Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, November 7, 2007

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

  1. Land and Water Plan Update
    Staff: Robert Cook
  2. Water Legislation
    Staff: Cindy Loeffler, Colette Barron
  3. Land Transfer - Calhoun County - Transfer of 4.7 Acres Adjacent to Swan Point Boat Ramp to Calhoun County (Action Item No. 18)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlman
  4. Land Donation - El Paso County - Acceptance of 62.759 Acres at Franklin Mountains State Park (Action Item No. 19)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlman
  5. Utility Easement - Brown County - Grant of 20 x 2500 Foot Utility Easement at McGillivray and Leona McKie Muse Wildlife Management Area (Action Item No. 20)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlman
  6. Land Donation - Van Zandt County - Acceptance of 2 Acres at Purtis Creek State Park (Action Item No. 21)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  7. Land Exchange – Presidio County – Approximately 2,667 Acres at Big Bend Ranch State Park – Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  8. Land Sale – Palo Pinto County – Sale of 2 Lots at Lake Mineral Wells Trailway – Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  9. Land Acquisition – Grimes County – 4.6 Acres at the Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site (Action Item No. 22)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  10. Irrigation Easement – Cameron County – Grant of 2,000 Foot Irrigation Easement across the Anacua Unit of the Las Palomas WMA (Action Item No. 23)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  11. Conservation Easement – Bastrop County – Acceptance of Conservation Easement at Bastrop State Park – Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process (Executive Session Only)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  12. Access Issues at Big Bend Ranch State Park (Executive Session Only)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  13. Possible Land Donation – Palo Pinto County (Executive Session Only)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  14. Executive Director Search (Executive Session and Action Item No. 2)
    Staff: TPW Commissioners

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Robert L. Cook

Conservation Committee
Land and Water Plan Update
November 2007

I. Executive Summary: Executive Director Robert L. Cook 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 Robert L. Cook 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. 2
Presenter: Cindy Loeffler
Colette Barron

Conservation Committee
Water Legislation
November 2007

I. Executive Summary: The 80th Texas Legislature passed a number of significant water bills, most notably the omnibus water bill, Senate Bill 3. Staff will brief the Commission on new water legislation and how it affects Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

II. Discussion: Senate Bill 3, article 1, sets out a comprehensive, statewide approach for reserving water to protect environmental flow regimes in Texas' rivers and bays. The new legislation creates the Environmental Flows Advisory Group, consisting of house and senate members, governor appointees and a member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Senate Bill 3 also calls for the creation of the Texas Environmental Flows Science Advisory Committee (Science Committee). The Science Committee, to be appointed by the Advisory Group, will develop recommendations to provide direction and consistency to existing environmental flow methodologies and programs at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), and TPWD and the work of basin and bay expert science teams. The Advisory Group is also responsible for appointing the basin and bay area stakeholder committee for each river basin and bay system. Each local stakeholder committee will in turn appoint an expert science team to assist in the process. TPWD will provide technical assistance and may serve as non-voting team members on these expert science teams. Environmental flow regimes are to be developed and recommended by the expert science teams, adopted by the stakeholder committees, and submitted to TCEQ for formal adoption as commission rules. TCEQ may not issue new water right permits or amend water right permits if the issuance of the permit will impair environmental flow set-asides previously established by rule.

Senate Bill 3, article 2 creates the Texas Water Conservation Advisory Council to address water conservation issues and to report to the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house. TPWD is named as a member of the Council.

Senate Bill 3, article 4, designates the nominated 19 reservoir sites identified in the 2007 state water plan as unique, including the controversial Marvin Nichols and Fastrill reservoir sites. Also designated as being of unique ecological value are the stream segments recommended in the 2007 state water plan. For river or stream segments of unique ecological value, this designation solely means that a state agency or political subdivision of the state may not finance the actual construction of a reservoir in a specific river or stream segment designated by the legislature.

Senate Bill 3, article 12, establishes an Edwards Aquifer Recovery and Implementation Process (EA RIP) that explicitly includes TPWD as a member. The goal of the EA RIP is to obtain consensus to ensure that the flows of the Comal and San Marcos Springs and associated ecosystems are protected during droughts and to encourage conservation and development of new water supplies to meet increasing demands for the region's rapidly growing population.


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenters: Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
Land Exchange – Presidio County
Big Bend Ranch State Park
November 2007

I. Executive Summary: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff have negotiated an exchange of lands with a private landowner within Big Bend Ranch State Park that will result in a net gain of acreage for the park and fewer inholdings.

II. Discussion: The land ownership history of the property now called Big Bend Ranch is complex and varied. As a result, the original ranch acquired in 1988 included irregular boundaries and a number of inholdings. Staff have been working ever since to add significant adjacent resources to the park, clear up ownership conflicts, deal with irregular boundaries and eliminate inholdings.

One of the owners of a number of inholding tracts, ranging in size up to one section (640 acres) has agreed to exchange roughly 2667 acres for roughly 1850 acres of TPWD land, resulting in a consolidated holding for the landowner and eliminating seven individual inholding tracts from within the boundary of the park. These inholdings include tracts that straddle roads or trails and complicate user circulation within the park, while the consolidated inholding of the landowner is situated in such a way as to minimize any interference with implementation of the Public Use Plan. According to the current agreement with the landowner, all tracts involved will be appraised and exchanged at appraised value, with any difference due to the landowner to be paid at appraised value.

