Conservation Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 am, January 27, 2010

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
    • Texas Ecology Systems Project
    • Freeze Impact Assistance
    Staff: Carter Smith
  2. Status of the Division Operating Plans
    Staff: Scott Boruff
  3. New Environmental Review Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Texas Department of Transportation (Briefing Item )
    Staff: Scott Boruff, Ted Hollingsworth
  4. Acceptance of Land Donation - Gonzales County - 29.6 Acres at Palmetto State Park - Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  5. Land Acquisition - Limestone County - 41 Acres at Fort Parker State Park (Action Item No. 13)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  6. Proposed Land Sale - Cherokee County - 2 Acres Adjacent to the Texas State Railroad - Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Ted Hollingsworth
  7. Proposed Land Sale - Armstrong/Randall Counties - 1,900 Acres at Palo Duro Canyon State Park - Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  8. Withdrawn Land Acquisition - Harrison County - 100 Acres at Caddo Lake State Park - Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  9. Utility Easement - Bastrop County - Bluebonnet Electric Coop - Approximately 1 Acre at Buescher State Park (Action Item No. 14)
    Staff: Ted Hollingsworth
  10. Land Acquisition - Brazoria County - 38.5 Acres at Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area - Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  11. Withdrawn Land Acquisition - Henderson County - 30 Acres at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center - Permission to Begin the Public Notice and Input Process
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  12. Right-of-Way Easement - Hays County - Approximately 1.3 Acres at Stokes Island Park (Inland Fisheries Property) (Action Item No. 15)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  13. Land Sale and Conservation Easement - San Saba County - 12.5 Acres at Colorado Bend State Park (Action Item No. 16)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  14. Land Acquisition - Hidalgo County - 30 Acres at Estero Llano Grande-World Birding Center (Action Item No. 17)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  15. Land Sale - Travis County - .711 Acres on Stassney Lane at McKinney Falls State Park (Action Item No. 18)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  16. Land Acquisition - Uvalde County - 178 Acres at Garner State Park (Action Item No. 19)
    Staff: Corky Kuhlmann
  17. Potential Land Acquisition Initiative - Val Verde County (Executive Session Only)
    Staff: Scott Boruff

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
January 27, 2010

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 2002, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) adopted the first Plan. A revised Plan was adopted by the Commission in January 2005. In November 2009, the Commission approved a new Plan effective January 1, 2010. The 2010 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, objectives and deliverables as they relate to the Conservation Committee.

The Plan consists of the following four goals:

  1. Practice, Encourage and Enable Science-based Stewardship of Natural and Cultural Resources
  2. Increase Access To and Participation In the Outdoors
  3. Educate, Inform and Engage Texas Citizens in Support of Conservation and Recreation
  4. Employ Efficient, Sustainable and Sound Business Practices

Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Scott Boruff

Conservation Committee
Status of Division Operating Plans
January 27, 2010

I. Executive Summary: Staff will brief TPW Commission on the status of the development of division operating plans (DOP) in support of the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan.

II. Discussion: The TPW Commission requested that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) develop operating plans for each division to articulate its specific operational goals and objectives. The DOP will also assist in focusing division activities consistent with the implementation of the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan.

Representatives from each division have been meeting to develop a consistent agency-wide, DOP template. A template is expected to be approved and adopted in the next 60 days.

A format for monitoring progress on the implementation of DOPs and reporting to the executive office and the commission will be developed concurrently.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Scott Boruff
Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
New Environmental Review Memorandum of Understanding with Texas Department of Transportation
January 27, 2010

I. Executive Summary: Staff of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) proposes adoption of changes to the Environmental Review Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

II. Discussion: In accordance with 201.607 of the Transportation Code, TPWD reviews proposed public transportation projects for anticipated impacts to natural resources, and provides recommendations for avoiding, minimizing and compensating for those impacts. The details of this arrangement are codified in the Environmental Review MOU and an associated procedural Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Under these two memoranda, TxDOT provides information on each transportation project, and staff of the TPWD Habitat Diversity Program reviews these projects and submits comments on a range of potential impacts to fish and wildlife resources, and on ways to mitigate those impacts.

