Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Public Hearing

Nov. 2, 2006

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
January 2007 Commission Meeting

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 25th day of January, 2007, 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:

APPEARANCES:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

January 2007 Commission Meeting
DONATIONS OF $500 OR MORE
NOT PREVIOUSLY APPROVED BY THE COMMISSION
Donor Description Details Amount
1 Ace Contractor Supply Goods Store line of credit for purchases for EXPO set up $906.36
2 B.K. Brown Goods Three (3) bison cows $2,400.00
3 Black Sheep, Inc. Goods Promo 3 buckle ski vest PFD Xtra-small & Super-Xtra large $43,844.00
4 Callahan's General Store Goods Store line of credit for purchases for EXPO set up (Line of Credit offered $1,500.00) $706.84
5 City of Presidio/Chamber of Commerce Goods A 35 foot flag pole used by Presidio Chamber of Commerce was left when Chamber office was moved. City of Presidio removed the flag pole from the property and donated it to Fort Leaton SHS to display the Texas and US flag. $1,000.00
6 Coastal Conservation Association of Texas Goods ITT Night Vision/Garmin GPS/Chartplotters/Sony Digital Camcorders $17,620.00
7 Dick Hensley Good Two used (about two years old) YSI Field water quality instruments $3,000.00
8 Friends of Garner Goods TK-790HBK with 9FHSH1 kit, Kenwood Mobile Radio, multi channel 110 watts and VHF 3Db antenna $1,300.00
9 Friends of Huntsville State Park Goods Dell Digital Projector — Model: 2200MP; S/N: 4X30Z751 $957.68
10 Friends of Huntsville State Park Goods Compaq Laptop — Model: R3203US; S/N: CND43500KK $1,032.00
11 Gabor Szalai Goods Dutch Aquarium system and Accessories $7,000.00
12 Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission Goods Environmental Monitoring Systems YSI 6600-M Sonde, Serial Number 06J1743
13 McCoy's Building Supply Goods Store line of credit for purchases for EXPO set up (Line of Credit offered $1,500.00) $838.94
14 Operation Game Thief Goods 1- 2007 Wells Cargo Utility Trailers Series EW 1622 $11,387.00
15 Texas Bighorn Society Good Three black water storage tanks (1-5,000 gal., 1-3,000 gal., 1-2,500 gal.) 3/4hp submersible pump with control box, well wire, assorted plumbing supplies to include pipe, valves, unions, couplings, elbows, etc. $8,405.31
16 Thompson Center Arms Company, Inc. Goods Three Omega Z5 muzzleloaders w/scopes and carrying cases $2,022.30
17 William T. Lucas Goods Robo72C White-tail Deer decoy $1,398.78
18 Bird Dog for all Seasons In Kind Services Pointer coordinator and MC for dog show $846.00
19 John C. Andrews/Universal Sprinkler Corp. In Kind Services Inspection of sprinkler system at San Jacinto Monument for five years $2,600.00
20 Texas Bighorn Society In Kind Services 200 volunteer hours @$7.00/hour to repair, replace and construct $1,400.00
21 Titus County Freshwater District In Kind Services 150 Zebco 202 Combos and 50 Youth Rod and Reel Combos $1,596.00
22 Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association In Kind Services Installation of 3-M clear UV filter film $2,700.00
23 Apache Corporation (Donation check from Tetra Technologies — consultant for Apache) Cash Cash Donation to create marine reef habitat in the Gulf of Mexico and one petroleum structure that was decommissioned: MU-A-85 $411,300.00
24 Bass Pro Shops Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Lake Fork $12,552.00
25 Charles W. Rod, III Cash Cash Donation towards purchase of four wheeler $500.00
26 Environmental Defense Cash Cash Donation — Matching funds for a Landowner Incentive Program grant $10,000.00
27 Exxon/Mobile Cash Cash Donation — "Gift" part of Exxon/Mobile's volunteer program for employees and retirees. Ron Huff and Royleen Huff were Park Hosts for Lake Tawakoni State Park and Ron's former employer matched his time in dollars as a gift to the park $1,000.00
28 Fort Chadbourne Foundation Cash Cash Donation to assist with budget shortfall at Fort Griffin State Park $600.00
29 Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust / Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority Cash Water Campaign Sponsorship — Supporting $1,776.00
30 Gulf of Mexico Shelf, LLC (Donation check from Tetra Technologies — consultant for Gulf of Mexico Shelf) Cash Cash Donation to create marine reef habitat in the Gulf of Mexico and one petroleum structure that was decommissioned: MU-A-16 $435,000.00
31 Houston Safari Club Cash Cash Donation — Funding specifically for desert bighorn sheep management $1,212.50
32 I.E. Bishop Cash Cash Donation for support of state parks $10,000.00
33 Janice Sue Mann Cash Cash Donation for the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Program $500.00
34 Marine Outlet Cash Cash Donation for Wildlife Expo Sponsorship — Antler Associate $2,346.00
35

Ron Rod

Cash

Cash Donation towards purchase of four wheeler

$500.00
36 SIX OLD GEEZERS Cash Cash Donation — Fishing group wanting to do something for local fisheries management by providing seed money for a new boat $6,000.0
37 SIX OLD GEEZERS Cash Cash Donation — Fishing group wanting to do something for local fisheries management by providing seed money for a new outboard motor $3,157.00
38 Sue Childers Cash Cash Donation to support the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Program $500.00
39 Tetra Technologies, Inc Cash Cash Donation to create marine reef habitat in the Gulf of Mexico and one petroleum structure that was decommissioned: HI-A-466B $343,250.00
40 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash Donation for the completion of Government Canyon Log Home Residence $40,000.00
41 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash Donation for Coastal Bay Team event expenses $50,000.00
42 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Cash Cash Donation to assist with conservation education activities $860.66
43 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Shell) Cash Cash Donation — Water Campaign Sponsorship — Underwriting $35,654.00
44 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota) Cash Cash Donation to assist with cost of printing and shipping SP site maps $40,000.00
45 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota) Cash Cash Donation to assist with media costs associated with the "Life Better Outside" awareness campaign $25,000.00
46 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota) Cash Cash Donation to assist with cost of producing on-site state park interpretive brochures $20,000.00
47 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota) Cash Cash Donation to assist with cost of producing application brochures and rack cards for the conservation license plate program $5,000.00
48 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Toyota) Cash Cash Donation to Fund EXPO $5,000.00
49 Wal-Mart Foundation Cash Cash Donation to Fund Nature Center programs, activities, and equipment $500.00
TOTAL $1,535,593.67
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
JANUARY 25, 2007
SERVICE AWARDS
Division Name Title Location Service
Wildlife Danny A. Swepston Natural Res. Spec. VI Canyon, TX 35 Years
Law Enforcement Gary T. Barnes Game Warden Fritch, TX 25 Years
Law Enforcement Neal A. Bieler Game Warden Glen Rose, TX 25 Years
Law Enforcement Robert E. Carlson Major Rusk, TX 25 Years
Law Enforcement Fred E. Churchill Captain College Station, TX 25 Years
Law Enforcement Gary Wayne Dugan Captain Rusk, TX 25 Years
Law Enforcement Shawn A. Moore Game Warden Temple, TX 25 Years
Law Enforcement Dwight L. Myers Game Warden Buffalo, TX 25 Years
State Parks Milburn Lewis Smart Manager I Tyler, TX 25 Years
Wildlife Kathy K. Boydston Program Specialist VI Austin, TX 20 Years
Administrative Resources Sherrie A. Haddock Purchaser III Austin, TX 20 Years
State Parks Deirdre E. Hisler Manager I San Antonio 20 Years
Law Enforcement Cindy V. New Admin. Assist. IV Garland, TX 20 Years
State Parks John M. Walton Park Ranger II Bastrop, TX 20 Years
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
COMMISSION MEETING
(TESTIFY)
January 25, 2007
Name/Organization, Address Item Number Matter of Interest
Cynthia Brooks
City of Boyd
P. O. Box 331
309 W. Hobbs Boyd, TX 76023
3. Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding Snodgrass Memorial Park — Testify — For
Councilman R.T. Brooks
City of Boyd
P. O. Box 331
309 W. Hobbs Boyd, TX 76023
3. Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding Snodgrass Memorial Park — Testify — For
Joe Turner
City of Houston Parks Dept.
2999 S. Wayside Houston, TX
3. Action Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding Testify
Joe F. Trejo
City of Corpus Christi, TX
1204 Leopard Corpus Christi, TX 78401
4. Action — Boating Access Funding Testify — For
Peter Davidson
City of Corpus Christi
1204 Leopard Corpus Christi, TX 78401
4. Action — Boating Access Funding Testify — For
Bob Clark
Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce — Lake Devl.
P. O. Box 391 Breckenridge, TX 76424
4. Action — Boating Access Funding Testify — For
David Bell
West Central TX Municip. Water Dist.
410 Hickory St. Abilene, TX 79601
4. Action — Boating Access Funding Testify — For
Julius Collins
Texas Shrimp Association
163 Creekbend Drive Brownsville, TX
5. Action — Commission Delegation of Authority to Close and Open the Summer Gulf Shrimp Season Testify — Against
Wilma Anderson
Texas Shrimp Association
Box 1020 Aransas Pass, TX 78335
5. Action — Commission Delegation of Authority to Close and Open the Summer Gulf Shrimp Season Testify
Ellis Gilleland
Texas Animals
P. O. Box 9001 Austin, TX 78766
8. Action — Scientific Breeder Permit Regulations Testify — Against
Kirby Brown
Texas Wildlife Association
15. Action — Acceptance of Land Donation — Brewster County — Acceptance Testify — For

P R O C E E D I N G S

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Meeting is called to order, and before proceeding with any business, Mr. Cook, you have a statement to make.

MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. 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, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act. I would like for this fact to be noted in the Official Record of this meeting.

So that everyone will have a chance to address the Commission in an orderly fashion today, we'll follow the following ground rules: An individual wishing to speak ‑‑ first thing we do is turn off all cell phones and ‑‑ one moment.

All right. An individual wishing to speak before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission must first fill out and sign a Speaker Registration Form ‑‑ which is available out here on the table ‑‑ on the agenda ‑‑ item to which you wish to speak.

The Chairman is in charge of this meeting, and by law it is his duty to preserve order, direct the order of the hearing and recognize persons to be heard.

We have sign-up cards as I mentioned out here, outside for anyone 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 up front here, one at a time. When your name is called, please come to the podium, state your name and who you represent, if anyone other than yourself. H will also call, like, an on-deck person, the next person coming up, so that person can be ready.

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 would like to address the Commission will have three minutes to speak. I'll keep track of time and notify you when your three minutes is up, on this little device right here. When your time is up please resume your seat so that others may speak. Your time will be extended if a Commissioner has questions for you or if they get into a discussion, that won't be counted against you.

Statements which are merely argumentative or critical of others will not be tolerated. There's a microphone at the podium, so it is not necessary to raise your voice. I request 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.

If you have ‑‑ if you would like to submit written materials to the Commission, please give them to Elsa Bosque or Michelle Klaus, who are seated here at my right. Ms. Bosque will pass the written information to the Commissioners. Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Cook.

Next is the approval of minutes from the previous meeting which have been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Moved by Ramos, and seconded by Bivins. All right. Now, all in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion carries.

Next up is the acceptance of donations that's also been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So move.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Ramos, seconded by Holt. All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion passes.

All right, next up Bob, the service awards and special recognition.

MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I appreciate the opportunity at this time in each Commission meeting where we recognize folks who have given a lifetime of service in many cases to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and an opportunity to express our appreciation of them for their professionalism, their commitment and their accomplishments here at the Parks and Wildlife Department.

First in our service awards group today is a friend of mine, a gentleman by the name of Danny Swepston, in the Wildlife Division from Canyon, Texas, with 35 years of service. Danny is a graduate from Texas A&M University in 1970, and began his Texas Parks and Wildlife Department career in 1972, as a wildlife technician assigned to the East Texas Wildlife Restoration Project in Nacogdoches, where he participated in whitetail deer and endangered species research projects, and assisted with the acquisition of both the Angelina Neches and the North Toledo Bend Wildlife Management Areas. He was promoted to Biologist I on the new Non-Game and Endangered Species Project in Austin in January 1974. In this position he was one of five biologists charged with the development of a statewide threatened and endangered species program for Texas. He transferred to Alpine, Texas, in January of 1977, as a Wildlife Regional and Non-Game Biologist with responsibilities for all non-game research and survey activities in the Trans-Pecos and the Panhandle districts of Texas. Danny transferred to the Trans-Pecos Regulatory district in 1980, where he contributed to surveys and research activities. He served as a manager of the Ocotillo Unit of the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area along the Rio Grande from 1985 to 1990. Danny was promoted to his current position as Wildlife District Leader for the Panhandle in 1990. He currently supervises nine staff that are responsible for wildlife surveys, research, technical guidance activities in the 56 Panhandle counties of Texas, and also serves as manager for the Texas State Bison Herd. With 35 years of service, Danny Swepston.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Thank you, Danny.

MR. SWEPSTON: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Congratulations.

MR. COOK: Next, from the Law Enforcement Division, Gary T. Barnes, Game Warden in Fritch, Texas with 25 years of service. Now, probably everyone here knows exactly where Fritch, Texas is. Okay, we got one who knows exactly where Fritch, Texas is. Well, Fritch is just a little bit west of Borger, on Lake Meredith. And we appreciate him being here today. Gary began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife in 1982. At his first duty assignment in Navarro County, working commercial fishing on the Trinity River, and deer-poaching problems on the Chambers, Richland Creek bottoms, now known as Richland Creek Reservoir. In 1984, Gary transferred to Hutchinson County, working at the Canadian River. Gary has served the Panhandle area and was a major part in the organization of the Five-State Game Warden Association, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado. He served as the president of the Five-States on their 25th anniversary. In 2004 and 2005, Gary worked with the Special Investigations Unit of Texas Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division which helped bring down a poaching problem of buck deer. Gary helped resolve the deer-dog problems in East Texas, and worked the Texas-Mexican border for Homeland Security. Gary was a member of the Hurricane Katrina Law Enforcement Response Team, which was awarded Outstanding Team for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Employee Recognition and Awards program. Gary was named the Texas Officer of the Year for the Southeastern Fish and Wildlife Association. Now stationed in Hutchinson County, with 25 years of service, Game Warden Gary T. "Blackie" Barnes. And I'll tell you more about that in ‑‑

(Applause.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well done. Thanks a lot.

MR. COOK: ‑‑ old Blackie. I'll get to that story in a minute. Thanks, Gary.

