Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
May 27, 2010Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 27th day of May 2010, 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:
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- Mark E. Bivins, Amarillo, Texas (Absent)
- Ralph H. Duggins, Fort Worth, Texas
- Antonio Falcon, MD, Rio Grande City, Texas
- T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas
- Karen J. Hixon, San Antonio, Texas
- Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Beeville, Texas
- Margaret Martin, Boerne, Texas
- S. Reed Morian, Houston, Texas
THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
- Carter P. Smith, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
|Donor||Description||Detail & Purpose of Donation||*Amount|
|1||The Nature Conservancy||Capital Property Item||26.41 acres conservation land in Bandera County to Lost Maples State Park||$86,361.00|
|2||Washington On the Brazos State Park Association||Controlled Item||Installed one PA system in the conference center at Washington On The Brazos||$3,095.86|
|3||Jobe Materials, Inc.||Cash||For the benefit of Franklin Mountains State Park||$15,000.00|
|4||Friends of Blanco State Park||Other goods||One (1) Purple Martin Bird Colony structure for resource enhancement and interpretation at Blanco State Park||$1,500.00|
|5||South Texas Charity Quail Hunts, Inc.||Cash||To help continue the work Hunter Education employee, Charlie Wilson, is doing for TPWD||$2,000.00|
|6||San Jacinto Battleground Association||Capital Property Item||Two (2) 1975 Aluma Weld 23' boats with twin Evinrude motors and Sportsman trailers. One boat would be used at the San Jacinto Battleground for education tours or to do hull repairs to the battleship, one would be available for Region 4 use.||$3,000.00|
|7||T & E Services||Other goods||One (1) rainwater collection system including gutters, leave guards, piping, storage tanks and incidental installation supplies plus the labor to install this system to compliment the new Wildlife Viewing Station at Blanco State Park.||$2,307.00|
|8||Government Solutions Group (GEICO)||Other goods||One hundred thousand (100,000) RV brochures for State Parks to use at RV shows||$5,000.00|
|9||Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation||Capital Property Item||One (1) 18' Alweld aluminum boat with 90 hp outboard and 11 hp air motor with galvanized McClain trailer to help TPWD staff acquire southern flounder brood stock||$25,884.90|
|10||Friends of the Neasloney WMA||Controlled Item||Five (5) Ruger MK III-512 pistols, three (3) CZ 452 ZKM Standard rifles and one (1) CZ 452 ZKM Scout Rifle to facilitate the Youth Shooting even at M O Neasloney WMA and other Wildlife Division sites. Firearms were purchased with National Rifle Association grant||$1,225.00|
|11||Friends of the Neasloney WMA||Other goods||One (1) Granite Security Products gun safe to house the guns donated for the Youth shooting event at M O Neasloney WMA||$650.00|
|12||Saltwater Fisheries Enhancement Association (SEA) San Antonio Chapter||Capital Property Item||One (1) Multi Temp Chiller for the southern flounder brood fish culture room at the Marine Development Laboratory||$13,212.00|
|13||Cabela's||Other goods||Two (2) Youth targets; six (6) packages lubed patches; six (6) boxes muzzle loading round balls, twenty (20) mini multi-tool w/LED light; two (2) scoped-rifle cases; two (2) soft-sided cleaning kits for the Youth Shooting Sports Event||$565.52|
|14||Peter J. Wood||Cash||To support State Parks||$500.00|
|15||Wild Sheep Foundation||Cash||Funding for desert bighorn sheep restoration and management||$103,500|
|Law Enforcement||Mike Keeney||Game Warden||Orange||28 Years|
|State Parks||Ken Pollard||Prog Spec V||Austin||28 Years|
|Coastal Fisheries||Michaela Hill||F&W Tech II||Rockport||21 Years|
|Coastal Fisheries||Art Morris||Prog Spec IV||Corpus Christi||30 Years|
|State Parks||Deborah Cormicle||Park Ranger II||LaPorte||25 Years|
|State Parks||Carrie Sanchez||Admin Asst II||Concan||25 Years|
|Name/Organization Address||Item Number||Matter of Interest|
|David Hayward, Texas Deer Association, 403 East Ramsey, San Antonio, TX 78216||2 – Action – Fee Schedule Rules – Deer Breeder Renewal Fees, Misc. Corrections and Clean Up – Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes||For|
|David Hayward, Texas Deer Association, 403 East Ramsey, San Antonio, TX 78216||4 – Action – Deer Management Permit (DMP) – Pen Requirements and Release Provisions – Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes||For/Against|
|Joey Park, Texas Wildlife Association, P.O. Box 1206, Austin, TX 78737||4 – Action – Deer Management Permit (DMP) – Pen Requirements and Release Provisions – Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes|
|Russell Ray Burdette, North American Deer Farmers Assoc., P.O. Box 487, Raymondville, TX 78580||5 – Action – Deer Permit Program Rules – Standards for Denial/Refusal to Renew – Inclusion of Lacey Act Violations||Against|
|Amy Clapper, Deer Breeders Cooperative, P.O. Box 3000 PMB79, Georgetown, TX 78627||5 – Action – Deer Permit Program Rules – Standards for Denial/Refusal to Renew – Inclusion of Lacey Act Violations||Against|
|David Hayward, Texas Deer Association, 403 East Ramsey, San Antonio, TX 78216||5 – Action – Deer Permit Program Rules – Standards for Denial/Refusal to Renew – Inclusion of Lacey Act Violations||Against|
|Gilbert Adams, TDA, 1855 Calder, Beaumont, TX 77701||Against – in part|
|Joey Park, Texas Wildlife Association, P.O. Box 1206, Austin, TX 78737|
|Lane Laning, 5F Ranch, 2511 Greenway Drive, Brownwood, TX 76801||Against – in part|
P R O C E E D I N G S
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning, everybody. We will just start right off here so we can get into the agenda. This meeting is called to order on May 27th, 2010, at about 9:07. Oh, I'm getting official, aren't I? Okay. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make. Mr. Smith?
