tournaments, radio talk show segments, various expositions, and I'm proud to say we were at the Texas Wildlife Expo last fall.
We've employed a number of things to kind of get to the public and kind of tell our story – a new brochure, a new logo, and new customized media kits, a new youth poster, which I'll get to in just a minute, a new t-shirt design, which I'm – I thought I'd show you this. I'm very proud of this. Kind of tells a little bit about what we're up to.
And this is very interesting right here. In our first year of existence, the chapter through landowner, rancher, farmer databased, in addition to our hunting operation and outfitter relationships, touched in excess of 200,000 acres across the State of Texas.
MR. COOK: Russ, I'm a little bit hesitant to call time on you, but you're losing time.
MR. BOURQUEIN: Okay. Well –
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: We like what you're saying.
MR. BOURQUEIN: Essentially, our chapter is working for the species, the dove hunter and the State of Texas. And I want to thank you for our time, and I want to tell you we're working hard for you folks and the state. And I appreciate you having us here. Thank you very much.
MR. COOK: Thank you very much. Can we see the poster there?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Would you hold up the poster for us, Russ?
MR. BOURQUEIN: Sure. I'd love to. This is something that I put together that, Commissioner Armstrong, I think you might find this very interesting. This is all about our youth initiative. What we're very excited about, getting the youth. And we're working with Vernon. And Vernon has been a key, key player in helping us out.
This is something that we're going to promote. Is it cool to hunt again, or in Texas? We think it is, and we'd like to get this – the youth people involved in what we're doing, or more involved.
And we think it's something that will take hold and this is going to be in every newspaper in the State of Texas. That's our intention.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Could you summarize the paragraph that you have under there?
MR. BOURQUEIN: Well, basically it says, in a world laced with instant gratification, a hectic pace, what are the most-important components of your life? And the answer is, it's your family. A lot of negative forces out there. It talks about a little bit what I was involved in when I was a kid.
Communication – it talks a little bit about we're devoted to the enhancement of the dove habitat, the dove hunter – communication effort across the State of Texas.
Our seed sale and distribution initiatives are combing the agricultural network across Texas. And it's our intention to plant Texas with our seed sales over the next ten years. Add our team to your team, and God Bless Texas.
MR. COOK: Thanks, Russ.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you very much, Russ.
MR. BOURQUEIN: Thank you for your time.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Do we have any questions?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I have one for Russ. What do you think of our public dove hunting program? Any comments, suggestions how we can improve that, because I think it's a great opportunity for people to start hunting.
MR. BOURQUEIN: I think it's important – and it – and I haven't really talked about it – the hub strategy that I have run – that I've employed, it's sure to evolve completely.
But the youth – it's linking the corporate interests, in terms of the ammunition manufacturers and the outdoor retailers with the farming community, and then let DSS get involved in the middle of the vortex, so to speak, along with Vernon and Texas Parks and Wildlife, and create a public dove-hunting venue or encourage the youth.
When you tie all these interests together, get the youth more involved. So this is the key to our future, is getting the youth involved. We – I like the dove-hunting venue. I like the Wildlife Management Area situation. The ranchers love it.
We've opted to go about this from a grassroots level, as opposed to coming up and hitting me up for money, and asking for money and giving you a decal and a ball cap. We've gone to the ranchers and said, Look. This is a seed program that will work for the habitat. This is not something that we're out here promoting.
But we do have to have some corporate initiatives. So I like the public dove-hunting venue. I think it's important to get more ranches involved, or more opportunities involved for our youth.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you very much.
MR. BOURQUEIN: Okay. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I just had one comment, Madame Chairman.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Oh, I'm sorry, Donato.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: That's all right. No, I just want to applaud you for your efforts, and especially with the youth of the state, because that's an arena and that's a focus that we're really concerned about. And you're on track. And thank you very much.
MR. BOURQUEIN: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Any other comments?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: I would certainly like to echo Commissioner Ramos's comments and commend you for what you're doing. I think it's really exciting. Thank you.
MR. BOURQUEIN: We're very excited about it, too. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you. Agenda Item Number 11 [sic] is a briefing on the future of hunting. We have Mr. Mike Berger and Mr. John Kelsey will be making a presentation. And following their presentation, I will acknowledge Commissioner Angelo for a discussion on the Quail Council that's related. Good morning, gentlemen.
(Whereupon, a briefing item was ensued.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Agenda Item Number 7 is the Fish Guide Regulation.
Mr. Paul Hammerschmidt, will you please make your presentation? Or whoa, whoa. I'm sorry. Number 6. I saw Ruben Cantu get up there, and I went, Wait a minute. I didn't know you had moved over there, Ruben.
High Plains Partnership, Ruben Cantu and Mr. Dale Hall.
(Whereupon, a briefing item was ensued.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you. Agenda Item Number 7 is an action item. Fish Guide Regulation.
Mr. Paul Hammerschmidt, you can come up here now.
MR. HAMMERSCHMIDT: Thank you, Madame Chairman. For the record, My name is Paul Hammerschmidt, Coastal Fisheries Division. The item I bring to you today is a proposed new section, 6573, the statewide hunting and fishing proclamation, which establishes that saltwater fishing guides must possess certain required documentation before they may purchase a fishing guide license.
As a matter of background, on April – at the April 3, 2003, Commission Meeting, the Commission adopted an increase in the fishing guide licenses. However, as an amendment to that adoption, they split the fishing guide license into two parts, one for freshwater guides at $125.00 and one for saltwater guides at $200.00.
As a result of that dichotomy in the two licenses, it was decided that there needed to be some clarification in intent on the rules. Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard requires operators of saltwater fishing guide vessels to have a particular operator's license to operate legally in that area.
Because of this dichotomy, we wanted to include the new Section 6573, to clarify intent not only for those fishing guides who wanted to purchase a saltwater license, but for the license deputies as well, so when the guide offered the documentation up, they would know what was going on.
Consequently, the new section says that persons who guide by vessel in saltwater are required to show proof of possession of the U.S. Coast Guard's operator's license in order to obtain that particular license.
As of today, staff has received no comments regarding this proposal. And staff recommends, then, that the Commission adopt the following motion. "The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts a new 31 TAC Section 6573, concerning fishing guide license, required documentation as published in the April 25, 2003, Texas Register." And I'll be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Any questions at this time? We do have one person in the audience to speak, and that's Will Kirkpatrick.
MR. KIRKPATRICK: Short note. Commissioner, my name is Will Kirkpatrick, and I've talked with most of you about this. When this got started we had rumors of $1,000 guide licenses, or we were going to have to be able to give CPR to ugly customers.
We were going to have to have special insurance. And then you all messed up and you didn't do any of the above. And the guides that I've talked to – and I know a lot of them. We've been doing this for a long time. When you split the licenses – this should have probably been done a long time ago.
I think it's going to give Phil Durocher and Hal Osburn maybe a way to tweak some regulations later on. Probably won't do anything right now, but later on they will.
I went back and looked at the old guide license fees. And it was $25, and we charged $45 for a day. And then it went to $50, and we were charging $100 a day. And when you went to $75, we were charging $150.
All you've done is kept up with – as we went through and pay it off with a half-day guide trip. And that's a pretty good investment for us in new boats. So you didn't do anything – we were really worried about the part-time guides. And you didn't run them out of business. And we need part-time guides.
As Mr. Fitzsimons emailed me and said, We need to make it part of the business. Just add it into your cost and moved on. And that's what we've done. Kansas also has the only place I've ever hunted with pheasants and quail both. The dog turns on point, you don't know what it is. So thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Thank you. Are there any other questions or comments from the Commission?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Madame Chairman, a motion.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: So moved.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Second.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: All in favor, say aye.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Opposed?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: This motion is adopted. And thank you, Paul. Item Number 8 – I believe it is an action item concerning Mule Deer and the MLDP – zone. Are you going to carry the ball on this one?
MR. BREWER: I guess so.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Okay.
MR. BREWER: Madame Chairman and Commissioners, my name is Clay Brewer, and I serve as the Wildlife Division Program Leader for Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep, and Pronghorn Antelopes.
The purpose of this presentation is to provide for your consideration the results of public comments received concerning the proposal to expand the Managed Lands Deer Permit Program to include mule deer.
To give you a little background on this proposal, a mule deer MLDP program was requested by landowners at the August Commission meeting. Wildlife division staff are charged with developing a proposal for public consideration; goals were to create a single program for all mule deer, including those in the Panhandle, Trans-Pecos, and western edge of the Edwards Plateau, and to keep the program simple by creating a single level.
I was then asked to work cooperatively with the Trans-Pecos Advisory Committee in developing a final proposal for consideration by the public. This was accomplished and a decision to move forward with the proposal and accept public comment was agreed upon at the April Regulations Committee meeting.
The proposal was published in the Texas Register, and public hearings were announced in local newspapers throughout the Trans-Pecos, Panhandle, Livestock Weekly, and the TPWD web page.
A total of 775 comments have been received regarding the proposed regulation change in the form of public hearing comments, petitions, telephone calls, email messages, and written correspondence.
Of the comments received, 654 were opposed, 88 were in favor, and 33 were undecided. I might also say at this time that we received probably 25 or 30 more comments in the last – yesterday evening. Twenty-seven of those – something like that were opposed, and a handful – three or four were for. Those were not included in these figures.
Seven public hearings were conducted to seek public input on the proposal, including Morton, Turkey, Dumas, Alpine, Fort Stockton, Van Horn, and Iraan. A total of 184 people commented on the proposal at public hearings, and of these, 99 were opposed, 53 were in favor, and 32 were undecided.
In addition, the Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio County Commissioners Courts all voted unanimously against this proposed regulation change. Based on strong opposition by the public, the TPWD mule deer committee recommends that the current proposal not be adopted for mule deer in the State of Texas. And with that, I'll take any questions you might have.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Do we have any questions of Mr. Brewer from the Commission? If not – Commissioner Fitzsimons has a question.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Clay, the Trans-Pecos Advisory Committee, for those who might not be aware, is made up of – that made the proposal.