MR. BARNES: Thank you.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Also with 25 years of service in the Law Enforcement Division, Major Robert E. Carlson, Rusk, Texas. Robert began his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on January 5th, 1982 when he entered the 36th Game Warden Training Academy. Upon graduation from the Academy on May the 21st, 1982 Robert's first duty station was in Rains County. He transferred to Gregg County on July 1st, 1984. On September 1, 1996, Robert was promoted to Lieutenant Game Warden at the Game Warden Training Academy. In 1997, Robert was promoted to Captain Game Warden in Law Enforcement Region 3, District 1, at Rusk. In 2002, Robert was promoted to Major Game Warden in the Law Enforcement Region 3, where he currently serves. From February 1, 2003 until April 11, 2003, Robert was tasked with commanding the 30 game wardens who were assigned to the Columbia Space Shuttle recovery efforts in East Texas. In August of 2005 Robert jointly supervised ground operations of the first team of Texas game wardens who responded to New Orleans for rescue operations at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A month later, Robert jointly supervised game warden operations in East Texas which provided rescue, recovery, humanitarian aid and law enforcement support to areas of East Texas devastated by Hurricane Rita. With 25 years of service, Major Robert E. Carlson.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Thank you, Robert.

MAJOR CARLSON: Thank you.

MR. COOK: From the Law Enforcement Division, Gary Wayne Dugan, Captain, in Rusk, Texas with 25 years of service. Gary began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on January the 2nd, 1982. After graduation from the Game Warden Training Academy, Gary was assigned to Marion County. On March 1, 1987, he transferred to Rains County where he worked for 14 years. In July of 1999, Gary was awarded Officer of the Year for his efforts in water safety enforcement. On June 1, 2000, Gary was promoted to Lieutenant at the Game Warden Training Academy in Austin. On November 1, 2002, Gary was promoted to Captain in Rusk, where he currently works. With 25 years of service, Captain Gary Dugan.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Thank you very much.

Also with 25 years of service in our Law Enforcement Division, Fred E. Churchill, Captain, College Station, Texas. Fred Churchill began his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on January the 5th, 1982. Upon graduation from the Texas Game Warden Training Academy in May, Fred was assigned to Trinity County. In July of 1984, Fred transferred to Falls County, and was stationed there until February of 1987, when he transferred to Williamson County. In May of 1996, Fred transferred to Bell County, and in February 2002, he was promoted to Sergeant Investigator with the newly formed Marine Theft Unit. He helped to get this successful unit off the ground and running. In October of 2003, Fred was promoted to Captain Game Warden in Bryan, District 1, Region 9 where he oversees a seven-county area along with the District Office. With 25 years of service, Captain Fred Churchill.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: What did I do, hand out the wrong plaque there ‑‑ yes ‑‑ hold on. Got it.

Thank you, Fred.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. COOK: Yes. These guys trade name tags and stuff all the time anyway, I don't ‑‑ one of them undercover deals.

All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Also from the Law Enforcement Division with 25 years of service, David H. Heard, Game Warden, Port Lavaca, Texas. David Heard began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in June of 1982 in Calhoun County, during a period that most people today call the "Net Wars." In the mid-1980s David was involved in planning and implementing the covert operations in which several local residents were convicted in the sale of redfish and trout. From 2004 to 2006, he helped plan and execute another covert operation that targeted illegal fish buyers, which led to six arrests. With the diverse population of Calhoun County, David has overcome language barriers to enforce statutes fairly and impartially, while being sensitive to cultural differences. Throughout his tenure with the Department David has earned the respect of local residents with his ethical and professional approach, while enforcing game laws in Calhoun County. He has worked in many community activities, introducing coastal fishing to young persons including organizing and presenting a Kid Fish Tournament at Port Lavaca City Harbor on Lavaca Bay. His agricultural background has enabled him to relate to landowners, farmers and other rural residents in the county. In 2004, David was named the CCA Region for Game Warden of the Year. In 2005, he assisted rescue victims of Hurricane Katrina by operating the region's airboat in New Orleans. He also worked in Jefferson and Orange County in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita. His enthusiasm is contagious to others whom he works with, as it projects the professionalism that is necessary to earn the respect of our constituents. With 25 years of service, Game Warden David Heard.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: I want you all to tell David that we said all of those nice things about him. All right? Good. All right. From the Law Enforcement Division, Shawn A. Moore, Game Warden, Temple, Texas, with 25 years of service. Shawn began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department after working as a police officer in the City of Seguin, Texas, in November of 1981. Upon graduation from the Game Warden Academy in May of 1982, his first duty station was in Cameron County, where he worked the bays, Gulf and Rio Grande River for illegal, commercial and sport fishing. In May 1985, he transferred to Bell County. Warden Moore has been instrumental in joint federal and state cases involving raptor trapping, dove baiting, and hunting without consent cases. He has also been involved in a five-year investigation and prosecution leading to boat dealer fraud, forgery, theft and deception. Shawn was the first officer to obtain a personal watercraft from a dealer which initiated the personal watercraft loaner program for water safety patrol on Texas waters. In 1984, Shawn received the National Water Safety Congress Officer of the Year award. With 25 years of service, Game Warden Shawn Moore.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Congratulations.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. COOK: Thank you, sir. From the Law Enforcement Division, from Buffalo, Texas, Game Warden Dwight L. Myers. Dwight graduated from the 36th Game Warden Academy in May of 1982. He was stationed in Hardin County for six years. He transferred to Leon County in December of 1988, and was promoted to Game Warden IV. With 25 years of service, Game Warden Dwight Myers.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: That's a good place. Thank you.

GAME WARDEN MYERS: Thank you.

MR. COOK: From the State Parks Division, Milburn Lewis Smart, Manager I, Tyler, Texas with 25 years of service. Bill Smart began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as an hourly employee at Tyler State Park, where he worked from March of 1976 to May of 1977. On April the 14th, 1983, he became a full-time employee at Tyler State Park, working as a Park Ranger II. He was promoted to Lead Ranger of Maintenance in November of 1985. It was then that he realized that he could be here for the long run, and he intended to progress ‑‑ if he intended to progress he needed to do more. Bill attended college, and worked full time for the next four years, and his efforts paid off. On July the 1st of 1990, he was promoted to Assistant Manager at Martin Dies, Jr., State Park in Jasper, Texas. After a four-year stint at Martin Dies, he transferred to Purtis Creek State Park. In February of 2003, Bill was promoted to Manager of Tyler State Park. During his tenure with the Department he has assisted with the opening of Martin Creek, Purtis Creek, Lake Tawakoni State Parks, and the opening of the Texas Fresh Water Fisheries Center. With 25 years of service, Bill Smart.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Thank you, Bill.

MR. SMART: Thank you ‑‑

MR. COOK: From the Wildlife Division with 20 years of service, Kathy Boydston began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in December of 1986, as a Clerk I in the Comprehensive Planning Branch in the State Parks Division at Austin. She was a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University, with a degree in Wildlife Management, a degree that was inspired by her many camping trips to state parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, and the four summers in high school that she spent building nature trails, cabins and doing habitat restoration and other operation and maintenance work at a state park in Oklahoma.

In 1987, Kathy transferred from the State Parks Division to the Wildlife Division, where she worked in Technical Programs, assisting with the Hunter Harvest Surveys, Survey Design and Analysis, during which time she was reclassified from a Fish and Wildlife Technician to a Biologist. In 1992, Kathy transferred to the Resource Protection Division to work in the Terrestrial Assessment Program, and worked in that program which was transferred to the Wildlife Division in 1996, where it became the Wildlife Habitat Assessment Program.

In 1999, Kathy was promoted to Program Leader in that group. During her tenure with the Department, this program was expanded to include seven biologists who review between 1,000 and 2,000 development projects across the State each year. Since 2003, Kathy has been the Department contact for Wind Energy Development issues in the State. Some of her greatest achievements are assisting with acquisition of several wetland mitigation banks across the State, development of the Mineral Recovery Guidelines, and effective change in the federal mining reclamation standards in Texas to support reclamation of abandoned mine lands to benefit Bobwhite quail and other grassland birds. With 20 years of service, Kathy Boydston.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Good. Thank you, Kathy.

From the Administrative Resources Division, Sherrie Haddock, Purchaser III, Austin, Texas with 20 years of service. Sherrie began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on December the 1st, 1986, in the Administrative Resource Division, in the Finance ‑‑ Revenue and Finance Department as an account auditor for the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. On April the 1st 1996 she transferred to the Print Shop and Copy Center as an administrative assistant and purchaser. On September 1, 2003, Sherrie transferred to the Communications Division, as Administrative Assistant for the Market and Web Services Branch. In March of 2006 she became the Purchaser in the Purchasing and Contract Section, where she is the agency Credit Card Coordinator. With 20 years of service, Sherrie Haddock.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Congratulations, Sherrie. Thank you very much. Thank you.

From the State Parks Division, Deirdre Hisler, Manager I, Government Canyon State Natural Area with 20 years of service. Deirdre began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the State Parks Division on December the 6th, 1986, at Guadalupe River State Park. In November of 1997, Deirdre was temporarily assigned as the Interim Manager of Government Canyon State Natural Area for a proposed two-month period. And she has been there ever since. And I want to tell you, Deirdre is one of those people that we would not have Government Canyon were it not for Deirdre Hisler. She has contributed to the grassroots effort of opening TPWD's newest state natural area. During her tenure as a State Parks employee, Deirdre has organized and implemented the annual Upper Guadalupe River cleanup activities for a ten-year period. She has held board of director positions with the Guadalupe River Association, the Water-Oriented Recreation District of Comal County, Friends for Rivers, the San Antonio Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land, and is the current chairman for the City of San Antonio's Conservation Advisory Board, which is charged with providing input and advice to staff and the City Council regarding the acquisition of sensitive land over the Edwards Aquifer in a $90 million voter-approved sales tax initiative. She is the proud graduate of the State Parks Division Managing Park Operations training course, as well as a graduate of the class of five of the TPWD's Natural Leaders Program. With 20 years of dedicated, committed and professional service, Deirdre Hisler, Manager, Government Canyon State Park.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Temporary assignment. Good job, thank you.

From the Law Enforcement Division in Garland, Texas, Cindy New began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a seasonal at Caprock Canyons and Lake Bob Sandlin State Parks. She worked with the force account that helped build Lake Bob Sandlin, Purtis Creek and Cedar Hill State Parks. While at Cedar Hill State Park she was promoted to a Park Ranger II. Advancement was available, and she transferred to Matagorda Island as Park Ranger III, where she obtained her commission as a Park Peace Officer. She eventually returned to Cedar Hill State Park, as a full time Park Peace Officer. In 1997, Cindy transferred to the Law Enforcement Division at the Garland Law Enforcement Office, and has been promoted to Administrative Assistant IV. She is currently not serving as a peace officer, but keeps her license current. With 20 years of service, Cindy New.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Thank you, Cindy.

MS. NEW: Thank you.

MR. COOK: From the State Park Division, John M. Walton, Park Ranger II, Bastrop, Texas, with 20 years of service. John began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on December the 1, 1986, as a Park Ranger at Bastrop State Park. In 1990, he was appointed Safety Officer for the Park. During his career with the Department he has assisted with cabin renovations, improved water and wastewater systems, prescribed burns, and films such as "Lonesome Dove," "Pair of Aces," and "Hope Floats." With 20 years of service, John Walton.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Congratulations, John.

RANGER WALTON: Thank you.

MR. COOK: Thank you. All right, I believe that concludes that section. Next, we would like to recognize our corporate sponsors who provide their time and money to make many of our TPWD programs available. Several of those partners are in the audience today, and several of them were with us last night at the screening of the documentary. AT this time I would like to turn the program over to Dick Davis, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, who will introduce these folks and tell you about their work and contributions to conservation. Dick?

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Bob. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I'm here this morning to introduce a couple of those partners, and to participate in three presentations. I'm Dick Davis, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

As you know, the Foundation is the official nonprofit partner of the Department. And we've found it's much easier to do our jobs if we recruit and work with new and existing conservation partners. On your behalf, we can do our jobs a whole lot better when we do this. Two of those partners are here this morning.

Before I came to work for this foundation, I worked for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation investing federal and private dollars in Texas conservation projects. Since its inception, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has awarded 376 grants, totaling more than $32 million, to conservation organizations in Texas. Twenty-six of those grants went to either the Department, or the Foundation on behalf of the Department, and those 26 grants totaled more than six and a half million dollars. I'm happy to say that I was involved in a good many of those grants, so when I left the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, I was concerned that momentum would be carried forward.

But I need not have worried because the person who took Texas under his wing when I left is Dr. Peter Stangel. Peter is one of the nation's foremost outstanding professional conservationists. He's been with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for 15 years. And not only was Peter a great mentor to me, he's become a very good friend and I'm no longer ashamed to say, he is the man who turned me into a bird watcher.

Peter, if you would join me up here, please. In recognition of the precedent-setting and without peer contributions the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has made to Texas conservation through the years, and for its tremendous support of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Foundation, we are presenting to you this morning a conservation collector's edition of the 1993 Texas Saltwater Print and Stamp, by artist Al Barnes.

MR. COOK: Hang on just a minute, Chase.

MR. FOUNTAIN: Okay.

MR. COOK: Chairman and I'd like to get our picture taken.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And now Peter has a presentation and an announcement of his own to make.

MR. COOK: Thank you, Peter.

MR. STANGEL: Thank you.

Good Morning, I'm Peter Stangel with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It's a pleasure to be here this morning. Chairman Fitzsimons, distinguished members of the Commission and Director Cook, it's a great pleasure to be here, to thank you in person for all the great things that you and your staff do for conservation.

At National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we've been partners with Texas Parks and Wildlife for more than two decades. And during that time I've come to recognize that your programs are second to none in this country, and your staff are simply outstanding in their commitment to the resource.

And I particularly want to commend you for the programs that you've developed for private landowners, and getting them involved in conservation. I think we all realize that the future of conservation is on private lands. And your programs are innovative and highly effective, and we've been very pleased to support them and take your model around the country to share it with others.

So it's been a great pleasure to be your partner and we look forward to working with you in the future. We're still a little bit resentful that you took Dick Davis from us, but we're getting over it. And I guess to respond to your comment, Dick has made some inroads helping me to be a deer watcher. So I'm trying to expand and do a little bit better myself.

One of the key roles that we play at National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is bringing new resources to conservation, new financial resources, which are so critical for all of the programs that we do. And we're very pleased this morning to have one of our key partners with us, the Shell Oil Company. For nearly a decade now, Shell has contributed $1 million annually for the Shell Marine Habitat Program, which is a competitive grant program to benefit the resources of the Gulf of Mexico.

We have a few photos here, I think to share with you.

VOICE: Orange button.

MR. STANGEL: Orange button.

VOICE: Here you go.

MR. STANGEL: Great. Shell has been with us for nearly a decade, and developed this program as a way to help conserve the resources of the Gulf where they are a major producer of oil. Over the past decade, we have awarded 38 grants to the State of Texas and your various partners here through the Shell Marine Habitat Program to benefit birds and a wide variety of other wildlife. A lot of projects to protect the coastline that's so important to all of us. Hunters have benefited through programs to benefit games species native habitats that are so critical to the biological diversity of this State. Shell has been a major supporter of the recovery program for the Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle, an endangered sea turtle found only here, in the United States and the State of Texas, having some tremendous success with that program. A lot of programs to benefit your fisheries.

