Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
May 25, 2005Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 25th day of May, 2005, 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, to wit:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- Ned S. Holmes, Houston, Texas
- J. Robert Brown, El Paso, Texas
- Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas (Absent)
- Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas (Absent)
- John D. Parker, Lufkin, Texas
- Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas
- T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
- Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Conservation Committee come to order. First order of business, approval of previous committee meeting minutes which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: So moved.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, I think I had a motion by Holmes, second by Ramos. All in favor please say, aye.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries. Chairman's charges. Mr. Cook.
MR. COOK: Thank you, sir. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. With a few exceptions of our legislative initiatives that we've talked about and discussed, I'm proud to tell you that all of the Chairman's charges to the Conservation Committee have been addressed.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Very good. You make it look easy. Next up item number two, the East Texas Black Bear Conservation and Management Plan. Nathan Garner, presentation.
MR. GARNER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name's Nathan Garner. For the record I am the Regional Wildlife Director in East Texas. I'm headquartered out of Tyler. I'm here today to brief you on the history and current status of future management of black bears in East Texas.
Black bears were the most wide-ranging bear species in North America. Their historic range on the left has been significantly reduced. However bears are returning naturally to Texas and a few places, and have been doing so for the last 20 years.
Looking back the decline of bears occurred throughout the 1900s, and by 1950s bears were nearly gone from Texas altogether. Early settlers used bear fat as standard cooking oil. Bear meat was eaten by the settlers, railroad workers, loggers and others. Bears also had high trophy value.
The relentless pursuit of bears by hunters combined with the lost of forested habitat resulted in their extirpation in East Texas. In January 1992 the black bear subspecies named Ursus americanis luteolus was listed as a federally threatened subspecies under the Endangered Species Act within its historic range.
The reasons for the listing included habitat destruction, habitat quality reduction, habitat fragmentation and human-related mortality. The historic range of the luteolus species includes a good portion of East Texas, as indicated here in the red.
The Department has been actively documenting reliable bear sightings and mortalities since 1977. Only in the last 20 years have bears been returning to portions of Texas and East Texas naturally. Basically what we have now today is an east/west split in bear activity that exists.
For example the Panhandle dots there that you see was a sort of an abnormal event related to the drought of 2001, where a few bears entered into the Panhandle from New Mexico. It was a short-lived event. The majority of sightings in East Texas have occurred basically in the last 12 years or so.
Any bear right now that turns up in the light green-shaded counties in East Texas, regardless of origin, is federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, due to similarity of appearance. Bears in Texas are also listed as state-threatened and are protected by state law as well.
And we suspect with good cause that bears, primarily males, are moving into East Texas now from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. Nearly 700,000 acres of good forested, fairly remote bear habitat was identified in the mid-1990s by the Department along the Sulphur River and Neches River systems.
This indicated that there still is habitat remaining in East Texas for bears with limited bear-human conflict potential. One important key factor in a successful bear management program is the effectiveness of its education and outreach programs.
Another is the avoidance of bear-human conflicts and dealing with them quickly if they do occur. Each of you were handed a copy just a few minutes ago of the most recent draft of the East Texas Black Bear Conservation and Management Plan. It is a partnership plan driven by cooperative efforts.
There are ten primary goals in the plan: basically to get our partners together, to work together for implementation, to develop effective technical guidance methods or tools to increase or enhance habitats for black bears, to develop information materials to education landowners, integrate bear habitat management activities among agencies and landowners.
In addition, reduce and minimize habitat fragmentation and its impact on bears where possible, reduce or minimize human-induced mortality of bears, promote public awareness and develop conservation ethic for black bears and their habitat through intensive outreach program.
And finally to reduce and minimize bear-human conflicts in East Texas, develop and organize information sources for black bears, occurrences and availability of suitable habitat and to determine survivability and reproductive capacity of introduced luteolus in East Texas.
Over 30 partners had input into this plan. It took about two years to write and get everybody's consensus on. Those partners are listed in the front of the Bear Plan on page 2, if you're interested. We also want to get some public input on the Plan.