MR. BREWER: This is a committee appointed by the Chairman. And I might also say that there was an MLDP subcommittee that was formed of that. And some of those are in this room today. Let's see, Ron Helm, John Maynes. Homer Mills chaired that committee. He's in the room today.
Bob Nunley was on that committee. Malcolm Calaway also in the room today. I know Bob Nunley is in the room. Mr. White – Jim White sat in on that committee. And so this was actually a subcommittee of that Trans-Pecos Advisory Committee.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And that committee amended the original staff proposal and came up with a proposal to –
MR. BREWER: Yes, sir. That is correct. Field staff worked on one that would kind of fit everybody's needs, something that we felt like would work for all parts, anywhere there was mule deer. And the committee worked on our proposal.
They started with that proposal, and it ended up very close to what we started with. There was a change in the extended season length. Originally we had proposed two weeks before, picked up the general season, and then two weeks after, the version that the committee recommended was one week before the season.
They picked up the season, and then extended through December 31 in order to pick up the Christmas holidays. And so that was the only change made.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The committee recommendation also had a Sunset provision?
MR. BREWER: Yes, that is correct. A very important aspect of that was that the committee recommended that the mandatory review of this program be conducted at the end of five years. There were some that would not agree to it unless that was in there. So it was very important.
And some of those people felt like that if the program wasn't working, then, you know, it would give us a chance to deal with it at that time. It was just a forced mandatory review at that time.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Any other questions or comments of Mr. Brewer? I think I would like to take this opportunity, because I – from all the comments I've gotten over the last few months, I want everyone in that region that's affected by – or that cares a lot about mule deer and the like to understand the role of the Trans-Pecos Advisory Board.
The Chairman of this Commission, whether it's me or anyone else – one of our duties is to appoint folks to advisory boards. And these advisory boards deal with issues from migratory birds to shrimping and oysters, to all sorts of different regions and attitudes and issues.
My feeling was that the Trans-Pecos region of Texas was a special area of Texas. It has unique species, and unique problems and unique challenges. And that these issues, whether they be predator control or mule deer, or pronghorn antelope, or drought, or whatever, should be kept – you know, brought to our attention on a regular basis so that we know what's going on out there, and that folks out there know what we're doing, and just to figure out a way to improve communications between the Department and all the stakeholders in the Trans-Pecos.
I'd like to just remind everyone that at our first meeting of the Trans-Pecos Advisory Group, which was made up of, I think, a very representative group of landowners and stakeholders. That the first issue that we took up that everyone believed they could agree on was the issue of predation by mountain lions and coyotes.
And we've been working to try to help and try to figure out ways to help the Trans-Pecos in that regard. The Trans-Pecos Advisory Group did not bring up the issue of managed-land deer permits for mule deer. That was brought up by stakeholders, as is proper.
And so that's where we are. This is not the only issue that is of interest to the Trans-Pecos Advisory Group. Thank you, Clay.
If we have no further comments or questions of Clay, we certainly do have a lot of comments. So I'll remind everyone that you have three minutes. And the first person signed up to speak is Nelson Puett, followed by Billy Mac Jobe.
MR. PUETT: Honorable Chairman, Commission members, my name is Nelson Puett from Austin, Texas, and some part-time in Cornudas and Sierra Blanca, Texas. I'm here to speak in favor of the managed-land permit for mule deer.
I will keep my remarks very brief, knowing there's a lot of people behind me. Actually, listening to the program this morning, Former Commissioner John Kelsey actually made all the points. We need to do something to increase hunting and opportunity for hunting.
And on a personal basis, I have a 14-year-old and eleven-year-old daughter. And right now, because of school commitments, they are unable to get – I can't get them out of school in time to go out there and participate in any of the hunting season around Thanksgiving.
And by extending the season, to me, would be enough of a reason to implement this program, if nothing else. The other – three points I want to leave you all with, and then I will sit down, is this is a voluntary program.
This program is completely voluntary. Parks and Wildlife is not mandating that anyone do it, neither are the neighbors. The program is voluntary and you don't have to do it. And those are the three points. It is a voluntary program. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Mr. Puett.
Billy Mac Jobe, and then Stanley Jobe.
MR. BILLY MAC JOBE: Madame Chair, gentlemen, I'm Billy Mac Jobe from Pecos, Texas. I ranch in Reeves County, which is – in which Pecos is the county seat. I ranch about 85,000 acres northwest of Pecos in dry country where we have a few mule deer, and some javelina, a lot of rattlesnakes and no rain. But we're hoping for that rain.
I'd like to say that I feel a little bit like I've been pot-shot when I see those statistics on the screen of the number of people that are opposed to this. I'd like to first of all say that I'm not upset with any of my neighbors. And I'm sure that some have advocated we will not have a civil war if this regulation is implemented.
I am for it, and I believe it gives us an opportunity to expand hunting, and actually helping the enhancement of the number of deer and hunting capacity that we have.
I don't feel threatened by my neighbors. I've always had a good relationship with them. I don't feel threatened by the actions of Park and Wildlife people. I've been in this business since I was 18 years, of owning land. And that's a while.
And I don't believe that there will be any problems caused by the implementation of this program, which is free will, as I understand it. And I can free will get out of it any time that I want to. And I can't see why that we should be scared to have the game wardens on our places, or people of the Park and Wildlife Service, as has been indicated by some.
I've never been treated any way but like gentlemen and ladies by the Park and Wildlife Service. I've always had a good relationship with them. I appreciate you folk taking care of those kind of people, and I think that's fine.
But I don't want us to live on wilderness out there in the Trans-Pecos area like we need to be afraid of one another because we may have a different plan for hunting mule deer. I think that we can live together, and I think we can get by with it.
But you know, it's sort of human nature for people to be afraid of something new. And it's kind of the nature of people to want to think in terms of, well, I don't want to have controversy. But let me tell you something. There has never been anything good that happened to this country from the Revolution forward that was not born out of controversy.
And so I don't see a problem with our disagreeing. And I really don't see a problem sometimes with the minority winning. And as the poet said, and I had to memorize this poem when I was in – a junior in high school, and I don't know why this little verse still stays with me, but that poet said, "For of all writings of tongue or pen, the saddest are these... it might have been."
And let's don't be afraid of what might happen, because if we do, we'll never do anything. And I'd like to see this Commission implement this program. And I see a man standing up. He's going to shoot at me just a minute. Thank you.
MR. STANLEY JOBE: Madame Chair, Commissioners. I almost lost my voice. My name is Stanley Jobe. And I ranch in the east central Culberson County. I own 120,000 acres there. And I am very much for the managed-land deer program.
I'd like to – one thing – I'd like to compliment the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff for holding all those meetings. I respectfully disagree with their recommendations. I think you should approve this. This as a – as a practice for us out there.
I'd like to go over some of the advantages that I've seen. You know, I don't want hunters just traipsing all over my country shooting any deer they see. In order for me to hunt my property properly, I need to have guides for my hunters. It's a big country. I don't want a hunter just to shoot the first buck he sees.
I want to – not only do I want to harvest the right number of deer, I want to harvest the right kind of deer in order to promote the wildlife management on my place. There is no way that that can be accomplished in 16 days. It would require me to hire way too many guides. From the numbers – like if you took ten percentage of buck herd, and say we had 150 bucks on 120,000 acres, that would be 15 deer. I would have to have four or five guides during a 16-day season to give a man a two or three-day decent hunt. Whereas in a 45-day hunt, I could get by with the men that I have on the staff that are qualified – with the one or two men that are qualified to guide a proper hunt.
Furthermore, I would echo the concerns of the gentleman who was up here before from Cornudas, and – it's hard to schedule people during a – just a 16-day hunt. The – just like Mr. Kelsey said, you've got 9 percent of the people want to hunt, but can't hunt, or don't know where to hunt.
If you extend the season, for those of us that want to be in the program – again, it is voluntary, anyone can be in it that wants to be in it. Then that gives us the chance to manage our wildlife properly and to manage our resources properly.
The next thing is it's – to me, it would be a tremendous economic impact to not only our local community, but to us as individual landowners. And we certainly – this proposal does nothing but enhance property rights, instead of take away property rights. Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: C.N. Van Eman. Is that right? From Midland. And William Gearhart.
MR. VAN EMAN: Good morning. My name is C.N. Van Eman, and I'm from Midland. Madame Chairman, Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to come. I'm here to go along with what the staff said. I'm against this program.
It seems to me that we're making two classes of citizens. I understand it's voluntary, but it's going to make two different groups out there. And as we have pointed out here today before, that country is unique out there, and there are fewer ranchers, and I just believe that the mule deer have gotten along fine as a species with the current setup.
And I believe most of the ranchers have done – and I hire guides, too. And I'm able to accomplish everything we need to accomplish on our ranch in Fort Davis in this time.
Also, as you know, game wardens are spread thin out there. I believe it would cost something to administer something that takes longer than it already is. Obviously, poaching is a problem. And if it's not broke, don't fix it. And I believe we've done – we've got a good system in place now. And it appears that the majority of everybody out there is against it.
I feel for these – I understand where weekends – you know, I live in Midland. The ranch is at Fort Davis. There have been times that would be great for me. But it's also an added responsibility in protecting your property. Thank you very much for your time.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you.
Mr. Gearhart, and Malcolm Calaway, could you get ready?
MR. GEARHART: Thank you, Madame Chairman, Commissioners. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you. My name is Bill Gearhart. I'm from Valentine, Texas. I'm also a commissioner in Jeff Davis County.
Due to numerous phone calls with my constituents, and most of them were negative towards this program. And my fellow commissioners experienced the same experience that induced us to pass a resolution opposing this particular program.