MR. SMITH: 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. Also, I just want to welcome everybody to our Commission meeting this morning. Appreciate folks traveling in from near and far to be with us.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.
MR. SMITH: Just a couple of little minor things, if I could, for those of you who have not been in a Commission meeting before. If you've got a BlackBerry or cell phone, if you don't mind putting that on silence or turning it off or some way in which we won't hear it. Also, if you've got a conversation that you want to have, just out of respect to the meeting, I would just ask if you don't mind stepping outside and doing that quietly in the hallway.
Also, we're going to kick off the meeting this morning with a bunch of service awards for our colleagues inside the agency. And then after that the Commission will be dealing with a variety of business-related items.
If there are action items that the Commission is going to be voting on in which you wish to register your perspective and opinion on I just want to make sure that you've had a chance to sign in outside. At the appropriate time Chairman Holt will call your name ‑‑ ask you to come forward. You'll come up there to the podium. You'll have three minutes to share your perspective on things. And please remind him again of your name and who you're representing, and then please share your perspective with the Commission in a thoughtful and succinct manner. So, again, we appreciate all of you joining us today for the Commission meeting. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do you have a timer? Do you need to talk about how the timer works?
MR. SMITH: I do. I do. I've got a little timer. You'll see green means go; yellow means, let's wind it down; red means stop. And I'll stand up to let you know and remind you when your time's up. So, yes, thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That's Carter's favorite part.
MR. SMITH: I know sometimes you want to use it on me.
MR. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Smith. Next is the approval of minutes from the previous meeting, which I've already distributed. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: So move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So moved by Commissioner Hixon.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Seconded by Commissioner Hughes.
All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Next is the acknowledgment of the donations list, which has also been distributed. And, again, before we vote I just want to let everybody know every month, literally, some daily we get all kinds of donations and contributions from all types of individuals, corporations, working groups that we work with on a regular basis from anything from, you know, spotlights to radios for our trucks to boats to ‑‑ I mean, it's really amazing.
And I just want to always ‑‑ I always feel remiss that I don't publicly thank everybody every month for those donations. And it's one of the things that keeps this department well supplied, and I just want to always thank everybody. The list is always too long each month to thank everybody individually, but I do want to thank all those that help this department and do it voluntarily. Excuse me ‑‑ an acknowledgment. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Friedkin.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Martin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Okay. Next are our service awards and special recognition.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission, I'm Carter Smith. And this morning we've got a number of retirements of colleagues that are leaving the agency, and we're also going to celebrate the long tenure of a lot of dedicated colleagues here in the field that we're going to acknowledge.
We're going to start off ‑‑ we've got three colleagues that are retiring from the agency. We're going to start off with one of our longtime Game Wardens, Michael ‑‑ Big Mike ‑‑ Keeney ‑‑ graduated from the Game Warden Academy back in 1982, immediately positioned there on the coast in Orange, spent the entirety of his 28-year career with this agency there in Orange, where obviously developed a lot of contacts. Well recognized for all of his hunter education, boater education, Mothers Against Drunk Driving honored him with their Officer of the Year because of his work on trying to stop and halt boating while intoxicated and doing everything he could to promote boating safety. Played a huge role for us when Hurricane Ike bore down on the Texas coast ‑‑ and a real leader in that regard. After 28 years we're honoring Michael ‑‑ Big Mike ‑‑ Keeney. Mike?