Education programs, more than 100,000 people have been exposed to education programs about natural resources through the Shell Marine Habitat Program . And we've been able to contribute nearly $8 million all told through this program to benefit the State of Texas.

And because we don't like to come empty handed to these meetings, we've brought you some thing this morning, and to help with that presentation I'd like to invite Mary Margaret Hamilton, who is Director of Social Investment, and Jamie Cox, who is head of State Legislative Affairs for Shell, with me this morning. These are the two corporate angels of conservation.

We received a proposal from some of your folks a little while ago to do some work down in the Port Arthur area to do habitat restoration and coastal marsh restoration, and we thought it was so good that we have made the largest grant ever to the State of Texas through the Shell Marine Habitat Program, for their projects.

And I think the folks who applied for this money are here this morning. If Jim Sutherland, Mike Rezsutek, Tucker Slack, and Andrew Peters are here. And they told us that it was their understanding that employees who are successful getting grants got to keep ten percent of the award. That's why they're all smiling so much.

But we have here this morning a check for $287,000 from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Shell through the Shell Marine Habitat Program, to support the outstanding conservation work that you're doing. And it's our pleasure to make this award to you gentlemen.

(Applause.)

MR. DAVIS: Mary Margaret, if you'll stay up here with me. In addition to the tremendous contribution Shell has made to Texas conservation through the Shell Marine Habitat Program, the company is now one of our new members in our conservation coalition, the Corporate Conservation Coalition. In fact, if you were at the reception last night at the Bullock Museum, you noticed that they are now the underwriting sponsor of the 2007 Water Documentary, "Texas: The State of Springs," which was produced by the Department, is going to air across Texas on February the 15th on PBS stations, and it's narrated by Walter Cronkite. We hope this is the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship that will also address a broad spectrum of other conservation needs besides on the Texas Gulf Coast.

So in recognition and appreciation, Bob Cook and I are ‑‑ and the Chairman ‑‑ are pleased to present the Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director's Award to Mary Margaret Hamilton and Shell Oil Company. It's a Silver's tarpon.

(Applause.)

MS. HAMILTON: Okay ‑‑ thank you all.

Good morning. I'm Mary Margaret Hamilton with Shell Oil Company. And it's a true pleasure to be here today with so many people who are committed to the protection of our wildlife and our environment. Director Cook, Commissioner ‑‑ Chairman Fitzsimons, Commissioners, Dick ‑‑ thank you all so much for having me, and what a nice surprise, there.

Shell is committed to sustainable development, and at our ‑‑ at Shell, we run our operations with regard to the long-term environmental and social needs of the communities where we live and work. And we take this commitment very seriously.

In 1998, Shell partnered with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to address the declining quality of our ecosystems in the Shell Marine Habitat Program. It's through the Shell Marine Habitat Program that our relationship with Texas Parks and Wildlife was first developed. Since then, as Dick said, it has expanded into some sponsorships such as last night's State of the Texas Springs documentary, which was previewed. And since Shell Oil Company is based here in Texas, it's a pleasure for us to be part of so many good conservation projects in the State, such as the one in Port Arthur. And by the way, we had a pretty large presence there in Port Arthur, so we're particularly proud of that.

I thank you for being here, and Shell is very proud to be partnered with such fine organizations as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and the National Parks and Wildlife Foundation ‑‑ excuse me ‑‑ to help protect Texas environment, and to help preserve the Gulf Coast. So thank you very much.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, each year the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which is an organization of 27 southeastern states, recognizes a game warden from each of the member states as Officer of the Year. Texas Officer of the Year for 2006, you've met earlier today, is Gary Barnes, who graduated from the 36th Texas Game Warden Academy on May the 21st of 1982. His first duty station was in Corsicana, Navarro County, where he worked the river bottoms of the Trinity River, Richland Creek and Chambers Creek, for deer-poaching activity before it came under the state's major water reservoirs, called Richland-Chambers Reservoir.

In 1984, Gary transferred to Hutchinson County, where he still works today as a Game Warden VI. During his tenure he worked side by side with a handful of his fellow Texas Game Wardens in the controversial Canadian River land dispute, between folks who were using the river and the landowners along the river banks. With a positive and willing attitude, Gary helped calm both the landowners and the river users, working both sides of the problem, helping keep violations and vandalism to a minimum.

Gary has always been one of those folks who volunteers for any special operation. During Operation Broadhead in East Texas, he helped stop the running of deer with dogs. Recently he was part of a special border operation in ‑‑ he was part of the special border operations, including Operation Pescador in Zapata and the Laredo areas, and Operation Del Rio.

He has worked with Homeland Security and was a member of the Texas Game Warden Hurricane Katrina rescue team. In 2004 and 2005, Gary worked ‑‑ volunteered to work under cover with the Texas Game Wardens' Special Operations Unit. During Operation Headhunter, Gary was able to infiltrate an illegal deer-poaching ring, where he and the unit were successful in obtaining numerous felony and Class A misdemeanor convictions, which ultimately placed one violator in prison.

During the same time, the Five States Game Warden Association, which include Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma, was celebrating their 35th anniversary, and Gary was their president.

It is with actions and results like these that give me great pleasure in recognizing Game Warden Gary T. "Blackie" Barnes, as the 2006 Texas Officer of the Year for the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Gary.

(Applause.)

GAME WARDEN BARNES: Thanks.

MR. COOK: All right now, you just stand right here just a minute. But I want to tell you all about this nickname, "Blackie." Gary was nicknamed Blackie in front of a group of his warden peers so they know what was said. He was nicknamed Blackie by his young son. His son told the wardens that his Dad was just like Old Blackie, their cat. He's always coming in late, dirty and scratched up. And that's a fact.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Bob. And congratulations to all of our service award winners, and special thanks to our friends at Shell for the great work they're doing.

Let's see. Next up, Item 1 is Approval of the Agenda. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So move.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Holt, second by Ramos. All in favor, aye ‑‑

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion passes.

First Action Item, Indoor Recreation Grant Funding, Tim Hogsett.

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. I'm Tim Hogsett from the Recreation Grants Branch in the State Parks Division. Item Number Two is presentation of our annual review of indoor recreation grant applications. These are applications to fund either indoor recreation facilities such as recreation centers in an urban environment, or in some cases we've done things like educational facilities for nature education.

This review round, annually, we received seven applications for our July 31st, 2006, deadline requesting approximately $2.6 million in funding. We have rank-ordered and prioritized the applications that were received. You can find that rank order in Exhibit A. This program has been severely reduced in the last two legislative sessions; we're now at about $800,000 for biennial basis, or approximately $417,000 on an annual basis.

Today we're recommending approval for the highest-ranked project, application from the City of Hempstead for $375,000 in matching funds. So the recommendation of the staff is funding for the project listed in Exhibit A, in the amount of $375,000, is approved. And I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions for Tim?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Friedkin, did you have one?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Moved? Is there a motion by Friedkin ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So move.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ second by Brown, all in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: None opposed, the motion passes. Thank you very much, Tim and then you're up again on Three, outdoor recreation grant funding?

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you again ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ remind me, we do have a few people that ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: ‑‑ okay.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ testify on that one.

MR. HOGSETT: Very good. Again for the record I'm Tim Hogsett from the Recreation Grants Branch. This is our annual outdoor recreation grant review. These are the applications that can request up to $400,000 in matching funds assistance for outdoor recreation ‑‑ Parks and Recreation-type facilities on the municipal level.

For our July 31st, 2006 deadline we received 32 applications requesting approximately $10.7 million. Again as is custom, we have evaluated all of these applications using the scoring system that you've adopted. You can find the rank-ordered applications in ‑‑ your Exhibit A. This program, as the others have been reduced in funding, as you can see the overall Texas Recreation Parks Account has been reduced to a level of approximately $5.6 million in the current biennium.

The reason that you have a revised agenda item this morning is that we received a call late yesterday, and subsequently a fax from the City of Dickens, which was Project Number 13. They've chosen to withdraw their application because of some issues related to their inability to certify their entire match.

I also will point out that there are two applications in this review request round from the City of Houston, one of which is being recommended. Both of them are within the funding range, but due to the limited amount of funds that we have available overall, the Staff is recommending that we only fund one of those two projects at this time.

If that indeed is your pleasure, then the City obviously will be eligible to resubmit that application, and likely will have a fairly competitive project in a future round.

So therefore the staff recommendation before you today is, funding for projects listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $4,534,922 is approved. And I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Tim, I just want to commend you for your work in this area. In the five years I've been here, it ‑‑ I've never seen a better, more efficiently run department in this ‑‑ or section in this Parks and Wildlife Department. And ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you for your kind words.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ you do well. You're making a difference on the ground, where it counts ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ and I appreciate it ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: I appreciate my staff's support as well. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ and I hope you have more to work with ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: To say the least ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ in the next biennium.

Do I have any questions or a motion on the recommendation?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So move ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ so moved by Holt, second by Friedkin ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: You said you had some testimony.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Oh, I'm sorry. You're right. You have to always remind me of that. I'm going to give you the money. You sure you want to get up here and say something to make us change our mind?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Tim, could I ‑‑ on these that we're not approving or not recommending, can they resubmit ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ do we go back to them and let them know maybe what the issues are ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: We actually invite each applicant that is not approved, we give them the opportunity to come in and sit down with us, and we go through point by point, on each criteria, how they were scored, give them some suggestions on ways to make improvements.

If you'll notice on the list, some of the projects have asterisks by them.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. HOGSETT: Those indicate resubmissions ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. HOGSETT: ‑‑ and it's very common that people do come back, resubmit and then eventually are funded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, good.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Commissioner Holt, I'll tell you, my experience early on when I would get calls about some of these and say, Just follow what the staffer guides you through ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right, right.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ and it is ‑‑ it's really not uncommon for some of these to be two, three and in some cases four tries, and they keep coming back and the staff keeps working with them ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ and eventually the money's there. They get it done.

We do have a few signed up. Denver McMurray, and then Rhonda McMurray, be ready.

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Not here, McMurray?

(No response.)

MR. McMURRAY: I had decided to observe only ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Oh, all right.

MR. McMURRAY: ‑‑ I guess we're ‑‑ from Boyd. We were just checking to see if we had gotten anything.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. And Joe Turner, our friend from Houston. And then next, Councilman, is it Brooks?

(No response.)

MS. TAYLOR: Cynthia Brooks, City of Boyd?

VOICE: Yes.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Be ready.

MR. TURNER: Chairman and Commissioners. Thank you for the award of that grant today. As was noted, we ‑‑ the City of Houston turned in two grants, and we understand the tightness of funding.

I'd like to read a letter that we have that we supplied to Director Cook this morning, which says ‑‑ from the Mayor of Houston:

"Mr. Cook, I am writing on behalf of the City of Houston in support of direct revenue for the sporting goods sales tax to increase funding for state and local park and recreation programs.

"Parks promote public health, stimulate economic development and job creation, provide education and activities that provide ‑‑ prevent juvenile crime.

"The 114 state parks and historical sites managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department depend on funding from the sales tax of sporting goods. Despite the growing needs of parks to respond to Texas population growth and increased tourism, cutbacks in appropriations have resulted in a backlog of deferred maintenance, park closure or reduced hours, days of operation, staff layoffs and elimination of important visitor services.

"On the local level, cities such as Houston depend on the matching grants from the Texas Recreation and Parks Account for planning, acquisition, and development of local parks and recreation areas.

"Two recent TRPA projects, Willow Waterhole Greenway and E.R. and Ann Taylor Park are fine proof of what we can accomplish through public-private partnerships, to maximize green space and outdoor educational opportunities.

"The City of Houston agrees that increased sporting good tax revenues should be dedicated to funding for both state and local parks, fairly based on an established, competitive scoring system. Making parks a funding priority will enhance our quality of life, and feed Texas economy. Sincerely, Mayor Bill White, Mayor of Houston."

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Joe. And please give the mayor our regards and we appreciate his support. Thank you.

Mr. Boyd ‑‑ I'm sorry, Brooks. From the City of Boyd.

MR. BROOKS: The way I understand it, we have been approved for our grant. Then, I know you gentlemen are really busy; this has been six years of work. So thanks.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you for doing the work. All right. Anyone further to testify on the outdoor recreation grants?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Do we have a motion?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So move.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Declared by Brown, second by Parker. All in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes. Tim? Item Four?

MR. HOGSETT: The next item is our proposal for boat ramp funding. We take these applications twice a year. These are federal aid funds, seventy-five percent matched, that are available for acquisition, development or renovation of boating access facilities. We ask that the local governments, once they receive these funds, operate and maintain the facilities at their own expense. We received seven applications requesting approximately $2.7 million in matching funds assistance. We have sufficient federal aid to be able to recommend the funding of all seven applications. So therefore our recommendation for you this morning is funding for the seven boating access projects ‑‑ for construction and renovation projects listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $2,689,273 is approved. And I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. We have a few folks signed up for the boating access item. Mr. Peter Davidson and Bob Clark.

MR. DAVIDSON: Good morning. My name is Peter Davidson, the marina superintendent for the City of Corpus Christi. And I would like Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, I wish to thank you for your dedicated service to the great State of Texas.

The economic benefits to the boating access grant program through the federal government and administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife has been a tremendous benefit to the City of Corpus Christi. In 2002, we hosted two world regattas, and that brought in an economic impact of $4.4 million to the City of Corpus Christi. The two boat ramps that we have built through funding, through the Parks and Wildlife and the federal government, and the 160 new boat slips that we have built, has been a tremendous benefit. In fact, a fellow who puts on international boat shows in the Bahamas saw an article about Corpus Christi and the new dock development that was partly funded by the Parks and Wildlife and the federal government, and has ‑‑ and the City Council has approved an eleven-year lease to hold the largest boat show in the water in Texas, which will be in the last week of April of this year. And there will be 400 boats, classic cars, aircraft at the airport, the Parks and Wildlife is participating, it's sponsored by the American Bank of Texas, Southwest Airlines, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, and the Parks and Wildlife Fisheries Department, the Coast Guard and Navy will all be presented.

So this is a tremendous boost to our economy, and I thank you. This could not have been accomplished without the able administration of Tim Hogsett and Andy Goldbloom who have guided us through the process here in Austin with the Parks and Wildlife Department, and I thank them a great deal for their assistance and perseverance with the grant application process. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much. Thank you for your work there. Mr. Trejo?

MR. TREJO: Thank you. I'm Joe Trejo. I'm Assistant Director, and I echo Peter Davidson's comments, and the great help of Tim Hogsett and his staff has really helped us putting together these applications. And specifically the one for downtown and the other ones for Packer Channel, our new Packer Channel project ‑‑ we have our boat ramp per your previous grant, and then we have a primitive road right now, this will help improve it, and get ‑‑ that set. There will be over 80 parking spaces for trucks and trailers, and it will be fully ADA accessible. So we really thank you, and ‑‑ the citizens of Corpus and the entire Coastal Bend area will be using these facilities. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Trejo. Thank you for your work, and I agree with you. They're doing a good job in Tim's shop.

Next up, on this item we have Bob Clark and then David Bell will be ready. Mr. Clark?