Staff seeks Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission permission to begin the process of soliciting public input and conducting a local public meeting. Upon final negotiation of terms of the exchange and the signing of a contract by both parties, staff will return to the TPW Commission for authority to close the transaction.

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map

Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit A

Big Bend Ranch State Park Location Map

Subject Inholdings Shown in Blue, Proposed Consolidation Outlined in Black

Location of subject inholdings in relation to Big Bend Ranch State Park

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Ted Hollingsworth.


Committee Agenda Item No. 8
Presenters: Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
Land Sale – Palo Pinto County
Sale of Two Lots at Lake Mineral Wells Trailway
November 2007

I. Executive Summary: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff recommends the sale of two small miscellaneous parcels of land near the Lake Mineral Wells Trailway to an adjacent landowner.

II. Discussion: The corridor of land that now comprises the Lake Mineral Wells Trailway was acquired from the Union Pacific Railway Company in 1996. Included in the acquisition were miscellaneous parcels of land that do not contribute to the mission of the trailway, nor does staff believe these tracts will serve any useful purpose to TPWD in the future.

O'Neal Distributing Company owns land adjacent to two of these tracts inside the City of Mineral Wells and has requested TPWD sell these tracts to them. One of the tracts has a boundary in common with the trailway, and the other is disconnected from TPWD property with no boundary in common. The company has been mowing these tracts for security and aesthetic reasons, with permission from TPWD. Staff feels that ownership of these tracts by this adjacent landowner will reduce liability for both the landowner and TPWD and is in the best interest of TPWD. Per procedure employed for the disposal of other small tracts with nominal monetary value, TPWD will establish a sale price by requesting market analyses from local realtors.

Staff requests permission to begin the public notice and input process for sale of these two tracts. Upon completion if this process and execution of a contract with the buyer, staff will return to the TPW Commission with a recommendation.

Attachments - 2

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map
  2. Exhibit B – Site Map

Committee Agenda Item No. 8
Exhibit A

Location of Lake Mineral Wells Trailway - City of Mineral Wells

Location of Lake Mineral Wells Trailway in relation to Palo Pinto County

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Ted Hollingsworth.


Committee Agenda Item No. 8
Exhibit B

Site Map Showing Lots Proposed for Sale

Yellow outline represents trailway boundary, red outline represents tracts proposed for sale.

Location of tracts proposed for sale in relation to trailway boundary

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Ted Hollingsworth.


Committee Agenda Item No. 11
Presenters: Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
(Executive Session Only)
Conservation Easement – Bastrop County
Bastrop State Park
November 2007

I. Executive Summary: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff requests permission to seek donation of a conservation easement on 200 acres of land contiguous with Bastrop State Park.

II. Discussion: The subject 200-acre tract is contiguous with Bastrop State Park, and has long been identified as a very high priority for acquisition. Staff has been in contact with the owners for years. The owners are not willing to sell, but staff has been able to negotiate a conservation easement on the tract that would prohibit subdivision and would allow only limited development on 25 acres of the tract.

The conservation easement would be paid for with funds donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation for that purpose. Monitoring the easement would involve annual inspection of the tract, and would not require additional staff, management or operating funds. Securing a conservation easement on this tract eliminates the threat of future subdivision and development that would be detrimental to the biological, recreational and aesthetic mission of Bastrop State Park.

Staff seeks permission to begin the public notice and input process. Following this process, and execution of a contract with the owners, staff will return to the TPW Commission for authorization to complete the transaction.


Committee Agenda Item No. 12
Presenters: Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
(Executive Session Only)
Access Issues at Big Bend Ranch State Park
November 2007

I. Executive Summary: Staff is working with Presidio and Brewster Counties and with the Big Bend Advisory Committee to mitigate or eliminate barriers to public use.

II. Discussion: Big Bend Ranch State Park is Texas' largest state park, at more than 300,000 acres. It offers the greatest potential for true wilderness experiences of any site in the state. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has recently completed a Public Use Plan aimed at providing controlled public access to this very special site, while protecting its unique biological and aesthetic resources.

Responding to a recommendation from the Advisory Committee, in January 2007, TPWD made a formal request to Presidio County to dedicate three historic roads into Big Bend Ranch as public roads. TPWD continues to work with Presidio County officials to achieve the goal of dedicated permanent public access into the park.

Attachments - 2

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map
  2. Exhibit B – Access Road Location Map

Committee Agenda Item No. 12
Exhibit A

Location of Big Bend Ranch State Park

Location of Big Bend Ranch State Park in relation to Big Bend National Park

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Ted Hollingsworth.


Committee Agenda Item No. 12
Exhibit B

Location of Historic Access Roads to Big Bend Ranch

Location of historic access roads in relation to Big Bend Ranch State Park

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Ted Hollingsworth.

Legend

Committee Agenda Item No. 13
Presenters: Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
(Executive Session Only)
Possible Land Donation – Palo Pinto County
November 2007

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. 13
Exhibit A

Location Map for Potential New Park Donation

Location of potential new state park in relation to Palo Pinto County

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Ted Hollingsworth.


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