And as Mr. Brewer said, Brewster County and Presidio County did the same thing. They had overwhelming responses in opposition to this program. And I can only reiterate what Mr. Brewer said. I think the Trans-Pecos area landowners spoke out in opposition overwhelmingly in Brewster, Presidio, and Jeff Davis Counties. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I have a question for –
MR. GEARHART: Joseph?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: – Commissioner Gearhart.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Sure.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Bill, good to see you.
MR. GEARHART: Nice to see you, Joseph.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It seems – it sounds like there's a perception that if the proposal is adopted, the extension of a season. And my experience – that it's about wildlife enhancement.
It's like giving – the opportunity to manage. And part of that is to have more time to accomplish that. Am I correct that there is a perception that this is about extension of the season rather than habitat management?
MR. GEARHART: I think it's both. I think I manage my habitat as best I can, you know, considering we've been in a nine-year drought. But the best help that we could possibly have in our area is to get rain, which hasn't happened.
But I think there is still a perception and a little bit of fear of the Texas Parks and Wildlife also out there. You know, we've had a rift for years and years and years.
And I think a lot of people feel out there that the implementation of this program will increase the animosity that already exists between landowners out there and the Park Service, or the Parks and Wildlife Department. And that's about the best answer I could give you, Joseph, I guess. Any other questions for me?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Yes. I'd like to ask him a question. But do you recognize that – that there may be landowners out there that, for whatever reason, feel that they would like to have some management. And should they have that option?
I guess what you're saying is I don't want it, but nobody else should have it either.
MR. GEARHART: I do understand where you're coming from. Yes, sir. What I do feel, though, from a personal standpoint, is I think this is going to put undue pressure on me, if my neighbor decides to implement this program or use this program, and go – and begins to feed his deer, or whatever.
He's going to draw deer from my habitat over to his land. There are no high fences out there. I think it's just going to put undue burdens on adjacent landowners that do not wish to participate in that program.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: But you don't dispute, thought, that a – we can always improve our management plan. And part of that could be improving a nutritional plan.
MR. GEARHART: Well, and I'm a very strong advocate of private property rights. And I do feel that any person that owns private property out there in that area has the right to do with it as he pleases. That – I very strongly believe in that, as do I have the same right to do with my property as I please. Thank you very much. CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Malcolm Calaway, and then Lane Sumter?
MR. SUMNER: Sumner.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Sumner.
MR. CALAWAY: Madame Chairman and Commissioners, I'm Malcolm Calaway from Alpine, Texas. I am a proponent for the mule deer. I was recently out there in the hall, just a few minutes ago I was there. Of course, I have the opposition to the MLDP program. I don't like to state it like that. I'm for the mule deer. That's what I'm for, is for the mule deer.
I am also a proponent for the Texas Parks and Wildlife, and more specifically, for the biologists. They do a great job. Recently I mailed everybody in this – Commissioners, and you, Ma'am, and I think I laid another one on your desk a while ago, because I got a late start,
One was done in March. And that letter was mule deer practices. And that letter stated, in effect, that ranchers that are good managers of cattle ranch, are pretty good managers of the mule deer already. They have everything pretty much set up in order already, as most of the proposals that were given by the biologists.
So there is very few things changed that they're not doing already that the biologists have proposed. They're running parallel with – pretty much with the possible practices that the biologists have asked for.
The second letter that I did was – that I sent to you guys, and that was just sent in the same package – we were charged – and I was on that committee, and we were charged to increase quantity – quantity of the deer.
The quantity of the deer has already – for whatever reason, and I'm not going to try to figure out the reason what it is, maybe it's from game management practices by the ranchers already –
We've been in a drought. We've had more hunters, less deer and less predator control. For some reason, we now have about 50,000 more deer than we had two years ago. So maybe some of these already-in-place practices are working without having an MLDP program.
Maybe so. There is no state – and I have made some phone calls – there are no western states that I'm aware of, and I'm not saying this as – sure enough for a fact, that have a mule deer program that encompasses the rut.
They do have antelope – I mean, a mule deer season that encompasses a rut. They do have antelope permits, and seasons that encompass a rut. They have elk seasons that encompass the rut. They have white-tail seasons that encompass the rut. They even have turkey seasons during the strut.
No one that I'm aware of encompasses the rut in mule deer. Just like us, they have – may have an overlapping season to catch the early first part of the rut, like we do in West Texas sometime.
I wonder why no other western state has a season, that I'm aware of, that encompasses the full-blown rut. I don't know. I wonder why.
The righteous and concerned individuals in west Texas are also – have families, and they have children and family members. But they are still maintaining an overwhelming majority that they do not wish this program to come into effect, even though their family members – even though they have children. They don't want it. For whatever reason – I mean, you guys know for whatever. You know the numbers.
Let me see. What else? I put something else down there. The numbers showed that good increase this year, with all those problems. For the majority of the ranchers, the overwhelming majority of the ranchers, I ask that this program not come into effect. And they are – we're speaking for them. And everybody that gets up here is going to speak the same for them.
Let's put this thing to rest for a while. 1996, I believe the year, they tried to come in, and – Texas Parks and Wildlife tried to come in and extend the season. There almost was a civil war in Alpine, Texas during this thing, because I was at that meeting. There was an uproar. It didn't work.
MR. COOK: Mr. Calaway.
MR. CALAWAY: I oppose it. Thank you, folks.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Jon Means, could you be prepared to speak next?
MR. SUMNER: Madame Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Lane Sumner. I manage the Jobe Ranch in Culberson County. I graduated from Sul Ross with a degree in wildlife management. I'm in strong support of this proposal, because from a biological standpoint, it is very sound, because the harvest recommendations will be derived from surveys of the individual ranches, which on some ranches that will end up getting in the program, recommendations will probably be to kill less deer than what they're killing now.
And there are other western states that do have programs very similar to this on private property, and they do it during the rut, and they are having more people sign up, you know, continually signing up for those programs.
And the program that also increased the value of the resource, which would promote more intensive management of the mule deer region-wide. So I'm just here to say I'm very much in favor of it. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you.
Jon Means, and then Homer Mills.
MR. MEANS: Good morning. I personally want to thank the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, especially Chairman Armstrong and Bob Cook, for their interest in far west Texas. I am Jon Means. I'm a ranch man from Van Horn. I speak strongly in favor of the MLD program.
I think most of what has been said and should have been said probably has been said at these meetings we had in west Texas. Everybody got a pretty good shot there.
Very briefly, I'd like to emphasize that the program is strictly voluntary. It is simply a tool that will help land and resource managers to improve and enhance our mule deer.
Being incentive-based and habitat-focused, it provides a flexibility to better manage our mule deer population. In five years it will be Sunsetted. To me, it seems like a win-win deal. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you.
Homer Mills, followed by Stuart Sasser.
MR. MILLS: Good morning, Madame Commissioner. I'm sorry, Madame Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Homer Mills from Brewster County. I am a small family rancher. I also work for three large absentee landowners. I'm opposed to this. I've chaired the subcommittee that dealt with this issue. We felt like if you've got six people in the room and you couldn't agree on something, it was going to be hard to agree on it out in the public.
We were pretty much split down the middle. I composed the letter, which you all have copies of, which – that gave the proponent's position, and it also listed 16 concerns that we had coming out of the committee.
Now, I went back to the public, and when people heard that I was on this committee, I got an earful. And if you stop and think about it, you're talking about a resource that the harvest is going to be somewhere between 3- and 4,000 animals. And you've had 800 respondents.
If you put that – applied that to white-tailed, you'd have to have a couple of million people come in and talk about white-tail issues. So it's a very hot topic. It's caused rifts in friendships, relationships. People are not happy with the way it came up.
They feel like it's a repeat of the 1996 issue, which may not be anything to do with it. But the perception out there is that it's just an old recycled issue that's coming back from a different direction.
I can sympathize with every issue that the proponents make – economics, convenience, family values, you name it. I'm strung out as far as anybody during deer season. But everybody is suffering from the drought. They're looking for answers out of this wildlife. And as Commissioner Ramos said a while ago, you've got to have a dance hall to have a dance.
We need mule deer to have – even consider an MLDP. That's the primary issue. We don't have the deer numbers that we need. We need to concentrate on growing the deer. And MLDP will do nothing to increase deer populations. And that, to me – and what I'm hearing from the community is that's what we need, number one. Let's address the mule deer.
How do we increase the numbers? Get them through this same drought that everybody else has been in, and go on from there. I'm sympathetic to anybody that wants more time to manage their deer. But it seems like all the personal issues or landowner issues pale in comparison to the focus that should be on the deer, or the resource itself. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Commissioner Fitzsimons, do you have a question?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Homer, thanks for making the trip. I know it's not easy. I would agree with you that there has been some sort of – something lost in the translation here. Because when you read a proposal, and you understand the proposal, it is focused on the resource and habitat. It requires a wildlife management plan. It will limit the harvest. It requires a minimum of three management practices to enhance the habitat.
And without that program, people can shoot whatever number of deer they want if they have enough tags for it. And so – and I go back to this – I'm looking at Mr. – my friend Chris Lacy's letter here. Again, he says, "Extending the season."
I think something's been lost in the translation. This isn't about extending the season. You know, extending the season, in my experience with MLDP, is secondary in rolling land, in better management.
Anyway, without it – did that issue just never get addressed? Or what –
MR. MILLS: I probably ought to read my 16-point concerns that came out of the committee again. But I don't know if you want me to do that.
That's been addressed. I think out of the 775 respondents and the 600-and-something that were against this, and the additional that were against it, people recognize that mule deer don't take pressure like white-tail. There is going to be more room for abuse of the hunting season.
The people that spoke today, I have 100 percent confidence that they're going to manage their deer to the utmost of their ability. They do a great job. They're already doing a good job. Everybody has a management plan in west Texas.
The deer are too scarce and too valuable not to have a management plan. But you're trying to tie this with MLDP and say that it's going to benefit the deer overall, when in effect, anyone that looks at the plan can see that it goes into the rut.