MR. CLARK: Thank you. My name is Bob Clark, I'm Director of the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Lake Development Committee. And on behalf of the chamber and our partners in this endeavor ‑‑ with Central Texas Municipal Water District with Mr. Bell ‑‑ I'd just like to thank you in advance. And I've found that at times like these, the less you say the better. So thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: You're a shrewd man, Mr. Clark. You can't improve on yes, can you. Mr. Bell?

MR. BELL: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, David Bell, General Manager, West Central Texas Municipal Water District. Taking the sage advice of our best partner, we thank you in advance for what you're about to vote.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much. And good luck with your project there at Breckenridge, and good luck with your boat show in Corpus Christi. And I think that's all we have for the boat access agenda item.

Tim? Any questions for Tim?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I have a motion on this item ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So move.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ from Friedkin, second by Ramos. All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none motion passes. Good work, Tim.

MR. HOGSETT: Thank you. I'd just like to say thanks as well to Andy Goldbloom for his excellent administration in this program area. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Andy, well done. Thanks.

Next up, Item Five, Larry McKinney, Commission Delegation of Authority to Close and Open Summer Gulf Shrimp Season, and don't let me forget we've got some folks to testify on that.

MR. McKINNEY: Yes, sir. Mr. Chairman and members, for the record I'm Dr. Larry McKinney. I'm the Director of Coastal Fisheries. The item before you today deals with the delegation of authority to ‑‑ for the Texas closures of the Gulf Shrimp season. Parks and Wildlife Code allows the Commission to delegate the authority to close those seasons to the Executive Director. And this is really necessary because if we want to react at an appropriate time we cannot go through a rulemaking process. This allows us to react to management needs and put those closures in. And we're talking about closures in the Gulf waters, not bays here, but the Gulf water type situations. And of course the Executive Director exercises that authority.

The proposal clarifies delegation to the Executive Director and creates consistency with similar delegation in the proclamation. And until Tuesday we thought this was a house ‑‑ keeping, not cleaning ‑‑ a housekeeping type of issue because the proposal was first adopted in we believe 1995, and our proposal here is just ‑‑ kind of a legal clarification. We made no changes in what's already been on the books ‑‑ for ten years. But it came to the attention of some of our constituents that ‑‑ they have concerns over the fact that it states, 75 days, it allows the closure for up to 75 days. And they want to keep that closure as minimal as possible, 60 days. And in fact over the last ‑‑ since we've been doing this I think we have used about 60 days, never exceeded 60 days. In fact one ‑‑ in one time I understand that we had a 45-day closure, something like that.

None the less these folks are concerned ‑‑ they would like to see us adopt a delegation with 60 days in it. And to kind of put this in context you're going to hear ‑‑ and I have ‑‑ not to exceed 60 days, but ‑‑ to put that into effect. And I have ‑‑ I know there's going to be some testimony, we've received some letters for example from Mr. Jack Hemingway of J.B.S. Packing, Richard Moore of Pisces, and Clifford Hillman of Hillman Shrimp & Oyster, all saying they would like to see a 60-day window there too. And you're going to have some testimony so I won't ‑‑ I'll let you ‑‑ I just want to put some context into that for you.

And that is, the rationale behind that 75 days actually came from the industry, it was their proposal when this rule was first put into place, to provide some flexibility. And the issue there was that when these shrimp come out of the bays they can often be small. And so with the closure period allows those shrimp to grow up and to become more valuable.

And of course certainly if ‑‑ situations change, we have a cold winter or something like that ‑‑ it might be beneficial to have a longer closure, allow those shrimp to grow up to be a larger size. I think that was the rationale behind the proposal, and that was the business model perhaps then, and maybe the business model has changed now, and it's just get as many shrimp as you can. I don't know. But that's fine, and so this was really not a conservation issue with shrimp; it's really a business issue, in a way of trying to help them maximize, you know, how profitable they can make in the shrimp. And it's ‑‑ in that regard, whether it's 75 or 60 days, it's really ‑‑ it's not an issue. It's what works best for that industry.

I just want to put that on the record, because I'm ‑‑ I imagine that at some time in the future if we were to adopt 60 days as many in the testimony would have, we will probably hear back from some groups that, Well, we really want 75. But we will not be in a position to do that if we set a 60-day limit then that's all that the Executive Director can close it for even though someone may ask for longer. And with that, I'm sure you have testimony. I'll be glad to answer questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Your staff recommendation is the, No less than 60, or the 75 ‑‑

MR. McKINNEY: Sixty is fine. We ‑‑ 75 is what's on the record there. It does give us the maximum flexibility ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, the question is, what does your recommendation reflect.

MR. McKINNEY: Sixty ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Sixty, okay.

MR. McKINNEY: ‑‑ if that's what you wish to adopt. We are ‑‑ our recommendation can reflect 60 if that's what you choose after hearing the testimony and listening.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Well, let's get to the testimony. Mr. Julius Collins, Texas Shrimp Association, and Wilma Anderson, be ready. Mr. Collins?

MR. COLLINS: Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. My name is Julius Collins. I am currently president of the Texas Shrimp Association. I live in Brownsville, Texas. And I'm here today to concur ‑‑ I was supposed to be second, and Wilma was supposed to be first. But since I'm first ‑‑ I'm here to concur on behalf of myself and the membership of Texas Shrimp Association to what she's going to present in front of you. And she's going to give you the details of why we want from ‑‑ the 60 days instead of 75 days. So with this, I'll let Ms. Anderson come up and testify ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Collins.

MR. COLLINS: ‑‑ or make her presentation, and ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right.

MR. COLLINS: ‑‑ concur with her, and the membership of Texas Shrimp Association also concurs with her.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Very well. Thank you, let's stand by, and Wilma Anderson, you may make your presentation and if Mr. Collins has anything to add.

MS. ANDERSON: Good morning. Well that was a start. They always put microphones too tall for me, I always try to bend them down. Thank you.

Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. I'm Wilma Anderson, Executive Director of the Texas Shrimp Association. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Action Five today.

First, I'd like to advise the Commission that the Texas Shrimp Fishery is proud to be a large part of the state domestic fishing and seafood production heritage, and that we produce a high-quality, healthy product for consumers.

Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, I'd like to advise that we support both the proposed delegation of authority to the Executive Director, and Section 3(a) under "Shrimping in Outside Waters," providing for the closure of outside waters from 30 minutes after sunset on May 15th, to 30 minutes after sunset July 15th. In our opinion, the fishery continues to be well-managed under the present management measure of 60 days, and our shrimp stocks remain large and healthy. We are in full compliance with the costly mandate requiring the installation of turtle excluder devices and bycatch reduction devices in shrimp trawls.

The fishery is not over-capitalized, and at this point, most likely under-capitalized, as recent data reveals that current shrimping effort is below MSY, OY, and NEY for the shrimp species within the Gulf of Mexico.

The effort reduction relates to other external forces that threatens the shrimp fishery. Several external forces are behind this downward spiral, including illegal imports, skyrocketing fuel prices, and Mother Nature's own destructive forces. Illegal imports cause devalue of the year's shrimp harvest, and dockside prices to plummet fifty percent beginning in 2002. Shrimp shoreside and processing sector employment fell over forty percent as a result.

In February 2005, the United States International Trade Commission ruled that six countries were guilty of violating U.S. anti-dumping laws by selling shrimp below fair market value. Unfortunately despite the powerful action taken by the ITC, the flood of shrimp imports continues today, at a rate of over one billion pounds per year from these six countries alone. Today, U.S. dockside prices remain artificially depressed.

Mr. Chairman, I'd like to advise the Commission why we would be opposed to any decision to change from the historic 60-day closure provided by Section 3(a) to a 75-day closure. If the Commission institutes a longer Texas shrimp closure that would exceed July 15th, it would have a severe economic impact to trawlers, shoreside facilities and processing sectors in loss of revenue, and the employee employment. It would also result in additional loss of shrimp biomass due to natural mortality of the fishery. Moreover, a longer close period would only benefit foreign imports, which would fill the void and reap the unintended economic benefits at the expense of Texas' own shrimp fishery.

Another external force ‑‑

MR. COOK: Ms. Anderson ‑‑

MS. ANDERSON: ‑‑ negatively impacting the industry is the high cost of diesel fuel. This is our primary cost of production, and one which we cannot pass on to the consumer, because our market is artificially controlled by imports. Lengthening the Texas shrimp closure to 75 days would force the trawlers to move to other state fishing grounds, which would further increase fuel consumption costs while decreasing our catch benefits.

The current closure of 60 days allows Texas trawlers to operate closer to their home ports, thereby reducing fuel consumption costs and increasing catch benefits.

MR. COOK: Ms. Anderson? We're about out of time here.

MS. ANDERSON: Okay. I'm just about finished. May I finish?

MR. COOK: I was afraid of that.

MS. ANDERSON: Okay. Thank you. Natural disasters such as hurricane-imposed closures have taken their toll on Texas shrimpers. Last year brought the hurricanes and unprecedented devastation to our communities, our industry and our fishing grounds. The shrimp fishery is fully aware that if a major hurricane strikes the Texas coast, we are subjected to several days or weeks of down time for trawler and shoreside repairs and loss of catch. Any regulatory lengthening of the closure would have a devastating economic impact on the industry.

In summary, we support the proposed delegation of authority, but urge the Commission and the Executive Director to maintain the historic 60-day closure period. We view any extension of the maximum duration of the close season from 60 to 75 days as a major change. Increasing the closure by twenty-five percent is a major action that would have a significant potential adverse economic impact on the fishery, which is already extremely depressed. Before any such action is taken under the proposed delegation of authority, we urge the Commission and Executive Director to carefully study the harsh economic consequences of that action, and to discuss the same with industry representatives.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much, Ms. Anderson.

Any questions for Staff or Ms. Anderson? Mr. Collins, thank you for your time, making the trip from Brownsville.

Larry, I've got a question for you.

And make sure that you have your written statement delivered to these ladies here, and they'll get us all copies. Thank you, Ms. Anderson.

Larry, the discretion is in the Executive Director to close up to 60 under present ‑‑

MR. McKINNEY: Up to 75.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ now ‑‑ up to 75. I'm sorry. Up to 75. Now ‑‑ traditionally we've done what?

MR. McKINNEY: Sixty.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. So ‑‑

MR. McKINNEY: Always.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ and so that extra 15 days is only in the case if there's a resource issue, that's brought to the attention of the Executive Director ‑‑

MR. McKINNEY: Right ‑‑

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. McKINNEY: ‑‑ even a business issue from the industry, that ‑‑ a desire from the industry to keep it closed longer to let the shrimp grow larger. That's ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right.

MR. McKINNEY: ‑‑ the only reason.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So ‑‑ the present ‑‑

MR. McKINNEY: As it says now ‑‑ and just to kind of correct one little bit. We're not extending this under this rule ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Right. That's what I wanted to clear up ‑‑

MR. McKINNEY: ‑‑ it's already 75. They're asking us to take it back to 60. Which is fine with us. We have no problem with that, and the motion for your consideration would allow you to do that.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Now ‑‑

MR. McKINNEY: That's ‑‑ if that's what your desire is.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ any other questions?

(Simultaneous discussion.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: If I may speak to this ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ I'm fairly familiar with the shrimp industry, and it's been a big part of our business in the past. And anything we can do to help them ‑‑ these are not over-shrimped waters anymore, and so I'm ‑‑ with your recommendation on the 60 days.

MR. McKINNEY: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. So with that, your motion includes the ‑‑ not to exceed 60 days?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Which would be an amendment to the present, which is not to exceed 75. We're clear on that, that's the ‑‑ motion?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We have a second?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We have a second, second from Bivins. All in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes ‑‑

MR. McKINNEY: Thank you, Mr. ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ and thank you, the Texas Shrimp Association for your help.

All right, next up. Item Six, we have a briefing item. George?

MR. RIOS: Sir, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is George Rios, Director of Information Technology. This morning's presentation is an update from the briefing given in the August Commission meeting concerning the data center consolidation project.

If you recall, this is a huge, complex project that affects a number of state agencies and will have a direct impact on how we deliver technology services. A quick recap on the objectives established by House Bill 1516. The intent of the legislation is to improve technology services while lowering cost. One of the ways to achieve this is by consolidating 31 of the State's larger agency data centers into two. For reference, a data center generally refers to enterprise equipment that is housed in a computer room and the staff required to run those systems.

The objectives also call for increased levels of security and disaster recovery capabilities across the board for all state agencies. The Department of Information Resources is responsible for the project, vendor selection and management of the contract.

After an exhaustive procurement process, IBM was awarded the state contract. They are the prime contractor, and have established subcontractor agreements with Unisys, Xerox and Pitney-Bowes. The contract was signed prior to the Thanksgiving break on November 22nd, with services scheduled to begin March 31st. The contract is a seven-year deal, with three optional year extensions. IBM will provide DCS services from two distinct data centers: the Austin data center will be in the new facilities in North Austin, and they will upgrade and leverage the existing data center in San Angelo.

Projected savings: The DR projected savings for the State over the seven-year life of the contract was based on the total data center services forecasted for 27 agencies, at $1.191 billion, less the cost for outsourcing these services at $1.032 billion, giving the State a projected $159 million in savings over the life of the contract. So over that seven-year period for the State, they see $159 million, with an estimated $25 million in savings projected over the next biennium.

When we started this process over a year and a half ago we were very concerned that TPWD may not realize a savings, because we run a very efficient and effective IT department. We addressed these concerns with DIR, and they agreed and understood that there may be a handful of agencies that may not see a savings as a result of the contract. At that point they also agreed that they would work with those agencies to seek legislative appropriation of support for the funds needed.

Let's take a look at the numbers, here. The annual baseline cost for our existing services are approximately $1.3 million per year. This is the budget amount for fiscal year '08 spending to provide the current services we have. A total cost as a result of the contract to the Agency is $2.899 million per year. This would be an annual increase of over $1.5 million of what we currently have budgeted. Based on this cost, we will not see a savings through the execution of this contract. The increase cost for the five-month period this year is estimated at $687,000 over what we currently have budgeted. Please note, the cost will vary based on the actual uses of these services. But an increased cost ‑‑ the costs were not released to the agencies until January 12th, so that DIR could appropriately notify and update both the Governor's Office and the Legislature of the total cost of the DCS project at the enterprise level and at the agency level.

Staff met with DIR last week to discuss our funding shortfall. In short, interim executive director Brian Rawson expressed DIR's commitment to work with us through the legislative appropriations process to seek the additional funding needed to cover the total cost.

All of the information has been provided to the Legislative Budget Board. When I put this presentation together we had not seen their recommendations on what that would be, a few minutes ago our CFO announced that on House Bill 1 that was released earlier this week, that we were not funded that money. So we have a lot of work ahead of us.

The reduction in services ‑‑ since removing to a consumption-based model, there are a number of areas that we can investigate to help reduce the total cost to the agency. We can reduce the total amount of necessary data storage and take backup, reduce the number of applications servers and lower the service level requirements for non-critical systems. These strategies among others will be looked at during the transformation phase of the project.