We held ten town meetings in East Texas between November 30, 2004, and February 3 of this year. Nearly 500 individuals participated or attended. Basically we had town meetings in Beaumont, Lufkin, Woodville, Jasper, Kountze, Mount Pleasant, Marshall, Texarkana, Clarksville and Paris.
The range of attendance at the meetings was between 18 to 109. Out of all the comments received, both written and oral, concerning support and non-support for the Bear Plan, approximately 70 percent of the responses indicated support for the Department to have such a plan in place.
You were also handed a copy of a technical report from Michigan State University recently done, covering the public opinion survey results on bears and attitudes about bears in East Texas. Basically this was a mail-out survey two winters ago to 3,000 residents, households. Basically had a strong, rural, landowner resident component. Had about a 40 percent response rate.
Some of the major findings of this particular survey which was conducted was the knowledge about bears was relatively low. Attitudes towards bears was generally positive. Greater than 50 percent of the response indicated that they would enjoy having black bears in the area.
Fifty percent of response supported restocking of black bears in the suitable habitat areas by natural resource managers. And most respondents preferred non-lethal means of managing of individual problem bears. That's just a summary. You also have that report.
There are other things that came out of that survey that I think you'll find interesting as well. In summary bears continue to move into East Texas from bordering states, as indicated by our sightings and mortality surveys.
We have just recently completed human attitude survey, the first of its kind ever done in East Texas on bears. We are continuing to try as a Department to take a proactive approach for the management of bears in East Texas with public input.
This public/private partnership that evolved to help write this Plan is in place to help recover this returning species and also to have the plan in place ready to implement. We are ready to move forward with it. Part of our natural heritage is now returning to East Texas. It's been missing from the landscape for quite a while.
Having a plan in place will help us conserve and manage this returning bear resource. Thank you, and I'll be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Nathan, only the Louisiana black bear's listed, not the American that's in West Texas.
MR. GARNER: That's correct. And its historic range — in the plan that was handed out you'll see a map of the counties that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers to be part of the historic range of luteolus, which is the Louisiana black bear.
COMMISSIONER BROWN: What about the bears coming out of Mexico? We hear reports from time to time about sightings.
MR. GARNER: I mentioned earlier this east/west split that we have in bear activity in the state. That's a western issue. It's correct. When bears started returning to Big Bend National Park about 20 years ago, we think that was fueled in part by bears moving north across the Rio Grande from Northern Mexico into West Texas.
And I think some telemetry data that we've collected in years past indicate that bears do move back and forth along the Rio Grande River area there in West Texas. So we do get some movement there. What we have here in East Texas is bears moving — three bordering states that have either expanding or recovering populations of bears that are fueling this return of bears to East Texas.
MR. COOK: Nathan, if you would please, would you go back to the slide that has those designated counties, and correct me if I miss the point here. In reference to Commissioner Brown's question here about from Mexico coming in, no question.
The number of sightings, the confirmed kills — accidental, run-overs, whatever they may be — in West Texas is coming — I think, and I certainly do not in any form or fashion, as Nathan well knows, profess to be knowledgeable about bears.
This gentleman and his people are very knowledgeable about bears. South Texas is primo bear habitat. It's going to happen. I mean, you look at bear habitat and the food source available there in brush country. I think they're coming, and that's all well and good.
The issue — one more slide, I think, Nathan — that one. Now correct me if I'm wrong, Nathan. One of the issues that I have encouraged and supported this initiative so far and that I think it is important — we're going to get bear. We're going to have bear in East Texas.
The first one of them that shows up with a cub — the first one of them that shows up that indicates that reproduction has taken place in Texas will put us in a position, due to the endangered species rules, that we will be much benefitted as in prairie chicken, as in a number of other species, will put us in a position with this management plan approved and on record and with the cooperators, as you can see on this page 2 here, with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service involved, other agencies involved, that gives us much more flexibility, and the landowners in that area, much more flexibility in managing living with, and dealing with, problem bears when that occurs.
Not all bears are going to be problem bears. But some of them are going to be. And when that happens this Plan gives us a plan for providing for those problems, dealing with those problems, where otherwise we would not have it. Nathan, am I pretty close to correct?