It's – you can make the case that you're going to have more harvest time. That's – the rut is going to be affected. And there is nothing more susceptible to getting killed than a mule during the rut. It's – it's just like you might as well go out and shoot an Angus bull somewhere.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: If the harvest is limited during the MLDP, what difference does it make when the deer is killed? You're actually killing fewer deer than before.
MR. MILLS: There is – you're going to – like somebody said one day, they said, If you have ten mature genetically superior deer, and you go out and take ten off the top, it's like peeling a layer of onions off – an onion skin off.
It doesn't mean necessarily you're going to have ten more to replace it. The way the system works now, it was set up by Parks and Wildlife years ago, you give the deer the benefit of the rut on their own, without getting shot at.
It's worked. The deer are actually increasing in the face of the worst drought on record. Our numbers are actually up, and that's partially because of good management practices. It's also speaks to the resiliency of the deer.
We shouldn't be able to go out and kill all the big deer every year. And that's what I hear more and more that people want to be able to do. They say, We want to kill a big deer. We want them to be worth more. We want to therefore take better care of our resource.
My question was just how good – how valuable does a resource have to be before you start taking care of it? I mean, there are more white-tail – I think it's five times more white-tail killed every year than the entire mule deer population. And that's another thing. What this management plan for MLDPs – for white-tail was designed to help control numbers, which was a big factor in the white-tail.
And the mule deer, with a couple of notable exceptions, people who have been feeding for years and years, we don't have too many mule deer. That was the number-one – as I understand it, the number-one motivation for an MLDP. More time at harvest, and remove your excess does and that kind of thing.
Doe permits are a thing of the past in west Texas. They're still available to people who have a surplus of deer. And they also have the Triple-T program now, that's been approved for mule deer. So the tools are in place to deal with this.
It's – it boils down to an issue of – perceived by the public, and I tend to agree with people want to kill big deer. There is something – a status symbol about that that's, you know, just beyond words. They want to kill big deer, and they also want the convenience to hunt during the holidays, and they don't want to be pressured around Thanksgiving and that kind of thing.
You know, I have a kid that's in college. He hasn't gotten to hunt in a long time. I sympathize with that. I did stock my ranch – in '98. I need the income from hunting. I sympathize with that. But the deal about the – people keep bringing up this longer season. And maybe people are taking it wrong. It's more than that.
They just see that the deer can't take the pressure. They don't run and hide like white-tail. And they know that even from a nine to a 16-day season, you start putting more and more pressure on that resource. And the deer are mobile. They're partially migratory when they're rutting. They move around. And you're going to have some neighbor relation problems.
Mr. Cook has showed me that that's not the case in South Texas. I understand a lot of high-fence situations. You and I talked about that over the phone. You said there may be 50 percent high fence, and 50 percent not. But I feel sure that there is going to be a lot of problems with small landowners that don't want to participate, large landowners that do.
There is a perception that most landowners that get into this are probably going to start feeding programs. And when they do, it's real easy to pull your deer over to the neighbors. And I've experienced that firsthand. We had half the family ranch bought by a south Texas rancher who believed in feed. And he started on our fence line and started moving back. And we basically started having to feed in self-defense. Excuse me.
And they also – the proponents also tell you that they're going to use discretion in killing these big deer. And doing this management practice is – but I'll point out what happened to the elk herd in west Texas. And I'll be real brief on this.
But we had an elk herd that was reintroduced in the '40s. And it wasn't the native rams, elk. Or just because they're extinct. But for years and years and years – 50-something years, we protected these elk. We asked for an occasional permit. All of the landowners seemed to be in harmony over how they were handling this.
But then when the Parks and Wildlife took the regulations away from the elk and opened up – basically made them non-game animal – made them an exotic, within three years, we had what I call a worthless resource.
We've got cows. We've got spikes. We've got raghorn bulls. But any bull of five-by-five or bigger gets shot somewhere, because they move around, and it just takes one or two bad apples in the group in the landowners that are abusing the system.
So now we've went from a really valuable resource down to something that's not worth it. I see the same thing happening with mule deer. I do. I think that there's going to be enough abuse. People are going to sign up. And sure, they may sign up, and they might kill less deer than they do now.
But over time, if their MLDP criteria says they can only kill eight where they killed 12 before, that sounds good on the surface. But you're also going to have people that are going to be supplying data to the Parks and Wildlife saying that they have X-number of deer when they really don't. And they're going to say they want to kill this many, when they don't have enough deer to kill.
And it's just going to – I feel like it will be a bad deal.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, I'll point out that the MLD program is just the opposite of what we did to the elk. It's no-management versus more management. I think that's – I think we've done a bad job of getting that point across. That this is about management, and good – people the opportunity to –
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I may have to give equal time to somebody else, Homer. But thank you very much.
Are there any more questions or comments from the Commission? Okay.
MR. MILLS: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Next up, Stuart Sasser, and then Jason Wrinkle.
MR. SASSER: Thank you, Chairman Armstrong and Commissioners. I'd like to maybe just touch on a couple of points that have been said. Up until now we have the three-county commissioner courts vote against it. That's three counties, and so I guess we can assume the 150 other counties are for it.
When we have the numbers – I was rather shocked with those statistical numbers of 800 against, you know, 11 percent for it. Of course, I – apparently my initial instinct is it looks like Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio County are not for the program. So – but I think we've got a lot of other counties who could possibly be for it.
It seems to be really – a lot of the opposition seems to be anti-Parks and Wildlife, is really the argument. I don't think whether we do this MLDP program or not, it's not going to solve the feeding problems. It is a pro-property rights issue.
With regards to the harvesting of the wildlife, comment was made a minute ago about, well, if you've got ten superior deer, they're going to shoot all ten superior deer. Well, I think if you got into the management program, you'll find they've got ten superior deer. Of those ten, two of them are seven-year-olds, three of them are six, three of them are five, and two of them are four.
Well, you're going to get permitted to shoot the two seven-year-olds. You're not going to be able to harvest all ten of your superior deer. You're just going to harvest the top two that are old, probably aren't breeding any longer. Take them at the – instead of letting them just die of old age.
The comparison of the elk – you know, maybe the elk went by the wayside because we didn't have an MLDP program for the elk. The main thing I think we're getting out of an MLDP program is one of the big concerns is the herd population and research. That was brought up at the Van Horn meeting.
I think this program will provide the statistical data that's needed so research can be done for the west Texas mule deer. You're going to just have gobs of free information coming to the Texas Parks and Wildlife to perform this research.
And then my second point, that for our own personal reason, I think it does benefit the youth hunting. It goes back to the issues of what Mr. Kelsey and Mr. Berger was talking about. The hunter's number-one survey question or complaint was, hunters like to hunt for the sport, and to spend time with their friends and families.
And the west Texas opportunity is not a friend – it's a friend opportunity. You know, I can usually get some men to go with me. It's not a family activity, because of the time frame it takes place.
One of their goals – number two, I think on their program, was the strategy that – they have three strategies they were trying to accomplish in their goal. And that was to provide better habitat, which is what this management program is going to do, increase hunting opportunities, which it's going to do, and create a cooperation between hunters and landowners.
And with that, I'd like to also just thank the – Chairman Armstrong and all the Commissioners for their time and effort they put into it, the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, and the Trans-Pecos Advisory Committee.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Any questions of Mr. Sasser?
Jason Wrinkle. And then Ralph Donaho.
MR. WRINKLE: Madame Chairman and the Commissioners, I'm here today – my name is Jason Wrinkle. I'm here to represent the opinion of the Nature Conservancy of Texas. The mule deer MLD program should be a voluntary program that is habitat-focused for the benefit of mule deer populations and other associated game and non-game species.
The program should be incentive based for landowners and managers through increased availability to technical guidance assistance and more flexible harvest seasons. The habitat-focused management plan should be based on current and past years' mule deer populations, compared to the carrying capacity of the associated habitat.
Additionally, habitat-focused management plans and practices should benefit these game and non-game habitats, thus increasing the property's wildlife diversity and economic value.
The use of more flexible hunting seasons would not increase the mule deer harvest above recommendations of a proper wildlife management plan. However, the extended season for mule deer MLD properties would increase landowner hunting operation flexibility and the duration and time, as well as the monies spent by hunters in our west Texas communities.
In summary, the mule deer MLD program should be voluntary, incentive based, provide for habitat-focused management to benefit – excuse me, benefit overall wildlife diversity within the wildlife carrying capacity – within the habitat's carrying capacity.
On a personal note, I'd like for the Commissioners to evaluate the facts of the wildlife management, as opposed to some of the emotions that have been expressed today. Thank you very much for your time. Any questions?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Ralph Donaho, and Gregg Owens, get ready to speak.
MR. DONAHO: Madame Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Cook, I'm Ralph Donaho from Kent, Texas. And I'm general manager for JBC Ranch Partners, Rancho del Cielo. I'm here today to represent the ranch and the partnership, Mr. Clayton Williams and the CE Miller Ranch, winner of the statewide Land Steward Award last night.
I'm also here to represent some of our friends, and many that aren't here. We've got 1,500,000 acres, approximately, in support of the MLD proposal. I didn't really know that there were 800 individual landowners in Jeff Davis, Presidio and Brewster Counties. I don't think there are.
I think we could consult with our hunters statewide and come up with 80,000 in support of this program. Mr. Williams said to be sure and tell you today that he thinks we were killing our breeder bucks during the current 16-day program, and then during the rut, the 8-points are breeding all our does. That's a quote and unquote from Clayton Williams.
This is a win-win situation. The proposal of adding mule deer to MLD system will be good for mule deer. It will be good for habitat. Habitat management is going to improve the numbers of mule deer. It was said last night in one of the – the award winners – he believes in habitat, habitat, habitat to improve his deer.
This is going to be good for the landowner. It's going to be good for hunting families. It's going to be good for hunters and the local economy. But most importantly, it's going to be good for the future of Texas and the future of hunting.
