Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Commission Meeting

Aug. 23, 2007

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

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 23rd day of August, 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:

Donations of $500 or More Not Previously Approved by the Commission
Item Donor Description Detail & Purpose of Donation *Amount
1 Ooga Booga Flintknappers Capital Property Item 1 - 1986 John Deere 950 tractor; VIN #0950501271CH General Use at Parrie Haynes Ranch $6,700.00
2 Dallas Arms Collectors Association Controlled Item 2 - .22 cal rifles; 1 - .22 cal revolver; muzzleloader supplies for .22 cal Cricket single-shot SST Youth Rifles & 1 - .22 cal Heritage Arms S/A Rough Rider Revolver $550.57
3 EMED Controlled Item 1 - Battery-operated Automated External Defibrillator (AED), Model: Powerheart G3 AED to Support TPWD - AED Program $2,495.00
4 Friends of Enchanted Rock Controlled Item 3 GX620 Computers to Update Park Equipment $2,649.25
5 Grayson Gill Controlled Item 1 - 1994 Sea Doo Personal Watercraft To use for Law Enforcement Patrol on Public Waters $1,500.00
6 Texas Trails Challenge Controlled Item 1 - 2007 W-W Horse Trailer (3 horse livestock); VIN: 11WES14227W296360 Emergency Livestock Trailer for Parrie Haynes $3,100.00
7 AT&T Telcom Pioneers Goods 2 - Park Benches - ($550.00 each) To donate to the park $1,100.00
8 James Hardie Corp Goods Hardi Panel cementitious siding and Hardi Trim cementitious trim: 5 pallets of siding - approx 10,000 sq. ft. & 1 pallet of trim - approx 1,500 sq. ft. For SP Region 2 - Siding for park buildings at Mustang Island SP and Goose Island SP $9,000.00
9 Catfish Parlour In-Kind Services Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo: Luncheon for Expo Committee @ $10 meal for 60 invites $600.00
10 Balous Miller Cash Shrimp License Buy-Backs $7,500.00
11 Blue Bell Creameries Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo $4,000.00
12 Boone & Crockett Club (George Hixon) Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo $5,000.00
13 Catfish Parlour Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo $900.00
14 Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo $966.00
15 Dallas Safari Club/Dallas Ecological Foundation Cash Funding specifically for desert bighorn sheep management $101,000.00
16 Gary Hendrix Cash Park Equipment Purchase $26,000.00
17 Greater Houston No 131 Quail Unlimited Cash Montezuma Quail project under the Direction of TPWD Biologist Dave Holdermann $1,500.00
18 Krishna Katamaraja Cash General Donation to assist park in purchasing rescue equipment (AED) $900.00
19 Levi Jordan Plantation Historical Society Cash Support the planning of the Levi Jordan Plantation SHS Traveling Exhibit Project $5,000.00
20 Lower Colorado River Authority Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo $3,814.00
21 NRA Foundation, Inc. Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo $966.00
22 Strake Foundation Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo $1,000.00
23 Texas Farm Bureau Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo $966.00
24 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash To Construct New Conference Center, Kerr WMA (Hunt, TX) $75,000.00
25 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Support of Law Enforcement Environmental Enforcement Efforts $4,420.80
26 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation (Anheuser-Busch) Cash Writing & printing of the Hook & Bullet Newsletter $20,000.00
27 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash TPWD Fitness Center $3,006.37
28 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Education-Close Texas Natives Account (used for posters) $8,179.90
29 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Shrimp License Buy Backs $20,596.70
30 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Shrimp License Buy Backs $101,057.26
31 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Rare Plants of Texas Book $747.86
32 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Palo Duro Canyon State Park (CanonCita Ranch) $50,000.00
33 Texas Wildlife Association Cash To purchase shotgun shells for Annual Youth Shooting Sports Event at Matador WMA $500.00
34 Texas Wildlife Association Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife Expo $966.00
35 Women In Commercial Real Estate Cash For Fishing Promotions $1,000.00
Total $472,681.71
*Estimated value used for goods and services
Retirement Certificates
Division Name Title Location Service
Executive Office Robert L. Cook Executive Director Austin, TX 31 Years
Administrative Resources Rebecca A. Lucio Accountant III Austin, TX 31 Years
Coastal Fisheries Jerry Cooke Program Spec. V Austin, TX 28 Years
Law Enforcement Rose Mary Stringo Admin. Assistant Victoria, TX 23Years
Service Awards
Division Name Title Location Service
Law Enforcement L. David Sinclair Major Game Warden Austin, TX 35 Years
State Parks Olga A. Granado Food Service Worker II Fort Davis, TX 30 Years
Executive Office Michelle L. Klaus Executive Assistant II Austin, TX 30 Years
State Parks Ronald J. Gallagher Program Specialist V Lubbock, TX 25 Years
Inland Fisheries John Rollin MacRae Natural Resc. Spec. VI Austin, TX 25 Years
State Parks Terrence P. Rodgers Manager II Blanco, TX 25 Years
Coastal Fisheries Nancy J. Ziegler Staff Srvcs Offcr I Rockport, TX 25 Years
Coastal Fisheries Dee A. Halliburton Executive Asst. I Austin, TX 20 Years
Administrative Resources Catherine A. Hamby Program Specialist IV Austin, TX 20 Years
Inland Fisheries Kenneth F. Kurzawski Manager V Austin, TX 20 Years
Inland Fisheries David R. Sager Manager V Austin, TX 20 Years
Commission Meeting (Public Testimony)
Name/Organization, Address Item Number Matter of Interest
James Slack, Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce, Lufkin, TX 75901 5 — Action — Approval of Boating Access Grant Funding  
Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association, 2800 NE Loop 410, Suite 105, San Antonio, TX 78218 11 — Action — Statewide Hunting & Fishing Proclamation Rule Amendments — Use of Laser Sighting Devices — Proof of Being Legally Blind For
Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association, 2800 NE Loop 410, Suite 105, San Antonio, TX 78218 13 — Action — Duck Stamp Fees — Authorization to Sell Federal Duck Stamps through TPWD’s Automated License System For
Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association, 2800 NE Loop 410, Suite 105, San Antonio, TX 78218 16 — Action — 2007-2008 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation — Late Season Provisions For
Tom Burger, Golden Pass LNG, 4945 Littlewood Drive, Beaumont, TX 21 — Action — Pipeline Easement — Jefferson County — Sale of Easement to Golden Pass for Pipeline Across J. D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area Neutral

P R O C E E D I N G S

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning, everybody. This meeting is called to order. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Cook has a statement to make.

Mr. Cook.

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 the meeting.

Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

Next is approval of the minutes from the previous meeting, and I understand it was with an amendment as noted on the transcript. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motion by Brown, second by Dan Friedkin. All in favor, please say aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Hearing none, motion carries.

Next is the acceptance of donations which have also been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motion by Montgomery, second by Bivins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Next our service awards, Mr. Cook and we will make the presentations. This is the fun part.

MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners.

As you know, and I think most of the folks in the audience know, we always take a few minutes at the start of each of our Commission meetings to recognize and honor employees who are retiring, employees who have served well and long in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and we appreciate your participation in this and we appreciate everyone being here.

The first retirement certificate that we have is for Rebecca Lucio, Accountant III in Administrative Resources. Becky began her career at TPWD on October 1, 1975, as an Accounting Clerk III in the park reports section. Becky was promoted to supervisor within the section in 1985, where her primary responsibility was to audit the revenue reported by parks and ensure its accuracy.

In 1995 the reservation system was developed, and Becky's input was valuable in assisting with the change for parks to report revenue from manual to automated. In 1999, the automated state parks section was transferred from the State Parks Division to the Finance Division. At that time, Becky became the assistant supervisor in that group. She continued to oversee the manual reporting of parks as well as the conversion of all parks TPWD-owned checking accounts to Treasury-owned accounts as mandated by the Comptroller's Office.

On August 1, 2005, Becky was transferred to the Financial Management Department as a general ledger accountant. She was responsible for processing legal settlements, processing donations and other duties. With 31 years of service, Becky Lucio.

I told Becky this morning, I don't know how she's got 31 years of service and she's so young.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Congratulations.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Next is a gentleman who's an old friend of mine and a gentleman that I've known a long, long time, from the Coastal Fisheries Division, Dr. Jerry Cooke, Program Specialist V, from here in Austin, Texas, with 28 years of service.

Jerry Cooke began his career with Parks and Wildlife during his junior year at Texas A&M University, working as a lab technician and animal handler for the Texas Wildlife Disease Unit. In 1973, he was hired as a Fish and Wildlife Technician I in the Law Enforcement Division as a water safety boat operator on Lake Somerville, Livingston and Conroe. In 1974, he transferred to the Wildlife Division as a Fish and Wildlife Technician II, doing research and field diagnostics with the Texas Cooperative Wildlife Disease Unit.

In 1982 Jerry was named area manager of the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area. While at the Black Gap, he completed his master of science degree in wildlife and range resources at Sul Ross University. In 1988, Jerry left the Department to complete his Ph.D. in systems and landscape ecology at Texas A&M University. In 1994, he returned to Parks and Wildlife as a program director of Upland Wildlife Ecology. He was later named Game Branch chief, representing the Department in many legislative hearings and committees of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

In 2003, Jerry moved to the Coastal Fisheries Division as a management analyst. While there, he worked with the Commercial Fisheries License Buyback Program and acted as the division's regulations and legislative coordinator.

During his career, Jerry Cooke received the Clarence Cottom Award, the Tom Slick Senior Graduate Research Fellowship, was named the outstanding doctoral student by the Department of Wildlife and Fishery Sciences at Texas A&M, and received the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society's annual publication award for technical publications. He has published 23 scientific manuscripts, including two book chapters and made over 30 professional presentations at state, national and international conferences.

With 28 years of service, Dr. Jerry L. Cooke.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Also retiring from our Law Enforcement Division, Rose Mary Stringo, administrative assistant from Victoria, Texas, with 23 years of service.

