Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00am, Nov. 2, 2005

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Item No. Subject Public Hearing Agenda Item No.
  Approve previous Committee Meeting minutes.  
  Chairman's Charges for FY06 (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
1. Land and Water Plan Update
Staff: Scott Boruff
Committee Only
2. Land Transaction Process Review
Staff: Scott Boruff
Committee Only
3. Proposed Transfer of Lake Houston SP to the City of Houston - Permission to Begin Public HearingsNotice and Input Process
Staff: Walt Dabney
Committee Only
4. Big Bend Ranch SP Task Force - Permission to Publish
Staff: Ann Bright
Committee Only
5. Land Trust Council
Staff: Carolyn Vogel
Committee Only
6. Oil and Gas Lease Recommendations
Sites: Mustang Island SP; Bentsen Rio Grande Valley SP; Cleburne SP; Las Palomas WMA - La Grulla Unit
Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
19
7. Land Donations
  • San Jacinto Battleground SHS Land Donation by Occidental Chemical Company
  • Land Donation at Sheldon Lake SP to Satisfy USACOE Mitigation Requirements
Staff: Jack Bauer
20
8. Utility Easement Recommendation - (City of Galveston - County (Galveston SP)
Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
21
9. Eagle Mountain Lake SP - Tarrant County - Permission to Obtain Appraisals, Explore Options and Begin Public Input Process
Staff: Jack Bauer
Committee and Executive Session
10. Land Acquisition - Bastrop County (Bastrop SP Habitat Addition)
Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
22

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Scott Boruff

Conservation Committee
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan
Update
November 2005

I. Executive Summary: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has requested an annual report on the agency's progress towards the goals in the Department's Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (LWRCRP) The LWRCRP endorses many longstanding conservation efforts undertaken by the agency and set the stage for a renewed focus on water. The agency has decided to enhance operations by developing an aquatic model that would result in closer working relationships between the resource divisions, with an emphasis on improving conservation efforts on the ground.

II. Discussion: This presentation will highlight specific progress toward accomplishing the goals of the LWRCRP, with examples from each division as well as cross divisional initiatives.


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Scott Boruff

Conservation Committee
Land Transaction Process Review
November 2005

I. Executive Summary: Staff will present recommendations to the Commission regarding the method by which Department land transactions should be conducted in the future.

II. Discussion: Chairman Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons and Executive Director Robert L. Cook directed staff to assemble persons interested in Texas Parks and Wildlife Department land transactions to review and make recommendations regarding the process used by the Department to sell, acquire and trade Department lands. A group of representatives from other state agencies, non-governmental organizations and the public was assembled. Several recommendations came out of this meeting. These recommendations are intended to ensure that there is adequate and complete public notice of land transactions and that sufficient time is allowed to properly consider land transactions.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Walt Dabney

Conservation Committee
Proposed Transfer of Lake Houston State Park to the City of
Houston – Permission to Hold a Public Hearing
November 2005

I. Executive Summary: Negotiations are currently underway between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the City of Houston to consider the transfer of Lake Houston State Park to the City of Houston. With Commission approval today, Department staff will continue formal negotiations with the City of Houston, and hold a public hearing in Houston about the potential transfer.

II. Discussion: Negotiations are currently underway between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the City of Houston to consider the transfer of Lake Houston State Park to the City of Houston. A written request from Houston Mayor Bill White has been received.

Sections 13.008 and 24.005 of the Parks and Wildlife Code allow consideration of transfer of parks owned or operated and maintained by the Department to a political subdivision for operation and maintenance of the site. No final proposal regarding potential park transfers will be brought forward to the Commission without extensive opportunity for local public review and input.

With Commission approval, Department staff will continue negotiations toward transfer of Lake Houston State Park. We propose to hold a public hearing to discuss this possible transfer in Houston on December 5. 2005. This hearing will be well publicized in the local media, and affected groups and individuals will be contacted.

Lake Houston State Park contains 4,919.5 acres and is located in New Caney, thirty miles north of Houston, in both Harris and Montgomery Counties. The park was purchased from Champion Paper Company in 1981 and was opened to day-use in 1992; overnight use began in 1995.

