Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, November 5, 2008

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744

Commissioner Mark E. Bivins, Committee Chair
Scott Boruff, Committee Liaison

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

  1. Update on TPWD Progress in Implementing the TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan
    • Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Meeting in Corpus Christi
    • TPWD Energy Efficiency Team
    • Environmental Flows Advisory Group
    • Rio Grande and Oaks and Prairie Joint Ventures
    • Game Bird Management Handbook
    Staff: Carter Smith
  2. Strategic Planning for Conservation
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth, Scott Boruff
  3. Briefings on Wind Energy Issues and Development
    • TPWD's Involvement in Wind Energy Issues
    • Recommendations by the Private Lands Advisory Board regarding Wind Energy Development
    Staff: Kathy Boydston, Linda Campbell (Dr. Bill Eikenhorst, Chair, Private Lands Advisory Board)
  4. New Environmental Review Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between TPWD and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) - Request Permission to Publish in Texas Register – ITEM WITHDRAWN
    Staff: Kathy Boydston
  5. Draft Damage and Fee Schedule for Seismic, Mineral Recovery, Pipeline, Utility, and Similar Operations on TPWD Lands
    Staff: Scott Boruff, Ted Hollingsworth
  6. Update on Hurricane Ike's Impacts on TPWD Facilities and TPWD's Hurricane Response Efforts
    Staff: Scott Boruff
  7. Land Donation - Bexar County - Government Canyon State Natural Area (Action Item No. 10)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  8. Acceptance of Land Donation - Orange County - 89 Acres at Tony Houseman Wildlife Management Area (Action Item No. 11)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  9. Land Acquisition - Yoakum County - Fitzgerald Ranch (Action Item No. 12)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  10. Granting of Utility Easement - Palo Pinto County - Public Water Line - Possum Kingdom State Park (Action Item No. 13)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  11. Land Acquisition - Angelina County - 486 Acres as an Addition to the Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area - Request Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  12. Land Acquisition - Cameron County - 25.30 Acres from The Valley Land Fund, Inc. as an Addition to Arroyo Colorado Wildlife Management Area (Action Item No. 14)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  13. Land Acquisition - El Paso County - 1673.5 Acres from the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board as an Addition to Franklin Mountains State Park (Action Item No. 15)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  14. Update on Possible Land Acquisition and Development in Palo Pinto County (Executive Session Only)
    Staff: Scott Boruff
  15. Pending Litigation - Update on Land Taking - Cameron County - Border Fence through Anacua Unit at Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area (Executive Session Only)
    Staff: Ann Bright

Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Carter Smith

Conservation Committee
Update on TPWD Progress in Implementing the TPWD Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan
November 5, 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. 2
Presenters: Ted Hollingsworth
Scott Boruff

Conservation Committee
Strategic Planning for Conservation
November 5, 2008

I. Executive Summary: Staff proposes to facilitate internal and external communications among conservation and outdoor recreation stakeholders, and facilitate updating of the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan and the Wildlife Action Plan by implementing the Texas Conservation and Recreation Forum (TxCRF).

II. Discussion:Increasing threats to native species, habitats, landscapes and water, and increasing demand for public access to the outdoors for recreation, along with a growing number of tools available for conservation and a rising number of state and federal entities, non-governmental organizations NGOs and private sector stakeholders involved in conservation, make coordination of conservation efforts increasingly complex but increasingly imperative.

Clearly much of the remaining natural heritage of Texas is at stake in the years and decades ahead. Conservation efforts of TPWD and its partners at all levels must result in significant and tangible stewardship of land and water (e.g., important landscapes, wildlife communities, species in decline, water quality and outdoor recreation). As the state's fish and wildlife resource agency, TPWD is the obvious entity to provide leadership necessary to ensure that conservation actions are focused and coordinated, limited resources are optimized to achieve the highest regional and state-wide conservation priorities, and adequate public access to the outdoors is maintained.