Our youth – we need to teach these young people how to hunt. We need to instill in them the love of the hunt. This will perpetuate hunting. Allow these children time to hunt during Christmas – the holidays. They can't miss much school anymore. It's not like it used to be.
We're so far out west, kids don't have time with Thanksgiving family functions, to get out there and hunt, and get back to school Monday during Thanksgiving holidays. This will be really great for our youth.
I guess that's all I've got. It's evident today that I think the people that are against it don't really understand it. I think they're focused on 45-days extended season. I think there is a problem – communication problem between those against it and Parks and Wildlife.
But I think you have to agree that the gates that are closed at Parks and Wildlife today – the closed Parks and Wildlife today, whether you pass this or you vote against it, are going to remain closed.
So I ask, please, don't deny us our landowner rights to try this voluntary program. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: James Donnell, Jr., could you get ready to speak?
MR. OWENS: My name is Gregg Owens. I practice law here in Midland. I spent 16 years in – here in Austin. I spent 16 years in Midland, Texas. And I'm here representing J.L. Davis who is a large landowner of property in the Trans-Pecos area. And he asked me to express opposition to this program.
First, I want to make the point, though, that the Parks and Wildlife staff in the Trans-Pecos area, as demonstrated by Mr. Brewer and other members of the field personnel, are making great strides in enhancing confidence of those folks in this Department, and should be commended.
The expression of sentiment against this program should not be taken at this point, I don't believe, as a sentiment that Parks and Wildlife is really doing something wrong. I think you are making progress. I think the timing is bad.
The opposition expressed to this program seems to be based upon two primary issues. One is the extended drought in the area. I think most of the landowners believe that their herd, while it has picked up in the last couple of years, has been on a decline, and feel that extending the season will result in more stress on all – on a herd that's already has difficulty, given the drought situations.
And secondly, they're concerned for taking of bucks during the rut. They feel like the best bucks would be harvested because they'll have more time to do that. I've hunted a lot of deer in my day. And I know that there is a dramatic difference in trying to kill a big buck in season that is not encompassed by the rut. It's just a different game with white-tail as well, and mule deer, it's worse.
Another sentiment that I think is at work here is the fact that people there feel like they are – already have the management tools that they need. They don't need more management tools. They need more deer. And as a consequence, the fact of the combination of the extended season – that becomes the primary issue.
So we oppose it, and request that the Commission deny it at this time. There maybe be a time for it, but now is not the time.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: May I ask you question?
MR. OWENS: Certainly.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Because you just happen to be the guy here who – that I've been hearing this over and over and over again for months. But a lot of this focuses on the rut.
MR. OWENS: Yes.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: And let's assume that the concerns are good and sound. Would it be possible – I think – for people to have a split mule deer season, where it does not encompass the rut?
MR. OWENS: I think that that's something that would certainly move the ball forward, if that particularly susceptible period of time for these prime bucks were removed from it. That doesn't do anything about the drought situation, and just the numbers.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Can't help you there.
MR. OWENS: Yes, yes. You can't do much about that. But the rut, I think, is a big issue. And then there are myriad of issues that have been spoken to. Homer, I think, touched on most of those. But there's a – it's a bigger country, and high fencing, and the fact that these deer are far more mobile.
I think they fear that there is a great deal of concern that a few bad apples would – could really create problems for them.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Commissioner Angelo?
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Gregg, one of the things you mentioned was that this is bad timing. Does that imply that you and your client would say that it's something that needs to be continued to be an item of discussion, with the thought that down the road there might be better timing, and it's something we should continue to pursue?
MR. OWENS: I think that the drought is a big concern. And that is a timing issue. And it may be that – and I'm not really speaking for my client here, but what I'm hearing seems to say that, in talking – Clay, for example, you know, the mule deer herd is something that is very mobile, and it's spotty. It's here today, and it's over there tomorrow.
And it may be that what needs to happen is the – there is a shorter-term perspective. In other words, you look at what do we have this year? And so this year, the hunting season is going to be during this period of time. It might be longer and moving around the rut. And next year, it might be a different length of time, given the condition of the herd, at that time.
But I'm not a biologist, and certainly that's beyond me. But that's something that sort of – I continue to hear. I – people feel like they've got the tools, but they don't have the deer. And they're concerned about the numbers of deer and the quality of the herd if people have this extended period of time to sit – to – because everybody else wants to kill the big bucks.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Would you favor a continued study of the situation, and the possibility that down the road something like this might be a good idea?
MR. OWENS: Personally, I think it does need to be continued to be studied. And that's such a interesting and sensitive ecosystem in that whole part of the world, that I think definitely needs more study. And certainly, the Commission could consider that at another time.
It's a – the – and there is an element of trust here, that I think is really, really important for this body to take into consideration. That I think you're in a trust-building period of time. And I time changes things. So – thank you very much.
And again, the Commission does a wonderful job. You have great people in the field, and even people who oppose this particular plan are gaining more and more trust and confidence in this Commission, by virtue of the quality of people that you have out there among the voters. So we do appreciate that. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: May I ask a question?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Yes.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do you think that part of the problem is there is not real faith in the efficacy and integrity of the Wildlife Management Plan? Because as you point out, there is no extended season, unless you have a wildlife management plan that is designed to improve wildlife habitat and mule deer habitat? So obviously, I mean, they presented it –
MR. OWENS: Yes. I don't think it's that. I think there is a trust element that washes over on a lot of things. But I also think that most people out there feel like that they are stewards of the land, and they have a game-management plan in place. And you know, what they don't need is more pressure on a limited population, a limited resource that's already under stress.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And then those people, presumably, would choose not to be in the program.
MR. OWENS: That is correct. But the people who do have an inordinate potential impact on those who don't, because of the nature of the animal, the fact that he moves so readily and easily to feed, and again, you have – if I've got a great buck on my place, it doesn't take much to get him over there, you know, so –
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So you agree that maybe it's – the program is only as good as the wildlife management plans?
MR. OWENS: Sure. Sure.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Madame Chair?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Commissioner Ramos?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I'm not compelled with that feed argument. What's to keep someone today to feed?
MR. OWENS: Nothing.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So whether we have MLDP or not, that possibility exists anyway.
MR. OWENS: It exists, but it exists without an extended season in the rut. So you're piling on two more components –
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So are you saying, then, that if we shorten the season, it would be all right?
MR. OWENS: I think what people want is to leave them alone.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. But I'm trying to look at it, you know, from a practical standpoint. The feeding issue – I don't see that as an issue, because no one can prohibit anyone from feeding today.
MR. OWENS: No. That is correct.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So the herd – basically, it migrates, whether you feed it or not.
MR. OWENS: But you don't have an extended period of time where that feeding has the potential of taking those deer.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Would logic, then, compel you to shorten the season?
MR. OWENS: No. I think they feel like the season is all right now.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: But the only other question that I have is, you know, if we're truly stewards of the land, and we're really concerned about the herd, whether it's extended or not, it's still – the criteria as to whether to pull that trigger or not is up to that hunter.
MR. OWENS: That is correct.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: In spite of whether that season was six months or two days. So it goes back to the individual that's out there, whether under an MLDP program or not, as to whether they're going to pull that trigger.
So I'm trying to see some logic to shortening it or lengthening it, because it seems to me that the longer the season, the more exposure you have to your herd, and the better evaluation you can do from a management standpoint.
MR. OWENS: I don't think there is any question about that. The problem is, is that if your neighbor feeds and you don't, today you only have so many days when your herd is exposed to that. And during an extended season, you have more days when your herd is at risk to that.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. But again, whether it's at risk for four days or ten days, if the herd is there, it's still – if you're really truly managing that herd, you're going to hold off on pulling the trigger.
MR. OWENS: Some people will, but some people don't.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: That's right. But it goes back to the individual steward of that tract.
MR. OWENS: Well, that's correct. That's correct.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So the plan is not going to be any stronger than the actual people that are in it.
MR. OWENS: That is correct. And that's true today.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'm sorry, but this feeding issue – I think Commissioner Ramos has hit on something here. If you're feeding under the present system, you can shoot as many deer as you have legal hunters with tags, so the neighbors' deer are exposed to a lot more pressure under today's system than under one with a wildlife management plan that limits the harvest over a longer period of time.
It doesn't matter if that longer period of time is 20 days, six weeks, six months. It's a limited number of animals that may be killed. Today, you can feed across that fence, if that's the fear, and kill every one you can get a tag for.
MR. OWENS: Well, this just gives that many more days for that fear to occur.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: May I add, the – Joseph, I assume the point you're making, too, is that under an MLD, the harvest will be tied to the land area. It's not right now.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: That's right. And that's the point that I was trying to make, is that the way it is now, you can draw 1,000 deer if you feed constantly. So that there is a greater potential, as it exists now, than it would under MLDP, where you've done an analysis, and you've concluded you should only shoot two deer this year, as compared to six.
MR. OWENS: Well, you know, the fact of the matter is, you only have the honesty of the people that are involved in these programs to allow, when you get right down to it.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Sure.
MR. OWENS: And that's a concern. And the longer the season is, and people are allowed to carry guns, and this is hunting season, and I'm hunting mule deer, the more problems we have a risk for. And I think that's a real concern.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I have a question. It's more of an observation, I guess. And the analogy is, I'm sure, not perfect. But I grew up on an big ranch in a big ranching area of south Texas with virtually no high fences.
And as the limits of the seasons on species have been liberalized throughout, in most cases, say, quail, or white-tailed deer and the like, landowners within my region have chosen to avail themselves of those seasons any way they wished.
For instance, quail now begins, what? In November? The first of November, and lasts through the end of February. It's almost double the length of the quail season. But my family still only shoots quail from December – around the last week of December, around Christmas, to January 1, somewhere in there, we begin. And we end at the end of quail season.