The park is situated at the confluence of Caney Creek and the East Fork of the San Jacinto River and extends northward to FM 1485. The terrain consists of typically coastal surface and soils, many bayous, lakes and canals. Most parts of the park are heavily wooded.

In the early 1980's, the state purchased 4,710 acres from Champion Realty Corporation. In 1990, 202 acres adjacent to this area, owned by San Jacinto Girl Scout Council and home to Peach Creek Girl Scout Camp since 1955, was acquired. The Girl Scout Camp and Horse Ranch included lodges, campsites, and an equestrian area, providing girl scouts with summer activities such as camping, swimming, and horseback riding. The Girl Scout Camp lodges, camping areas, and trails have all been updated for park use. Activities include camping, nature study, bird watching, hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Fiscal year 2005 revenue generated by the park was $41,695. Annual expenses are approximately $125,000 of personnel costs, and $61,000 operating expenses. There are currently four full time classified employees at the park.

No transfer will occur without binding legal assurances that there will be no change in the current recreational character of the park, and no change in the natural resource and historical characteristics of the site. With Commission approval today, Department staff will continue formal negotiations with the City of Houston, and hold a public hearing in Houston about the potential transfer.


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Ann Bright

Conservation Committee
Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force
November 2005

I. Executive Summary: Chapter 2110 of the Texas Government Code requires that rules be adopted regarding each agency advisory committee. Staff is recommending that the Commission authorize the publication of a rule establishing the Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force.

II. Discussion: The Texas Government Code requires that a state agency adopt rules regarding each agency advisory committee. Unless otherwise provided by specific statute, the rules must (1) state the purpose of the committee; (2) describe the manner in which the committee will report to the agency; and (3) establish the date on which the committee will automatically be abolished, unless the advisory committee has a specific duration established by statute. Other requirements for advisory committees include an annual evaluation, a membership limit of 24 members, balanced membership representation, the selection of a presiding officer by members, and a four-year duration unless otherwise provided by rule.

Effective September 28, 2005, the Commission adopted rules governing agency advisory committees. Among other things, these rules limit advisory committee membership to 24 members and provide that each advisory committee will expire on the fourth anniversary of its creation. The proposed Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force will be subject to those rules.

Staff recommends that proposed rules regarding the Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force be published in the Texas Register for public comment.

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A - Proposed Big Bend Ranch Task Force Rule

Commission Agenda Item No. 4
Exhibit A

Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force Rules
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (the department) proposes new §51.644 concerning the Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force.

The proposed new section is necessary to implement the requirements of Government Code, Chapter 2110, and Parks and Wildlife Code, §11.0162. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Code authorizes the Chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the commission) to appoint advisory committees and to “adopt rules that set the membership, terms of service, qualifications, operating procedures, and other standards to ensure the effectiveness of an advisory committee appointed under this section.” Tex. Parks & Wild. Code §11.0162. An advisory committee is a committee, council, commission, board, or task force or other entity with multiple members that has as its primary function advising a state agency in the executive branch of state government. Tex. Gov’t Code §2110.001.

The Texas Government Code, Chapter 2110, requires that a state agency adopt rules regarding each agency advisory committee. Unless otherwise provided by specific statute, the rules must (1) state the purpose of the committee; (2) describe the manner in which the committee will report to the agency; and (3) establish the date on which the committee will automatically be abolished, unless the advisory committee has a specific duration established by statute. Tex. Gov’t Code §§2110.005, 2110.008. Chapter 2110 also contains other requirements for advisory committees, such as annual evaluation, a limit of 24 members, balanced membership representation, selection of presiding officer by members, and four-year duration unless otherwise provided by rule. Tex. Gov’t Code §§2110.002, 2110.003, 2110.006, 2110.008.

Proposed new §51.644 would establish the Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force to advise the department on issues relevant to Big Bend Ranch State Park. Effective September 28, 2005, the commission adopted rules addressing department advisory committees, including §51.601 which addressed membership and the expiration date of advisory committees. The proposed new Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force would be subject to §51.601. Therefore, the proposed Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force will have no more than 24 members and will expire on the fourth anniversary of its creation.