Rose Mary Stringo began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on September 1, 1983, as the office clerk for Matagorda Island State Park and Wildlife Management Area in Port O'Connor. She transferred to the Law Enforcement Division in Victoria in January of 2006, where she has worked until her retirement on May 31, 2007. Mary takes great pride in the respect that this agency has because it does so much for the people of Texas.

With 23 years of service, Mary Stringo.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Now we have a series of service awards that I start out with a gentleman who, again, I won't even tell you how long we've known each other, but we started making our acquaintance in Kerrville back in the days when I was there as their white-tail deer program leader, and then worked for Bobby Shelton there on the South Fork Ranch for 11 years, and David was a great help to us.

David Sinclair, Major Game Warden in Austin, Texas, with 35 years of service in our Law Enforcement Division. David Sinclair, a graduate of Tarleton State University, began his career in the Law Enforcement Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on August 9, 1972, as a field game warden in Crockett, Houston County, after graduating from our academy. He spent 3-1/2 years in Houston County, then transferred to Kerrville in Kerr County, where he worked for 16 years.

In 1989, David was selected as the Texas Outstanding Conservation Law Enforcement Officer, an award presented by the Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Agencies. In January of 1993, he was promoted to captain on the staff at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department headquarters here in Austin, and in March of 1994, he was promoted to assistant commander. On January 1, 1997, David became the chief of Wildlife Law Enforcement.

David is the statewide administrator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Law Enforcement Division's wildlife programs, where he provides guidance, leadership and supervision to employees assigned to the Law Enforcement Division relating to the enforcement of game animal, game bird, nongame animal, fur-bearing animal, bobcat, alligator, threatened and endangered species, and exotic wildlife.

David is the legislative and regulatory coordinator for TPWD Law Enforcement. In addition to representing the Department as a resource witness at the Texas Legislature, David responds to questions from the general public, news media, department divisions and other government agencies that are related to wildlife law enforcement. He has served as a member of the TPWD Natural Leaders and as an ex officio member of the White-tail Deer Advisory Committee and the Deer Breeder User Group.

With 35 years of service, my friend, David Sinclair.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: From the State Parks Division, with 30 years of service, Olga Granado, Food Service Worker II at Fort Davis.

Olga Granado began her career with TPWD at Indian Lodge in August of 1977. She was first employed as a dishwasher and is now a Food Service Worker II. Olga's dedication and hard work makes Indian Lodge one of the favorite and most enjoyable sites in our entire state park system.

With 30 years of service, Olga Granado.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: From the Executive Office, Michelle L. Klaus, Executive Assistant II, Austin, Texas, 30 years of service.

Michelle began her employment with TPWD in June of 1977 as Secretary III in the Inland Fisheries Division. In 1980, she transferred to the personnel office as a personnel clerk and worked for the director of personnel for 10 years. In 1990, she landed her dream job in the Executive Office.

I'm not sure Michelle would agree with that.

(General laughter.)

MR. COOK: She currently serves as executive assistant to the executive director, liaison to the Commission, and liaison between the Department and the TPWD Foundation. During her tenure with the Executive Office, she has had the pleasure of working directly with 35 commissioners and three executive directors, soon to be four.

With 30 years of service, Michelle Klaus.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: This next guy we may have to help to get up here, but we'll get him up here. From State Parks, Ronnie J. Gallagher, Program Specialist V, Lubbock, Texas, with 25 years of service.

Ronnie Gallagher began his career with TPWD on June 1, 1982 at Palo Duro Canyon State Park as the assistant park superintendent. On June 1 of '87, he was promoted to the park superintendent position at Matagorda Island State Park, where he contributed to the efforts to increase the park's visitation and interpretive programs and the implementation of the Matagorda Island Ferry Service to the remote barrier island off Port O'Connor. In 1998, he was promoted to the Region 6 operations maintenance specialist position in Lubbock, where he currently manages the maintenance, repair, safety and capital repair programs for that region of our State Parks System.

With 25 years of service, Ronnie Gallagher.

MR. COOK: Again, the next gentleman has served us well. From the Inland Fisheries Division, Rollin John MacRae, Natural Resource Specialist VI, Austin, Texas, with 25 years of service.

Rollin began his career in 1982 as a biologist in the environmental assessment program of the Resource Protection Branch, working primarily on the agency's issues with the Army Corps of Engineers. His work on the agency and Corps dredge disposal policies led to the agency's beneficial use of dredge material to restore marshes. He helped develop the state's wetland mitigation banking guidelines which have brought over 15,000 acres of mitigation land under the Department's management and those guidelines are now national guidelines.

Rollin assisted in writing and implementing the Texas Wetlands Conservation Plan and the Texas Coastal Zone Management Program. He serves as the Department's representative in the review of Federal Emergency Management Administration hazard mitigation grants, FEMA grants. He currently serves as team leader of the Inland Fisheries Division's wetland and permitting section.

With 25 years of service, Rollin MacRae.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: From the Coastal Fisheries Division, with 25 years of service in Rockport, Texas, Staff Officer Nancy J. Ziegler.

Nancy began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the Coastal Fisheries Division as a secretary at Rockport, Texas, in 1981. During her tenure, Nancy has received awards and nominations for her performance. She is responsible for assisting the regional director and regional staff with a diverse range of administrative challenges ‑‑ that's kind of helped cover for those people is what that means ‑‑ ranging from routine monthly time sheets to the more complex purchasing regulations.

She is well known for her friendly and helpful attitude. Nancy's experience and knowledge of policies and procedures was extremely valuable as new field administrative assistants were added to the field offices along the coast where she continues to provide valuable support to other administrative assistants as well as all staff.

With 25 years of service, Nancy Ziegler.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: From the Coastal Fisheries Division, with 20 years of service, Dee A. Halliburton, Executive Assistant I, Austin, Texas.

Dee Halliburton began her career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on August 1, 1987, at the warehouse, issuing vehicles and assigning motor pool vehicles to all divisions within the agency. On August 1, 1992, Dee transferred to the Executive Office where she worked for the executive director, commissioners, and Intergovernmental Affairs Office. During her tenure as an executive assistant, she organized and implemented the electronic system of the Texas Legislative Service. In 2002, she transferred to the Resource Protection Division as Dr. Larry McKinney's executive assistant. In 2003, Dee led the state employee charitable campaign for TPWD where she won the award for the largest total donations to the campaign from any state agency.

When the Resource Protection staff was reassigned to Coastal Fisheries and Inland Fisheries Division, Dee became the executive assistant for the directors of both Coastal and Inland Fisheries divisions. She serves in that role today and is a valued team member of the management teams of both divisions and of the entire agency.

With 20 years of service, Dee Halliburton.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: From the Administrative Resources Division, Cathy A. Hamby, Program Specialist IV, Austin, Texas, with 20 years of service.

Cathy began her career with TPWD in June of 1987 in boater registration. In 1990, Cathy was promoted to an administrative position, working for the Revenue Branch manager in Finance. In January of 1999, Cathy was promoted to an accountant position where she provided budget and administrative support for the Revenue Branch and the Finance director. In April of 2003, Cathy moved into the position of the license issuance team leader.

With 20 years of service, Cathy Hamby.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: From the Inland Fisheries Division, a gentleman that you all know and see regularly, Ken Kurzawski, Manager V, Austin, Texas, with 20 years of service.

Ken began his career with TPWD in 1985 as a district fisheries biologist stationed at the Sheldon Wildlife Management Area. His southeast Texas district included lakes Livingston, Conroe, Houston, Somerville, and the newly opened Gibbons Creek. After two years in Houston, the office was moved to Bryan, Texas. After several years, Ken left TPWD and moved to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. We knew that wouldn't last. Ken returned to Austin in 1992 and began working in the Inland Fisheries Division as a staff support specialist.

Ken's responsibilities in Austin have steadily increased to include planning, coordination, and administering the division's public information, permitting, regulatory, human dimensions, and data management functions. A primary responsibility is coordinating the division's changes to the statewide fishing and hunting proclamation each year. Another significant responsibility has been coordinating freshwater fishing activities for 14 years at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo.

Ken is an American Fisheries Society-certified fisheries professional; he received the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society Outstanding Fisheries Worker of the Year Award in 2001, and the Department's Natural Quality Service Employee Recognition Award in 2001.

With 20 years of service, from the Inland Fisheries Division, Ken Kurzawski.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Also from the Inland Fisheries Division with 20 years of service, David R. Sager, Manager V, Austin, Texas.

David Sager began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in June of 1987 in the Resource Protection Division. He managed programs dealing with water quality, contamination concerns, and response to fish and wildlife kills. Dave now manages the Ecosystem Habitat Assessment Branch in the Inland Fisheries Division. Research conducted by one of his programs resulted in the state's water quality standards being altered to presume an aquatic life protection level of high instead of limited, improving the protection of aquatic ecosystems.

Since the Governor designated the Department a state natural resource trustee in 1990, that team has settled oral and hazardous substance release cases, restoring thousands of acres of habitat valued in the millions of dollars. Dave continues to manage important programs, such as the Department's instream flow program, addressing environmental flow questions, and the golden algae task force.

With 20 years of service, Dave Sager.

(Applause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Bob. Thank you for doing those service awards, and obviously we have one more individual we'd like to honor ‑‑ actually two, but we want to start with Robert L. Cook, who has stood before us for the last so many years ‑‑ at least I've been here four years and presented those service awards, but let me kind of read through his resume.

This employee came to Texas Parks and Wildlife in 1965, fresh out of Texas A&M with a wildlife management degree. First stationed in Junction as a wildlife biologist, he was promoted to area manager at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area in 1972. He became program leader for the statewide white-tail deer program in 1975, where he established standardized deer data collection and analysis procedures for the Wildlife Division. From 1979 to 1990, this employee served as wildlife biologist and director of ranch operations for six large ranches in Texas and Montana. So you left for a little bit. Right, Bob?

(General laughter.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: He returned to TPWD in 1990 and served as chief of Wildlife for three years in the combined Fisheries and Wildlife Division. Then in 1994, he was promoted to director of the Wildlife Division. In 1997, he became senior division director for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department land policy, and also served as acting division director for the State Parks Division for two years. He became chief operating officer for TPWD until he was named executive director in February 2002.