MR. SMITH: It's now my privilege to honor another colleague that is retiring after 28 years ‑‑ another big man with big accomplishments for this organization ‑‑ Ken Pollard. Ken grew up in Lampasas watching outdoor-related shows, knew as a kid he wanted to be a park ranger. Didn't know he had those opportunities in Texas until he was a cadet in the Waco Police Department and learned about an opportunity to go work for the State Parks Department, which he ended up doing, gradually working his way up. He broke one of the great color barriers inside of our agency ‑‑ became the first African-American regional director in our State Parks Division out in Abilene.
And it was out in Abilene when Ken was exposed to the Soldiers in Blue and the great history and heritage of the Buffalo Soldiers program. He started that outreach and education program to tell the extraordinary story of our Buffalo Soldiers and their history in the settlement and defense of our state ‑‑ tell the story of vaqueros and frontier women and others that had not gotten the appropriate recognition that they deserve. Just done an extraordinary job with his team developing volunteers across the state. He said that he's got a number of memorable experiences with Parks and Wildlife. I'll share some of them.
The top of the list was almost learning how to water ski at Lake Lewisville State Park. He ‑‑ very instrumental in helping to start and sponsor the Cowboys of Color Rodeo tour. Commissioner Martin, you were there for part of the Huff Wagon Train and that wonderful project that he led. He was honored by First Lady Laura Bush at the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M as the outstanding educator. But the most important thing he said about his 28 years that was important to him is he was part of the Parks and Wildlife family for 28 years. Ken Pollard. Ken?
MR. SMITH: Not long ago we had a chance to honor our colleague, Michaela Hill, for her great work down in Rockport. Been a long-standing member of our ecosystem team there in Corpus Christi Bay. She is now retiring from the agency after 21 years of service. Been an integral part of that coastal fisheries team helping with surveys, working with anglers, helping to manage that resource ‑‑ do all of the things that our fish and wildlife technicians do to really help protect and enhance and restore our coastal fisheries and all the resources there. And so after 21 years, a great career in Rockport, let's honor Michaela Hill. Michaela?
MR. SMITH: We're going to now honor colleagues that have served also long and distinguished terms with the agency but are not retiring. We're just celebrating milestones in their service. And we're going to start out with one of our colleagues in coastal fisheries, Art Morris, who also works out of the Coastal Bend area and the Rockport area. Started as one of our motor vehicle mechanics, worked his way up where he is now our outreach specialist for coastal fisheries. So what that means when we've got issues on trout and flounder and redfish and snapper, Art gets sent out front and center to deal with the public and get to hear everything that our constituents want to share about them. He answers any and all questions that get sent Robin or Mike's way and they don't want to answer, like, What do I do with, you know, Portuguese Man-of-War that I want to have as a pet or the jellyfish are attacking the Texas coast ‑‑ Art, you take this one.
Also, you all have heard this report on the Abandoned Crab Trap Program, and Art started that, has developed that. It picked up well over 27,000 traps that have just been sitting out there in the bays that are literally death traps. Honored by CCA as the biologist of the year. Was president of the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Recently established the volunteer-based online Tarpon Observation Network to allow anglers to be able to share information about catching tarpon and seeing tarpons in the bays. And we've all got an interest in seeing them come back strongly. So a great way to involve our stakeholders. He's one of our Natural Leaders graduates.
My privilege to recognize Art Morris, 30 years of service. Art? (Applause.)
MR. SMITH: It's my privilege now to recognize one of our colleagues who serves very well in our State Parks Division. And she has spent her ‑‑ the entirety of her 25-year career with us at San Jacinto. Started as a seasonal employee, worked her way up to full time. She has literally done every single thing imaginable at the San Jacinto Historical Site. She's worked out in the field, on the park side, on the historic side. She worked on the Battleship Texas. And really for the last kind of 20 years she has been stationed there at the monument and greeting visitors, helping with the maintenance and management of that side. And that means if the boiler blows a gasket at 2:00 in the morning, she's the one that gets the call to come check on things.
So, yes, I bet you're glad to hear that memory come back, aren't you? She ‑‑ very appreciative of all of her colleagues she worked with and has given her a chance to be inside this agency. Rumor has it she's talking about retiring in August, and I see her nodding her head affirmatively. We'll try to talk her out of it ‑‑ you all help me. But today we're going to honor her for 25 years of service. Deborah Cormicle. Deborah?
MR. SMITH: Okay. Multiple generations of families grow up going to Garner State Park. It's one of the great flagship parks in our system. And today we've got the privilege of honoring one of our colleagues, Carrie Sanchez, that has been with Garner for 25 years. Started as a summer seasonal custodian. And so she was taking care of anything and everything from the lawns to the campgrounds to the bathrooms ‑‑ you name it, she was involved in helping to fix it and get it right. Worked her way up as an administrative assistant and was hired full time there to work at the park.