As the TxCRF is implemented, TPWD will organize twelve watershed-based task forces led by TPWD staff and consisting of representatives from the public and private sector and NGOs with missions or responsibilities for conservation and outdoor recreation in each region. The task forces will convene regularly for the purpose of reaching consensus on regional conservation priorities and pooling resources to achieve those priorities. The TxCRF will strive to ensure that strategic landscape and watershed-based science and planning are the drivers for prioritizing and implementing conservation actions within TPWD and throughout the public and private conservation community. The TxCRF will also be a primary vehicle for periodic updating of the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan and the Texas Wildlife Action Plan. Task forces are scheduled to begin meeting by the end of 2008.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenters: Kathy Boydston
Linda Campbell
Dr. Bill Eikenhorst

Conservation Committee
Briefings on Wind Energy Issues and Development
November 5, 2008

I. Executive Summary: Staff will provide a summary of wind energy development in Texas and the role Texas Parks and Wildlife Department plays in the development of these facilities.

The role of the Private Lands Advisory Board (the Board) is to advise the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on matters pertaining to wildlife programs, management, and research on private lands. The Board is keenly interested in the conservation issues concerning wind energy development in Texas. The Board has developed recommendations for consideration by TPWD and the TPW Commission and will present these to Commissioners and the Executive Director.

II. Discussion: Texas now leads all other states in wind energy development. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) plays a key role in balancing wind energy development and minimizing the impacts on the fish and wildlife resources. In 2007 TPWD implemented statewide voluntary guidelines and is now in the process of developing specific guidelines for the different ecoregions of the state where wind energy is developing. The first of the ecoregion guidelines is being developed for the Panhandle and southern Plains. Many of the impacts from wind energy development are not fully understood, such as the cumulative effects on wildlife populations and habitat displacement. TPWD is funding research and developing priority research needs to address some of these issues.

The Private Lands Advisory Board in meetings on May 21, 2008 and again on August 21, 2008 heard presentations from Kathy Boydston and other TPWD staff regarding wind energy development in Texas. Following extensive discussions, the Board wishes to provide preliminary draft advisement for TPWD's current and future consideration relative to wind development issues (see Exhibit A).

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A – Letter from the Private Lands Advisory Board to TPWD Commission concerning Wind Energy Development in Texas

Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Exhibit A

Private Lands Advisory Board

4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744-3291
September 1, 2008
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744-3291

Via Hand Delivery

Re: Wind Development in Texas

Honorable Commissioners:

The Private Lands Advisory Board in meetings on May 21, 2008 and again on August 21, 2008 heard presentations from Kathy Boydston and other Department staff regarding wind energy development in Texas. Following extensive discussions, the Board wishes to provide this interim advisement for the Department's current and future consideration relative to wind development issues.

Thanks to extensive federal, state and local tax incentives and abatements, nonexistent state regulation and millions of acres of wide open spaces in our state, wind energy development has taken, and continues to take Texas by storm. Texas is now the leading national wind energy producer (replacing California in 2007). Unsuccessful attempts to regulate these wind developments, coupled with limited landowner understanding of the potential downside of wind farm development, has encouraged developers to expand Texas wind farms at a feverish pace. Wind power is promoted and largely perceived as politically correct, typically described as "green", "renewable" or "free" energy.

Additional drivers of wind farm development in Texas include a state requirement for power companies to produce a portion of their power from alternative energy sources and an often desperate need or desire for landowners to maximize their land income. Many landowners who lease their lands for wind power feel that wind development may be their only way to retain ownership of their lands.

PLAB unanimously supports private landowners and private industry's ability to develop and capture economic value from Texas' vast private lands in any manner that they see fit. However, based upon Staff presentations, PLAB is of the opinion that wind development, which is permanent in nature, may have an adverse effect upon wildlife and wildlife habitat. PLAB recommends, to the extent that our resources permit, that the Department research, prepare, and publish an objective appraisal of the impact of wind development upon wildlife resources for landowner use in deciding whether to allow wind development on their lands, and for public information and education.