Throughout his career, this employee has dedicated himself to conservation.

Please join me now in recognizing Mr. Bob Cook and his 31 years of service.

(Applause.)

MR. COOK: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Is there anything you would like to say?

MR. COOK: I will say it has been my pleasure, absolutely, and my honor, and I appreciate every single one of you from every walk of life that you come from and all that you have done for conservation in Texas, and I support you 100 percent and always will. Thank you.

(Applause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Now, we have one other person we want to honor, and it's a great honor for me to be able to stand up here and do this. I'm talking about my predecessor, Joe Fitzsimons.

I'd like to recognize a special outgoing member of our Commission, Joseph Fitzsimons, who was appointed to the Parks and Wildlife Commission by Governor Rick Perry on May 8, 2001. The Governor appointed him chairman of the Commission on November 10, 2003. Although Joseph has a busy law practice in San Antonio and is the managing partner of the San Pedro Ranch in Dimmitt County, he has given his volunteer job as chairman of the Commission his all and has worked tirelessly on behalf of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Some of you may not know that Joseph has been involved in Texas Parks and Wildlife since the very beginning of his professional career. His first exposure was as a college intern when he worked on the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area with the Wildlife Division. He learned a whole lot about the Department back then, and since the statute of limitations is just about up, one of these days he might even tell us about some of those days. He has some pretty good stories about back then.

(General laughter.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Since then, Joseph has had a long relationship with the Department. He served as chairman of the Private Lands Advisory Board and has been instrumental in our efforts to strengthen relationships with landowners across the state. He was tapped by then Governor George Bush to serve on the Governor's Task Force on Conservation, and by Governor Rick Perry to serve on the Environmental Flows Committee which made key recommendations to the Texas Legislature that resulted in the new state laws that take additional steps to protect water for wildlife.

He has always practiced what he preached and his ranch has been honored with many prestigious land management awards over the years, most recently the Rangeland Stewardship Award from the Society for Range Management, and the National Cattlemen Beef Association's Environmental Stewardship Award. He sets a great example for land stewards across the state.

He's also been a tireless champion for state parks. In response to the critical condition of Texas's state parks, Joe Fitzsimons formed the State Park Advisory Committee which was instrumental in acquiring additional funding for state parks in the last legislative session. Thanks to his efforts, the State Parks Division now has the resources to begin providing the type of park system that the people of Texas deserve.

His dedication to conservation in Texas and his genuine interest in the diverse programs of Texas Parks and Wildlife has benefitted the Department and the people of Texas for years. Please join me in thanking Mr. Joe Fitzsimons for his six years of service to the Commission and to the people of the state of Texas.

(Applause.)

MR. FITZSIMONS: It looks a little different from this side; you all look so important.

Thank you. I love this agency and I love the mission, and especially I love the people. I've never enjoyed anything more, so if I can ever help you, call me. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. I'm going to miss both of those guys. I think Texas Parks and Wildlife will too. So thank you again for your service. Thank you.

MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman, in fact, I'd like to at this point in time cover the rules of conduct for our visitors today and give everybody a chance to uncoil who wants to here. But so that everyone will have a chance to address the Commission in an orderly fashion today, the following ground rules will be followed.

An individual wishing to speak before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission must first fill out and sign a speaker registration form for each item on the agenda on which you wish to speak. The chairman is in charge of this meeting, and by law, it is his duty to preserve order and direct the order of the hearing and recognize persons to be heard. We have sign-up cards for everyone wishing to speak and the chairman will call names from those cards one at a time. Each person will be allowed to speak from the podium up front here, one at a time.

When your name is called, please come forward to the podium, state your name and who you represent, if anyone other than yourself, then state your position on the agenda item under consideration and add supporting facts that will help the Commission understand your concerns. Please limit your remarks to the specific item under consideration.

Each person who wants to address the Commission will be allowed to address the Commission for three minutes. I have a little timer device here. There are green, yellow and red lights here, and lights there on the podium that will give you an idea of when your three minutes is up. When your time is up, please resume your seat so that others may speak. Your time may be extended if a Commissioner has a question for you. If the Commissioners ask a question or discuss something among themselves, that time will not be counted against you.

Statements which are merely argumentative or critical of others will not be tolerated. There is a microphone at the podium so it is not necessary to raise your voice. I 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. Disruptive or offensive behavior will be grounds for immediate ejection from the meeting.

Also, I would request that you please silence or turn off your cell phone or pager so that you will not disturb the meeting and those speaking.

If you have written material that you want given to the Commission, please deliver it to Michelle Klaus or Carole Hemby here, who are seated to my right. Ms. Hemby will give that information to the Commission. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Bob.

The first order of business is Item Number 1, action, Approval of the agenda. I'd like to note that Item Number 26, Designation of the Texas State Railroad Right of Way as a Park Road, has been removed from the agenda. Also, with regard to Items Number 27 and 28 related to the Executive Director search, we will take up Item Number 27 during an Executive Session roughly around lunchtime. At the conclusion of the public business today, we will adjourn the meeting of the Commission and then convene a meeting of the Executive Director Search Subcommittee, Item Number 28.

Is there a motion for approval, as amended?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motion by Brown, second by Friedkin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

Our next item is number 2. This will be election of a vice chair. Donato Ramos, Commissioner, who has gone off the Commission, was our vice chair, so we have an opening there. Are there any nominations?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Mr. Chairman, it's my distinct honor and privilege to place the nomination for the office of vice chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, all of our friend, the Honorable Dan Friedkin.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, John.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: I'd like to second that motion.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Brown seconds. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, thank you. Any nays?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, Dan, congratulations. You won by unanimous.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: I sincerely appreciate the vote of confidence by the Commission and I look forward to serving as your vice chairman, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you very much, and I appreciate you taking on the position.

Item Number 3 is an action item, Small Community Grant funding, Mr. Tim Hogsett.

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. I'm Tim Hogsett, director of the Recreation Grants Program in the State Parks Division.

This is our annual review and recommendations to you for funding for grants in the Small Community Grant Program under the Texas Recreation and Parks Account. These are grants of up to $50,000 to communities of 20,000 population or less. We received 23 applications for our annual deadline, a little more than $1 million in applications and matching funds. We've scored and rank-ordered all the applications, using the scoring system that you've adopted, and today we're recommending funding for the top 18 applications in the amount of $797,231.

So I put before you the staff recommendation of funding for projects listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $797,231 is approved. And I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We don't have anybody signed up to speak, any comments. Is there a motion?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, Bivins.

COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Karen Hixon. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Tim. That was easy. Item Number 4, action, National Recreational Trail Grand funding.

Tim Hogsett, you're up again.

MR. HOGSETT: Again for the record, I'm Tim Hogsett, director of Recreation Grants.

This is our annual funding proposal for the National Recreation Trails Grant Program. These are federal funds; the funds are created from taxes on off-road vehicle gasoline use. It's a return of that kind of use back to facilities for both off-road and on-road vehicles and trails.

For our annual review, we received 58 applications, requesting $5-1/2 million. Those applications were reviewed and scored and ranked by your Trail Advisory Board on the basis of quality, cost-effectiveness, and the recreation opportunities that were created. And we're pleased to recommend to you the following motion this morning of funding for the 41 projects recommended in Exhibit A in the amount of $3,660,954 is approved. And I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motion on this item?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Brown.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Friedkin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And we did not have anybody sign up for that.

Tim, you're up again.

MR. HOGSETT: My final presentation this morning is on Boat Ramp funding. These are federal aid funds from Fish and Wildlife Service, 75 percent matching funds pass through. This morning we're presenting to you funding recommendations for one boat access project and also funding in the amount of $379,500 for aquatic vegetation control on several Texas lakes. The one application that we're recommending funding for boat access is on Lake Sam Rayburn at Cassels-Boykin Park in the amount of $500,000.

So our recommendation for funding this morning for you is funding for boating access construction and renovation projects listed in Exhibit A in the amount of $500,000, and $379,500 for aquatic vegetation control is approved. I'll be glad to answer any questions?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We do have somebody who wants to speak: James Slack from Lufkin, Angelina County.

MR. SLACK: Thank you. My name is James Slack, and my role in all this is I inherited chairmanship of the Lake Enhancement Task Force for the Lufkin-Angelina County Chamber of Commerce from Dr. Bill Shelton, who many of you, I know, knew Dr. Shelton who died last October from complications from West Nile virus. Dr. Shelton and I had been working on this thing with other folks for over 10 years and my role in being here this morning ‑‑ I assume you're going to pass this and I hope you will ‑‑ but we wanted to thank you.

And in an effort to show the colors of how much we appreciate that, a group of us flew over this morning. I'd like to introduce the Honorable Wes Suiter who is Angelina County Judge. With him is Don Langston who is a city councilman for the City of Lufkin, and with him is Curt Fenley who is the incoming chairman of the Angelina County Chamber of Commerce.

This is a big deal for us, and the reason I brought these placards is just to show you it's not just about a boat ramp because, if you'll permit me, the new boat ramp that you're financing is right here, but that is just the beginning of a huge project that will open up Cassels-Boykin to a lot of people and also be a huge economic impact to our area of East Texas.

Included in this project, to the right you will see a pavilion there, a huge pavilion that will be named in honor of Dr. William B. Shelton, and that will allow us to have professional bass fishing tournaments, but also the income from that will allow us to also build, along with some grants, a handicapped fishing pier. As you know, Sam Rayburn is a Corps of Engineers lake, and there's not much access for people that don't have boats to fish on that lake, so we'll have a handicapped fishing pier. The long range plans also include opening up 38 new campsites. We've got a new 25-year lease from the Corps of Engineers that will open up 265 acres that we're trying to develop.

So my message is we appreciate it very much and this boat ramp grant will allow us to build this whole park and it will turn over the investment you've made in Angelina County many times over, and we really appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, sir, thanks for taking the time to come.

Any questions or comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, these are the kinds of things that make it fun to be on this Commission is to be able to support and have that local support and the partnership, and this is a classic example of it.

Tim, any other comments?

MR. HOGSETT: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Parker motion, second Martin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you very much and thank you for coming.