She's really dedicated herself to her own development ‑‑ going to computer classes and doing everything she could to be the best administrative assistant that she could possibly be. She's now our proud office ‑‑ assistant office manager there at Garner, and she said, I've been very blessed to work for the Parks and Wildlife Garner State Park and willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish all my duties. 25 years of service. Carrie Sanchez. Carrie.
MR. SMITH: I think all of you know we're about to go into Memorial Day weekend, and that means we're going to have an infusion of folks that are going to come out to our state parks. But we're also going to see a lot of folks, weather permitting, hit our lakes. And so it's an appropriate time to talk about boating safety and water safety and that critically important leadership role that our Texas Game Wardens have for making sure that boaters and anglers are safe and responsibly operating on our state's waters ‑‑ and nobody does a finer job.
And today we're going to honor the SSBLAA, the Southern States Boating Law Administrators Officer of the Year, our colleague Chris Daigle. Chris is a game warden, been with us for six years. Serves up in Denton County. Has to look over 60,000 surface acres of water, including Lake Lewisville, which is of the most popular urban-based lakes imaginable. And if something's going to happen on the water it will happen on Lake Lewisville.
And Chris has just done an extraordinary job of working to ensure and implement boater safety, helping his new colleagues learn their roles and responsibilities. During his career he's made 23 boating while intoxicated arrests and he's got 100 percent convictions. He does his job very, very well. He just learned that he was recently selected to attend the tactical marine patrol officers course at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, South Carolina. We're very, very proud to have him go through that program. And it's my great privilege to present to you our 2010 Southern States Boating Officer of the Year, Officer Chris Daigle. Chris?
MR. SMITH: This Commission has focused a lot of time on trying to figure out ways to help develop sustainable revenue streams to support all facets of the agency. There's been a lot of focus on state parks. And today it's my privilege to recognize a former State Representative and State Senator who played a huge role, way before his time, in helping to secure appropriate funding to acquire and develop state parks.
And it's former State Senator Don Kennard from Fort Worth. Grew up on the Brazos River hunting and fishing and camping and enjoying that river. When he was elected to the House and later the Senate, made funding for parks and conservation a priority. He worked with a former Parks and Wildlife Commissioner who was also a State Representative, the late Bob Burleson, to pass the Antiquities Code to make sure that significant archeological resources were appropriately protected on state lands.
But he also recognized that as the state grew, as it became more urban it was critically important to have places that people could get into the out of doors. So he began to champion how to secure a funding stream for state parks. And he put in place the measure to set aside a cent from the sale of every pack of cigarettes that would be dedicated for the acquisition and development of state parks and to establish Fund 31. And you see the results of that. It's Enchanted Rock, it's Pedernales Falls, it's Hueco Tanks, it's Seminole Canyon, it's Fort Richardson. These places never, ever would have been acquired or developed without his tireless leadership in the Legislature.
When he left the Legislature he went to the LBJ School, and he joined the faculty there. And he headed up a very unique survey project to document the most significant and critical natural and cultural areas in the state and help provide a blueprint for other areas that the state might be interested in acquiring. And examples of places that we have acquired and protected is a function of that ‑‑ the Devil's Sinkhole, home to millions of Mexican Freetail Bats near Rock Springs and then our Devil's River State Natural Area.
And we wanted to honor Senator Kennard who, because of health reasons, cannot be with us today. But we felt a fitting honor and legacy for him is this. Whenever a new state park property is acquired, our survey team with infrastructure and state parks will place permanent benchmarks at features on the park that are prominent and significant, and they stay there to help recognize those places.
And we feel like it's a very appropriate gift in recognition for him to present one of these benchmarks in his honor. He has a number of family here ‑‑ Bob Armstrong, former Commissioner he worked tirelessly with, is in the audience. We'd like to ask his wife, Mary Jo Kennard, to come forward and accept this on our behalf. Ms. Kennard
MS. KENNARD: I just want to thank you all for ‑‑ I'm a little too emotional right now. That was lovely. And thank you very much for honoring his vision. He had the vision when it was not popular for conservation and preservation. So I thank you very much. And I wish he could be here.
MS. KENNARD: I would like for Pat Fiore and Bill Jackson, her husband, to come up here. They're our friends from ‑‑ who live in West Virginia and work in Washington, D.C. And we are friends for many years, and they know Don very well.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission, that concludes my presentation. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: At this time I'd like to inform the audience everyone is welcome to stay for the remainder of the meeting. However, if anyone wishes to leave this would be great. Looks like everybody is.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. First order of business is item number 1, Action, Approval of the Agenda. Do I have a motion for the approval?
COMMISSIONER FALCON: (Motion inaudible.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Falcon. Second? Any second?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Hixon. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Item number 2, Action, Fee Schedule Rules, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Ms. Julie Horsley. Julie?
MS. HORSLEY: Good morning. My name is Julie Horsley. I'm in the planning and analysis section of the Administrative Resources Division. This next item deals with a number of different fee issues that affect multiple divisions.
