Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., August 27, 2003

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Item
No.
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous meeting.  
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Easement Request – Galveston County
Staff: Ronnie Ray
18
3. Land Acquisitions
- Bastrop County
- Houston County
- Brewster County
- Harris County
Staff: Jack Bauer/Ted Hollingsworth
19
4. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee
May 28, 2003

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 28th day of May 2003, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at 11:15 a.m., to-wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTTENDANCE:

Katharine Armstrong, Chairman

Ernest Angelo, Jr.

Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons

Alvin L. Henry

Ned S. Holmes

Philip Montgomery, III

Donato D. Ramos

Kelly W. Rising, M.D. (absent)

Mark E. Watson, Jr.

II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

The minutes of the last committee meeting were approved.

I. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED FOR COMMITTEE ACTION:

1. BRIEFING CHAIRMAN’S CHARGES
Presenter: Jack Bauer

Mr. Bauer, from the Executive Office, discussed upcoming land transactions, both acquisitions and dispositions that the department will be involved in for the remainder of the fiscal year. These upcoming land transactions will fall into two primary categories; Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan-recommended land transfers or dispositions involving long-term leases and General Land Office identified underutilized lands. Mr. Bauer stated that the Commission might not have the opportunity to rule over GLO-identified underutilized lands.

The first category includes land parcels that have been identified in the Land and Water Plan with recommendations for disposition or transfer. This will be accomplished through a long-term lease of six units at Las Palomas. The tracts are small but have high conservation value because of their position next to a refuge and would be better managed by the federal refuge system. Additionally, Boca Chica State Park is proposed for sale to the federal refuge system where it would be better managed.

Davis Hill State Park is located in and among the recommended boundary for the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. We would propose for this site to be conserved as part of this system. If the land were to sell it would come to the Commission for approval, if it is leased it would not require Commission approval.

The other category of land transfers comes from the General Land Office (GLO). Through a procedure of rule, the GLO identifies lands from all state agencies that are underutilized or unused and publishes an annual report of these findings. The Governor does have one opportunity of disapproval on any particular site; otherwise the agency must follow the recommendation from the GLO regarding the land tract. Currently, McKinney Falls State Park, Daingerfield State Park, and Pedernales Falls State Park have land within their boundaries recommended for disposition. It is not the entire facility, but rather a component of the facility. The Governor did not disapprove these tracts, so by rule they should be sold. The department has had good input regarding these actions and there were several more facilities on the original list that have been removed.

Commissioner Angelo discussed where the proceeds from the sale of any of these tracts would go. Mr. Bauer stated that under the current system, the money would come back to the department.

Additionally, Commissioner Angelo inquired about the six units of Las Palomas and whether or not they would still be available for public hunting if they were currently available for those activities. Mr. Bauer stated that at this time they do not have access for hunting and this lease would not change the hunting status on these tracts. Commissioner Fitzsimons asked if once transferred to the federal system if the opportunity might then be possible for hunting. Mr. Bauer stated that for certain the hunting opportunities would not decrease by this action. A brief discussion was held related to the Ocotillo Unit of this site. Mr. Bauer said that this site was originally on the list as a recommendation for transfer, but we were unable to get the federal system to accept. The name will be changed to make it its own wildlife-managed facility and will hopefully take an expanded role.

2. U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE PRIVATE LAND STEWARDSHIP GRANTS

Presenters: David Smith, Dale Hall (USFWS staff)

Mr. Cook, Executive Director, stated that the coordination between the two agencies has never been better and thanked both gentlemen for being at today’s meeting. Mr. Smith began the presentation by sharing a brief history of this conservation policy and how working cooperatively with private landowners and conservation groups is successful. President Bush brought this idea from Texas to the federal level. When you provide incentives to landowners they will do good things for species on their land. Mr. Smith
stated that instead of punishing landowners for having rare and threatened species at risk on their land, we should reward them and create incentives for the landowners to conserve them and conserve their habitat.

Seven grants were announced for the State of Texas totaling over $850,000. Nationally the grants totaled $9.4 million. Texas projects go all the way from the Panhandle to the Texas Gulf Coast, including the Texas Prairie Rivers Region, Cook’s Branch Conservancy, Pines and Prairies Land Trust, Coastal Prairies Coalition of the GLCI, Texas Wildlife Association Foundation, Peregrine Fund, and the Wild Turkey Center for Riparian Habitat Improvement.

Mr. Smith concluded with a summary of the Texas program and stated that since the start of the program in 1998, nearly $2 million in cost sharing has been provided to Texas landowners, affecting more than 90,000 acres.

Chairman Armstrong thanked Mr. Smith and Mr. Hall for their presentation and attendance at the meeting. Commissioner Fitzsimons recognized and thanked department staff and the Private Lands Advisory Board for their help with this project.

Mr. Smith stated that they have requested an additional $10 million in 2004 with hopes of expanding this innovative program.

IV. The meeting was adjourned at 11:40 a.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1

Conservation COMMITTEE
Chairman's Charges
August 2003

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Ronnie Ray

Conservation Committee
Easement Request – Galveston County
August 2003

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenters: Jack Bauer
Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
Land Acquisitions –
- Houston County
- Brewster County
- Harris County
August 2003

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


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