Item Number 6, action, Target Range Grant funding. Mr. Steve Hall.

MR. HALL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. My name is Steve Hall. I'm the education director responsible for hunter education in the Target Range Grant Program.

Today we have three amendments to existing projects for you to approve, and also, we want to look at the criteria and recommend new criteria for rating these projects. Just like with the Boat Ramp Program, this grant is a 75-25 percent match and it's from the hunter safety apportionment of the federal assistance funds.

The three projects that we would like to amend in terms of adding funding to their projects, one is in its last and final phase, is the Washington County Hunter Education Training Center there at Brenham High School. They're going to break ground, I believe, next week on the initial site from Phase II, and then this Phase III will go into fiscal year '08 and help them complete that project.

Also the Elm Fork Shooting Park would be in their phase two of their project. This is the largest shooting range for rifle and pistol, and it abuts the shotgun range which also serves over 100,000 people a year in that county, so it's an important range to us.

And, finally, another important range to us is the Hill Country Shooting Sport Center in Kerr County. This is an Olympic training development center, it was nominated for that two years ago and it's just a super project. We're involved with the Air Hall which is an indoor facility for not only use in hunter education and archery but it will also be used for international air gun competitions.

Staff looked at the criteria for rating grants and we've recommended changes to these criteria to give added considerations to urban ranges and also those ranges that directly support our youth shooting sports programs. All ranges must teach hunter education; that's a current requirement of the grant. The current criteria are: the population of the county, whether it's a new facility in that county or not, the geographic distribution of ranges in that county, and then the hunter distribution. We've modified the criteria and we have for you today, as recommended, a simplified version to really focus on the urban ranges and give priority to urban ranges by small, medium and large markets.

Also, we want to give priority and emphasis to recruiting for two new projects that we have coming up, and that's the Texas Youth Clays and the Scholastic Sports in Schools Project. The Texas Youth Clays project resembles the Archery in Schools Program which I brought forth to most of you commissioners back in January. It is a program of the curriculum and we're starting with the ag-science teachers. We have 800 certified hunter education instructions in the ag-science programs that teach hunter ed in schools.

These teachers have collectively agreed they've got 80 hours in their curriculum. They want to undertake at least some shooting or live firing processes and they want to start with this program. We trained 43 of them in July. Of that 43, we're sure to get at least 10 to 15 pilot schools going this fall semester in trap shooting, and as part of the curriculum, that's a huge deal for us because shooting sports in schools is much like archery. There's a few barriers that we face in terms of attitudes, thinking that it's a dangerous activity, and it really isn't and we have to educate folks on that fact.

The support of the existing Texas Scholastic Clays Program, Commissioner Parker, I'd like to recognize him for his foresight and leadership on this process. This past year he brought to you the ideas from a group of commissioners from multi states, and one of those was the program in Tennessee of the scholastic clays. We're excited about starting that program. I think that certainly the youth clays project will evolve into that, but the scholastic clays involves trap, skeet and sporting clays, and it's already existing in Texas. It just needs a lot of support from this agency and from our programs, and that's what we aim to do.

And finally, a junior clays project of a lot of different organizations. Texas Sporting Clays Association has a junior clays project. This is an after-school project that essentially some of these school kids can go to, but also the 4-H shooting sports and other NRA projects can send kids to the junior clays event. But this is one that recruits new shooters at some of these existing events by giving recognition and entry to shooters that haven't shot competitive rounds before, and this will be kind of a neat way, obviously, to recruit youth into some of the existing ranges around Texas.

So we've got a lot going on in our shooting sports efforts in hunter education, and certainly we want to give priority to ranges that really promote those sporting projects. Our recommendation before you today then is to go ahead and authorize the executive director to approve these three amendments, but also to approve the new criteria at Exhibit D for rating these grant applications. I'll be happy to address any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Yes. What is the total funding for this program?

MR. HALL: The total funding is small. It averages $300,000. Last year we did have additional monies in the hunter safety apportionment and we actually kicked it up to $700,000. It fluctuates because monies in the Target Range Grant Program can and may be used for wildlife management programs as well.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Go ahead.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: How many kids are currently participating in this scholastic clays program?

MR. HALL: We'll have 10 to 15 pilot schools this fall, so we'll have to see, but that averages roughly 20 to 30 per class, so it will be 200 to 300 to start with. Now, one note or one point is that the Texas 4-H Shooting Sports Project, which we support to a great degree, has 10,000 kids involved, and we're a great partner of that. Hunter Education has been a partner of that for over 20 years. And Charlie, with his sporting clays mobile shooting sports ‑‑ and you've met Charlie Wilson ‑‑ he reaches 6,000 a year. But this is the in-school component and it's tough to get shooting sports as part of the curriculum.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Parker.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I want to tell everybody that Steve Hall ‑‑ I've never had an original idea in my life; I'm a great copycat. When I heard about this at the multi-state commissioners meeting, the idea coming from Tennessee, Steve Hall jumped on this with both feet. He is taking it at a very steady program. I feel like that in the not-too-distant future that Texas will have a clay target shooting program in many, many of our 254 counties

I got an e-mail from another orange-and-white state to the east of us that the State of Tennessee clay target shooters, trap shooters, won the national championship in Illinois this year, but in not too many distant years, Steve Hall is going to have the true orange-and-white state winning out there.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: He's throwing down the challenge, I think, Steve.

MR. HALL: I'm not sure the Aggies appreciate that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good thing Joe isn't up here.

(General laughter.)

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Could I ask one question? If for instance, a community wanted to begin this program, do they contact the Parks and Wildlife office in their community?

MR. HALL: Correct. And we'll actually begin announcing that and do news releases this fall. As we look at these pilot projects, we do want to meet with the Texas Education Agency prior to that and the ag-science coordinators for Texas already approve it, but they also want to meet with the higher echelon in the education agency to try to educate them on the fact that the shooting sports are safe ‑‑ obviously getting safer ‑‑ and these kinds of activities fit well within the high school outdoor adventure program. In other words, it jibes with their Texas essential elements and knowledge.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Steve, you mentioned ag-science teachers, but does that really take you into the urban areas, particularly inner city? Is there any way to attract those schools?

MR. HALL: We do have some notable ag-science programs. One that you saw yesterday, the Texas Youth Hunting Program of CG's, down there in Houston is in the inner loop of Houston and it's a popular program. But I would say we're going to start with those that can and want to do it, and then you create, essentially, that competition and then you get a lot of schools that say can we do what they're doing, and that's kind of how to recruit schools from the bottom up. We also obviously want to go from the top down and get the support of key administrators.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Mr. Chairman, it's a program that you just can't take a bucket of paint and start painting. You're dealing with issues of sporting guns, and really where did the sporting guns begin? Out in the country. And I'll tell you this, the State of Tennessee did it exactly like Steve is doing it, and he's patterning everything off of how they did it. And they have been in operation seven years, I believe, and this past school year the school superintendent of inner city Memphis called the Tennessee people and said we want this in Memphis.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So it becomes a program of attraction, essentially.

MR. HALL: It's not going to be like archery where we have archery with the PE teachers and in the gymnasiums. Facilities are a limiting factor and, of course, that's why we're going to try to tie these two programs together.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Any other questions for Steve?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Steve, and I don't have anybody signed up. Is there a motion on this item?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Bivins. And second?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Montgomery. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thanks, Steve.

Operating and capital budget, Ms. Mary Fields.

MS. FIELDS: Good morning, Commissioners. For the record, I'm Mary Fields, chief financial officer, and I'm here to present the proposed fiscal year 2008 operating and capital budget and the budget and investment policies for your adoption.

We'll start with the budget. Yesterday I provided an overview of the proposed budget, and today I'll mention just a few key points. The 80th Legislature appropriated $291.1 million to the Department, plus funds contingent on bills passing which they did. During the budget process we identified adjustments and additional funds that bring our operating and capital budget to $405.8 million. Of that total, the operating budget is $260.4 million, capital budget is $83.7 million, the grants budget is $53.9 million, and debt service is $7.8 million. Our FTE cap for the year is 3100.1.

To give you some perspective, this has been a real good year for us. Last year's budget was at $295 million in total, and just to give you a perspective, the operating component was at $223.5 million, so we have grown and it was much needed.

Our operating budget process is similar to prior years. Basically we use the appropriations received via the 80th Legislature as our starting point. With the appropriations that we received, we were able to establish the operating budget at or pretty close to 100 percent of the 2007 base for the divisions. Next, we allocated those exceptional item amounts to the appropriate divisions. In establishing the budget, we followed key rider directives and we will continue to ensure that rider deliverables relating to state audit and Legislative Budget Board recommendations are implemented.

As I mentioned, this was a good session for us, and the next three slides highlight the additional funds that we added to our base budget. I'll start off with state and local park additions. As you can see, we increased state park salaries, operating and minor repair by $15.3 million, state park capital items increased by $3.8 million, and $2.7 million went to the support divisions in support of state parks. Local parks received an additional $26.5 million. This includes the $16.7 million designated for specific parks and the balance goes to bring the local parks back to the $15.5 million per year that they used to receive.

While we did not receive any new money for land acquisition, we are allowed to spend our land sale proceeds, and we can carry forward unexpended balances. This amounted to $9.3 million from Eagle Mountain Lake and we are carrying forward another $275,000 of other park-related proceeds. $17.5 million of Proposition 8 bonds were added to the budget for statewide park repairs and another $52.1 million of bonds is contingent on voter approval in November. If these bonds are approved, we'll add them to the budget later in the year.

In other areas of Parks and Wildlife outside of state parks, $4.9 million was added for the East Texas Fish Hatchery, Law Enforcement received $1.27 million to put 15 additional wardens in place for border security, and another $1 million for game warden operations. We received an additional $1.5 million to cover the gap between our cost to provide data center services versus the price we pay DIR, or Department of Information Resources, to acquire services from IBM. State employees received a 2 percent pay increase this year and there were Schedule C increases for our Law Enforcement, and that's totaling $3.4 million.

We're also carrying forward another $445,000 of land sale proceeds for the Fund 9 related acquisitions, and we anticipate future proceeds to be added relating to the sale of the Game Warden Academy. Finally, there was $12.5 million added for a coastal erosion project and we will transfer that amount to the General Land Office via an interagency contract.