The first item is a cleanup that affects several different permit fees that are listed on this slide. Basically right now in our rules all the fees for licenses and permits are located in Chapter 53. We recently discovered that there are some outdated references for these specific permits located in other sections of our rules and are proposing to eliminate those obsolete references.
The next item is related to fees for falconry permits. Our rules right now establish fee amounts for apprentice falconry and renewal falconry permits for periods of validity for one, two, or three years. There were some recent changes at the federal level that now allow states to issue permits for five-year periods of validity. And what this proposal does is basically establish fee amounts for falconry permits with a four-year period or a five-year period of validity. This is not a fee increase. The fee amounts that are established just reflect the longer term of validity for these permits.
The third item deals with fees for Department-sponsored events. We occasionally sponsor special activities or events and charge a fee for participation in amounts sufficient to either fully recover or partially recover the cost of hosting that event. The proposed amendment would more clearly authorize a position of such fees by providing generic authority to recover costs for these types of events.
The fourth item relates to fees charged for bat viewing at the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area. Right now we have fee ranges for access to the lower viewing area, and those ranges vary depending on age or type of group. What we're proposing is establishing a flat $5 admission fee regardless of age or type of group. And this will help simplify fee collection and bookkeeping at that site. The fee is only for access to the lower viewing area, and access to the upper viewing area would still be free of charge to the public.
And then the final item relates to deer-breeder-permit renewal fees. Senate Bill 1586, which was passed last session, required us to work with the Animal Health Commission and develop a shared database of deer-breeder information. The Bill also specified that we should work to provide incentives, including reduced fees, to deer breeders whose cooperation resulted in reduced costs and increased efficiency. This proposal would reduce the permit renewal fee for deer breeders who file at least 85 percent of their required reporting information electronically. The reduced fee would be $200 as compared to the current fee of $400. And we expect that providing this adjusted fee will encourage more deer breeders to use the online system and will result in increased efficiency and reduced costs to administer the program.
In terms of public comment, this slide deals with the public comments that we received on all of the fee proposals with the exception of the deer breeder ‑‑ and those are on the next slide. In all, we received a total of 12 comments. Six comments supported adoption of all proposed changes and three comments opposed adoption of all changes and another three opposed adoption of specific items. Two of the commenters opposing adoption did not offer any reasons for that opposition. One commenter misunderstood the proposed amendment for falconry permits thinking that it was actually an increase, which it is not. And then two commenters opposed adoption of the amendment to implement the $5 fee at Old Tunnel WMA thinking that it would limit participation and visitation by families.
For the deer-breeder proposal the Department received a total of 178 public comments. 160 commenters agreed completely with the proposal and there were a total of 18 comments that were opposed. Of the commenters that were in complete agreement most expressed appreciation that the Department was working towards improving efficiency and they were supportive of the new online system as well as the fee amount.
As for those disagreeing either in whole or in part, one commenter said we should just impose a flat fee with no discount. Several appeared to oppose the deer-breeder permits in general and citing that rather than decreasing the fee we should be increasing it to discourage participation in that activity. And then one noted that the proposal seems to run counter to the idea that we need more funding and that we should be raising money for the Department. And this is the recommended motion that we're bringing to you today. I've been asked to read this into the record.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 53.9, 53.14, and 53.30 concerning fees, Sections 57.125 concerning triploid grass carp permit fee, Section 65.608 concerning annual reports and records, Section 69.310 concerning fees, and Section 69.404 concerning permit application issuance and fees with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the April 23rd, 2010, issue of the Texas Register. That concludes my presentation.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. You want to read each one of those [indiscernible]?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Julie? I do have one public comment. David Hayward, come up please.
MR. HAYWARD: Good morning, Commissioners. My name's David Hayward; I'm the current president of the Texas Deer Association. We would like to thank each and every one of you for working on this permitting issue. We greatly appreciate the drop of the fee to $200. We think that's great since we get to do 85 percent of the work and you still get 50 percent of the fee. So we greatly appreciate everything that you've done for us. And that's all. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other comments or questions?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do I have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So move by Commissioner Friedkin.
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Hughes. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. The item is passed. Item number 3, an action item ‑‑ Proposed Seagrass Conservation Rules Regarding the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area ‑‑ recommended adoption of proposed changes. Ed Hegen.
MR. HEGEN: Good morning, for the record, my name is Ed Hegen, Coastal Fisheries Division. I'm here to present the proposed changes in Seagrass Rules in Redfish Bay State Scientific Area. Before you is a little chronology to give you ‑‑ remind you of the history of our involvement in the protection of submerged aquatic vegetation and goes back into the mid-'90s. Draw particular attention to 2005 when we redesignated the area in Central Coast as Redfish Bay State Scientific Area, in which we had a term limit for that particular designation, under which we made the proclamation prohibiting uprooting the seagrasses by propellers. That term limit expires this year and we would like to make this rule permanent.