Impact on personnel: Nine positions were identified as part of the consolidation project. The positions are made up of staff in our IT department. Five of the nine positions are currently filled. Out of the five positions. four have been given job offers from IBM and one from Unisys. Job offers include a minimum of five percent increase in salaries, matching healthcare benefits with a one-year guaranteed employment. All positions will be located in the Austin area, their positions with the Agency will be transferred to the vendor March 31st.

We are in the process of developing an agency start-up plan to help identify all activities in preparation for the March commencement date. Understanding the work ahead of us and putting the right people in place is key to the overall success. And finally we need to identify potential risks early in the process to ensure a seamless transition. We will continue to refine our strategies to deliver the technology services that we have for this Agency. This concludes my presentation. Any questions?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, George. You've been busy.

MR. RIOS: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Not good news, eh ‑‑

MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I'd like to add just one little comment here that I think is real important to this discussion item, information-wise, for you.

Thanks to the division managers like George Rios and Al Bingham, Mary Fields, and the folks in our administrative divisions overseen by Mr. McCarty, we truly ‑‑ and as this particular example points out in real dollars ‑‑ we truly run a very efficient and effective administrative services group within this organization. This is going to cost us a million dollars, you know, a year. It's going to cost somebody a million dollars a year. Overall, the savings to the State and all of the agencies involved is going to be significant, and is a good thing. But I think what it does for us ‑‑ and you know, if we look at ‑‑ there's some talk about other consolidation of these kind of services. It's an area that we're going to have to watch on every one of those, which are directed by the Leg, with the good intent of saving the State money. But for instance in Bingham's shop, or Mary's shop, I'm totally convinced that a similar consolidation of services ‑‑ like our information technology services that was done here ‑‑ will cost us money; and services, and people.

So we've worked with this one very closely, very carefully. We hope that that efficiency and effectiveness is recognized and that we will not actually ‑‑ that our budgets will be supplemented to cover that loss. But at this point it is a true loss to our budget.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any other questions, before we — thanks for those comments, Bob.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Not a good deal, for us ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: No. It's not.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ it might be good for the State ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Next up, Item Seven, another briefing Item, Dana Reynolds, Wireless Fidelity Pilot Program.

MS. REYNOLDS: Okay. Chairman and Commissioners, for the record my name is Dana Reynolds, and I'm the IT Operations Manager, Information Technologies Operations Manager.

This morning's briefing is to make you aware of a technology project that is currently underway at our state parks. The agencies' information technology divisions and State Parks Division are investigating providing a new amenity for our park guests. This amenity will allow visitors to access the internet ‑‑ an internet connection from their PCs or laptops while they're enjoying our beautiful state parks.

I wanted to give you all a little bit of background information on this project. A few years ago, our State Business Park office noticed a trend in the privately owned campgrounds to provide this wireless internet service. They do it during non-peak seasons, and they felt like it added ‑‑ it had people come during the non-peak seasons.

In order to stay competitive, our State Parks Department wanted to find out if this service was something our customers wanted as well. And during the same time period, there were a lot of success stories as far as wireless internet connection. The City of Austin actually has put wireless access points in all of their public buildings and city parks, and TxDOT put wireless access points at the rest areas. And they actually give the service away for free for the first few usages, and then after that ‑‑ they require payment after that.

And then also you guys probably know that Starbuck's and Denny's, and restaurants like that offer this service to young people so that they can ‑‑ and they feel like that this really increases their business.

So I'm here today to tell you a little bit about the project, and to tell you about the objectives of our pilot. And the main important objective is to determine if the service is beneficial for our visitors, and also beneficial for our agency.

There were actually 14 parks participating in the pilot, and I've selected a few to tell you all why we selected these. Cedar Hill, Government Canyon, Ray Roberts and McKinney Falls were selected because they have a close proximity to major metropolitan areas and we wanted to see if we could increase the day usage at those parks by allowing this service to take place.

Bentsen Rio Grande World of Birding Center actually has a coffee shop in it, and so we wanted to put that one online and see, you know, if people would use that service there. Bastrop State Park, Inks Lake and Tyler were selected because of their diverse challenges associated with tree coverage and environmental concerns. And so we wanted to see if we could take on some parks that had some challenges associated with them. Palo Duro Canyon State Park was selected because we wanted to encourage increased RV camping at that park. And Galveston Island State Park was selected because we knew that was a really busy state park, and we wanted to see if people would utilize it, the service there.

One of the major goals of the wireless project is obviously to determine the cost associated with it. We have direct costs associated with hardware and software, also staff time and travel. The system that we were using is an affordable, custom-engineered solution whose architect, Taylor Blackwell, works for our IT department. So we were able to cut costs that way a little bit. We also wanted to determine ‑‑ we also are in the process of determining the benefits of this service. We want to see if visitors at our state parks want the same amenities as at the privately owned campgrounds, and we want to ensure that we provide a satisfying experience for our customers, one that's fast, reliable and easy to use.

We also have already seen that there's a benefit to our park host volunteer program, and the reason that that's ‑‑ they've actually asked for this service, and we feel like that they'll stay at our parks longer if we provide this service, our park host-visitors.

And we also ‑‑ have seen a benefit from the use ‑‑ another intrinsic benefit is the use of ‑‑ by state park staff. The service was created with this benefit in mind, and so it provides our park staff with the ability to securely access their email, and also other systems, from anywhere in the park.

For the pilot, the service is free. We're not charging anybody for it. But we are going to ‑‑ one of the objectives of the pilot is to find out how we can recover costs for this particular type of amenity. We must also understand how our visitors are using this service, and make sure to provide a right fit from an availability perspective. We consulted with park managers and staff, to ensure that the right number of hot spots are installed in strategic locations where visitors will most likely use them. There's a hot spot right over there (indicating). That cone-like thing that's coming out of the ceiling, and that's actually how you guys are accessing your files on your service right now. So we are using the wireless network in this room.

At state parks, the hot sites have typically been in campgrounds and day use facility areas. We must also ensure that the visitor internet usage does not impact the park's business network usage. And lastly we are very concerned with providing a quality service. We are soliciting feedback from our customers, and will address any issues that they may have while using this service.

So far, we've installed all but four of the pilots. So we have 14 and we've installed about ten of them. And we're gathering usage statistics on some of the parks already. The parks that I've listed up here (indicating) were installed during early ‑‑ October and early November, and they ‑‑ the way that we calculate the usage statistics is based on sessions. So we define a session as access during a 24-hour period. And we only count one session ‑‑ so if somebody accesses the system five times during one 24-hour period, we only count that as one session.

As you can see, Galveston State Park has a commanding lead right now in usage statistics, and that's most likely because they're busy all year long, and also because right now is kind of the slow season for other state parks, and so we expect those numbers to go up for the other state parks as we continue on with this process. We are already getting positive feedback from our customers, and the day that we installed Inks Lake and Galveston State Park we already had pretty good usage on that. And I'd also like to mention that here in Austin we installed the wireless for the Expo, and that was very helpful to sell stuff at our State Parks store, and also to provide that service for our vendors.

Okay, we have been receiving positive feedback, especially from our state park staff. At Bastrop, we added the pool and the complex office, and ‑‑ so that they can communicate back and forth with each other. And we also added the store at Inks Lake, and they do credit card validation through the wireless internet now. And we also added the Enchanted Rock maintenance building, where staff members are located and so now they don't have to run up the hill to talk to their counterparts at the headquarters. And obviously ‑‑ like I mentioned before ‑‑ we're getting positive feedback from Galveston and Inks Lake, and people are actually using and liking the service.

So what's next. All pilot sites will be live by March 2007, and then we'll start our evaluation in earnest. We must monitor usage, performance and availability of equipment from March to July, and then based on our findings we'll make recommendations to expand this service to any of the parks and other publicly accessed facilities of Parks and Wildlife that may benefit from it. Thank you for your time and if you have any questions for me I'd be happy to answer them.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay, thank you. Any ‑‑ yes, go ahead. Robert Brown?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Yes. I was just curious. What is the range of the wireless systems?

MS. REYNOLDS: It's actually line of sight. So if you think about line of sight, is about 300 or 400 yards ‑‑

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Oh, okay.

MS. REYNOLDS: ‑‑ but also, if you were to go and buy a wireless internet card, make sure you buy a good one, because that's real important. The cheapie ones, Linksys and all of those don't work very well. So ‑‑

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Okay, thank you.

MS. REYNOLDS: Any other questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Thank you, Dana.

MS. REYNOLDS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Next up, Item Eight, an Action Item, Scientific Breeder Permit Regulations. Clayton Wolf.

MR. WOLF: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, for the record my name is Clayton Wolf. I'm Big Game Program Director ‑‑

(Simultaneous discussion.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I was wondering about deer.

MR. WOLF: That's correct. As I indicated yesterday in our Regulations Committee meeting, the proposals that we have before you are two brief housekeeping measures.

These proposals are necessary to rectify two errors that resulted from our significant change in our breeder regulations that were adopted last year.

The first one is very simple. Section 65.611 refers to a purchase permit. You recall that we abolished the purchase permit and ‑‑ also the transport permit ‑‑ and developed a transfer permit. So a simple remedy that we are proposing is to delete the term, purchase, and then this section will be applicable to the transfer permit.

Secondarily, there is a provision that allows people ‑‑ scientific breeders ‑‑ to temporarily transfer deer to other persons. The current rule allows this transfer only for ‑‑ to scientific breeders. This was an error on our part because some scientific breeders do transfer fawns to non-breeders. We have always allowed for that. We did not propose to change that, and it would be done via the transfer permit, so it is a permitted process. So our proposed remedy for this is to allow the holders of scientific breeder permits to transfer to other scientific breeders for breeding purposes; however, if they want to transfer to someone for nursing purposes it would not be restricted to a scientific breeders, but just those individuals that are listed on a transfer permit. We had seven comments on these proposals, four were in support and three opposed. And before you is the recommended motion that would help us to achieve these two changes. And I'll take any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions?

(No response

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So move.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Move approval from Ramos.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second by Friedkin. All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The motion passes. Thank you Clayton, for taking care of that ‑‑ I'm sorry. We did have one person signed up on that ‑‑ I'll have to take that motion again later.

Mr. Gilleland, I apologize.

[Inaudible]

MR. GILLELAND: My name is Ellis Gilleland. I'm speaking for an animal rights organization on the internet called Texas Animals. I've given you a handout has six pages, and it has to do with the Parks and Wildlife Code, the first item, Parks and Wildlife Code, Scientific Breeders Permit.

You will notice that the fee for scientific breeders is $50, minimum. And the maximum can be set by this Commission. There is no maximum on the limit. At present the scientific breeders permit is $400.

The next item you'll see in the handout is an article from the Dallas Morning News, 2 November, 2006 by Ray Sasser, entitled, "Privileged Deer Hunters Call All the Shots." "There" ‑‑ and I quote again, "There is so much emphasis on whitetail deer in these parts that Texas Parks and Wildlife should probably be renamed, Texas Parks and White Tails." And then Ray goes on and says, "Texas Parks and White Tails does not attempt to hide its bias towards deer and deer hunters." Further it says, "Why should a hunter pay a higher license fee than a deer hunter? There is no logical explanation except that deer hunters call the shots at Texas Parks and White Tails." And I agree with him a hundred percent. And he closes to say, "To charge bird hunters extra fees while giving away buck tags under the guise of management is terrible stewardship of a wildlife resource that supposedly belongs to all Texas citizens."

The next item is a Dallas Morning News article, 31 October, 2004, wherein two deer breeders bought a deer for $450,000. That gives you the order of magnitude that some deer will bring. His name was Jake, you may recall him. The ‑‑ quote, "The bottom line is, the bigger the rack, the higher the price hunters are willing to pay."

The last article is by our own Mike Leggett, Austin American-Statesman, dated 2 April 2006, quote, "Ethics of Breeding, Selling Deer Still Fuzzy." And then I quote Mr. Leggett, and he says, quote, "They ‑‑ the breeders ‑‑ filled a niche with an industry that today has inventory worth in excess of $100 million, not to mention the animals sold to release onto ranches." And then he says, "Texas has a growing number of high-fenced ranches where hunters are killing huge bucks, paying $10,000 and $20,000, even more than $50,000 for the right to do so."

So my recommendation to you is to increase the price of the breeders permit, because it's big business, charge at least in the neighborhood of $10,000 or $20,000. And you could even go $50,000 ‑‑ that's only one deer. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Mr. Gilleland. Any discussion?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: In light of that, and we'll take a motion again.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: I move.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. From Ramos, re-enters his motion, and second by Friedkin. All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And none opposed, the motion passes. Thank you, Clayton.

And next up, Item Nine, Action Item, Designation of Representatives, Foreign Travel Resolution, Mike Berger.

MR. BERGER: Good morning Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, I'm Mike Berger, Director of the Wildlife Division. And I'm here today to request permission from you for Staff to do some foreign travel, and your permission is required by the General Appropriations Act.

First, Terry Erwin, our Hunter Education Coordinator and the current president of the International Hunter Education Association, has been invited to go to Peru to train hunters in an organization ‑‑ Asociacion Cinegietica del Peru, as the hunter education instructors, March 8th to 15th, 2007. This process would aid the organization in becoming the entity that will provide hunter education training to future Peruvian hunters. Infrastructure training will benefit this organization regarding hunter education history, implication and benefits. Peru recently became affiliate members of the International Hunter Education Association, whose mission is to continue the heritage of hunting worldwide, by developing safe, responsible and knowledgeable hunters. Mr. Erwin's expenses will be paid by the International Hunter Education Association.

And next, in my capacity as Wildlife Division Director and as current Chairman of the International Relations Committee of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, I've been invited to participate in the Fourteenth Conference of Parties to CITES, which is the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species. And I would be part of the United States delegation; the meeting is June 2nd to 15th, 2007 in The Hague, Netherlands. As you know, thousands of species around the world are endangered or at risk as a result of human activities, and CITES was adopted in '73 to address the threat posed by just one of these, and that is unsustainable international trade. CITES has some 166 party nations, and it's one of the world's most important agreements on species conservation and non-detrimental uses of wildlife. And all of my expenses would be paid by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

So my recommendation is that you adopt the following motion that authorizes foreign travel by Terry Erwin and Mike Berger.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: June 2nd to 15th, that's a long meeting even for the year-end ‑‑

MR. BERGER: It is a long meeting.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: All right. Any other questions?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: They probably won't be able to ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: No, I don't think so.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I've read the minutes from some of those CITES meetings. I'm not jealous. Any questions, comments, do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So move.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Holt, second by Parker, all in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed, hearing none, the motion passes. Thank you very much, Mike.

MR. BERGER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: And next up, Item Ten, Briefing Item, Walt, Managing Park Operations.

MR. DABNEY: Chairman, Commissioners, I'm Walt Dabney, Safe Parks Director. And I'm going to introduce our program presenter in just a second, on our superintendent Training course called, Managing Park Operations.