TxDOT and TPWD propose changes to the MOU intended to both streamline the review process and improve mitigation for impacts to natural resources. These changes include project area thresholds below which TxDOT will not submit individual projects to TPWD, and a rate schedule under which TxDOT will provide funding to TPWD to be used for undertaking conservation transactions and projects to offset transportation project impacts to Texas lands and waters.

A draft revised MOU was published in the Texas Register October 9, 2009. In response to public comments received by the agencies expressing concerns about specific provisions in the memorandum, TxDOT and TPWD have agreed to work together to address those concerns. Staff will return to the Commission with an update on the results.


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
Acceptance of Land Donation - Gonzales County
Palmetto State Park
January 27, 2010

I. Executive Summary: The Warm Springs Foundation has offered to donate land and facilities adjacent to Palmetto State Park to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for addition to the state park.

II. Discussion: Property to the east of, and contiguous with Palmetto State Park, is owned by the Warm Springs Foundation (the Foundation). This 29.6-acre facility includes a large hospital complex, built over several decades following World War II for the treatment of polio, traumatic injuries and other medical conditions. It also includes several smaller buildings, frontage on the San Marcos River, and a very significant artesian warm-water spring that feeds a unique marsh system covering roughly 20 acres perched on a terrace of the river. In the past, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has discussed the possible purchase or placement of conservation easements on the spring and marsh with the Foundation, but no agreement has been reached.

The Foundation has been attempting unsuccessfully to sell the entire property for the past six years, and notified TPWD of an offer to donate the property to the agency in November 2009. Staff has been evaluating the land and the structures for condition and possible park use. As a result, TPWD staff suggests acceptance of all the undeveloped land, the spring and related infrastructure, and two of the buildings. The Foundation has offered to raze and remove the hospital complex prior to transfer, as the cost of rehabilitation and operation would be prohibitive. TPWD will assume all survey, transfer and recording costs.

Staff requests permission to begin the public notice and input process.

Attachments - 3

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

Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Exhibit A

Location Map
Palmetto State Park
Gonzales County

Location of Gonzales County in relation to the State of Texas

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Exhibit B

Vicinity Map
Palmetto State Park
10 Miles NW of Gonzales

Location of Palmetto State Park in relation to Gonzales

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Exhibit C

Site Map
Palmetto State Park
Location of Warm Springs Hospital Tract

Location of Palmetto State Park in relation to Warm Springs Hospital Tract

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenter: Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
Proposed Land Sale - Cherokee County
2 Acres Adjacent to the Texas State Railroad
January 27, 2010

I. Executive Summary: A landowner adjacent to land comprising part of the Texas State Railroad has requested transfer by sale of approximately 2 acres of unused railroad right-of-way in the City of Rusk.

II. Discussion: At the direction of the Texas Legislature, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) assumed ownership and operation of the Texas State Railroad (TSRR) in the mid-1970s. In 2007, the 80th Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 1659 (SB 1659), creating the Texas State Railroad Authority (TSRA). SB 1659 directed that TPWD transfer all assets associated with the TSRR, including the facilities in Rusk and Palestine to the TSRA and that TPWD enter an agreement to lease the railroad right-of-way (ROW) that runs between Palestine (Anderson County) and Rusk (Cherokee County) to TSRA for 99 years. The lease and the transfer were effective September 1, 2007.

The ROW in both Anderson and Cherokee Counties extends past the operational portions of the rail bed, and includes sections which do not contribute to the operation of the TSRR. A landowner adjacent to a segment of this unused ROW in the City of Rusk has requested permission to purchase approximately 2 acres of ROW from TPWD. The tract is considered by staff of TPWD and by TSRA to be more of a liability than an asset, and agree that sale of the tract as requested is in the best interest of the TSRR. The sale would involve appraisal at the buyer's expense, and sale at appraised value, with the proceeds going to TPWD.

Staff requests permission to begin the public notice and input process.