To give you an example of what we're talking about in terms of propeller scarring of seagrasses, this is a typical example of what occurs in the shallow areas when these shallow boats go in those areas. This is a specific area of Redfish Bay State Scientific Area in the mid-central coast. To draw your attention ‑‑ Rockport to the north, Port Aransas to the lower right, Port Aransas Jetties/Corpus Christi Ship Channel, about 32,000 acres predominantly covered with seagrasses on the western boundary. That western boundary from Port Ingleside to Rockport is the Intracoastal Waterway.
The white dots are the major access points ‑‑ boat ramps into Redfish Bay State Scientific Area. We've done a tremendous amount of research and investigation. Several different methods were used to assess the scarring and our education and outreach efforts to change the knowledge of boaters and their behavior in those areas. One of the techniques we used was high-resolution aerial photography. As you can see from the photography taken 2007 to 2009 a significant decrease in those dark red areas in 2007 where a cluster of scars have occurred and a reduction as showing in 2009. Other studies that we did in the water looking at scars crossing transects ‑‑ this is just the upper part of Redfish Bay. The transect studies were done in the upper part and the lower part of Redfish Bay in that high density vegetation on the western side. So an extensive amount of effort has gone into educating people about the regulation.
Conclusions of all of our extensive study and outreach and everything ‑‑ scarring has been reduced in Redfish Bay State Scientific Area. As part of our research we've also found that scars recover more rapidly than we had anticipated in that what some of the literature says. There's certain areas that are more susceptible to scarring ‑‑ obviously those shallow areas where you saw some reduction. And our education and outreach efforts are successful as opposed to people knowing ‑‑ the public service announcements and responding favorably to changes in behavior through our Human Dimensions mailout surveys.
We had two public hearings, one in Rockport and one in San Antonio. And we also got information from e-mail website. And those are the support of the removal of the expiration date. Fifty-four people commented supporting that; one opposed. We received a letter from the Coastal Conservation Association of Texas supporting our efforts in conservation seagrasses in Redfish Bay State Scientific Area, as well as unanimous endorsement by the Coastal Resource Conservation Committee that advises us in coastal resource issues.
The recommended motion is that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Chapter 57.921 concerning Redfish Bay State Scientific Area as published in the March 23rd, 2010, issue of the Texas Register. And that basically is removal of the five-year expiration date. That's the end of my presentation. Be open to any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments for Ed from the Commission? I don't have any public. And, Ed, just like I said yesterday, this is wonderful and I'm hoping we can expand it, you know, south and north wherever the seagrasses have been scarred. And I was down there last weekend ‑‑ just happened to be down there, and particularly your education and outreach I think really has made a difference.
And from that the word of mouth and just the boaters talking to each other and, of course, whether you go to buy bait or whatever you're doing people talk about it. So I think there's been a change of everything from the mentality of what ‑‑ how important seagrass is, but in also even change the equipment people are using and all of that. It's really made a big different. So congratulations.
MR. HEGEN: Thank you. Thank you very much for all your support.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Oh, there's an action item, yes. Do I have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: So move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So move, Commissioner Hixon.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Falcon. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. It passes. Wonderful. Okay. Item number 4, Action ‑‑ Deer Management Permit Rules, Pen Requirements and Release Provisions. Recommended adoption of proposed changes. Mr. Mitch Lockwood. Please, Mitch?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood; I'm with Wildlife Division. I'm White-tail Deer Program leader and acting Big Game Program Director. This morning I will seek adoption of the proposed rule changes to the deer-management permit as we discussed yesterday in the Regulations Committee meeting. Current rule requires that DMP pens be at least five acres in size and no more than 100 acres in size. But we do now allow for pens less than five acres in size provided that they have adequate cover, which is defined as 50,000 square feet of continuous natural vegetation.
An unintended consequence of this rule allows for ‑‑ allows there to be some pens with no cover. And that cover, of course, is necessary to reduce the stress on these wild deer to minimize the chances of them bouncing into fences and even killing themselves. Therefore, we propose to require all DMP pens to contain at least 50,000 square feet of cover in the form of natural vegetation.
Additionally, we propose the repeal of that exception to the five-acre minimum pen size requirement. That exception allows for pens that are 1.1 acre in size, which most, if not all, people who have provided input on this item over the last several weeks to months would agree that 1.1 acres simply is not enough space for 21 wild deer. Now, as I mentioned yesterday during our discussion, we really don't have a defensible pen size for any number of wild deer. I think the underlying concern here is that we're able to establish or maintain a clear distinction between pen-raised deer operations, such as those that are permitted under a deer-breeder permit, and other operations that pertain to wild white-tailed deer.