You have 108 operating parks out there, each has a superintendent. And if you think about your superintendent, they're almost like a mayor of a small city. They've got to provide for police, fire, and literally operate utilities in many places; they have to do the administration, collect and handle literally millions of dollars across the system every year. They provide maintenance of buildings and grounds. They provide education to visitors and school students all over Texas. They do the resource management, taking care of the cultural and historic resources of Texas.

We ‑‑ like many other states ‑‑ have never had a superintendent-training course. We send these people out after being successful in other jobs, and tell them to go be one. And most of them do outstanding, occasionally they don't and you wonder why, until you reflect back that we never gave them any tools from a training standpoint to make this happen. We do now, and the most common feedback I get when I go up and close out each of these sessions is, We should have done this a long time ago. Today presenting this presentation to you on the superintendent-training course is Ellen Buchanan, who is our regional director for East Texas, Region Eight. Ellen has spent four weeks at this training course; we're in our seventh one now. Each one of these training courses, she'll tell you has at least two regional directors that are mentors at these courses. Before that, Ellen was also a superintendent at a historic site and a superintendent at a major recreational park, so she comes with great experience herself.

With that, I'd like to introduce Ellen Buchanan to present to your our superintendent training course, Managing Park Operations.

MS. BUCHANAN: Thank you. Chairman, Commissioners, nice to see you all today. Place yourself as one of 24 students who has just arrived at Parrie Haynes, you're from all over the state, you look around, you don't know half of the folks that are in this group, and you think, What have I gotten myself into? Then you walk into the room, you file in, it's kind of dark, you have your name on a place so you get your place, nothing is said, all of a sudden music and video comes on. Loud music, and beautiful pictures of the earth being born. And it goes right on through until we come to our state parks system. So it's showing how the earth came about, how our natural and cultural resources came about, here you have these parks, and what do you do.

I know when I was first a superintendent at a historic site, I got there, my regional director came the first day, he left, and I was there. I was there all by myself. And I would take ‑‑ at night when I would go and do my laundry then I'd take the books to read to learn how to be a superintendent. I was spending so much time mowing the grass though, it was hard to learn how to be a superintendent.

So that's what we're doing, as Walt said, while managing park operations, is to help folks become a wonderful ‑‑ let me get this right ‑‑ park manager. We already have great park managers, so we're going to give them additional tools to be able to do this. We are working on our managing park operations class at Parrie Haynes, working with Karl, which has been a treat in itself, and the facilities out at Parrie Haynes Ranch. So they have been a great help to us.

This has been the first comprehensive training course for park management in state park history. It's a two-week training course with about 100 hours of classroom instruction and skill application. And that's what ‑‑ once that movie is over, then we start right in. And that's when people think, What have I really gotten myself into?

The first thing that they learn after seeing the movie is the history of state parks, because a lot of them don't know, don't have a clue. Maybe they're a new manager that's come from out of state. So they're going to learn all about the state park system, and then Walt gets up there and talks about conservation as a mindset, and gives the mission and the goals of the state park division and of the Department.

The preliminary outline for this course was a project of the Natural Leaders Class. And from that, regional directors, outside folks came in and put this class together. At first we thought we could do it in one week, and needless to say, one week was not enough. And so it turned into a two-week class, which we review after each class and have made changes as we go along.

Deputy Director Dan Sholly is the ‑‑ leads the class, and then as Walt said we have two regional directors there. We're also going to send our regional maintenance specialists, and most of our regional staff services officers attend also.

So far, we've had 134 students go through the class. Number seven concludes next week, so we're in class right now, I do invite you to ‑‑ if you have an opportunity go up there and go to one of the classes. Go and see what's happening up there. Eighty-seven of the students have been park superintendents of all experience levels. This is one of the things that we wanted to do, is have different experience levels where you have somebody ‑‑ and we have had students that that was their first week at Parks and Wildlife. Their first week hired, as well as having superintendents who have been there for 25 years.

Besides learning everything that they're learning in class and from the participatory classes that they take, they're probably learning just as much from the other folks in their class. As I said, you know, most of them may not know half of the folks in their class. By the end of those two weeks they know those folks very well; very well.

We've also had 32 assistant superintendents and 15 other folks go through the class, which have been park rangers and some office managers. We focus on competencies needed to fulfill the daily duties of park management, and gain an understanding of the State Park system and its mission. Essentially, everything you'd need to know about park management in 100 hours of class. Really I would think that probably a little bit more is spent than 100 hours, because of the participatory activities that they have.

Let me tell you a little bit about the highlights and the things that we go through. I'm behind on my ‑‑ as I said, Walt talks about the State Park system, our mission and history. Right after that, the first thing that we do is, go through natural and cultural resources. So our main mission is to conserve the cultural and natural resources of Texas. And so we have cultural and natural resources ‑‑ are the essence of our system.

We also go through interpretation. We bring folks into our park, the best thing we can do is for them to leave having an understanding and appreciation of our site. And park superintendents, they may not be the best interpreters in the world, but they need to know the essence of interpretation, and what their interpreters are doing. Each person gives an interpretive presentation, and we have had wonderful interpretive presentations.

We go through daily skills needed. Managing the law enforcement function. I was never a peace officer but I manage peace officers. Interviewing and report writing, we ‑‑ that's very important; property management, business management and personnel management.

We also get to do a little bit of activity. Can you imagine sitting in class all day, and ‑‑ during different parts of the day, some time before lunch, some time after lunch and some time in the evening, then we do have physical activity. That was one of my fun things, absolutely. I lost one regional director in fact, with a sprained ankle from basketball, but he hung in there until the last day.

One of the best things that we do I think is bringing in other speakers. We bring in folks who are experts in their field. Another great participatory thing that they get to do is work with Lydia on media relations, where Lydia asks them questions and they are filmed, and then we play the film back. That's also one of the ‑‑ laughter is probably one of the biggest things on that, when the film is replayed, and to let people know. But again, it's a learning experience for them. At least if ‑‑ something happens in their park and the cameras come out, that they have done this before.

Ann Bright covers legal. Legal issues come up every day in our parks. Administrative resources and purchasing: parks do purchasing every day. And this was one of ‑‑ our big thing that we spend time on. Human Resources ‑‑ one of our things too is that for ‑‑ so these folks will know, for Lori Riley, for Lydia Saldana, that they'll know who these people are when they call them on the phone.

If you're in West Texas or Deep South Texas and not close to Austin, and talk to these folks on the phone every day, it's great to be able to put a name with a face.

We also do ‑‑ Ted Hollingsworth comes out and does neighbor relations with us, and land management. Hopefully in the new session if we get ‑‑ you know, opportunities and funds to purchase new properties then we'll be adding, and our folks will be very involved in that.

This ‑‑ I think is one of the best things we do, as Walt said, we should have done it a long time ago. For folks that have been there for one week with us, or for 25 years, the results are great. Everyone leaves feeling rejuvenated, and ready to go. And after seeing new folks ‑‑ and you know being able to be with Dan for two weeks, that's also special. Why are you all laughing? And we did have some folks that were skeptics, but most of the reaction has been positive. I think it's the best thing ‑‑ if I could, if I had the time I'd be there for every two-week session.

Much of the course benefits for all levels of park employees by helping them better understand the mission of the park system, and their role. We ‑‑ as I say, we've gained a new enthusiasm, we've improved relations and bonding between employees that may not otherwise know each other, and a long term goal is better employees, business management and customer service, and more importantly, stewardship of our parks. Do you all have any questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you, Ellen for your work here, and thank you for filling in for me in Lufkin, on Tuesday ‑‑

MS. BUCHANAN: I ‑‑ it was a good day ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ I appreciate that. And all the hard work you've put into it, and you've really ‑‑ you're a good example of, it can be done. You can learn to do this by doing, but all your great experience coming up through the park system has certainly added to this curriculum. So I appreciate your help.

Any other questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: While we're on the subject of parks, I notice my friend and great park supporter, former Parks and Wildlife Commissioner Bob Armstrong, has joined us. Welcome, always welcome back, Bob. You never quite get away from this, do you?

MR. ARMSTRONG: Not very far.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good, well, we're glad ‑‑ as some of you may know, Bob was a Parks and Wildlife Commissioner and Land Commissioner, and has always been a great advocate of parks and we've talked about someone this morning that, if it hadn't been for Deirdre there wouldn't be a Government Canyon, and if it weren't for Bob Armstrong, there wouldn't be a Big Bend Ranch State Park. So ‑‑ one of those fellows that makes a difference. So thanks for your help, Bob, and good luck in your new efforts with the Texans for State Parks.

All right, great. Now next up, we've got an Action Item, Item Eleven, and that is ‑‑ Joedy? Protected Species List.

MR. GRAY: Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Joedy Gray with Inland Fisheries Division. At the August 24th, 2006 Commission meeting, the Commission was asked to adopt proposed amendments to the harmful or potentially harmful exotic fish, shellfish and aquatic plant rules. These rules ‑‑ these changes included adding round gobies, two Chinese carp, Chinese perches and non-native temperate basses to the prohibited fish list; prohibiting all Southern Hemisphere crayfish and all species of giant rams-horn and applesnails except one that's prevalent in the pet trade; and adding eight species of plants to the prohibited plant list. Other reclassifications and rule clarifications were also included.

As a result of the comments concerning the Australian Redclaw crayfish, included in the proposed amendments were rules to allow the possession, propagation, sale and transport of live Australian Red claw crayfish, provided applicants obtain an Exotic Species Permit from the Department.

Staff recommends that the Commission adopt the proposed rule amendments to Sections 57.111 and 57.113, concerning harmful or potentially harmful exotic fish, shellfish and aquatic plants. And I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's important work. Appreciate you keeping up with that. Any questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Have a motion on this item

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So move.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Ramos, second by Friedkin. All in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, the motion passes. Good work, Joedy. Stay on top of that one.

Item Twelve, Action Item, Resolution, Designation of Representatives, Biological Advisory Team, who's in the dog house now? Who's going to get appointed for this now?

MR. WAGNER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Matt Wagner. I'm Program Director for Wildlife Diversity. Chapter 83 in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code calls for department representatives to serve on various habitat conservations plans within the State. In this case, we are recommending two employees to serve on the newly forming Hays County Habitat Conservation Plan. Dr. Craig Farquhar is recommended to chair the Biological Advisory Team, and Ms. Kathy Boydston is recommended to serve on the Citizen Advisory Committee.

I believe this resolution is in your packet for your approval and signatures.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: If Kathy will go, we're lucky to have her, I would hurry up and ‑‑ Oh, I can't make a motion. Somebody, quick.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So moved ‑‑ before she runs out of the room.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. Moved by Bivins, second by Holt. Good luck, Kathy. All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

MR. ROMERO: Hearing none, motion passes. Well, you made a good choice there.

All right. Next up, lost my place here ‑‑ Thirteen we have a briefing item on instream flows. Kevin?

MR. MAYES: Yes. Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Kevin Mayes, and I'm an aquatic biologist with the Inland Fisheries Division. I am the technical lead on the development and implementation of the Texas Instream Flow Program for the Department. And I'd like to give a thanks to all of the staff that have worked with that, and all of the support from the Commissioners, and Mr. Cook, Mr. Durocher and Dr. McKinney.

Senate Bill 2 was passed in 2001, and it required the Department and TCEQ, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Water Development Board to work together to maintain an instream flow evaluation program to develop the methodologies, the science, the engineering that would go into those studies, and to conduct studies on priority river segments by the year ‑‑ December 31 of 2010.

So some of the interagency accomplishments since that time is that, we developed an interagency MOA in 2002, which describes how the agencies would work together on this. And we developed another document called the Programmatic Work Plan, that describes where and when we would do those studies, and provides some of the basic approaches that we were going to use.

These are ‑‑ this map illustrates the priority segments that the three agencies agreed upon. And over the last few years, our focus has been on the Sabine, the Brazos, and the San Antonio Rivers. We've been working with the other agencies as well as those river authorities, in getting study plans developed for those systems.

We've also developed a technical overview, another document that describes and details the science and the engineering approaches to these comprehensive, multi-disciplinary field studies. With the support of the Commissioners, the State contracted with the National Academy of Science, in July 2003 to review the science and engineering of those studies that we had proposed.

They formed a committee, which was comprised of scientists and engineers ‑‑ mostly from academia, but well represented by Texas participants. The ‑‑ during that process there were three public meetings in Texas, and ‑‑ that provided opportunities for stakeholders and cooperators and the public to provide input and to participate in that process.

So about 20 months later, "The Science of Instream Flows, a Review of the Texas Instream Flow Program," was published by the Academy's National Research Council. It's about 150 pages, and I believe most of you all should have a copy of that book, but I can get you one for sure if you don't.

It was mainly focused upon our Texas instream flow program, the documents that we had drafted for their review. But it will have broad appeal to all instream flow practitioners around the world. And one of the key NAS findings was that, the program that we had proposed was state of the art. The program includes all of the principles of a state of the art program, and to quote from the book, "The State of Texas shows an impressive commitment to designing and implementing an instream flow program, and that the agencies are commended for proposing a prospective comprehensive instream flow program that will have enormous benefits to the State over the next several decades and beyond."

The Committee also provided some recommendations to help improve upon our program, and I'll highlight some of those today. They suggested that we provide two levels of oversight: one at the statewide level, and one at the sub-basin level. And basically ‑‑ I think you know, we kind of had that framework in there, we just need to highlight it more clearly. Although it's important to recognize the differences between river systems ‑‑ like this is the Guadalupe River, and the Sabine River on the right (indicating). But it's also just as important to recognize that there's differences in stakeholders in the environmental setting. And so we need to have a program that can accommodate those differences, and that work consistent at the statewide level, but flexible enough to deal with the individual river basins. In other words, one size doesn't fit all; we need to be flexible.

We needed to clearly define sound ecological environment. In the Senate Bill 2 language, they set out the goal that we need to identify the flow conditions to maintain a sound ecological environment. Well, they didn't provide the definition, and that's okay. They left it up to the scientists to do that. And so we provided a definition ‑‑ the three agencies have proposed this definition here, which is ‑‑ can be used as a statewide goal, to meet that ‑‑ the legislative mandate of a sound ecological environment, but then sub-basin study goals can flow from that. This particular definition has roots in the Clean Water Act, which has stood the test of time. And here we're talking about an ecosystem that can rebound from impact ‑‑ whether it is a natural or a manmade impact ‑‑ but also states that a sound ecological environment will have its expected assembly of native organisms, which is important from our Fish and Wildlife and Department perspective.

A third recommendation is to better define the stakeholder process. Although we ‑‑ the agencies have done a number of stakeholder-directed actions, such as maintaining a program web site, we've held initial stakeholder meetings in each of the basins, and we've had a number of technical workshops, we really need ‑‑ we recognize the need ‑‑ to have a well-planned process. And not only did the National Academy of Science, you know, recommend that, but the science advisory committee of ‑‑ the Environmental Flows Advisory Committee ‑‑ stated that. And then of course the State recognizes that from many of the studies that we've done in the past ‑‑ that it's important to have stakeholder buy-in up front.