The Private Lands Advisory Board presents the following interim advisement to the Department for review by the TPW Commission Meeting at its November, 2008 meeting. The following is to be considered an interim advisement, to be amended if, as and when additional information on this subject becomes available.

Private Lands Advisory Board Interim Advisement:

Wind energy development is effecting a demonstrative landscape-level change on the face of Texas habitats. Wildlife impacts of wind developments are frequently demonstrated by the known individual mortality of birds, bats, mammals, amphibians and reptiles resulting from wind turbine construction, operation and maintenance. However, the greater concerns of the Board are the potential impacts upon wildlife habitat component integrity, species displacement and dislocation, and possible resultant erosion of population security of individual species over time.

Wildlife biologists and wildlife managers are slowly gathering data on the wildlife impacts of wind energy development. Much of this information comes from other states and countries which require developer compliance with data requests and much more is anecdotal. Texas information is sparse. Wind developers and most landowners are reluctant to cooperate with data requests, citing confidentiality agreements placed by developers in their wind lease agreements. The risks facing Texas wildlife and especially Texas wildlife habitats are truly unknown, but logic dictates that the risks are real.

The Private Lands Advisory Board feels strongly that TPW should become the strongest voice to represent the interests of wildlife resources in the face of the changing Texas landscape.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bill Eikenhorst
Chairman, PLAB

James Robert Green, Jr.
Vice Chairman, PLAB


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenters: Kathy Boydston

Conservation Committee
New Environmental Review Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Between TPWD and the Texas Department of Transportation
Request Permission to Publish in Texas Register
ITEM WITHDRAWN
November 5, 2008


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenters: Scott Boruff
Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
Draft Damage and Fee Schedule for Seismic, Mineral Recovery, Pipeline, Utility, and Similar Operations on TPWD Lands
November 5, 2008

I. Executive Summary: Staff proposes to simplify negotiation of damages and fees for use of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) lands resulting from mineral activities, utility easements, pipelines and other uses of the surface by third parties, by adoption of a standardized damage and fee schedule.

II. Discussion: The size and location of TPWD lands, especially State Parks (SP) and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), regularly places them in the path of proposed seismic, mineral recovery, pipeline, utility, and other infrastructure projects. In cases where there is no reasonable and prudent alternative to the use of TPWD lands, staff negotiates with applicants for damages associated with initial project impacts, and fees for continuing occupancy of the land. These negotiations can be contentious and time-consuming, and in the absence of a standardized fee schedule

Under Parks and Wildlife Code §11.071, the TPW Commission has the authority to "regulate the use of department lands for oil, gas and other mineral recovery and associated activities." Furthermore, under §13.001, the TPW Commission "shall have the exclusive authority to determine sound biological management practices for all lands under its control." Based on these authorities, the TPW Commission may adopt guidelines, policies or rules establishing damage and fee schedules to compensate for impacts to TPWD lands by third parties. The adoption of rules would require appropriate publication and public notice, but would result in a binding and enforceable rate schedule.

Staff seeks guidance from the Commission regarding proposed damage and fee schedules, and whether or not the Commission would direct staff to implement these schedules as TPWD Policy or initiate the process of adoption as rules.


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenters: Scott Boruff

Conservation Committee
Update on Hurricane Ike's Impacts on TPWD Facilities and TPWD's Hurricane Response Efforts
November 5, 2008

I. Executive Summary: Hurricane Ike landed on the Texas coast near Galveston on September 13, 2008 heavily damaging several coastal communities and completely destroying others. The environmental impacts are still being analyzed, but will be significant. Current estimates are that over half a million barrels of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and the marshes and bays of Texas. A fly-over of the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area (WMA) revealed a sheen of oil over the entire WMA. Galveston Island State Park and Sea Rim State Park were destroyed. Several other agency facilities suffered significant damage. In addition, over 60 agency personnel and their families were directly affected, some losing their homes and personal possessions. This presentation will brief the commission on these damages and the agency's response.