Attachments - 4

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

Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit A

Location Map
Cherokee County
Subject Tract

Location of Cherokee County in relation to the State of Texas

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit B

Vicinity Map
Cherokee County
Location of Subject Tract in Rusk, TX

Location of Subject Tract in relation to Cherokee County

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit C

Vicinity Map
Subject Tract and Terminus of TSRR

Location of Subject Tract in relation to Terminus of TSRR

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit D

Site Map
Subject Tract 1.4 Acres in Rusk

Location of 1.4 Acre Subject Tract in Rusk

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter: Ted Hollingsworth

Conservation Committee
Proposed Land Sale - Armstrong/Randall Counties
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
January 27, 2010

I. Executive Summary: In 2008, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department acquired the 2,867-acre Fortress Cliffs Ranch overlooking Palo Duro Canyon State Park, for the purpose of adding the canyon rim to the state park and disposing of portions of the property with less aesthetic and recreational value.

II. Discussion: In 2008, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) acquired the 2,867-acre Fortress Cliffs Ranch in order to protect the 5-mile face and rim of Fortress Cliffs, which dominate much of the view shed from the state park within the canyon. The ranch was on the market and facing the prospect of being broken into small canyon-front home lots, which could have severely compromised the aesthetics of the park.

The acquisition included a house valued at approximately $1.5 million, and roughly 1,500 acres of grassland used as pasture by previous owners, neither of which are considered to add significantly to the mission of the park. At the time of acquisition, it was intended that these assets would be evaluated and the portion of the ranch with minimal value to TPWD would be sold.

Using computer modeling and site visits to map views from the park, evaluate recreational access and outline public use options, staff proposes the sale of the house and approximately 1,900 acres of land, primarily grassland with some cedar brush and a side canyon complex known as Tubbs Draw. The sale tract is configured to include a quarter mile of canyon rim, to maximize its attractiveness to potential buyers. The entire sale tract will be restricted by a conservation easement held by TPWD which will provide that. The property can only be subdivided into two tracts in the future, no development can occur near the rim, and the terms of the easement will run with the land in perpetuity.

Staff requests permission to begin the public notice and input process.

Attachments - 4

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

Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit A

Location Map for Palo Duro Canyon SP in Armstrong and Randall Counties

Location of Armstrong and Randall Counties in relation to the State of Texas

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit B

Vicinity Map for Palo Duro Canyon SP, 15 Miles SE of Amarillo

Location of Palo Duro Canyon SP in relation to Amarillo

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit C

Palo Duro Canyon State Park Site Map Showing Fortress Cliffs Ranch

Location of Palo Duro Canyon SP in relation to Fortress Cliffs Ranch

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit D

Site Map of Fortress Cliffs Ranch Showing Proposed Disposition

Location of proposed disposition in relation to Fortress Cliffs Ranch

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 10
Presenter: Corky Kuhlmann

Conservation Committee
Land Acquisition - Brazoria County
Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area
January 27, 2010

I. Executive Summary: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has negotiated a contract of sale with a private landowner for the acquisition of a 38.5-acre tract as an addition to the Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area (NMSWMA).

II. Discussion: TPWD staff was contacted by a representative of All Saints Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas with an offer to sell a 38.5-acre tract of land adjacent to NMSWMA.

The NMSWMA is approximately 3,642 acres of primarily bottomland hardwood forest which lies within the San Bernard River floodplain. This 38.5 acre tract is mostly bottomland hardwood forest and would make a good addition to the WMA.

Staff would like to begin the process of providing public notice and obtaining public input regarding a proposed acquisition of an approximate 38.5-acre tract as an addition to the Nannie M. Stringfellow WMA.

Attachments - 3

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

Committee Agenda Item No. 10
Exhibit A

Location Map
Brazoria County

Location of Brazoria County in relation to the State of Texas

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 10
Exhibit B

Vicinity Map
Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area

Location of Stringfellow WMA in relation Justin Hurst WMA

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 10
Exhibit C

Site Map
Nannie M. Stringfellow Wildlife Management Area

Location of Stringfellow WMA in relation to Subject Tract

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 17
Presenter: Scott Boruff

Conservation Committee
Potential Land Acquisition Initiative - Val Verde County
January 27, 2010

I. Executive Summary: The TPW Commission will be updated and briefed on a potential land conservation initiative in Val Verde County.

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A – Location Map

Committee Agenda Item No. 17
Exhibit A

Location Map
Val Verde County

Location of Val Verde County in relation to the State of Texas

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


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