Other people shoot, you know, from November all the way through, and some shoot only in January, and not the last two weeks of quail season. But different landowners make up their mind how they want to manage their quail within these limits, and nobody gets real hot about it.
MR. OWENS: Well, you know, I – that may be a character of south Texas, and the fact that – it's the folks that are there. But Trans-Pecos – folks have a different approach and a different attitude about it. And I think for this body to continue to build confidence, it needs to listen to those expressed concerns.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I think we're committed to that. Thank you.
MR. OWENS: Okay. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: James Donnell, and then Beau White.
MR. DONNELL: Thank you, Madame Commissioner and Commission, for listening to me today. I'm James Donnell and I represent our family ranch. We ranch down in south Texas and got a place out in west Texas.
And I know you don't want to hear it. There's no use hashing these issues over and over again, because we can sit here all day long and do that.
And I understand the other side of the story. I'm for the MLD. It's a non-issue down in south Texas. It's too bad we can't get five years down the road and then look back.
I'll take the icing off the cake. I feed. I'm going to try to draw every deer I can off my neighbor. I feed. I want to hunt the rut. I want to hunt the rut, because I want to be able to instill better management practices, and take a deer that I want to take, and leave the deer that needs to age.
It's no different – we make such a big deal out of raising deer, raising mule deer. It's no different than raising cattle. The issues are all the same. I think one of the – we have deer. I think out in west Texas, the people that are against it are probably people that don't have a deer herd.
We have a lot of deer. We have a lot of numbers of deer. It just blew my mind what we have. And I wouldn't – and the country – you wouldn't think it could support a lizard. And I think one of the reasons we have them is predator control. And I think distribution of water. And also probably improving the condition with lesser livestock numbers.
But there is no use sitting here hashing these issues back and forth. You've all heard about them. Clay Brewer, the guys out there – they – probably their ears hurt from listening to everybody. I – it's sad that it's such a – I didn't know that deer could cause such a rift between people, and it's sad that it's come to that point. I hope people can overlook that.
I think the biggest problem is that – which has already been brought up today, but I'll say it again is, that Parks and Wildlife have a black mark against them out in west Texas, for whatever reason.
And I think that education – I think the whole problem in this whole issue is that the people out there aren't educated enough on deer management. I think that – that's what I think, personally, in great respect to everybody that I know out there, I just think that the education process out there is where we're lacking.
And I think the Parks and Wildlife has a black mark against them because of something that's happened in the past, which I don't care about hearing about, or wanting to know what it was, but which I'm sure is about the mule deer.
Anyway, that's all I'd like to say today. And I'm for it. And I hope that you all will consider this issue further down the line. And it's sad that we can't get five years down the road and look back and say, you know, this was a great thing. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Mr. Donnell, could I ask you a question. I know a lot of your family, and think the world of them. You – many people here today have touched on this issue of trust, fundamentally.
And I want some advice from you on what we can do to get beyond that history?
MR. DONNELL: I don't know if there is anything – there is something you can do. I'm not the one to ask. I think that a third of the people out there, the way I see it, there is a third of the people it isn't going to make any difference what you do. They're going to be against anything that the government has anything to do with.
I think there is going to be another third that you can sway their minds. And I think everybody else is going to agree with whatever you all want to do. That's the way I feel. And as far as educating them, if they're not interested, you're not going to force them into it.
I think whatever has been done in south Texas has worked. Maybe it should be tried out there. Now, I'm not – I don't know what that is. I don't have the answer to that at all. I'm the wrong one to ask.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I think you've said it pretty well. Thank you.
MR. DONNELL: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Beau White, and then Bob Nunley.
MR. WHITE: Good morning, Commissioners, Madame Chairman, Director Cook. I'm Beau White. I'm a rancher from west Texas, Presidio/Jeff Davis County. I currently live in Rosanky, Texas. I am a fourth-generation seed stock producer, a Hereford breeder there in Marfa.
This proposed plan was first started to control the overpopulation of white-tailed deer in south Texas, and to develop and improve the genetics through careful selection of the harvest of those deer in that given population.
The Trans-Pecos area has been in a nine-year drought. There is no overpopulation of mule deer in west Texas. Extending the season later into the rut will only increase the likelihood that the harvest of the best genetics from that given, limited group of deer can be harvested. That's not what we want to do.
If wildlife management plans are the answer, they can be implemented without extending the season. If they need more time to decide which deer need to be harvested, start before the season. You can tell what a deer is in August. You can look at your deer in west Texas and tell he's the type you want to harvest. Start early. If you're out feeding and managing, get out there and do it before the season, not during the rut.
It's almost unfair to hunt mule deer in the rut. They pay no attention to people. They only have one thing on their mind. And we're talking about trust. I think several things we're referring to is loss of trust. Several years ago the season was extended from nine to 16 days in west Texas, without the majority of the west Texas landowners. Very similar to today have 80 percent one of their polls to that, yet it got force-fed to us. And I think that was a part of the animosities that maybe west Texas feels.
You all have been handed a hot potato – you're in the hot seat right now. And I'll assure you, I look through the room and see friends that are business associates, fourth and fifth-generation family friends. Those are going to survive this, whichever way you all vote. Thank you for your time and your consideration.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Bob Nunley, and then Jaimie Hayne.
MR. NUNLEY: I want to thank the Commission of the opportunity to stir this mess up. First, the MLDP program is a – I think it's – I'm all for it. I think it will work. It's worked everywhere else you've tried it.
The longer season is just an incentive. It's, I think, what the program provides. It's an incentive to do better management. You can put all the waters out, and build all the fencings you want, but it doesn't really happen until the animals are worth caring for.
We've been criticized for feeding our deer. And basically, that's just the easiest way to do it. The whole issue is nutrition. We have a 90 percent fawn crop every year. We have more deer than we can deal with. As far as sucking them in from the neighbors, maybe that happens. They jump the fence. They go from a 20 percent fawn crop to a 90 percent. I don't know if that's bad.
Somewhere – those – the deer have to go somewhere. It – the management will only work, like I said, when they're worth more. Whether you put out feed and spend your money that way, or limit in the critical time, when it's dry, in the drought. The other way to do it is to – say you had to pull the cattle off, that's just as expensive. We do both now.
It's an incentive. That's the only way to look at that. It's – I know there are people out there who have kids who hunt, too. We don't need to make it an exclusive west Texas hunting area. I have friends as their kids – my age, as their kids get older, they're shut out. They leave Houston, various places in East Texas, and even my neighbors at home – it's very hard to get out there.
Had I known what was going to happen when this started, maybe a split season would have been the way to go. Get the holidays in, but leave the rut out, if that's possible.
I touched on the economics of the deal. One thing that – so we went through this process, like, I was on the subcommittee. I was really shocked to hear it today, and at the hearings, a committee voted for this. Every single one of them. That was – Mr. Mills testified we were divided. I don't see how a unanimous decision indicates that.
Our views were not represented in the public testimony in Alpine. I think that's a misrepresentation, and a disservice to the work of the committee. We did meet twice. We voted for it both times. I think the full committee also voted for it. And testimony also indicated that they were divided on the issue.
There has been a whole lot of misunderstanding on this whole issue, as you've seen the type of discussions we've had at all the hearings. I wish it had gone differently. I hope, at least, you can see to divide the Panhandle and the west Texas – vote them separately. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Kirby Brown – oh, Jaimie Hayne, and then Kirby Brown.
MR. HAYNE: Good afternoon. I'm – I guess it is afternoon now. I'm Jaimie Hayne. And I represent approximately about 200 people. And it's my mistake. Those 200 people aren't counted in the list there, because even though I should – I guess I should know better, we didn't do it that way. Between the family and employees of our ranch and those hunters that come on our ranch every year, I represent about 200 folks.
We ranch in Brewster and Presidio Counties. And I just want to thank you all for all the time and effort that's been spent on this, and the staff as well.
It's interesting. This is the first time that I've ever – I think that in my memory, that I've ever been on the other side of the fence of people like Bill Gearhart and Whites, and Ben Love, and Homer and the Beards. And it's kind of an uncomfortable position to be on the other side of the fence from them, because we've been friends for a long time.
But we support this. And we support it for two main reasons, because of the flexibility that it gives us, and the opportunities that it gives us. But it seems like really this debate that has been going on today is really more about the age-old debate of whether or not people are inherently good or inherently evil.
And in my mind, people are inherently good. And so I've got a lot more I could say. But I support it, because I think people are inherently good. They're going to follow – the majority of the people are going to follow the rules and do what they say they're going to do.
So those – that's my comment.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Mr. Angelo, just a second.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: You obviously think this is a good idea. But there is people too many times – trust has been mentioned as far as the general attitude and the – of your neighbors towards Parks and Wildlife. Have you got any thoughts on that subject, as to what can be – not what's happened in the past, but what can be done to improve that situation, or what your feeling is about it as it exists today?
MR. HAYNE: Well, I think you all have already made a good start in creating the advisory committee to help sort of flesh some of these issues out. And I really don't know where this whole thing got off track. But I think there has been – it just seems that there has been some miscommunication, and that – and sort of misunderstanding about what this plan is.
And I agree with – I guess Jaimie said it earlier. There is a group of people that are – that believe – and I'm with them in a lot of respects, that more government is not necessarily a good thing.
And they believe, I think deep down they believe that this voluntary program, that is a voluntary program as it's been proposed, could at some point become a mandatory program. And that this Commission, or a future commission, or a future staff will tell them how many cows they can have on their property.
And I think that's a deep-down feeling that's going to take some time to continue to overcome. And I think it comes with more education and more involvement. And I just have the fortune of being involved with this group and with the Parks and Wildlife for a number of years. And I think I know where people are coming from. And surely that's not the intention.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: So would it be your opinion that we ought to continue – if this doesn't get passed today, is it your opinion we ought to continue the committees and the discussions of it, and the research into it, and see if we can't accomplish something down the road?