Committee Agenda Item No. 11
Presenters: Corky Kuhlmann

Conservation Committee
Land Acquisition - Angelina County
486 Acres as an Addition to Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area
Request Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
November 5, 2008

I. Executive Summary: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is in negotiations for the acquisition of a 486 acre tract as an addition to the Alazan Bayou Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

II. Discussion: TPWD staff is currently in negotiations with a private seller for a 486 acre tract (tract) with 3.28 miles of the Angelina River front as an addition to Alazan Bayou WMA. The tract would offer recreation opportunities including but not limited to hunting, fishing and canoeing. The tract has two boat ramps that would provide access to the river for recreational and law enforcement purposes. Acquisition of the property would preserve the bottomland habitat from fragmentation and or agricultural use.

Staff would like to begin the process of providing public notice and obtaining public input regarding a proposed acquisition of an approximate 486 acre tract as an addition to the Alazan Bayou WMA.

Attachments - 3

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map
  2. Exhibit B – Vicinity Map
  3. Exhibit C – Site Map

Committee Agenda Item No. 11
Exhibit A

Location of Alazan Bayou WMA, Angelina County

Location of Alazan Bayou WMA, Angelina County in relation to the State of Texas

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 11
Exhibit B

Vicinity Map of Alazan Bayou WMA North of Lufkin

Location of Alazan Bayou WMA in relation to the city of Lufkin, TX

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 11
Exhibit C

Site Map Showing Location of 486-acre Subject Tract

Location of 486-acre subject tract in relation to Alazan Bayou WMA

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 14
Presenters: Scott Boruff

Conservation Committee
(Executive Session Only)
Update on Possible Land Acquisition and Development in Palo Pinto County
November 5, 2008

I. Executive Summary: Staff will brief the commission on efforts to acquire and develop property in Palo Pinto County.


Committee Agenda Item No. 15
Presenters: Corky Kuhlmann

Conservation Committee
(Executive Session Only)
Pending Litigation - Update on Land Taking - Cameron County Border Fence through the Anacua Unit, Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area
November 5, 2008

I. Executive Summary: The federal government, Department of Homeland Security, has initiated legal action against Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to condemn and take approximately three acres of land at the Anacua Unit of the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area (WMA) for the construction of tactical infrastructure, commonly known as the border fence.

II. Discussion: The federal government, through the Department of Homeland Security, is constructing border security structures parallel to the Rio Grande through several South Texas counties. The acquisition of land for this infrastructure, including security wall and fence structures (the "border fence"), service roads, and related construction, is being undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) through negotiated settlements and condemnations. Any party with property in the path of the border fence that did not sign an Agreement for the transfer of that property by the end of July, 2008 was subject to condemnation action in federal court.

The border fence passes through the Anacua Unit of the Las Palomas WMA, and will directly take approximately three acres of land. The biological impacts to fish and wildlife resources are difficult to quantify, but are expected to include restrictions on the movement of terrestrial animals, possible isolation of populations and gene pools, wildlife disturbances from security patrol and infrastructure maintenance operations, and operational limitations resulting from a physically divided WMA.

In July, 2008, the TPW Commission voted in public session not to negotiate any settlement offer with the ACOE for the voluntary transfer of the land to the federal government. On August 25, 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a condemnation action against TPWD in federal district court in Brownsville to take the subject land.

Attachments - 3

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map
  2. Exhibit B – Site Map
  3. Exhibit C – Tracts Affected by Transfer

Committee Agenda Item No. 15
Exhibit A

Location of Anacua Unit - Lower Rio Grande Valley

Location of Anacua Unit in relation to Brownsville, TX

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Ann Bright.


Committee Agenda Item No. 15
Exhibit B

Map of Anacua Unit Showing Route of Border Fence

Location of Anacua Unit South in relation to the border fence

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Ann Bright.


Committee Agenda Item No. 15
Exhibit C

Map Showing Tracts to be Transferred to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Location of subject tracts in relation to border fence

For help in interpreting this map, please contact Ann Bright.


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