And so we've formed an inter-agency stakeholder team to draft a comprehensive approach to ‑‑ who developed this goal statement. This is on the boards now for review, but basically we want to build trust in the science, so that study results are considered valid, credible and usable ‑‑ by not only the agencies but others, the stakeholders, the public, other federal agencies, the river authorities ‑‑ there's a wide range of stakeholders that are interested in the outcome of these types. So it's important that we be open and transparent as we move forward with this program.

The fourth one is to incorporate four natural flow components. And this one specifically deals with one of the principles of the state of the art instream flow program, which is to mimic the natural flow regime. And I'm sure many of you have seen as you drive ‑‑ you know around the state and go over different bridges, that you might have your favorite river where one time you go over it, and it's a very low flow, it's almost dry or it might be dry; and some other time you go over it and you think it might be fixing to cross the ‑‑ or come up over the bridge side. Well, that's what we're talking about. That full range of flows that are available in a river are important to maintaining a sound ecological environment.

I'm going to touch on each one of the flow components, the first one is called subsistence flow, and these are stream flows needed during critical drought periods or during dry times that allow water quality to be maintained. And so it doesn't get too hot, and fish or other invertebrates die ‑‑ that there's sufficient dissolved oxygen in the water ‑‑ but it also provides some aquatic habitat so that fish and wildlife can live.

Base flow is the normal flow conditions that occur in rivers and streams in between storms. These are the normal flows. They provide adequate habitat to support diverse aquatic communities, and this is when most systems are most productive and habitats are most diverse.

High flow pulses are associated ‑‑ are short duration high flows, usually associated with a storm event that provides rainfall to the system, but these high flows remain within the channel. They maintain channel features, and they restore water quality after long droughts or they provide the ability for fish to move up and down the river system.

The fourth one is what's termed overbanking flows. These are infrequent, high flow events that actually exceed the channel. They can perform important functions such as moving a lot of sediment, reshaping the channel, and they support riparian areas, such as hardwood bottom lands, and they provide that lateral connection out to the flood plain.

So when we put these flow components together, we end up with a flow regime that identifies the flow conditions needed to meet our study goals, and a sound ecological environment. So it's important that each of these flow components be identified. Because each of them are important in maintaining our ecosystems.

Okay, so since the review was posted we have revised the technical overview ‑‑ that document that describes the science and engineering ‑‑ and we ‑‑ you know, ran that out into the public and started receiving feedback. We decided to hold technical workshops, one in San Antonio, one in Dallas, this last summer to receive input not only on the science and engineering but also what stakeholders think we ought to be doing during our stakeholder process.

Lastly, though we've made significant progress on the statewide program, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done in the field, and gathering information. We've got a lot of planning to do, to get these studies really rolling. And some of the things we've been working on with the river authorities, and with the Water Development Board and TCEQ, are like, literature and historical data compilation. We've been gathering what existing information is out there, so we have a good handle on that. We've been analyzing that historical data. We've been doing mussel surveys in those river systems, and looking at the geomorphology of the river, the channel shape, the sediment supply, those types of things.

We've done quite a bit of field reconnaissance, whether it be drive ‑‑ you know, windshield surveys going to all of the bridge crossings, and a lot of boating efforts ‑‑ for example we did about 150 miles on the Sabine River over three days, and that was from Toledo Bend down to I-10; it took three days for us. And we recently ‑‑ during this last summer we've worked with the river authorities and the other agencies on some baseline fish sampling to try and get a handle on what the current status is in those systems.

In summary I'd like to say that you know for the last couple of decades the Department and other agencies in the State have been conducting instream flow studies on many rivers and streams around the State. And each agency has its own interpretation on the results, and ‑‑ or how they do the study. So we end up usually with maybe two or three different answers that maybe don't agree with each other. But Senate Bill 2 provided us the opportunity for all of the agencies to consolidate its efforts, you know, to maximize its resources, to bring the experts together and have a good, multi-disciplinary program. And we've made significant progress in working together to develop the program to the state it's at now. We sought a first-class peer review with the National Academy of Science. And we've gathered substantial stakeholder input. We are in the planning stages of several of these studies, but we and the other agencies are concerned whether or not we'll be able to meet the deadline of 2010. And you know some things have happened that were unanticipated. We didn't plan to do the NAS review, but I don't think anybody would argue that it wasn't a good idea, and that we got a good product, and that it's going to really benefit our program, that we ‑‑ you know ‑‑ took the effort to do that. So I conclude with that thought there. If you have any questions I'll be glad to address them.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Kevin, thank you. I just ‑‑ for those of you who weren't here back in 2003, the National Academy of Sciences study was very helpful in frankly giving us the credibility we needed of not grading our own paper, and we have our former chairman, Katharine Armstrong, to thank for getting that done. She just literally picked up the phone, and called a friend in Washington and got the National Academy of Sciences to look favorably at our request that they review it. And so we've got real, third party ‑‑ you know ‑‑ review by the gold standard of scientific review on what we're doing. When they say it's state of the art, that's not us saying that.

So ‑‑ and the recommendations, also, no pun intended, flowed into the work we did on the environmental flows, and Kevin, thanks for your work because you're putting the meat on the bones of what we just talked about in policy; you're actually ‑‑ take that and go out there and do something with it, and I appreciate it.

MR. MAYES: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: May I ask one question?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: This wasn't ‑‑ yes sir.

MR. MAYES: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You said, We may not make it by 2010 or you were worried about that. What do you mean exactly? What ‑‑

MR. MAYES: Well, right now we have identified five river segments. The Sabine River, the Trinity River ‑‑ two segments on the Brazos actually ‑‑ the Guadalupe River and the San Antonio River. So we've got these segments identified as being the State's priority study areas. And those studies generally take three to five years to go collect all of the data, do the analysis, seek stakeholder input during that time frame, and produce the results, send those out for peer review, make those edits and get the flow ‑‑ the instream flows identified and out into a report. And so we have those studies, that we don't think we'll be able to complete all of those studies by the year 2010. And that's not just Parks and Wildlife's thinking, it's the other agencies as well.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: The Water Development Board, and ‑‑ TCEQ.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And that mandate came from ‑‑ the date came from the Legislature?

MR. MAYES: Yes ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And they ‑‑ to 2010. Okay.

MR. MAYES: 2010.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: That's okay.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: There will be another water bill this session, so ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ I think that issue ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: That will be part of that.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ of the funding and the timeline is going to be addressed, which is the perfect segue to our next presentation ‑‑ Kevin, thanks so much ‑‑

MR. MAYES: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: ‑‑ for your work.

MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes?

MR. COOK: (microphone not on) I'd like to ‑‑ the question ‑‑

Part of this I have to share with you is this allocation of resources that we have been dealing with over the last three sessions, of five percent cut or seven percent cut ‑‑ five percent cut. And then this LAR, 10 percent cut.

We will not make some of these deadlines that were established ‑‑ these time frames. Applies to this area young people who are incredibly talented, incredibly dedicated, highly professional, and we have a limited number of them, and we'll do everything we can in those key focus areas, I don't ‑‑ I think will accomplish a lot, but I don't think we'll meet the deadlines. We'll try.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thanks, Bob. And as I say, that's a segue to our next presentation from Cindy and Colette on Item 14, an Action Item to Review a Resolution endorsing the recommendations of the Environmental Flows Advisory Committees you just heard about. Cindy?

MS. LOEFFLER: Good morning, thank you, Chairman. For the record, my name is Cindy Loeffler. I'm here today with Colette Barron. I'm with the Water Resources Branch and the Coastal Fisheries Division; Colette is with the Legal Division.

We're here to provide an overview of the Environmental Flows Advisory Committee, also known as the EFAC ‑‑ you've heard a little bit about ‑‑ and ask for your support for the ‑‑ EFAC's recommendations. Environmental Flows has been a very important issue for our department for many years. As you've heard, instream flows and rivers and streams, freshwater inflows to bays and estuaries, everyone agrees these are important for maintaining healthy ecosystems. What not everyone agrees on is how you go about protecting these flows. A very contentious issue over the years ‑‑ one of the battles in the water wars that we've been fighting over the years ‑‑ before we begin getting into the actions of the EFAC I want to provide a little bit of background about how we got to where we are today.

Go back to about the year 2000 when a number of private groups, others began applying for state water right permits with this radical notion of leaving water in the stream for the environment. Many of us thought that was a good approach to protecting flows, but again not everybody thought that, and so Senate Bill 1639 was filed by the Legislature back in the 78th Session. One of the things that the ‑‑ Senate Bill 1639 did was to impose a moratorium on these kinds of water right permits, on processing them by TCEQ. Brought that to a halt. But another thing that bill did do was to create a precursor to the EFAC, something known as the Study Commission of Water for Environmental Flows. That group met during the legislative interim ‑‑ back after the 78th Session ‑‑ worked very hard with a number of stakeholder groups and other interests in the water area to come up with a proposal, some recommendations that became what is now known as Article I of Senate Bill 3, filed last session.

Now if you've been following this, you know that Senate Bill 3 did not pass; there was broad support for the environmental flows language in Article I, but there were many other things in the bill ‑‑ long story short, the bill didn't pass. And so here we are now at the beginning of the 80th Session. Governor Perry did recognize the importance of environmental flows, issued an executive order back in October of 2005 that created the Environmental Flows Advisory Committee. The committee's charge was pretty broad: examine all of the relevant issues that ‑‑ around this issue of environmental flows and make recommendations for TCEQ Commission action, and for legislation to protect environmental flows while addressing human needs, especially during a drought period.

The committee was also directed to establish a process, a consensus based process to achieve ‑‑ to integrate environmental flow protection with needs ‑‑ human needs. This is something that was integral to Article I, Senate Bill 3. We'll get into a little bit ‑‑ Colette will get into more detail on that in a minute. So this was a nine-member committee, Chairman Fitzsimons was one of the members named back in March 2006 last year. They conducted a number of public meetings in Austin and appointed a five-member science advisory committee, Kevin referred to. Recognition is there that having a science advisory committee to advise these different policy committees is very important. We want to have that sound science underpinning for any kind of policy that goes forward, and so that was accomplished ‑‑ the committee issued its final report just before Christmas, December 20th. It contained 32 recommendations that Colette will cover.

I'll talk a little bit about the science advisory committee. They were directed ‑‑ first of all, this was a diverse group ‑‑ different areas of the environmental flow science were represented by the members of the committee. They were directed to go back and look at the Senate Bill 1639 science advisory committee report, a pretty extensive document ‑‑ to look at those recommendations, see if things needed to be tweaked or updated. They did recommend that those recommendations be carried forward. Of course they provided technical support to the EFAC, worked closely with state agency staff so that we could ensure that the ‑‑ deliberations of the committee were effective and efficient.

They also provided some new definitions ‑‑ or new recommendations I should say, one being this definition of sound ecological environment that Kevin referred to. So there's that for us to draw from if necessary. Also gave us some recommendations about looking at something called a desktop methodology. Kevin described instream flow studies that take three to five years; we don't always have time to wait for those study results to be complete. Permitting decisions, planning decisions go forward, and so we need some kind of a way to provide that interim information in the meantime. Also, some excellent feedback to the agencies for how we should revisit the state bay and estuary ‑‑ freshwater inflow methodology. So the EFAC recommendations fell into five or six broad categories, one of the most important is the Senate Bill 3, Article I, "Environmental Flows Process." Just how you go about from a stakeholder, regional basis, providing ‑‑ taking the science input and providing recommendations back to TCEQ for establishing the flows. Colette will get into that in more detail.

Another area that we're very interested in at Parks and Wildlife is this idea of land stewardship. Voluntary land management on the ground ‑‑ as you all know ‑‑ is very important for being able to ensure both water quality and water quantity. What happens on the ground really affects what happens with water in general. So we have a couple of recommendations there we're happy about.

Water trust in marketing. You know in a state that's as fully appropriated as Texas is, without having the ability to take existing water rights and use those to protect environmental flows, we're ‑‑ that's so key, so important to being able to do this. And so there were a number of excellent recommendations thanks to Chairman Fitzsimons, that are going forward with the recommendations from the EFAC.

Funding: Without funding, none of this really can be done well, or done, period, really, in my opinion. And so there's some funding recommendations there to really help the agencies and these regional groups that you'll hear about more to really be able to do their jobs well.

And some recommendations about existing flow programs, several that are directed at the in-stream flow program, as well as the earlier state bay and estuary methodologies that I mentioned. Recommendations for how we can do a better job and improve the work that's been done, and build on that. And then some general clarification and definitions, so on and so forth.

So with that I'm going to turn it over to Colette Barron, and she's going to talk about the recommendations in more detail. Thank you.

MS. BARRON: Good morning, I'm Colette Barron, an attorney with the Legal Division. And frankly Cindy stole a lot of my material, so I'll try not to repeat. She didn't tell me about ‑‑ that she was going to do that.

VOICE: Good for her. Got it over.

MS. BARRON: I know it was a mistake on my part.

The EFAC's recommended regulatory method for protecting environmental flows does find its genesis in Article I of S.B. 3, which was the product of shall we say a very unprecedented coordinated effort between environmental groups and water developers, parties who had normally been on opposite sides of the table had actually gotten together, after seeing what was happening with these instream water right applications, and seeing pending litigation and different things like that, it was time to bring it into their own hands and come up with a cooperative method for moving forward on providing some water for environmental flows. So their goal was to create a proactive regulatory scheme, to protect instream flows and freshwater inflows.

So the EFAC recommends establishing these river, basin and bay stakeholder groups, supported by expert science teams, to propose initial environmental flow regimes for their regional rivers and streams. This would replace the current TCEQ permitting process in water rights, where public input is limited to just an opportunity to comment on the original application as filed, and only parties with protected legal interests may participate in further deliberations and in evidentiary contested case hearings and such. So it's a nice departure from that arena.

So these regional groups would forward their recommendations for not only the ‑‑ how to establish what the environmental flow needs are, but also strategies to meet those needs. They would forward their recommendations to the TCEQ, which would then propose rules to set these environmental flow standards.

The rulemaking process itself offers an opportunity for additional public input ‑‑ including you know, input from Parks and Wildlife if we haven't, you know, participated enough or we have a different opinion from the earlier processes.

The flow standards again would be applied prospectively to water right applications in contrast to the current regulatory scheme, so that now we have persons who would know the expected level of environmental protection before the permitting process. In places where we have unappropriated water available to meet the environmental flow needs, the State would set aside water to meet those needs, and that's something very new in the State of Texas; it's akin to reservation systems that we see in other Western states.

So we have these environmental flow standards that are derived from stakeholders and backed by the best science available. S.B. 3 and EFAC go a very innovative step further and make these flow standards and implementation strategies to meet those standards subject to adaptive management. They'll be subjected to periodic review and opportunity for revision.

This is a much-needed radical departure from current permitting, where environmental protection is relegated to a one-shot, one-day and time determination in a perpetual water right, without any rights to go back and revisit these issues. So this recommendation allows and really mandates that we monitor success and failure, and that we rely upon the best available data and science.