MR. GARNER: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The same reason that we have to deal with those, we need to be busy on the lesser prairie chicken. It's not listed yet, but —
MR. COOK: This is a great species.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: This is a listed species. What happens when the listed and the non-listed meet, because they're not going to be too far away?
MR. GARNER: As you can see Oklahoma — the dark green indicate where bears are reproducing, cubs are being born, males and female bears are in the area. But you're exactly right.
When this was listed under the Endangered Species Act it said that in those green counties in East Texas, that are lightly shaded green, any bear that shows there, regardless of where it came from — Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, it doesn=t matter — due to similarity of appearance it's protected under the Endangered Species Act, because it falls within the historic range of luteolus.
And until luteolus is delisted, any bear that shows up in those counties is going to have federal protection.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Whether it is or isn't.
MR. GARNER: It doesn=t matter.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It can be an American coming from the west.
MR. GARNER: Doesn=t matter. It's due to similarity of appearance, because people don't know. You just look at the animal and tell.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Can you?
MR. GARNER: I can't.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Will they interbreed?
MR. GARNER: Sure.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: This is why you've got to have a plan.
MR. COOK: Nathan and the guys have done a good job with this. This is honestly a sensitive issue to some people, a frightening issue to some people. On the other hand what we've found — and I think Commissioner Parker can verify this — we found great support for the possibility of this species coming back into the right parts of East Texas.
I don't think anybody wants them in their chicken yard.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: When Nathan was in Lufkin how many people did we have there about?
MR. GARNER: About 45, 50 people.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: We had one lady to object to the bear coming or us restocking — didn't make any difference, she didn't want them. I think probably the most tremendous support they had was when Nathan announced they eat pigs.
MR. GARNER: Well, feral hogs in particular. Or they can.
MR. COOK: Well, this is one of those — this is looking possibly five years, possibly ten years, possibly next month into the future. So we're hoping to get this in place. And we'll continue to work on it. We're going to conduct ourselves very reasonably with the folks over there.
We recognize that the vast majority of the land is private land, and the issues involved there are many.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Dan.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I may have missed this. But is there a measured rate of expansion? Is there a natural boundary for expansion westward in terms of ecoregion?
MR. GARNER: Okay. The sightings — I don't know if I can go back one; maybe I can't. What we see basically — and those dots can represent more than one bear sighting, but anyway of the dots represented there in the distribution, that primarily is the Piney Woods ecoregion.
There's a bit of it — where it seems to be creeping a little bit westward is along the Red River with our border in Oklahoma, where we get into a little bit of the post oak savannah there up in Fannin and Lamar counties and so forth. But primarily it's restricted to the Piney Woods ecoregion right now.
MR. COOK: Nathan, we don't —
Commissioner Friedkin, I don't think we have a rate of expansion.
Nathan, again, please — young males are the first that are typically kind of driven out. And those are the ones that show up. Kind of like, hey, what's going on here, you know.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Explorers.
MR. COOK: Yes, sir.
MR. GARNER: We've been waiting for the females to show up, but we haven=t seen it yet. But that could happen naturally within, as Bob said, next month, five years from now.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Do we expect at some point that we do a similar study for the Rio Grande? It appears to me that there's more sightings — I know it's different there, but —
MR. GARNER: Just from my perspective I think that because — we tackled East Texas because obviously it's a federally listed animal. We have different habitat issues. And I think landowner attitudes are a little different in East Texas as compared to West Texas.
But I think eventually, hopefully we can make some inroads and get some partnerships developed in West Texas down the road to develop a similar plan, because that's where the action is. You can clearly tell that's where the bear activity is.
Bob mentioned South Texas expansion. That's where it's going to be at. That's where most bear activity's going to be. And I think a similar partnership and hopefully a plan can be developed in the years to come there.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do you anticipate protection in West Texas from the Feds?
MR. GARNER: No, not at this time. I don't.