MR. HAYNE: I think so.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Jaimie, you know, I keep having to remind myself – it's just sometimes a little difficult, that the Trans-Pecos Advisory Group was not set up to be the new MLDP mule deer advisory group.
MR. HAYNE: Right.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: It was set up to deal with issues at – you know, a variety of issues out there. And I must say, I have never seen people get so crossways with each other on just honest disagreement. Just honest, human disagreements.
And there are neighbors calling other neighbors, and did you hear what so-and-so said? And this and that? And why don't you just call so-and-so said, and ask so-and-so if he said that?
You know, and that's what honorable men and women do, especially to their friends and their neighbors. And so I'm getting the picture here. We're talking – we all heard all we need to about MLDPs and all that. But I think it's clear to me that what we're talking about here is human beings trusting one another.
And we have a job to do, because we're – we don't live out there. We're the Commissioners. We represent you all. We have a job to build that trust, and all that, too. But you all have a job, too. It takes two to tango. And so anyway, I've given my little sermon here. But I think what I want to know is is this something that we should pursue, and not just this issue, but predator control, or you know, understanding why some of these species have been in decline?
Maybe the reasons of drought – obviously we can't do much about that, but there may be other things. There may be some proactive stuff we can do. But anyway –
Commissioner Angelo, did you have something you wanted to say? I'm done.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I have a question.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Commissioner Fitzsimons?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Jaimie, you're very well qualified in this area. You're former president of the Texas Wildlife Association, and your family has ranched out there for over 100 years, I guess. Right? In Brewster – Presidio County.
Down to brass tacks, what are the – I mean, is it split seasons? What is that we need to be looking at to modify an MLDP? Because I agree. West Texas is different. I worked out there at Black Gap years ago. I know it's different.
But the concept, I think, is sound, which is incentives for management. Habitat-based – I believe one fellow said, habitat-based, voluntary program.
So what needs to be tweaked here, in your opinion?
MR. HAYNE: Well, that's a good question, and I wish I had the total answer, because frankly, I haven't had the time that I would have liked to have to have spent on this, just because I think like everybody here, there seems to be there are a whole lot more important issues to be dealing with.
But I think if we can address with the timing – to address the rut issue that everybody seems to have – or at least a lot of people seem to have a problem with, not that I necessarily agree with that, but –
But there's just a way from – it seems like there's just a way to get some more flexibility and more time, whether it's on one side or the other of the current season, maybe we could get some movement. But it's – I just – I don't know the total answer to that. I'm sorry.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Needs work.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Okay. Thank you. One more. Kirby Brown. And did you have anything – did you want to – okay. Kirby Brown.
MR. BROWN: I hate to be the one holding up lunch. My name is Kirby Brown, Executive Vice President of the Texas Wildlife Association.
Madame Chairman, Commissioners, welcome Commissioner Holmes. I'm glad you're coming in on an issue like this. This is always good.
TWA represents landowners and managers who own and control over 30 million acres in Texas. And many of those landowners are in the Trans-Pecos. TWA supports private property rights, greater landowner flexibility, allowing landowners to decide when and where and what they want to do.
The longer seasons – we've always supported that as we've gone along. We think this gives more opportunity to accomplish herd and habitat management. We think this allows greater hunter opportunity, greater use participation.
We advocate voluntary programs and less government control. The concept of this proposal meets all of those parameters. We think, at the worst, this will be population neutral. It's benign from a management standpoint.
However, we think it has the potential and the ability to enhance habitat and herd quality in the Trans-Pecos mule deer herd. The key is the wildlife management plan, as Commissioner Fitzsimons noted. And using, under professional oversight of Parks and Wildlife biologists, should increase that herd quality and ensure the population is considered.
Another tenet of TWA is to listen to the local landowners. Many members of – with land in the Trans-Pecos, and that hunt in the Trans-Pecos, they support this, and some do not, and our members too.
We think it's a good concept overall, the leadership does. But obviously, based on public responses, we know that that staff and Commission may feel there is – needs to be a little more time to work through the whole concept, and more time to educate some of the folks. But there are also legitimate concerns that people have. And I've had an opportunity to talk to many of them.
We know that there continues to be a trust issue in the Trans-Pecos by some folks with Parks and Wildlife. But this Commission, your staff, Clay Brewer, Bob Cook, Mike Hobson, Mike Pittman, the guys that are here, have done a great job in working on that. And are really working to build that trust back up.
We hope the Commission, if you so choose to go with the staff recommendation at this time, will continue to work with those who support this, and the Trans-Pecos Advisory committee to resolve the issues, and hopefully we can see this program on the ground in the next year or two, because I think it is resolvable.
Just a couple of points. I think it's – the points that were made that the MLD and white-tailed deer were issued for overpopulation. That's not the case. They were issued to those people who have good habitat, good management, and are provided as an incentive to do better habitat management and population management.
Secondly, I think one of the things that I heard most in phone calls to the office was concern over the rut. And perhaps that split season is a great idea. Maybe that can go back to a group of people who could work through this process. And we'd love to see this next year, if you all would like to do that. And that's all I have. Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Commissioner Henry, did you have a question?
COMMISSIONER HENRY: I'd like to ask Clay Brewer to come back to the mike for a question, please. We've heard considerably this morning about issues concerning trust and credibility and misinformation, good information.
Much of the testimony has been conflicting as to whether – relative to the opinions of the speakers. But we did hear something about the committee vote and the subcommittee vote itself. We've had conflicting information there. Could you enlighten us, please, as to what actually happened with regard to those votes?
MR. BREWER: Some of that I was privy to, some of it I was not. I sat in on the MLDP, the subcommittee meetings, and worked through some of those issues to come forth with a proposal.
When I started, they were split right down the middle, and the way I understood it, towards the latter part of the meeting, they – I think those guys realized that we were going to go forward with a proposal.
Whether it came from that committee or not, it was proposed at a public hearing, and we felt like we needed to act on that. So I think that that subcommittee realized that, knowing that one way or the other, we were going to the public with a proposal. And I believe that they felt like it was their opportunity to have some say-so as to what went out to the public.
And so I think that they agreed to go forward with that proposal at that time to the public. But I heard a lot of discussions. I also know that there was a conference call that I did not sit in on, and so I don't know what happened there. But the committee voted to go forward with the proposal is the way I understood it.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: So you – it was your understanding that they didn't necessarily vote on the merits. They simply voted to go forward to public hearings?
MR. BREWER: That's the way I understood it, because I – and I had a pretty good idea. I visited with every one of these folks until midnight every night for about two months, so I knew where they stood on this issue.
I mean, I knew very well, and I listened to some say that they were misrepresented, and other things like that. But I never did take it that way. I knew where they stood. And when it all came out that they had unanimously agreed – I had heard that. And I didn't believe it, because I mean, these folks hadn't agreed on anything in their lives. They can't agree on what to eat for supper, but –
Even family members. I mean, I don't believe that. I believe they agreed to move forward. So that's the way I saw it.
COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Well, Homer Mills is the – was the – you were the chairman, or you were elected chairman of the subcommittee. Did you all have a vote in favor of MLD programs, or a vote in favor of moving it to public hearing? Just to clarify the record.
MR. MILLS: We took two straw votes. I tried to handle the thing, kind of like, I guess, a jury. We just went around the room at the start of the first meeting, and I asked everybody what their positions were at the time.
About eight hours later, we hadn't gotten very far. We agreed that there could be some merit to this MLDP in – facing mule deer. But we were charged by Task Force Chairman Love with coming up with – see if it was beneficial to the mule deer and would increase numbers. That was our charge.
We didn't really answer that. I had a conversation with the chairman that afternoon, after Ben Love had told her that it looked like we were going to come up with some kind of a document. But after Ben saw the document, he said, You didn't really answer the charge. Go back to work.
So we called another meeting, and you know, Bob Nunley and some of those guys came from long ways to come to this meeting. We sat down and we worked, you know, all day long again. And the same deal. I canvassed the room when we started. How does everybody feel? We didn't take an official vote.
At the time, the way I saw the room was two against, three for, and one that didn't want their neighbors not to be able to do what they could. But by the time the thing finished, and the more conversations I had till midnight between the two meetings, it became apparent that there was a pretty good split.
And when we went back to Ben Love, and we said, We haven't – at the end of the second day, we said, We haven't met this charge. And he said, I think I may have given you an impossible charge. And he said, I want you to come up with a document. And so Clay Brewer's staff had already come up with this document.
We made three minor tweaks to it. We juggled the season around a little bit, and we put the Sunset provision in there. And for the life of me, I can't remember what the third one is, but it was totally insignificant.
My perception then, as the chairman of this small subcommittee, is that we had done all we could. We brought these issues to light. And that it needed to go forward to the public hearing process.
Now, if Mr. Nunley thinks that I've betrayed his interpretation of what happened, I sincerely apologize. That – I felt like it was – Ben also, the final charge that I received was to express the concerns of the committee also. And so when I wrote my cover letter and sent it to you all, I listed the reasons that I felt like that the proponents saw this as a good issue.
I personally, taking off my chairman hat, was opposed to it. I listed all the reasons that had come to light in the committee why we were opposed. At that time, it was like, get this thing off our shoulders, like Jim White said.
So we're not going to do the Commission's dirty work for them and have public hearings. We want them to go have the public hearings. We don't want everybody in west Texas mad at us. Well, that didn't work, because a lot of people already got mad at us.
But that's how that transpired. There was never an official show of hands, that nobody kept minutes. But I canvassed the room, and the consensus was, Ben wants the document. We felt, like Clay Brewer said, it was already – a document was already in place by the Parks and Wildlife staff. It was coming to you all, because you all were going to act on this.
I felt like if it went up there, and it went with the concerns as well as the recommendations, then people on a higher status of the food chain would be able to take care of this issue for us. So that's how I remember it.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Okay. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Madame Chairman – Clay, could I ask another question from you? We did – this is the proposal that was for the Trans-Pecos and for the Panhandle. Correct?
