Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, March 26, 2008

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

  1. Land and Water Plan Update
    Staff: Carter Smith
  2. Naming State Parks and Historic Sites (Action Item No. 10)
    Staff: Walt Dabney
  3. Update on Hueco Tanks State Historic Site
    Staff: Wanda Olszewski
  4. Acceptance of Land Donation - Marion County - Approximately 1 Acre at Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) (Action Item No. 11)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  5. Land Donation - Williamson County - 6.18 Acres at Twin Lakes County Park - Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  6. Land Acquisition - Aransas County - .60 Acre at the Coastal Fisheries Maintenance Complex, Rockport (Action Item No. 12)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlman
  7. Land Donation - Palo Pinto County (Executive Session Only)
    Staff: Scott Boruff
  8. Selection of New Internal Auditor ( Executive Session and Action Item No. 2)
    Staff: Gene McCarty

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Carter Smith

Conservation Committee
Land and Water Plan Update
March 2008

I. Executive Summary: Executive Director Carter Smith will briefly update the Commission on the status of the agency's efforts to implement the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (the Plan).

II. Discussion: In 2001, the 77th Texas Legislature directed that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) develop a Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan (Tex. Park & Wild. Code §11.104). In November 2002, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) adopted the first Plan. A revised Plan was adopted by the Commission in January 2005. The Plan is available on the TPWD web site. Executive Director Carter Smith will update the Conservation Committee on TPWD's recent progress in achieving the Plan's Goals and Objectives as they relate to the Conservation Committee.

The Plan consists of 8 Goals and a total of 56 Objectives. The Goals stated in the Plan are as follows:


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenters: Wanda Olszewski

Conservation Committee
Update on Hueco Tanks State Historic Site
March 2008

I. Executive Summary: Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is a unique oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert, which has attracted humans for thousands of years. In its pictographs, archeology and other features, the site preserves a wealth of information about prehistoric and historic life, marveled at by visitors. The site's natural environment is much enjoyed for hiking, rock-climbing, camping and picnicking activities. In past decades, heavy use of Hueco Tanks placed its fragile resources at risk. Since 1998, TPWD has managed the site in a manner that provides protection for its natural and cultural features while allowing resource-compatible public use. A recent closure of a rock climbing area at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site exemplifies TPWD's standards of resource protection as well as communication with the site's stakeholders.

II. Discussion: Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is renowned for its Native American pictographs, which number in the thousands. The site also holds archeology spanning at least 10,000 years and a rich natural environment. Hollows or huecos in the site's rock masses capture and hold rainwater, creating an oasis-like environment in the surrounding desert. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a State Archeological Landmark, Hueco Tanks State Historic Site is also of ongoing cultural importance to affiliated groups including the Mescalero Apache, Kiowa and Tigua. Already a recreational resource for decades, Hueco Tanks became an extremely popular rock climbing and bouldering destination in the late 1980s, and remains so today. Heavy visitation prior to 1998 led to impacts including graffiti, vandalism of pictographs, erosion of archeological deposits and damage to vegetation. In order to ensure conservation of the site's natural and cultural resources while allowing resource-compatible public use, TPWD developed a Public Use Plan for Hueco Tanks. The plan was implemented in 1998 and revised in 2000. The plan established limits for visitation to areas of the site, an orientation program for visitors and a guide program for provision of interpretive and recreational tours. The plan has been effective; in the years since, vegetation in many areas has been restored, visitors enjoy interpretive and recreational tours, and graffiti has been removed from several pictograph sites by a professional conservator.

Balancing resource preservation and recreational use remains the site's most important mission. In December 2007, the need for protection of archeological deposits led to the closure of a popular climbing area known as "Mushroom Boulder." Site staff developed a plan to communicate the need for this closure to the public, with emphasis on the rock climbing community as the stakeholder group most affected. The communication plan included explanatory information provided directly to visitors, a press release and a "frequently asked questions" list, culminating in a well-attended presentation given at a nearby private campground owned and frequented by members of the climbing community. These actions involved staff at multiple levels and divisions within TPWD, and effectively made the case for the closure of this climbing area, to prevent further impact to irreplaceable resources.


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenters: Corky Kuhlmann

Conservation Committee
Land Donation-Williamson County
Twin Lakes County Park
March 2008

I. Executive Summary: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has been offered a donation of 6.18 acres of land representing an inholding at Twin Lakes County Park.

II. Discussion: Twin Lakes Park is a fifty-acre park operated and maintained by Williamson County. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department acquired jurisdiction of the fifty acres from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in accordance with Senate Bill 52 as enacted by the 70th Legislature-Second Called Session in 1987. The Legislature provided for the transfer of the property to TPWD to be maintained and operated by Williamson County. The intent of the Legislature was to provide parkland to be leased to Williamson County by TPWD.

TxDOT has offered an additional donation to TPWD of 6.18 acres representing an in-holding at the Twin Lakes Park site. This additional acreage will be leased to Williamson County to be used as park land.

Staff would like to begin the process of providing public notice and obtaining public input regarding a proposed donation of 6.18 acres of land as an addition to Twin Lakes County Park.

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map

Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit A

Location Map for Potential New Park Donation

Location of donation tract in relation to Twin Lakes County Park

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Corky Kuhlmann.


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenters: Scott Boruff

Conservation Committee
(Executive Session Only)
Land Donation - Palo Pinto County
March 2008

I. Executive Summary: Staff will brief and update the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on the status of efforts to acquire land for a new State Park in Palo Pinto County through donation or a combination of donation and purchase.

II. Discussion: Through a successful partnership with the Trust for Public Land and others, Eagle Mountain Lake was sold to a public conservation buyer earlier this year with net proceeds of approximately $9.2 million to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The sale proceeded with the caveat that the proceeds of the sale would be used to acquire and/or develop a new state park more consistent with the letter and intent of the Land and Water Conservation and Recreation Plan.

The goal of staff is to structure one or more transactions that would result in the acquisition of 4000 - 6000 contiguous acres of land within the land sale proceeds budget created by the sale of Eagle Mountain Lake, with sufficient funds remaining for site assessment, planning, and "Phase One" site development for public use.

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map

Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit A

Location Map for Potential New Park Donation

Location of potential new state park in relation to the state of Texas

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Scott Boruff.


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