MR. COOK: We bounced the idea out of a very similar plan. Correct me if I'm wrong. I see Ruben Cantu. We bounced the idea out in West Texas, and folks were not ready for us to work on a bear plan.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: My thought is not so much — my thought there in West Texas — more of educating the public as compared to a particular plan. That's what I had more in line — advising that area that we have a new issue now. We have an issue of the bears.
More of an educational-type plan as compared to a management and a harvesting.
MR. GARNER: We do have a bear brochure that's widely circulated. I know that Ruben and his team have a good response team put together to handle bear complaints. But you're right. I&E's essential, and we need to do as much as we can.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I can tell you that in Laredo we had a bear sighting in the City of Laredo. And I notice there's a red dot there.
MR. GARNER: Two summers ago.
COMMISSIONER PARKER: Yes. Two summers ago one came right down the railroad track in downtown Texarkana.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: I'd like to get back to Dan's question, because presumably it's just a function of the way we're presenting the data. If you know the sightings from '77 to '01, presumably you know which years those sightings were in.
And so you could impose that year-by-year graph and just show were they were and number of sightings per year.
MR. GARNER: There's no question. If I had shown this same slide 20 years ago, there'd be few dots anywhere. I mean, this is something that's happened naturally.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It'd be interesting at some point in the future meeting to see —
MR. GARNER: Progression of expansion. Sure we can do that.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Let him do that.
COMMISSIONER HOLMES: It's just a presentation.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Friedkin's point also leads to a broader issue on your page 4 of your plan. It is presumed that bear is in Louisiana, a federally listed bear that's in those shaded counties. And then it moves west to American black bear historic range. It is no longer detected?
MR. GARNER: That's correct. Only the green shaded area in East Texas —
MR. COOK: It's protected by area.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It's protected by area and not by —
MR. GARNER: If you look at the federal listing, they actually name the counties in Texas that's considered to be historic range, based on —
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Until you delist the Louisiana you can't have a coherent management plan for bear in Texas.
MR. GARNER: It makes our jobs tougher. Yes, it does.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, how far away are you from delisting?
MR. GARNER: Well, Louisiana's great progress in their recovery efforts. They're moving bears around, they're restocking. But it's hard to say. With a slow-reproducing animal like a bear, it's going to take several years, I'm sure.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The trend is towards delisting.
MR. GARNER: They're making great progress in Louisiana. Yes.
MR. COOK: I want everyone to realize I have a charge from the Chairman to provide a bear tag one of these days. So we're working towards that.
Thank you, Nathan.
MR. GARNER: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Nathan. It's a great piece of work.
Okay. Any more discussion by the Commission on the bear?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Next up status of the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Steven Bender.
MR. COOK: Just kind of a closing comment there on this bear thing and some of the concerns involved — I'm in regular communication now with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the folks up in Arkansas regarding the ivory bill woodpecker which has, as you may have heard, been rediscovered in Arkansas.
And you can only imagine what impact that is going to have in that area, which is one of the primary waterfowl hunting areas and farming areas in the river —
COMMISSIONER BROWN: Have they have more than one sighting?
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: There's a video of one. What this made people think is that all those unconfirmed sightings in Louisiana and even East Texas may have been true. There was a turkey hunter in Louisiana a year or two ago who swore up and down.
Knew his birds, and they didn't believe it. But now they've got a picture of the one in Arkansas.
MR. COOK: My understanding is there's more than one bird involved, but the only have proof of one bird.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: It is very interesting from a federal endangered species standpoint, because you go from extinction, which means you don't need to worry about it anymore — to back. There's some special challenges here.
MR. GEORGE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I'm Ron George, Program Director for Wildlife Science, Research and Diversity. And I'd like to introduce Steven Bender, who will be giving this presentation.
MR. BENDER: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. As Mr. George said, I am Steven Bender, and I am the Wildlife Division planner. I'm here to speak to you today about the State Wildlife Grant Program and the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy or Plan that accompanies that program.
Before I get too far into this, I wanted to state quickly how — I've only been here just a little over a year now with Parks and Wildlife. My wife has been here ten years. And so I thought, well, why not give it a try. They hired me on.