2. Fiscal Note.

Ann Bright, General Counsel, has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local government as a result of enforcing or administering the rules, except for incidental administrative costs associated with scheduling and preparing for task force meetings.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

Ms. Bright has also determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:

(A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be to ensure proper management and effective use of department advisory committees and to ensure public participation in issues involving Big Bend Ranch State Park.

(B) The proposed new rules will result in no adverse economic effects to small or micro businesses.

(C) The department has not filed a local impact statement with the Texas Workforce Commission as required by the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

(D) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rules.

(E) The department has determined that Government Code, §2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules) does not apply to the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone, written correspondence or e-mail to Ann Bright, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-8558; or ann.bright@tpwd.state.tx.us.

5. Statutory Authority.

The new rules are proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, §11.0162 and Government Code, §§2110.005 and 2110.008.

The proposed new rules affect Parks and Wildlife Code, §11.0162.

§51.644. Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force.

(a) The Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force is created to advise the department regarding issues related to Big Bend Ranch State Park.

(b) The Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force shall consist of members of the public, representatives of governmental bodies and representatives of non-governmental organizations that have an interest in issues affecting Big Bend Ranch State Park.

(c) The Big Bend Ranch State Park Task Force shall comply with the requirements of §51.601 of this title (relating to General Requirements).

This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

Issued in Austin, Texas, on


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Carolyn Vogel

Conservation Committee
Texas Land Trust Program
November 2005

I. Executive Summary: Overview of the transition of the Texas land trust program, established by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the mid-90s, to an independent, 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Texas Land Trust Council.

II. Discussion: The Wildlife Division's land trust program provides services and technical assistance to the 40+ nonprofit land trust organizations in Texas, to landowners, technical advisors, other governments and citizens exploring means to achieve long-term conservation of the state's natural, cultural and water resources. In the mid-90s, the Commission set guidance to educate and facilitate landowners about the variety of long-term conservation approaches including donated and purchased conservation easements, land management strategies, and other financial incentives and tax benefits. The land trust program works with the states' land trust organizations and other governments to help build their organizational and stewardship capacity to support them in their commitment to perpetual stewardship.

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A - Land Trusts Formed by Decade

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit A

Texas Land Trusts Formed by Decade

Decade Number Formed Percentage of Total
1950s 2 4%
1960s 1 2%
1970s 3 7%
1980s 11 26%
1990s 16 38%
2000-2004 10 23%
Total 43 100%

Committee Agenda Item No. 9
Presenter: Jack Bauer

Conservation Committee
Eagle Mountain Lake SP – Tarrant County
Permission to Obtain Appraisals, Explore Options
and Begin Public Input Process
November 2005

I. Executive Summary: Staff will be seeking direction from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) regarding options for Eagle Mountain Lake State Park (EML).

II. Discussion: Eagle Mountain Lake State Park is located on the eastern shore of Eagle Mountain Lake in Tarrant County about 20 miles northwest of downtown Fort Worth. The 400-acre property was purchased by TPWD in 1980 for $3.9 million for the purpose of developing a state recreation facility. The facility has never been developed into a park nor opened to the public. In August 2002, the Commission voted to sell EML, directing staff to give priority to a local governmental or governmental/private partnership and to present final recommendations to the Commission for final approval. Several proposals were presented to the Commission in November 2002, January 2003, and April 2003. The proposals were from a governmental body, a non-profit corporation and several private developers. All proposals were ultimately rejected by the Commission. As a result of legislation passed by the 78th Texas Legislature (2003), TPWD was prohibited from selling EML until after September 1, 2004. TEX. NAT. RES. CODE §31.1572. In November 2003, the Commission approved a recommendation to the Board for Lease for Parks and Wildlife Lands that EML be nominated for oil and gas lease. The Board for Lease for Parks and Wildlife Lands approved the lease sale to Antero Resources I, LP in February 2004. Oil and gas exploration and operations are currently occurring at EML.

Staff will be presenting information to the Commission in an effort to obtain guidance regarding options for the future of EML.


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