Another ‑‑ as Cindy mentioned ‑‑ very positive and innovative recommendation is the support and promotion of land stewardship practices that benefit water. You know, the State has come a long way in raising public awareness of the value of water conservation on the utility or delivery side, and now it's time to educate folks about the conservation relationship between land and water, and get some more participation in that.

Sound land stewardship practices may create additional flows, reduce pollution, improve water quality, and restore natural habitat on both land and water. The EFAC also recommends creating incentives to attract landowners to those practices that benefit water in the State.

The proposed regulatory process that we talked about earlier reaches only future water rights; it's prospective. The vast majority of surface water in Texas has already been permitted. It's not reachable under this environmental flows process that may come down the line. So the EFAC had to look to ways to find voluntary environmental flow protection in existing water rights. This is ‑‑ was sort of the big elephant in the room, in this discussion, that while we all have these positive thoughts about moving forward on ‑‑ you know, environmental flow protection and regulation in the State, what we weren't talking about was the fact that that wasn't going to help in large areas of the State where we have at least on paper water ‑‑ we have river basins that are fully or even over-appropriated. Meaning that if everyone who had the authority to turn on a spigot took their water out, we would have nothing left flowing in these basins.

So you know, again one step at a time and we're real pleased for any proactive movement toward getting environmental flow protection its proper spot in regulation, but we have ‑‑ the EFAC didn't really ‑‑ try to tackle that monster. So one thing that they did recommend was beefing up the Texas Water Trust, which is a state repository of water rights dedicated solely to meeting environmental needs. It was created by the Legislature in '97; it's housed over at the Water Development Board; but frankly, it's unfunded, it's unpublicized and it has not been very successful. To this date only three rights are in this Texas Water Trust, all of them are a product of Parks and Wildlife effort, if you'll recall the first two deposits were two Rio Grande water rights donated to Parks and Wildlife from a rancher in Hudspeth County, Kit Bramblett. The second donation by Texas State University last year came through an agreement with Parks and Wildlife over the River Center.

So the EFAC clearly recognized the need to take this voluntary trust and this opportunity for participation and improve it and support it. And one would hope that, you know, support would include you know, some funding and other nice things like that.

The EFAC also recommended that Parks and Wildlife play a special role in protecting the rights that are in the Trust. They propose that Parks and Wildlife can step in and enforce those rights as if it were the water right holder. And this idea comes directly from S.B. 3. So you know, there was a recognition that ‑‑ you know, Parks and Wildlife would be the natural agency to come in and try to protect those rights, if they are committed to environmental needs, and they are on deposit in the trust.

Okay, this last highlighted EFAC recommendation is perhaps the most crucial one. In order to reach these ‑‑ I see you smiling at me ‑‑ in order to reach these existing senior rights, those that offer the greatest potential for restoring or maintaining water for fish and wildlife, we need an efficient water market for beneficial and voluntary water transactions. Chairman Fitzsimons was instrumental in educating the Committee about water markets in Western states, how they work, how private participation and environmental flow participation can work and how it is ‑‑ you know, much desired and much needed in Texas.

So there's been a period of I'd say ‑‑ you know differing opinions about what authority is out there, for individual water rights holders to use their water to protect environmental needs. So this recommendation, again following similar language in S.B. 3 makes it clear that a water right holder can convert his or her existing rights to instream purposes, thus allowing private parties to leave water instream so that water may protect fish and wildlife, recreation, eco-tourism, water quality and other needs that are dependent upon sufficient flows.

And finally, as Cindy pointed out, you know, always an issue in developing a new state program, the EFAC recommended that the stakeholder process and the supporting technical work be adequately and equitably funded. Actual funding amounts were not discussed or proposed during the committee process, but this task certainly remains to be done should any legislation be filed. For S.B. 3 the Water Development Board, TCEQ and Parks and Wildlife all showed fiscal impacts from the bill and asked for funding. The legislative fiscal note that came back saw a funding need for the other two agencies and nothing for Parks and Wildlife. So since we would provide a great amount of technical support for this proposed environmental flows regulatory scheme, we sure hope that there would be more support for Parks and Wildlife should there be any further legislation filed.

So with the EFAC recommendations being a step forward in providing water for environmental flows, Staff recommends that you adopt a resolution endorsing the recommendations of the EFAC. And Cindy and I are available for questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Colette, I want to thank and Cindy, recognize the two of you in particular but the entire Staff, on doing an incredible job. It's no coincidence if you want to get something done here you find two ladies ‑‑ and it seems to ‑‑ things seem to happen. But they did a great job. As you could tell, we were very busy the last nine months on this, and these recommendations didn't come easily. There was some ‑‑ they're not all unanimous votes, and it took some time; we had to table some of these ‑‑ in some cases, what? For a month or more ‑‑ to work on the issue.

A couple of things that are ‑‑ to me really bear some focus, here, that I think changed the landscape where we're really going to make a difference in environmental flows if these recommendations are followed by the Legislature.

First ‑‑ and this sounds sort of obvious but it wasn't in the beginning ‑‑ that a dedication to the water trust would actually be perpetual. Now, it's kind of hard as the ‑‑ our economists and conservationist, Bear Vaughan, who was on the committee pointed out, How are you going to raise money for a water dedication to the Water Trust if you don't know that when you spend that money and dedicate it to the Water Trust, that it will be perpetual; it can't be recovered in case of emergency or drought. That was a serious discussion, and what it really came down to is, there were a lot of people who were willing to sort of give lip service to conservation and environmental flows, but what they were really saying was, But when you really need it, I'm going to take it back. And that was ‑‑ I don't know if you agree, but ‑‑ that was a big step, where we made it clear that that option is available to a donor, when they go in the Water Trust, that it really will be protected and perpetual, and it really will be there in a time of drought. We're not talking about a lot of water. Now, on the other hand, it may make some people reluctant. But it's a ‑‑ it's the option of the donor ‑‑ and that's important, keeping that market decision to the private entity. Then I think the other thing that was important, that ‑‑ of course the one you mentioned ‑‑ on really recognizing the equality of an environmental or instream right, the same as any other. Which, it's not the case today. And that's where you're going to make a difference, as Colette points out, so much of this work and so much of the data collection and the technical work is really done on a very small amount of water. It's that junior water, that post-'85 water that's the only one with the reservations. And so when it gets dry, it's that senior water that's got to be ‑‑ it's the only option you have to protect flows.

So you all did a great job. It's ‑‑ well work. And if we do this, it will make a difference.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Joseph, I want to I think express what I think all of the Commission feels, to compliment you for your leadership here, and for the importance of making this a voluntary and a market-based system. I think that's kept it ‑‑ to the extent I follow this ‑‑ you know, in the realm of political possibility as opposed to enforced, mandated ‑‑ government-driven program that people don't have a choice about. So I think you've ‑‑ the principles and ways that ‑‑ the scientific foundations being laid, this is ‑‑ a huge framework that's being put in place, and you need to get a lot of ‑‑ I think you're not looking for credit, but we thank you for the work you did on this, the leadership provided ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I just want the bill ‑‑ COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I understand, I understand. But your leadership has made a huge difference, and we all appreciate that.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: And I agree with Commissioner Montgomery. And ‑‑ as long as I've known Joe, as an attorney for many years ‑‑ he's always been very sensitive to water rights, he's been on top of that area of the law. When I first came on the Commission that was one of his priorities, and Joe, you've done a hell of a job, you really have. You're very dedicated, and your dedication is not so much to the water ‑‑ well it is to the water, but ‑‑ to the use of that water for the natural resources of the State, which is our mission. It's a very thorny area of the law; it's ‑‑ needless to say. And ‑‑ anyway, Joe, congratulations and thank you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you. Enough of that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Ditto on everything. But I wasn't asked the ‑‑ obviously the ‑‑ question that was brought up already, the ‑‑ hard question, I mean, where do we go ‑‑ I mean, I assume we'll pass this, but ‑‑ where do we go then? I mean, where do we find funding, how do you fund for example these water trusts? Or ‑‑ and what were the thought processes on that?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Well, the water trusts are really separate from the issue of funding. All of this research going on, I really see that the ‑‑ if you look at the history of land conservation, and the record of the past 30 years of raising private money, and dedicating private money ‑‑ private-public partnerships, land conservation ‑‑ if we do anything close to that with water over the next 25 years, I feel confident that we're going to be in pretty good shape. And I ‑‑ it's going to take a lot of private action. But I think we see more and more investment ‑‑ private investment ‑‑ in conservation, be it on private land or not. But what this does, it lets you also invest the water component of your property. And if you're allowed to do that, I'm ‑‑ you know I may be wrong, but I really think that there's significant support there.

Now, the other big funding issue ‑‑ which is another elephant in the room ‑‑ is how do you fund all of this research? And that's really going to be a fight ‑‑ and the experts are in here, I'm not the expert ‑‑ but that's really a push-pull between general revenue and how much of it's Fund 9, and how much money, if we have our Fund 9, how much money do we have to match, in other areas. But yes, that's a big part of it, there.

Is there a motion

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: So move.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Ramos, second by Holt. All in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion carries. Thanks, everybody for all of your work on that.

Next up, Item 15, Acceptance of a Land Donation. We always accept donations.

MR. HOLLINGWORTH: Oh, well, good. Thanks. I had some more ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: This ‑‑

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: ‑‑ I'm working on it. Got a long list.

This particular item pertains to Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, and ongoing efforts there working with the Texas Bighorn Society to maximize the value of that site for ‑‑ not just reintroduction but reestablishment of the desert bighorn sheep in Texas. And we are working with TBS to identify priority habitat tracts that are inholdings or that are adjacent properties. TBS is acquiring those, systematically acquiring those, and donating them to Texas Parks and Wildlife, to enlarge that base of habitat that we have direct control and management over, to maximize our ability to reestablish the bighorn sheep. Of course the black bears and a great variety of other wildlife benefits from that as well, but it's a specific type of habitat that the sheep use, and again we've been identifying those tracts, they've been systematically acquiring those as they become available, and offering them for donation to Texas Parks and Wildlife, staff does recommend accepting the donation of this 260-acre tract per the motion in front of you. Any questions?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good work, thanks. Anybody —

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So move.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: So moved? Moved by Brown, second by Bivins. All in favor, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes. Well done, Ted. Go get some more. You're up, Ann ‑‑ oh, I'm sorry. We had somebody on 15 but he left. I've been doing that all day. Kirby Brown?

(No response.)

VOICE: He left.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Oh, well. You're up, Number 16, Ann.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: He just couldn't wait, eh?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes. You know, once the deer deal was on, those guys are gone. Yes.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning. I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel and I'm here to talk about two items, both of which involve or are an effort to settle some pending litigation involving Smith School Road.

Smith School Road as you know is the main entrance road ‑‑ has been the main entrance road ‑‑ to Parks and Wildlife headquarters since headquarters moved out here in 1977. You could see it there, it's the dark black line in the ‑‑ sort of I guess three-quarters of the way up the map, there (indicating). Headquarters is surrounded by Ojeda Junior High School and Smith Elementary. A little bit of the background: in 1970, the property was given to Parks and Wildlife for a headquarters. Before we even moved out here, a deed of dedication was filed so that utilities could be provided to Smith School. So the road was dedicated, however it was dedicated at the time to Travis County. We were not in the City at that time; Travis County never actually accepted the road. Smith School Road was constructed, and Headquarters was completed and Parks and Wildlife moved out here.

Parks and Wildlife ‑‑ because we own the road, we've traditionally denied access to the road, primarily because it would increase our maintenance costs. We ‑‑ since Travis County never accepted the road, in 1996 a deed of dedication was executed, however it was never filed until 2002. In 2004, the hay field, what we call the hay field ‑‑ which is the area on Smith School Road and Burleson that is used for parking during Expo ‑‑ in May of 2006, Telecom, who owns the property on the other side of the hay field, sued Parks and Wildlife for access to the road.

We've come up with a proposed settlement that is contingent upon approval by the Commission, by the City of Austin and settlement ‑‑ final settlement of the lawsuit. And the first item having to do ‑‑ or the second item having to do with the conservation easement is going to be discussed in the next item. But the action before you today will be to approve transferring Smith School Road to the City of Austin. With the development that is likely to occur on those two tracts, this will also transfer future maintenance responsibilities from Parks and Wildlife to the City of Austin. We ‑‑ in accordance with our policies, since we're transferring a property or requesting transfer of a property we've provided public notice, we had no comments, we had a public hearing, no one showed up. This is the motion before you, which is to transfer the road, contingent upon approval by the City and final settlement of the lawsuit. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any questions on anything we didn't cover yesterday?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any new questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Okay. Thank you very much, Ann, for your work in getting this done. Have a motion on this item?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Motion.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Moved by Brown, second by Parker. All in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes. And next, same ‑‑ now you're going to actually do it. Next, Number 17. This is amazing. We talk about it at 16 and we do it at 17. Cool.

MS. BRIGHT: I'll just skip through the little map. And this is really the second part of that item, because they're two really separate actions, we've split this up into two items. Because once the ‑‑ those two lots, the hay field which may or may not be developed, and then the Telecom property is developed, Smith School Road is going to become much more difficult to use as a primary entrance to our headquarters. Our Infrastructure Division had the foresight to, I guess, anticipate this, and there's another road that's constructed into Parks and Wildlife. It's an actually probably more attractive road off of McKinney Falls Parkway. However, there's ‑‑ the school on one side, on the other side is a vacant lot that is owned by a private individual.

We would like to be able to tie that up so that we can preserve the view shed of people coming into our property. Therefore, as part of this settlement, let me go back ‑‑ Telecom is offering to pay ‑‑ which is the plaintiff in this lawsuit ‑‑ $80,000 that we can use to obtain a conservation easement. We're looking at a very restrictive conservation easement, again to preserve that view shed. $40,000 would come from Parks and Wildlife; there would be no development. There is a driveway that goes through the property that the landowner would maintain. And this picture shows you where that is. It's just right on the corner of what's called Parks and Wildlife Drive and McKinney Falls Parkway.

Again, we published public notice of this, we received no comments. And this is the motion before you. In the event that the deal regarding the 1.3 acres falls apart, the money would be placed in escrow and we would come back to you at a subsequent meeting with another land transaction. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Anything we didn't cover yesterday?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Motion by Friedkin.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Second by Holt. All in favor, aye?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Hearing none, motion passes. Mr. Cook?

MR. COOK: I believe that's it, sir.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Is that it?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Thank you very much. We're adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 11:45 a.m., the meeting was adjourned.)

In official recognition hereof, we hereby affix our signatures as approved this

___ day of ____________ 2007.


____________________________________
Joseph B. C. Fitzsimons, Chairman

____________________________________
Donato D. Ramos, Vice-Chairman

____________________________________
Mark E. Bivins, Member

____________________________________
J. Robert Brown, Member

____________________________________
T. Dan Friedkin, Member

____________________________________
Peter M. Holt, Member

____________________________________
Philip Montgomery III, Member

____________________________________
John D. Parker, Member

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Public Hearing
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: January 25, 2007

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 132, 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.

1/31/2007

(Transcriber) (Date)
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731


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