And I've been very, very proud, not just of the Wildlife Division, but of the other divisions that have been very, very supportive of the work we've done on this strategy. And I also want to emphasize how important this strategy is.
This strategy is being developed as a non-game initiative. It's historic in that we're providing funds at the federal level for non-game species specifically. So this historic and very important. So as we go forward I just wanted to let you know that we can stress that enough.
The state Wildlife Grant Program is a federal appropriation done through the Department of the Interior. It's deep in the heart of one of the Interior appropriations bill. It's about a little paragraph. But it basically gives us, as United States and the territories, approximately $65 to $75 million per year towards this non-game package.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has oversight over this and is working with us closely to develop our strategies. We've had funding on packages like this since 2002. And we've been using these funds — I'll give you examples in a second about what kind of things we've been funding with these dollars.
Texas is fortunate in that we are one of the largest states. It's based on size and population density. So California, Alaska and Texas all receive the largest amount of funds. We have been received approximately $3 million per year. This year we're probably going to get about $3 million for this year as well.
It's principally for non-game species. What the desired effect of this package was is to keep what we consider to be common species, common — in other words, head off the listing process before these species get to that point. And so these dollars are designed to help us with that.
In order to do this we are required to do a strategy or a plan to continue to receive these funds. These are some of the types of programs that we've been funding the last three years with these dollars. You can see that we are covering a lot of ground: terrestrial wildlife, freshwater wildlife and of course marine and coastal wildlife as well.
So these cover a lot of ground. The strategy itself, as we've been referring to it, is the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy or the CWCS. It is a strategy or plan, however you like to see it. It has eight required elements.
I have to draft up this strategy and have it into U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by September 30 of this year. We consider this to be a step down to the Land and Water Resources Plan, Conservation and Recreation Plan.
And we are currently working on our first major draft. We will be posting this draft as pieces become available on our Texas Parks and Wildlife website under the grants page. The elements I'll give you kind of en masse.
There are several that are biological and several that are not. The main ones are we were tasked initially with creating a list of species of concern. Now we would not exclude of course threatened and endangered species.
But a lot of these species we developed were done by committee. We had working groups that were assigned to different, what we considered taxi groups or species groups, such as mammals, birds, herpetiles, et cetera.
They sat down as a group. And it wasn't just our staff. It was — all of our ecological agencies, NGOs, et cetera were involved in this. We got as many groups as we could — universities, et cetera. They sat down and developed a list of species.
We also have to develop information on location and condition of key habitats — sometimes that's known; sometimes that's not known — threats and problems to those species or habitats, conservation actions that we would like to take, based on those problems or threats, and then species and habitat-monitoring issues.
Now, those things that are not biological fall into the other category, which is we do have to coordinate with other organizations — like I said, NGOs, universities, other agencies. We have to review the strategy. You have to develop a plan to review the strategy no more than every ten years.
My initial recommendation would be that we review it at five years, because this is a new thing. We want to go back and take a look at it — is it successful — and then move on. But at that point we can look at how often we need to do it.
We also have to have some kind of public input process. The public input process, we're developing that right now. We've been working closely with Lydia Saldana and the Communication Division to help us with this process.
We are now currently trying to put together eleven public meetings from July 11 to the 28 of this year. We developed a package where we're trying to be hosted by mostly zoos. And right now we have about seven of those locked in.
And they're very excited about it, because this is one of the first times zoos have been really integral to conservation in Texas. We're going to allow for written comment on the website as well as at these public meetings. And we'll be advertising these through all sorts of different media.
The final steps in this process will be to of course finish the development of this draft, get through this public comment process, integrate those comments, both internal and external comments, make our final adjustments.
And then we will format this in a similar fashion to the Land and Water Plan. And that will be so we have some kind of relationships that people can see what we're working on. And then we'll have to send it to Mr. Cook's office for review.
This is not my strategy. This is not anybody's strategy but Mr. Cook's as far as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is concerned. So he will have to sign off on it and approve it to be sent to them by the 30th. Are there any questions?