MR. BREWER: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: And did I miss it, or have we not heard from anybody today from the Panhandle that was opposed to it, or –
MR. BREWER: Pretty good point.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: – did I miss somebody?
MR. BREWER: We had a light turnout for the meetings in the Panhandle. Those that did turn out were – well, I will say that probably 90 percent of those folks – they were interested because they thought it would, get those dad-gummed deer off my wheat fields and peanuts. I mean, that was the biggest issue that they had.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: A little different approach.
MR. BREWER: Yes, sir. And it was – and so we made very clear that, you know, the tools were in place, and you're crazy to get in this program because of what it will take.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Well, would there be any point in doing this for the Panhandle if we decide not to do it for both?
MR. BREWER: The mule deer committee disagrees with that. We don't believe that we ought to have different sets of regulations by geographic area. We believe it's complicated enough already.
We already have folks from Midland – I talked to a guy here a week or so ago that he wants – or he hunts Andrews County, the other side of the highway there, and he wants – in the Trans – he wants the Trans-Pecos season, because it gives him more time. Those that are still mad because the season was extended from nine to 16 days, they want the Panhandle, because it's shorter.
And so we believe that it opens the door to increased problems. And we're opposed to that.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Enough for that.
Is it time to go ahead and make comments, or –
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Yes.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Two quick comments. I – I'll do a reversal of what I was going to do. But I really think we ought to think about breaking this down. We just passed a three- to four-county managed plan in Central Texas. We've got landowners who have come up – represent several hundred thousand acres asking for this. And I don't know how they concentrate geographically, but I haven't been in the middle of the discussion the whole time. But I know you have, Clay. You've been on the front line.
But I'd sure like us to consider smaller geographic areas where we have a high concentration of landowners who do want it. Let it be a pilot program. And the areas that don't want it can watch and see how it works. I think that may have some merit to it.
Second, I would encourage those who have been saying there's some miscommunication, my experience with our staff is they're a fine group of professionals. They make a mistake, they admit it. And I think they're there as a resource for you. And they have spent their lives studying these areas.
So I – I want to speak up for you guys, Clay, but I think everything I ever hear is you do a great job. And I know you guys know your stuff. And I think you're a great resource to landowners out there, who are saying they know they're doing a great job, and they probably are. But I always think you can improve in life.
The last thing – I'd like to ask the landowners who argued against government intervention to think very carefully about that argument, because I think in fact what they're arguing for is for government intervention to protect themselves from other landowners. We believe we're landowner-friendly and doing it in good conscience.
We have a long history as a Department of doing that. And I really think the independence – the desire for not government intervention by most people in the Trans-Pecos region argues for the program we're offering as an option. And as our chairman said, it's a question of trusting your neighbors. We trust the neighbors.
We trust the landowners. We believe we're offering programs that help them, and help accomplish the conservation goal. And I think those making the other argument against government intervention really need to think carefully about that argument.
In the long run, that's not a good philosophy, I think, as a landowner, to argue for. It's certainly not one that those of us on the Commission or the Department believe the Department ought to rest its case on.
So we're for landowners having options. We're for programs that encourage conservation, give options to achieve the goal that's in the best interest of Texas.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Clay.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Well, I – first of all, I'm – as I think you expressed, I'm really disappointed to hear so much about the lack of trust of Parks and Wildlife, and really, of the lack of trust of one landowner to their neighbor. This is something that obviously you can't do a whole lot about in a short period of time.
But I want to commend Clay and the Parks and Wildlife staff that have been working on this subject, because I think they've certainly done what appears to me to be what's needed to be done to bring about trust.
And I hope that over time, the lack of trust, at least with the majority, can be overcome. In many cases that have come before the Commission in the six years that I've been here, where we were talking about changing regulations, and there were some people that wanted to do it and some didn't, if the regulations were changed, those who didn't like them wouldn't have to abide by them.
I'd been in favor of going ahead with the regulations, even though in some cases, the majority of the people who had expressed themselves were opposed to those changes being made.
I approached this particular issue, initially, with the idea in mind that this was something we ought to do. But I have come to recognize that in this case, we don't have a small majority that's opposed. At least in the terms of those that have expressed themselves overall, we've got a large majority. And that does change my thinking as to whether or not it's something we ought to proceed at this meeting to do.
Having said that, I also believe that there is an awful lot that's been said here today and expressions here today were almost split evenly of those that are for and those that are against.
So I think this is something that, together with other equally or more important concerns about wildlife in the Trans-Pecos and the Panhandle, we need to continue to work towards solutions that will benefit the resource.
And I hope that those of you that are for this, as well as those of you who are against, will try to work together to solve the problems, and to improve the relationship that you have with each other, as well as the relationship you have with Parks and Wildlife.
I can't help but think, remembering back many years over my time as a hunter and outdoorsman in Texas, of some other things that were – created major concerns. And one of those was the fact that when I started hunting in Texas, every county had different regulations.
The county commissioner's court set a lot of the seasons in the regulations. And there was a huge furor about that when the state decided to make it a statewide situation. But I don't think there is anyone around today that would want to go back to where we had then.
I also remember very well when there was a strong antipathy to shooting does. Everybody thought you would ruin the deer herd if you – or not everybody, but many ranchers thought you'd ruin the deer herd if you permitted does to be killed. And now we've got completely the opposite thinking across the state.
So I think the gentleman that said a while ago that he wished we could be five years down the road looking back was very apropos, because I believe if we were five years down the road looking back, most of the opposition would be gone, and people would think this is a great idea, and that we were wise to pursue.
Having said all of that, again, and getting back to the realities, I think it would be improper for the Commission at this time to pass this proposal in the face of the massive opposition that's been presented.
So Madame Chairman, I would – if it's appropriate to make a motion at this time, I would move that we accept the staff recommendation to not proceed with the MLDP for the Trans-Pecos and the Panhandle mule deer, but also would add that I would move that we continue the effort to investigate this and pursue it with the constituency.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: All right. We have a motion. Do I have a second?
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Second by Commissioner Montgomery. All in favor – oh, you have a comment?
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I have a comment. I wholeheartedly support what Commissioner Angelo said. But I honestly am not convinced by the arguments against the MLD program. Everything that our staff has done, all of the statistics, all of the studies – south Texas, everywhere, indicates that it will work.
What bothers me the most is two issues. One, the trust issue, because we're all here trying to do what's best for the resources of the state. And if we can't trust each other, then we have some big fundamental problems.
And secondly, the other thing that bothers me – that this is a voluntary program. And like with breeding cattle, there's more progressive breeders and less progressive breeders. Some breeders may want black cattle. Others may like Herefords, like Mr. White.
Neither one is wrong, but we should not let one breeder select one breed over the other. So it seems to me there is definitely some individuals here that see strong merit to this. And my gut feeling – and I'm a gut-feeling person, is that those should be able to go on through with that program.
But I would suggest, in addition to what Commissioner Angelo mentioned, that staff ought to look, perhaps, at an experimental basis to where we might be able to identify a few breeders in that area that may be willing to try, on an experimental basis, in hopes that perhaps we can develop data over the next few years, to where we may be able to then have concrete data supporting an MLDP.
And that's my only other comment. And I'm not offering that as an amendment. I'm just suggesting that to staff.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Commissioner Fitzsimons?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: This discussion on the motion, if I understand the rules of procedure here, it is important to note, as Vice Chairman Angelo pointed out, the MLDP program is consistent with the free-market private property rights philosophy that this Commission has been following for at least the 12 to 16 years I've been following it.
And that philosophy is to give landowners flexibility. Chairman Armstrong put it very well. That same phone call from people who say, Why do you let us shoot quail in February? And I said, I don't. You choose to shoot quail in February. And I think we will continue that philosophy, to allow landowners to make those best choices that are in the interest of management.
Now, the comment was made that a voluntary program somehow undermines other landowners by putting pressure, I believe was the word.
Well, I think that pressure is – what we've found in MLD, is a good thing. And that pressure is the competition to be as good a wildlife manager as your neighbor. I think that sort of competition will be good for wildlife management in Texas. So having said all of that, I support the vice chairman's motion, and hope we can move forward.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Okay. We have a – we still have a motion. And I have – do I have a second?
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I seconded.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: A second. Okay. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Opposed?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Next agenda item is a land transfer – Agenda Item Number 9. It's an action item, Land Transfer, Wise County.
Jack Bauer, if you'd please make the presentation.
MR. BAUER: Madame Chairman and Commissioners, my name is Jack Bauer, Director of Land Conservation –
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Jack – nobody cares, Jack. We're all ears, Jack.
MR. BAUER: Thank you. You're a very patient group. This item relates to a proposal to transfer Wise County Park to Wise County. The General Land Office has identified this property as underutilized and has recommended it for sale.
The facility has been leased to Wise County for park use. The Texas Land Commissioner has authorized the Parks and Wildlife Commission to transfer the property.
Wise County and the political leadership of the area support the transfer. Staff recommends that Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the motion before you transferring the property to Wise County for Park use. I would be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I would move approval if there is no public comment.
COMMISSIONER ANGELO: Second.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Further discussion?
VOICE: I've got a long point I'd like to make.
VOICE: Do you want to do it?
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: This meeting is adjourned?
VOICE: Now, we have to vote.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: All – do we have a motion? Okay. All in favor.
(A chorus of ayes.)
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Any opposed?
COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Jack, you could have gotten anything you wanted.
CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: The item has passed. The meeting is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 1:15 p.m., the meeting was concluded.)
Katharine Armstrong, Chairman
Ernest Angelo, Jr., Vice Chairman
Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, Member
Alvin L. Henry, Member
Ned S. Holmes, Member
Philip Montgomery III, Member
Donato D. Ramos, Member
Kelly W. Rising, M.D., Member
Mark E. Watson, Jr., Member
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: May 29, 2003
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through , inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731