While there were several positives this session, there were also a few reductions. We are transferring the 18 historic sites to the Historical Commission and that transfer amounts to a $2.8 million reduction to our base since we will no longer operate those sites. The other transfer is for the Texas State Railroad and that results in an operating reduction of about $600,000. There was an administrative reduction that amounted to close to $500,000. Several state agencies had a similar reduction applied during this session.

The appropriation bill also includes revenues that have not yet been collected, so we will reduce the amount of appropriation by $7.9 million and we did not budget those funds because we haven't earned them yet, so you'll see them coming in as we collect them.

That concludes my presentation on the proposed 2008 operating and capital budget. I will move on to the next item which is to review the budget and investment policies for your approval.

There have been no changes to the budget policy since the prior year, so I'll just, again, touch on a few key points. The Commission authorizes the executive director to approve and execute necessary expenditures, budget adjustments and transfers. Several different types of transactions are detailed in the policy. Budget adjustments, excluding federal grants and bonds that exceed $250,000 require approval from the chairman of the Commission and the chairman of the finance committee.

Moving on to the investment policy, again, this policy has not changed since the prior year, but as the governing body of this Department, you are required to review this policy annually.

All funds administered by Parks and Wildlife are required to be deposited in the State Treasury, except for the four funds that are highlighted on this slide. While not required, all of these funds do reside in the Treasury, except for the operation game fee. Those funds are invested in CDs in several separate bank accounts. All bank accounts must be authorized by delegated investment officers and they must be properly collateralized. Specific reporting requirements are also included in the policy.

If there are no questions relating to the operating budget and the policies, we do recommend the Commission adopt the following motion as highlighted on the slide.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions, Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You've done a great job of reviewing all of this. I think before we vote on it, though, I do want to thank the Legislature, the Governor's office, Lieutenant Governor's office. It takes a lot of work, obviously, to put this kind of budget and to find the kind of dollars as we were able to find in the 80th Legislature, and Mary was a big part of that and Gene and Bob and lots of people in this Department. But we got great support and really did walk away, I think, where a lot of people in the Legislature understood the issue, particularly at the parks but really throughout the Department and came to the table.

At the same time, it's our job of the Commission and the Department to spend the dollars wisely and efficiently because, obviously, in two years we're going to go back, and if we think we have the momentum and have accomplished some of the goals that we've set out in agreement with the Legislature, that there will be opportunity to keep that going. But I just want to make sure that everybody on the Commission and the public knows that both the Senate and the House were very supportive and came through. As they say, they kind of put their money where their mouth is, and they expect us in our actions then to use that money wisely. So I want to thank everybody who was involved in the Department and particularly in the Legislature also.

So Mary, with that, thank you. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motion by Parker, second by Hixon. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thanks, Mary.

MS. FIELDS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Item Number 8, General Obligation Bond Program, new bond proceeds. Mr. Steve Whiston.

MR. WHISTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Commissioners, good morning. For the record, I am Steve Whiston, director of the Infrastructure Division.

As you know, the 80th Legislature authorized $52.12 million of new general obligation bond proceeds for Parks and Wildlife for this upcoming '08-09 biennium. These bonds include $27.12 million of bond proceeds for state park repairs and $25 million for the Battleship Texas. These new bond proceeds are a part of a $1 billion bond package for nine state agencies that will be submitted to the voters this coming November as Proposition 4 on the ballot for their approval.

This morning we are requesting your approval of a bond resolution that formally requests the Texas Public Finance Authority to effect the financing and issue of these new bond proceeds contingent upon the approval of the voters in November. Please note, Commissioners, that the version of the bond resolution that's being passed to you ‑‑ and the project list does have some minor changes in the project list from the version you saw previously.

With that, Commissioners, my recommendation for you this morning is that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts, by resolution, Exhibit A, the resolution authorizing a request for financing and the execution and delivery of documents required to effect such financing. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Steve, I like that picture. I was thinking of the railroad when I saw that picture, too.

MR. WHISTON: That looks expensive.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, that does look expensive, and this is what happens; we operate lots of roads and lots of parks and lots of facilities.

Any questions or comments for Steve?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thanks, Steve. And I have no speakers or people who want to speak to it. Do we have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motion Friedkin, second Brown. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Thanks, Steve.

Item Number 9, action, Fiscal Year 2008 General Obligation Bond Program, state park repairs.

Steve, you're up again.

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir. Thank you again, Chairman Holt and Commissioners. I am Steve Whiston, director of Infrastructure Division.

In addition to the new general obligation bonds, the Legislature in this past session also approved another $17 million of our remaining Proposition 8 bond authority for critical state park repairs. These Proposition 8 bonds were previously approved by the Texas voters in 2001 and are not on the ballot this November. Since 2003, Parks and Wildlife has received a total of about $54.8 million of bond proceeds under this previously approved authority.

This action item this morning requests your approval of a second bond resolution that requests the Texas Public Finance Authority to proceed with the financing and issue of these additional $17 million of Proposition 8 bonds. And again, as before, Commissioners, the project list that's circulating for your signature under the resolution does have some minor changes from the one version that was previously mailed to you.

With that, again, Commissioners, we also ask your approval of a motion stating that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts, by resolution, Exhibit A, the resolution authorizing a request for financing and execution and delivery of documents required to effect such financing.

And again, I'd be happy to answer questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: These bonds were voted on in 2001?

MR. WHISTON: In 2001, yes, sir, part of the original Proposition 8 bond authority.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So now we have the appropriation to spend these. Would that be it, or is there any more dollars from that bond election?

MR. WHISTON: No, sir. Originally we were issued or authorized about $101.5 million of authority in that original bond package. With this additional $17 million, that will exhaust the monies that are available to us. It's our understanding that the balance of any authority that was left in that bond program has been swept by the Legislature and directed to other agencies.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Did we get our $101-?

MR. WHISTON: No, sir, we got —

COMMISSIONER HOLT: How much did we get in total once you add it all up, $54- and $17-, so $71-?

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir, $71-.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I guess that's pretty good, 70 percent. I won't say anything. Again, any questions or comments. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FALCON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Falcon, and Martin second. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. I think, again, it's important. November election is a billion-dollar-plus bond election so we're a fairly small part of it but still very important for ourselves and the state of Texas. Thanks, Steve.

Number 10, briefing, Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo. Ernie Gammage. I like this.

MR. GAMMAGE: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. My name is Ernie Gammage. I'm the branch chief for Urban Outdoor Programs, and the director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo, here to tell you about our 16th Annual Expo.

Over the past 15 years, we have engaged over a half a million Texans here at Parks and Wildlife headquarters ‑‑ and for our new commissioners, if you were to ask me what is the Parks and Wildlife Expo, it is both who we are and what we are as an agency. That half a million folks who have been through our gates, about 47 percent of them are youth and children, and our expectation is that by engaging them in outdoor recreation, they will come to care about the outdoors in which they recreate, and finally, to care for it.

Expo Weekend kicks off on October 5th for the Expo Banquet and Conservation Hall of Fame celebration. Saturday and Sunday, October 6th and 7th, we open the doors at nine o'clock and the event runs until 5:00 p.m. The Friday night event is presented by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. It will once again be at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, just up the road about 20 minutes from here toward Bastrop, and for the first time we'll be inducting Perry R. Bass and the Texas Bighorn Society into the Conservation Hall of Fame. And we hope that you will buy tables and support that great event as it raises money for the foundation.

The next day, Saturday, we open up with some new opportunities for fun and recreation at the Expo. We'll have an extended family camping demonstration area in the state park outdoor skills area. There will be geocaching, a rising sport that a lot of folks go to our state parks to do, and we want to give people an opportunity to find out more about that. There will be an expanded off-highway vehicle presence; two national organizations who support off-highway vehicle recreation will be down here with their displays.

And we'll have a personal watercraft simulator in the wet zone where kids and adults will have a chance to actually hop on a personal watercraft and zoom around using what is essentially a gaming type activity, while at the same time learning about personal flotation devices and safety.

Anglers Legacy, a program of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, will be here asking all you anglers to take the pledge to simply take one new person fishing who has not been fishing before. We hope that you'll take that pledge.

We're going to have more information on invasive species in the fishing and aquatic area. This continues to be a problem in Texas and we need to let those moms and dads and kids know that they should not be dumping their aquariums in our lakes and streams because they can cause, and do cause, real problems for us.

New in the Little Critters Corner are four new habitat puzzles that look at four ecosystems in the state of Texas and help even young kids understand what goes on there, what sort of biodiversity, both in flora and fauna, are available and why it's important.

And finally, on Sunday from 12:00 to 2:00, our spokesperson, Kevin Fowler, country star, for the Nobody's Waterproof boater safety campaign will be on site signing those boater safety posters.

And of course, returning to Expo, our linchpin, all the shooting sports that go on in the back of the building. Tom Knapp, the shooting star, will be there doing his incredible feats with a shotgun at one o'clock. We get people from all over the country that come to see Tom.

Fishing and aquatic presentations and activities will take place over in what is now Parking Lot C but will be the fishing and aquatic area, and a highlight always is Sea World's amazing animals that takes place in the main tent.

John Karger's Birds of Prey Show, arguably one of the most popular things, and certainly a presentation that's been at Expo since its inception, will be back with us. We'll have sporting dogs in the sporting dogs arena.

And something that we started about seven years ago, the Outdoor Kids Challenge, challenges kids to do a little bit of everything at Expo. One of the things that we dealt with in the past was a boy or girl would come to the event and all they would do all day would be to climb the climbing wall or mountain bike. We want them to taste everything that's available to them in the outdoors, and the challenge gets them to do that by essentially bribing them with the opportunity to win a lifetime hunting or lifetime fishing license, an outdoor state park pass, and all of the gear to go with it to get them and their families into the outdoors.

And once again, we are going to walk the walk and recycle at Expo because if we can't do that and demonstrate to people that we as an organization are interested in conservation and habitat preservation and keeping stuff out of our landfills, what can we expect other folks to do?