I will say this has been a much longer process, much more involved than eight slides' worth of information. But that's the nutshell that we've been —
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Steve, you anticipated my question having to do with whether or not it's tied to that Land and Water Conservation Plan and the policies that we set forth there working through wildlife management plans and other programs that work with private landowners to show they were doing it.
MR. BENDER: Many of our threats and responses and actions were outlined in a general scope within the current Land and Water Plan. We will be taking those directly out of the text and using them as best we can.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Great.
MR. GEORGE: Very pleased of course to have this new source of federal funds. And I'm very pleased with the cooperation we've gotten from our own staff, from our partners. And I'm particularly proud of the work Steve has done.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Every state's required to do this.
MR. GEORGE: Every state that gets —
MR. BENDER: Every state and territory.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any other questions for Ron or Steven? Somebody's following the plan. Way to go.
MR. BENDER: Also one thing. We will be happy to come back and comment on this plan. When it's all done we'll be happy to come back and do what Nathan did, which is hand out copies and explain what's going on.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Get to see that pretty soon?
MR. GEORGE: Hopefully there'll be draft on the website very soon.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thanks, Ron and Steve.
Okay. No action required there. Next step, item four, the oil and gas lease nominations, Smith and Hidalgo Counties. Corky?
MR. KUHLMANN: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I'll try to be brief. It looks like it's lunchtime. This is an oil and gas nomination. I want to review the process that these go through for just a minute. The oil and gas nominations go through the General Land Office for review and for sale.
The General Land Office gives Parks and Wildlife the benefit to make recommendations for these oil and gas leases. And historically they have honored these recommendations. This is two nominations. The first one's for the Kiskadee Unit of the Las Palomas WMA.
It is some bookkeeping that needs to be done. Gas well has been drilled. And they overlooked a very small interest by Parks and Wildlife, 0.38 acres. And the money for this, the royalties for this are going into an escrow account for Parks and Wildlife. And this will give them the opportunity to lease it, and us to get our money.
The second unit is for all of Tyler State Park. We are going to ask for condition of this lease for no surface occupancy. So they'll have to do all their drilling offsite. The conditions are no surface occupancy, $150 an acre lease.
Above that we get a 25 percent royalty for anything they do for a three-year lease. This is the motion that will appear before you tomorrow.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Anytime you can get 25 percent royalty and a bonus, never having to come on the place, that's a pretty good deal.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: My only comment would be on the 0.38-acre tract. If there's already existing production around us — and I'm assuming there is. Or do you know?
MR. KUHLMANN: There is a producing gas well. They did the paperwork for their cooling tract and overlooked that small percentage. The Kiskadee Unit's only 13 and a half acres. It's part of the Las Palomas. There's 20-plus tracts across South Texas that Mr. Cook said that's being used for trash dumps mostly.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The date of first production was when? Do you know?
MR. KUHLMANN: No, sir. I couldn't tell you that. I can find out for you.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You're entitled to interest in —
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Yes. My only suggestion is, since there is already existing production, that the value of that 0.38-acre lease is much greater than the other one. And I know that the motion, I believe, a minimum for $150.
MR. KUHLMANN: Minimum or greater. And a lot of times when these leases — even the $150 an acre for Tyler — I think that the GLO when it goes for sale — I think what they figure the market will bear — that could even go up.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The price is $150, then GLO has their bid process.
COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Right. The only point I'm trying to make is between the two, the 0.38 has much greater value because of the existing production.
MR. KUHLMANN: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good job. All right. No further question, discussion. We'll place that item on the Thursday Commission and meeting agenda for public comment and action.
I'd like to announce per Senate requirement, Chapter 551 of the Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Law, an Executive Session will be held at this time for purposes of consideration of Section 551.072 of the Texas Open Meetings Act regarding real estate matters and general counsel advice.
(Whereupon, the meeting was recessed, to be reconvened following an executive session.)
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Reconvening Conservation Committee.
Any other business to come before the Conservation Committee, Mr. Cook?
MR. COOK: No, sir.
COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Hearing none, I adjourn the Conservation Committee.
(Whereupon, the meeting was adjourned at 1:06 p.m.)
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: May 25, 2005
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 31, 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