We have ramped up significantly our Hispanic marketing this year. We have 12,500 bilingual flyers tailored to the San Antonio market that will be actually delivered to schools, elementary schools ‑‑ fifth graders ‑‑ over in San Antonio. We are going to receive from our media partners more radio promotion in Austin and in Waco on Spanish language radio stations. And at Expo, for the first time, we're going to have some what we call the Outdoor 101 series brochures translated into Spanish. And they'll be available right at the front door at the international pavilion. These will focus on saltwater and freshwater fishing, hunting, camping in Texas, and most importantly, I think who we are as an agency and what our role is in conservation so that our Spanish-speaking friends and Texans come to understand who we are and what we do.

We hope that you'll come out and bring your families to Expo on the 6th and 7th and that we can see you at the foundation's banquet on Friday, the 5th, and I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Parker.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: If my memory serves me correct, you were chairman of the Expo what year?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: It rained and rained and rained, so Ernie said, we don't want you as chairman anymore.

(General laughter.)

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Phil, were you ever chairman?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I was not chairman.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: You were not chairman. Well, I have been chairman and I think last year the tradition slipped by that I think I would recommend that the chair seriously consider a member of the Commission acting as a special chair of the Expo.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I've got a note to myself.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: And I would recommend you could either take a volunteer or just appoint, as Joseph appointed you and appointed me.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I appreciate that, Commissioner Parker, but, no, in fact, I had visited with somebody about it yesterday and I'll get with Ernie and we will visit about that. I think it's appropriate and absolutely the right thing to do, so we'll select somebody. Okay?

Any other questions for Ernie?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Yes. Do you have attendance records, or what is the maximum attendance?

MR. GAMMAGE: We like to say that we have about 40,000 people over the weekend. The most people we have ever had has been 47,000, and frankly, that was a little uncomfortable. I think our optimum number is somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 folks. Visitors seem to have a better time, we can have more quality interaction with them, and that's just a real comfortable number for us.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: That's a great number. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: How are you doing, Ernie, on outreach outside Austin-Travis County?

MR. GAMMAGE: We have also ramped that activity up and also contacted all the youth organizations that any of our folks have identified outside of the Austin area and sent them information about how they can bus in their groups to Expo, how we'll take care of them. We've got a special entry and a bunch of other things that we do. So we're hoping to see an up-tick there.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay, wonderful. Any other questions for Ernie?

For the new commissioners, I'd recommend, if you haven't gotten a chance, Expo, the auction and dinner on Friday night. In fact, those are the first conservation awards, I think, given. So we're honoring, of course, Perry Bass, who was chairman emeritus here for years and years and years, and the Texas Bighorn Sheep Society. So that's a wonderful dinner. And then the next two days, Ernie really puts on a great show here, and our sponsors love it and kids love it. It's a wonderful, wonderful thing, and when the weather is good, boy, they turn out. People come in here; it's a lot of fun.

Thank you, Ernie. There's no action item on this, so we appreciate it. Thanks.

MR. GAMMAGE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Action Item Number 11 we have Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation Rule Amendments, Use of Laser Sighting Devices. Mr. Mike Berger, Mike.

MR. BERGER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, I'm Mike Berger, director of the Wildlife Division, and we're here this morning to talk about an action item that would expand hunting opportunity for our legally blind constituents.

As you know, House Bill 308 in the last Legislature amended our code by authorizing use of laser sighting devices to be used by hunters who are legally blind as long as they are accompanied by another licensed hunter, age 13 or older. Under the terms of this bill, we are required to adopt rules to prescribe proof of legal blindness and we've established that as a note from a physician or optometrist. I think we did not publish the rule with the word "ophthalmologist," but we will modify that to take care of that.

These rules were published in the July issue of the Texas Register. We have had only 10 comments on this rule; seven were in support and three were opposed. So our recommendation is that you adopt an amendment to 6511 concerning lawful means, with changes as necessary as to the rule that was published.

I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We do have one person who would like to speak to this, Kirby Brown.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. BROWN: I'm with Texas Wildlife Association. We support the staff proposal. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thanks, Kirby, appreciate the comments.

Any other questions or comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Dan Friedkin. Do I have a second?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Mr. Bivins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thanks, Mike.

Number 12, Implementation of recommendations by the State Auditor's Office audit of state parks financial processes. Scott Boruff.

MR. BORUFF: Chairman Holt, Commissioners, for the record, my name is Scott Boruff; I'm the deputy executive director of operations. It's my pleasure to bring to you two action items this morning.

As discussed yesterday, we are fully engaged in implementing the recommendations of this year's State Auditor's report. Two of those recommendations require or at least suggest that action by the Commission and I'm going to present those real briefly to you this morning.

The first is that we would seek your support of a recommendation, actually a resolution, that would require Texas Parks and Wildlife staff to seek input from legislative oversight committees and local communities to maintain a parks system that has statewide merit and that serves our goals and missions. These are actions that we typically do but we're looking for endorsement from you directly.

The second item relative to the SAO recommendations is that we will seek your approval for these prioritized criteria for capital improvements and repair needs that we discussed yesterday. I'm going to briefly summarize those. The first are health and safety requirements. I wanted to make sure for the record we understand these are not emergency repairs. If we have a situation in which health and human safety is imminently threatened, we will not allow that facility to remain open; it will either be closed or immediately repaired. This is for planning purposes and health and safety in this regard implies that if repairs are not made, that sometime out in the future they would represent a health and safety issue.

The second are regulatory issues which are self-explanatory. We have both federal and state regulations that we are required to adhere to, and those would be part of the prioritization process.

The third is business continuity. There are a lot of sub-components there, but the primary components are, first of all, to maintain the visitation and revenue that the state parks currently experience, in other words, repairs that would prevent us from having to close down parks and realize a decrease in revenue and visitation, as well as projects that could potentially generate new revenue for state parks. There are other considerations, but primarily, those are business continuity considerations.

The last criteria that we have presented to you are mission support projects, and those are projects that will support the mission of the agency in terms of natural, cultural and recreational resources and the availability to the public.

With that summary, I would ask you to consider the following two motions, the first requiring staff to seek input and the second adopting the prioritization criteria that I just outlined.

I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Scott, I want to thank you. Appreciate you getting in the middle of this quickly because this is a major undertaking, takes everybody in the Department. There's been a lot of cooperation and coordination, but it's been led primarily by Scott, with help, of course, from Gene and lots of others, department heads, division heads throughout. It was required of us by the Legislature as part of our duties going forward, and I think there could have been either a negative reaction or a positive reaction relative to how we approach this.

And Scott, I want to tell you I appreciate your attitude about doing it in a very collaborative methodology which I think is going to allow this to become really a positive thing for us in the sense of going forward. So I'm really pleased with how we've approached it. And just to let you know, Scott's group has been ahead of the curve on literally everything from the date to the methodology to the process, so it's worked out great.

Any other questions or comments? Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Brown. Second?

COMMISSIONER FALCON: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Falcon second. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you, Scott.

Number 13, Duck Stamp Fees, Mr. Tom Newton.

MR. NEWTON: Good morning. I'm Tom Newton. I'm the License Revenue manager.

Legislation authorized by State Bill 1668 provided for the implementation of electronic duck stamp. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services recently implemented a program for state agencies such as Texas Parks and Wildlife to issue the federal duck stamp electronically. Texas is one of nine pilot states. The electronic stamp will be available at TPW headquarters, law enforcement offices, state parks, internet and the call center.

The changes for license year 2008 will be a price increase of $2 which will take the stamp from $15 to $17. The customer will be issued a document that's good for 45 days and during that time AMPLEX will fulfill with the regular stamp. The future availability ‑‑ next year the electronic duck stamp will be available at all of our retail outlets in the license year 2009. This will include over 1,600 license sales outlets throughout the state, and that will be beginning September of 2008.

The benefit for the Fed on this is a central distribution point which is AMPLEX is located in Dallas, and inventory control. The benefit for us will be an increase in the sales outlets and elimination of shortages that often occur at some of our smaller outlets like the post office and other public places like that.

In the public comments, on the electronic federal duck stamp, as published in the Texas Register, pending approval of the Commission, we did have some comments. Fifteen respondents agreed citing increased availability and five respondents disagreed citing the cost increase. The recommendation is to approve as stated on the slide.

Be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Parker.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: After the transaction, will the person receive the duck stamp itself?

MR. NEWTON: Yes, sir. The first thing that happens at the point of sale is a document that's identical to your license ‑‑ and it's good for 45 days, and then the stamp gets physically mailed to you. You should get it within two to three weeks, and you can throw away the document you received.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And Tom, what is the plan once we go through the pilot stage? Do we get rid of that part of it, hopefully?

MR. NEWTON: Yes, sir. Being a pilot gives us time to tweak the system, to improve the system, and the biggest improvement will be to get rid of this extra piece of paper. We have a couple of different options, but the one we're looking at primarily is to print the stamp and the expiration date on one of the unused tags that we have, unused tag space, and it would be a nonfunctional tag, so we could get rid of that. It would work the same way. So that's the major improvement that we're planning.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good, okay.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: After the pilot program, would hunters still receive a stamp, or would it just be a validation or something that's on the actual license?

MR. NEWTON: When we roll out to all of our agents next year?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Yes.

MR. NEWTON: No, you would still receive a stamp. You would still have to have in your possession the physical stamp.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: For 45 days?

MR. NEWTON: Right. And it will function pretty much like an endorsement like it did in the past, but it will be an endorsement with an expiration date and it will be fulfilled exactly the same as this year; you'll get your stamp in two to three weeks.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Paperless society has not gone paperless, has it? I do have one person that wants to speak to this, Kirby Brown.

MR. BROWN: Mr. Chairman, members, my name is Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association.

I honestly thought that I would probably go to my grave without something like this in place. The federal government has been an absolute obstacle associated with getting this duck stamp moving forward.

I think this started, Cook, in '94, '95. I actually retired from the Department in the meantime. It's good to see that it's in place; it's good to see that it's moving forward. I agree with you. I hope we give people an option later on to have the paperless society that we've discussed, but we'll see where it goes. We do support this. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Kirby. Any other questions or comments from the Commissioners?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motion Hixon, and second by Bivins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thanks.

Item 14, resolution, Designation of representatives to the Biological Advisory Team and the Citizens Advisory Committee for Comal County Regional Habitat Conservation Plan. Matt Wagner.

MR. WAGNER: Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Matt Wagner. I'm program director for Wildlife Diversity.

We have yet another habitat conservation plan emerging in Texas. This one is the Comal County HCP and, by rule, the Department is required to assign two members to those planning committees. In this case, we'd like to designate Mr. Mike Quinn on the Biological Advisory Team, and Mr. Terry Turney to serve on the Citizens Advisory Committee, and those names are submitted for your approval.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Are they from within the agency?

MR. WAGNER: They are employees of the Wildlife Division, yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: What is their designation, just so I understand who we're putting on these.

MR. WAGNER: Terry Turney is actually the local wildlife diversity biologist for that area, so he's familiar with the county, the landowners and the issues, and Mr. Mike Quinn is an invertebrate biologist here in Austin, very familiar with the carst systems and the invertebrates that live in those systems. Those are the issues that are being dealt with really throughout the whole Interstate 35 corridor from Williamson County to Comal. This is the fourth HCP that we have been involved with.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I don't have anybody signed up. Is there a motion?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Martin motion. Second?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second from Parker. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Thank you, Matt.

MR. WAGNER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Number 15 is an action item also, Designation of TPWD representative and representatives of recreational interests in the Guadalupe River Basin to the Steering Committee of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program.

DR. McKINNEY: For the record, I'm Dr. Larry McKinney, director of Coastal Fisheries. Appreciate the opportunity to visit with you today on this item.

The 80th Legislature and Senate Bill 3 required that the Edwards Aquifer Authority, in conjunction with a number of other organizations, including Texas Parks and Wildlife, develop what's called a recovery implementation program, or RIP, as it's called for short, for the Edwards Aquifer. The RIP is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tool used to address endangered species recovery through a collaborative process that can also involve federal funding. And the two incentives to participate in that program are that the development of the recovery program ‑‑ if it's done through these organizations, it helps keep the federal regulations to a minimum, if possible, and of course, if they're successful in developing a plan, it does bring the prospect of federal funding and that can be significant in some perspectives.

One of your obligations in this legislative mandate is to approve two members of a 21-person steering committee that has to be appointed by September 30 of this year. Those two members ‑‑ one is a representative from the agency and the second is a representative of a recreational interest in the Guadalupe River Basin.

I don't think I need to tell you, probably, the issues associated with the Edwards Aquifer and that whole area are very complicated, some of the most complex and difficult natural resource management issues that we have to deal with. The Edwards Aquifer, of course, remains essentially the sole source of water for the city of San Antonio. There are endangered species associated with practically every aspect of it, nearly all the major Hill Country rivers feed or pass over the Edwards, and of course, there are direct impacts to the basin estuaries as well.

All of Texas's largest springs have their origins in the Edwards Aquifer and practically every one of those springs also has an endangered species associated with it. Under normal conditions, the aquifer provides about 30 percent of the flows to the Guadalupe River and during drought times, up to 70 percent of those flows as well. Of course, the river basin itself has a number of endangered species associated with it, as well as, for example, the Cagle's map turtle that is shown here. The river is a primary source of freshwater inflows to San Antonio Bay and, yes, there's endangered species associated with that as well ‑‑ the whooping crane ‑‑ and it certainly is a very productive area from the fishery standpoint as well.

Recreational activities associated with the Edwards Aquifer and the Guadalupe River are certainly significant, probably the most significant of any our recreational aspects dealing with rivers, as shown here by some examples. I think if you look on the far right there, that's one of our Commissioners, Montgomery, who is balanced somewhat precariously on the bow of that canoe but it didn't turn over. We appreciate that. On the briefing that you heard on activities yesterday morning, many of those activities occur within the Guadalupe Basin, so it's very important that our representatives be able to work effectively with very diverse groups.

And so staff has two recommendations for your consideration. The first, the agency representative is Cindy Loeffler. Cindy is here, if you'll stand up. Many of you know Cindy; those of you who don't will get to know Cindy. She has been our point person for water for a number of years and is well respected throughout the community on both sides of those issues. She does a wonderful job for us and certainly will here as well, no exception.

Our recommendation for our recreational representative was a little bit more difficult in that we had a number of very well-qualified people step forward and offer their services, which we greatly appreciate; however, the choice was relatively straightforward for us as a recommendation, Mr. Tim Cook. Tim is here, if he can stand up, and will certainly be available to talk with you. Tim, just to give you a little bit of background. he is the state conservation director for the Bass Anglers Sportsmen's Society of America, B.A.S.S. This year he won the conservation director of the year, a national award, for his work there. He's worked with us on a number of projects. For example, he is on our Inland Fisheries Advisory Committee, and significantly in this relationship he was a key member of the working group on Lake Conroe that helped us deal with that hydrilla problem. You know that was very contentious, had a lot of diverse interests there, but he was a key person in helping bring all those folks together which we greatly appreciate.

So with that, Mr. Chairman and members, pending your questions and comments from the public, we would like to recommend you consider these two individuals and the motion as it's stated here.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Mr. Chairman, this is not directly related to this but it's just a curiosity question from me. With all the rainfall in the San Antonio area and as we were forwarded photographs of Government Canyon that's pretty much under water, what is the level of the Edwards Aquifer?

DR. McKINNEY: Well, I don't know. I can find out, but it's about as high as it can be. It's holding all the water that it can hold.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Can it completely fill up?

DR. McKINNEY: Cindy, I'm going to ask you. As I said, she's the one who actually knows these things.

MR. LOEFFLER: For the record, my name is Cindy Loeffler.

I understand that the Edwards Aquifer reached, I believe, the second highest level ever recorded ‑‑ I think the highest was in 1994 ‑‑ back in July, this summer. As far as can the aquifer completely fill up, the springs are the natural outlet for the aquifer.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So it's a dynamic process.

MS. LOEFFLER: Right. So I wouldn't say the aquifer really completely fills up. When it does get full the springs flow more.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: That's a great thing to have that drought situation relieved.

MS. LOEFFLER: Yes. It takes a lot of pressure off of us and makes our job a little easier, but we still have to deal with it. Thanks.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions or comments? Of course, Larry, I want to thank you. But also Cindy and Tim Cook, I appreciate you doing this because I know it adds to the workload, but I think it's very important and, of course, required by the Senate bill that we have representation, both from the agency and from recreational interests. So I want to thank Cindy and Tim for taking this on. Thank you very much.

Do we have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Dan Friedkin, and seconded by Brown. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thanks.

DR. McKINNEY: Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

Item 16, action, Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, late season provisions. Vernon Bevill, Vernon.

MR. BEVILL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. My name is Vernon Bevill and I'm the Small Game Program director. I'm here today to brief you and present an action item for the 2007 waterfowl seasons for Texas.

As you can see in this first slide, habitat conditions on the primary breeding grounds for ducks are in very good shape this year, better than last year, and this red line is a long term average of the number of ponds that are surveyed. And as you can see, the number of ponds this year is well above the long term average, as are the number of breeding ducks. In fact, this is, I think, the third highest number of breeding pairs that have been counted on those breeding grounds in recent times. So we're in pretty good shape for a good fall flight.

There are several major changes coming this year. We have been able to add geese to that special youth hunting weekend for the first time, we shifted some of the days from the High Plains Mallard Management Unit later, and then we have increased the bag limit on Canada geese and the western goose by one to now total four, and the conservation order for light geese will close a bit later this year.

For the High Plains Mallard Management Unit, ducks, mergansers and coots are similar to last year except that we have moved some of the days that were in the September teal season into this regular duck season so that that offers actually a broader better opportunity for hunters. And for the north and south zones, these seasons are similar to last year with calendar shift. We have been managing the north and south zones functionally as one because we have liberal packages and it's hard to split up liberal packages in a real good functional way, but if we ever go back to a shorter season structure, those zone lines become real important in managing opportunity to maximize that for our sportsmen.

Bag limits are similar to last year. We're in the second year of what we call the hunter's choice bag which is one bird in the aggregate of either a mallard hen, pintail, canvasback, or what we call our dusky duck which is primarily in Texas the mottled duck which we have some concerns about.

For the eastern goose zone, all seasons open on November 3; however, the white front season, where we are requesting two white fronts in the bag, will close a bit earlier than the other seasons because they're restricted to a 72-day season when we have a two-bag limit. And for the western goose zone, there are similar seasons for both light and dark geese and similar to last year. And immediately after closing these regular waterfowl seasons, we shift to our light goose conservation order to begin in the western goose zone on February 6 and run to March 30, and in the eastern goose zone the 28th of January, and again run to March 30.

For sandhill cranes, seasons are shown in this slide. I would point out to you that Zones B and C stagger in their opening because we are counting on the migration of the whooping crane to come through during that period of time, so we let the whoopers come through before we open the sandhill crane season.

And this is the recommendation. I will tell you that we've had a fairly active comment period on these proposals and we have received a minimum of 75 percent support for every one of the major changes proposed, and so we feel comfortable in offering this recommendation to you. I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Vernon, on some of the negatives that you do get, what are some of the issues? You said —

MR. BEVILL: They're kind of all over the scope. One is opening duck season the same weekend as deer season.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, we heard that.

MR. BEVILL: And when you have this 74-day season ‑‑ and for ducks it's extremely important to put a real split in the season which includes a closed weekend at about mid-season. That means that we back up from the last day of the season which is Sunday, the 27th of January, and we work back in our calendar to see where we put our split, and then have to open, so it just works out that they kind of collide with the deer season. And for those who are dedicated duck hunters, they duck hunt. And for those who are dedicated deer hunters, they deer hunt. And the good news is both seasons are long enough to get plenty of hunting in and maybe hunting is a little better a little later anyway for both of them.

Any other questions?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do we have a motion? Wait. Let me see. We do have somebody speaking to this. Well, it's Kirby Brown.

Kirby, we always like to see you, buddy.

(General laughter.)

MR. BROWN: I like to do this as rebuttal in case someone is in the back of the room sometimes. My name is Kirby Brown and we support the staff proposal. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thanks, Kirby. Any other questions or comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Friedkin motion, second Mr. Bivins. Thank you, Vernon. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Number 17, action, Vessel Regulations. Alfonso Campos.

MR. CAMPOS: Good morning. I'm Alfonso Campos, chief of Marine Enforcement.

These rules will affect marine license holders. It will be House Bill 3764 and the implementation. Traditionally, boat dealers and boat manufacturers display and test and demonstrate their vessels to prospective clients much in the way the automobile dealers do. That's going to remain the same. House Bill 3764, however, expands the use of inventory boats for other legitimate business and sales practices. Expanded uses will now include recreational use, which was prohibited previously, and participation in contests or events such as fishing tournaments. This will require the issuance of special validation cards and decals.

The expanded use is limited. A boat can be used for no more than six consecutive days or 12 days in any one month. A validation card and decals on the boat will be required, and each use of that boat must be noted on a usage log. That record shall be maintained at the business. One validation card and one set of decals will be issued to each marine licensee ‑‑ there are about 1,200 statewide ‑‑ and additional sets will be priced at $120 each.

We did receive 17 comments, 13 in agreement and four were against. Do you have any questions?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: It's fairly straightforward, Al. Thank you.

Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Martin. Second from somebody?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Parker. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Al, appreciate it. Item 18, rules regarding eligibility of real property for inclusion in the State Parks System. Walt Dabney.

MR. DABNEY: Chairman and Commissioners, good morning. I'm Walt Dabney, State Parks director, and I'm here to talk to you about a requirement from House Bill 12 to establish rules for accepting lands donated for inclusion into the State Parks System.

We've looked at this and identified six categories. These lands should be either contiguous to existing parkland, have recreational value, natural resource value, historical value, be of a certain size, and maybe have some other values associated with it. Contiguous ‑‑ pretty obvious ‑‑ that would address some ability to add to existing parks and address inholding issues. One of the great features about that is you're not adding much cost to operate them if you're adding to existing parks.

Recreational value is pretty straightforward, certainly. Water is a big one in Texas and that's an advantage. Protection of natural resources or including pieces of land that have environmental sensitivity or endangered species. Historical value is straightforward. And many of these sites have all of these: recreational, historical, as well as conservation values. Size is important. If it's under 500 acres it certainly should be either contiguous or an inholding; if it's over 500 acres, it could be considered as a stand-alone unit, although the land and water conservation plan identifies new park areas of being 5,000 acres or more. Ancillary values, obviously to protect watershed and goose shed and those kinds of things, realizing that all these sites are probably going to be an island one of these days surrounded by development.

The rule only pertains to donated land for inclusion into the parks system, and the Commission certainly has the discretion to accept or decline any donations that would come before it. The rule was published in July of '07, there were 20 responses, 18 in favor, and we would recommend that the regulation be adopted. I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions, comments from the Commission?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do we have a motion?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER FALCON: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Brown, second Commissioner Falcon. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you for setting these up.

Number 19, action, Land Donation, Gonzales County. Mr. Corky Kuhlmann.

MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation Program.

This item is a donation at Palmetto State Park, Gonzales County. It's 1.35 acres; it's adjacent to the park; no additional steps are required to accept it. It is the red tract you see on your screen. The landowner is going to donate the property and reserve a life estate. Staff recommends you pass the motion before you, and I'll be glad to answer any questions if there are any.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hixon, second Commissioner Parker. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: This is perfect. Fits the criteria beautifully, doesn't it.

Number 20, action, Land Acquisition, Jefferson County, J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management. Corky Kuhlmann, Corky up again.

MR. KUHLMANN: Again for the record, Corky Kuhlmann. This is the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area headquarters complex. This is an inholding of approximately 62-by-92-foot lot. We've been trying to purchase this tract for about 20 years; it's become available. Staff recommends that you pass the motion before you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any comments or questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Friedkin motion, second Commissioner Brown. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

Number 21, Pipeline Easement across J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ted Hollingsworth, I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

This particular item is the culmination of a couple of years of negotiation with the Golden Pass Pipeline Corporation. It's an LNG facility on the Sabine River. Transmission of the product requires 14 miles of new 42-inch pipeline across the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management area. These are aerial images of the portions of he WMA that will be crossed by the pipeline. The pipeline will extend another 30 or 40 miles past the WMA and will hook up with several other transmission lines in Louisiana. You've been appraised of the terms and conditions that staff have arrived at with Golden Pass Pipeline, and staff does recommend that you adopt the motion that you see.

Be happy to answer any questions that you have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We do have one person that wants to speak to this. Tom Burger.

MR. BURGER: Commissioner Holt, Commissioners, thank you for having us this morning. I'm Tom Burger with Golden Pass LNG Golden Pass Pipeline, and just wanted to say we support the recommendation and thank you for your consideration of the proposal.

Also special thanks to many in the Texas Parks and Wildlife for helping progress the design of this project. We've been working on it for 3-1/2 years in the design and the permitting and really a special thanks goes to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Management Area, Len Polasek and Jim Sutherlin, for working with us. I don't know how many air boat rides, boat rides, aerial rides, in developing the route for this pipeline and we think we have developed the most environmentally favorable route through the area to deliver this important natural gas project to Southeast Texas, Texas and the nation. So thank you for your consideration.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you. I just want to thank Jim Sutherlin, particularly over there, Jim and Ted, and of course, Bob Cook, and everybody who has been involved in this very sensitive issue and worked out the appropriate solution for all concerned, and Tom, appreciate you speaking to that too, that it was a win-win and there was great cooperation from your group, the Golden Pass group, and Texas Parks and Wildlife, and all others involved, and I think because of that we came up with a solution that works for everybody, and a fair deal for the citizens of the state of Texas. So I want to thank everybody's involvement.

Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Montgomery, and second from Commissioner Bivins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you very much.

Number 22, Land Sale, Donley County. Ted.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth with the Land Conservation Program.

This is the second reading of an item to sell an odd tract of land at the Taylor Lakes Unit, one of three units which comprise the Playa Lakes WMA. The unit was severed from the main body of the WMA by a state highway. It is too small to be practical to contribute biological value to the site and is impractical for management by the staff. Per policy, we have the property assessed as to value, offered it to an adjacent landowner; we have a contract with one of the adjacent landowners to sell and recommend that you adopt the motion that would allow us to close on that transaction.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Is there a motion?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Brown motion, second Commissioner Montgomery. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you.

Number 23, action, Travis County, the Austin Game Warden Academy. Ted, also.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth with the Land Conservation Program.

This is an item you've seen several times previously. The Game Warden Academy in Austin, the Austin facility, is being sold to generate funds for the development of the Hamilton County facility. We have advertised and entered into a contract to sell 6.66 acres. We were of the understanding that 2.4 acres belonged to another state agency. It turned out, when we went to do title work, that we do own, in fact, the entire 6.66 acres. This agenda item is simply a technicality that would allow you to authorize us to sell that additional acreage which is already under contract, and staff does recommend that you authorize us to do so.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Martin, and second Commissioner Parker. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thanks, Ted.

Number 24, Land Acquisition, Brazoria County. Ted also.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners.

This is an item to acquire a 20-acre inholding in the Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area. We were unaware of any inholdings and were contacted by the owner recently. She is willing to sell us this 20-acre inholding at very much a bargain sale. We have entered into a contract with her to do so. It would complete, as far as we know, our ownership of the Nannie M. Stringfellow area, and staff does recommend that you authorize us to proceed to close on that transaction.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any comments, questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So moved.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Bivins, second Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you.

Number 25, action, Land Donation, Bastrop County. Ted is up again.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

This is one donation in a series of donations attempting to add undeveloped land to Bastrop State Park while we have a rare opportunity to do so. This particular tract is approximately 128 acres, includes a couple of ponds, includes some very high quality Houston toad endangered species habitat, and some high quality forested lands. It is contiguous with the park, can be operated by existing park staff, and staff does recommend that you accept the donation.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any comments or questions for Ted?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: This is going to be beautiful. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hixon motion, second Commissioner Montgomery. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We're done. I think I'm supposed to read this. It says Item Number 26, action, Designation of the Texas State Railroad Right of Way as a park road, has been withdrawn.

Is there any other business to be brought before this committee, Mr. Cook?

MR. COOK: No, sir, there is not. And I want to thank the Commission. We had a long agenda and to get caught up through from the end of the session and our late regulations process, appreciate your help, appreciate the staff, and I cannot believe we're through at 11:00.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Everybody was well prepared and I do want to thank everybody. And I appreciate the Commissioners coming in early. With our new Commissioners, particularly, appreciate you coming in a day early, going through the orientation and being able to catch up. I think that helped a lot too, so I want to thank you all.

MR. COOK: We are complete.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I assume we have no other business.

MR. COOK: We have no other business, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do we adjourn at this point and then go to Executive Session?

MR. McCARTY: Recess for Executive Session.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We will now recess for Executive Session. Therefore, I'd like to announce that pursuant to requirements of Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time for the purpose of deliberating personnel matters under Section 551.074 of the Open Meetings Act, concerning the executive director search. Thank you.

(Whereupon, at 11:08 a.m., the meeting was recessed, to reconvene this same day, Thursday, August 23, 2007, following conclusion of the Executive Session.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: At this time, we will reconvene the regular session of the Commission meeting. Is there any other business to come before this Commission?

MR. COOK: No, sir, there is not.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: At this time, I will adjourn. We are adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 12:50 p.m., the meeting was concluded.)

In official recognition hereof, we hereby affix our signatures as approved this 23rd day of August 2007.

Peter M. Holt, Chairman

T. Dan Friedkin, Vice Chairman

Mark E. Bivins, Member

J. Robert Brown, Member

Antonio Falcon, M.D., Member

Karen J. Hixon, Member

Margaret Martin, Member

Philip Montgomery, Member

John D. Parker, Member

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Commission Meeting
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: August 23, 2007

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 96, 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.

8/30/07
(Transcriber) (Date)
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731


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