I think it's important that we keep in mind that the purpose of this permit is to increase the reproductive success of a buck. To do this we remove his competition. This can be done in relatively large pens just as easily, including pens that are 100 acres in size. Small pens do not have any impact on ‑‑ or don't limit the ability of increasing a buck's reproductive success.
We propose that these facility standards take place ‑‑ these proposed changes take place effective September 1st, 2011. We also propose that anyone who obtains a permit this coming DMP year ‑‑ the 2010/2011 DMP year ‑‑ would be exempted or grandfathered from these changes in facility standards. We also propose that this exemption would apply to the child or spouse of a property owner for which that permit applies that's issued in 2010/2011.
So just to make sure I'm clear with this proposal, if one were to obtain a permit under the existing rules that we have in place for this upcoming year, 2010/2011 season, then these new standards would not apply to that person in the future, even if that person did allow that permit to lapse some time down the road and then reapply for a permit a year or two later. That person would still be grandfathered or exempted from these new standards ‑‑ proposed standards. And also as was mentioned yesterday in the Regulations Committee, for the purposes of this subsection of the Texas Administrative Code a spouse or child would include an entity controlled by a spouse or child.
We have also had much discussion on the release date for DMP deer, which currently is August 31st. In order to address the concerns of those in South Texas who have experienced low fawn survival we have proposed to modify the release date and rule to allow us to permit later releases.
And so our proposal reads that all deer within a DMP pen shall be released on or before the date specified for the facility by the Department. We intend for that date to be a date 45 days prior to the latest capture date of the subsequent permit year. So we would simply subtract 45 days from the trapping deadlines that have been established based on our breeding chronology data as you see here.
This would allow permittees to hold deer in captivity for a longer period of time. In fact, in South Texas it would allow those to hold deer for additional two months. This would also allow permittees 15 days to capture deer the following permit year, as I described yesterday. And this would also prevent two years of breeding of the same deer held under a single permit. It would prevent ‑‑ or minimize the chances of line breeding which I think would be one effort in maintaining that clear distinction between these pen-raised deer operations versus wild deer management.
So, in summary, staff recommends that all DMP facilities ‑‑ or all DMP pens contain at least 50,000 square feet of cover in the form of natural vegetation. We also recommend the repeal to the exception of the five-acre minimum fence size requirement. In other words, we recommend that all pens be at least five acres in size and no more than 100 acres in size.
We also recommend that these rules concerning facility standards take ‑‑ become effective on September 1st, 2011, exempting those who obtain a permit in 2010 and 2011 permit year ‑‑ this upcoming DMP year ‑‑ and, of course, including the child or spouse who may acquire that property some time down the road in that grandfathered clause. And they may acquire that property through inheritance or through purchasing that property directly from that property owner.
Staff also recommends that we do modify the release date in rule to allow for later releases, and we recommend that this rule change take effect immediately.
To date we received 143 comments on this item. I should remind the Commission that these comments were based on the original proposal as published in the Texas Register without consideration of some of the modifications made yesterday in the Regulations Committee meeting, such as the modifications to that grandfather clause, which would basically grandfather many more people than what our original proposal stated.
Of those 143 comments 57 percent agreed completely, 20 percent disagreed completely, and 23 percent disagreed on one specific aspect or another. For example, there were quite ‑‑ there were a number of people that disagreed simply because they don't agree with the practice of catching and penning wild deer in general. But of all of those that do support the DMP permit all, if ‑‑ or most, if not all, of them agreed with extending that release date. But there were quite a few who did not agree with excluding pens that were less than five acres in size. But, again, that was prior to making some modifications in the last 24 hours to allow that grandfather clause to apply to quite a few more people.
Of those that opposed the recommendation for pens at least five acres in size there were a number of reasons given. General themes were that you couldn't work deer in pens that were five acres or larger and even comments that it's harder to tame deer in pens that are five acres or larger. Now, I believe that these comments may give some validity to that need to maintain that clear distinction between pen deer ‑‑ or pen-raised deer operations and wild deer management. Others that opposed felt like we were simply overregulating.
And then there was some opposition to that ‑‑ what I call the grandfather clause. One comment stated that we should also consider grandfathering those who purchased the property or the facility ‑‑ people other than the spouse or child purchasing should be grandfathered as well. And then there were comments stating that there shouldn't be a grandfather clause at all. If five acres is ‑‑ if less than five acres is too small for deer in new permits ‑‑ or no cover is not acceptable for new permits it shouldn't be acceptable for existing or old permits as well.
With that, staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt amendments to 65.134 and 65.136 concerning the deer-management permit with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the April 23rd, 2010, issue of the Texas Register. And, with that, I'll be glad to entertain any questions that you may have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission at this time? I do have some folks ‑‑ one thing, Mitch, if you can remind me, how many DMP permits are out there and then roughly how many pens and ‑‑ I don't know ‑‑ I couldn't remember. I think you told me this yesterday and I've forgotten.
MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir. And I'll provide the last two years of data for you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure.
MR. LOCKWOOD: There's not a great ‑‑ there's not much difference between the two. In 2008/2009 permit year there were 147 permits, and that was ‑‑ included 345 pens that were covered by that 147 permits.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: On the 345 pens do we know about how much acreage? You break that out?
MR. LOCKWOOD: I can ‑‑ I'm not sure I understand that question completely.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well ‑‑
MR. LOCKWOOD: What I can tell you is this, is that 65 percent of all of the pens are five acres or larger.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. LOCKWOOD: And then this current permit year, 2009/2010, there are 134 permits ‑‑ and that covers 318 pens.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MR. LOCKWOOD: And, again, we're looking at about 65 percent of all those pens being five acres or larger.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you. You had told me that ‑‑ I had just forgotten. Any questions from the Commission at this time?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. We do have some public comment. David Hayward first. And up after that please Joey Park.
MR. HAYWARD: Good morning again, Commissioners. Thank you again. We would like as ‑‑ for the record, David Hayward with the Texas Deer Association. We would like to thank staff for working with us on the release dates ‑‑ changing them. We know that that is scientifically based. We're receiving data from our members who are DMP users who provide us with the data to say that the earlier release dates ‑‑ they're seeing fewer and fewer fawns and producing fewer animals out of those DMP pens because of the earlier release dates.
We do have concern regarding the sizes of the pens and the natural vegetative cover that would be put into regulations. We'd like that ‑‑ we would hope that you would defer this item till later so that we could get more data from DMP users to make these decisions based on the scientific data available rather than personal feelings that folks have regarding pen sizes and things. Also, regarding grandfather clause, Mitch said within the last 24 hours it was changed to include more people. Is that right?
MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes.
MR. HAYWARD: And is that still relatives only or is that ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Mitch, if you want to come up and explain it, go ahead.
MR. LOCKWOOD: The proposal as published in the Texas Register state that we would ‑‑ we propose to grandfather those who have ‑‑ currently have a permit and maintain that permit active through time. As soon as it were to lapse then they would no longer be, I'll say, exempted from the new standards.
What we propose here is ‑‑ as I discussed yesterday, the concern with that from ‑‑ we received from a lot of public comment is what about the people who had a permit two years ago but for one reason or another decided not to get a permit this year. As I gave you the numbers earlier, there were more permits issued in '08/'09 than this current year. And the difference of those would not be grandfathered.
Additionally, we've learned that there are a lot of people that are building pens as we speak. And under current ‑‑ under the understanding that they could have pens smaller than five acres. And public comment indicated they would think they should be exempted as well. And so we modified our proposal yesterday to state that anybody to be grandfathered if this were to be adopted would need to have a permit this coming season. That's the key. Get a permit now this coming season and then you would be grandfathered. And so even if you don't plan on trapping deer this year if you want to be grandfathered it would behoove you to go ahead and get a permit.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: You can get a permit until August ‑‑ what's the date on it?
MR. LOCKWOOD: It begins ‑‑ the permit year would start September 1st. And then also with the question about spouse or child, that aspect did not change from the original proposal. Basically what we state there is somebody other than the existing owner of that facility that's grandfathered ‑‑ anybody else that could be grandfathered would be a child or a spouse who either inherited that property from the current owner or purchased it directly from that current owner, but no one other than the spouse or child. So that part did not change.
MR. HAYWARD: That's where we would like to see an amendment made to this ‑‑ is that high fences, breeder pens, DMP pens are all considered added value to properties. And because it's an added value we would like to see the pens, if grandfathered, remain grandfathered from that day forward, whether it's sold to a separate entity or whether it's sold within the family. Because as an added value to that property, if it's sold to someone outside ‑‑ a separate entity ‑‑ then that devalues that pen and devalues that property because then there's a, say, for instance, a four-acre pen that they can't use if they buy that property. They'll either have to tear it down and rebuild it to be above the five-acre standard or they'll just have to tear it down and be done with it.
So as an added value we want you to consider those pens to be grandfathered from next year forward regardless of who buys, purchases, or how that happens, including divorces.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Divorces ‑‑ we haven't thought about divorces.
MR. HAYWARD: And that's all I had. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, David.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Joey Park please.
MR. PARK: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Joey Park. I'm here today on behalf of the Texas Wildlife Association. Texas Wildlife Association originally supported the establishment of the DMP program with the intended purpose of increasing opportunity for direct successful breeding, as well as the legislation and subsequent regulations that were designed by bill sponsors in the Department to ‑‑ for after breeding and prior to fawning.
TWA is concerned that the DMP permit is evolving away from its original intent. From our perspective the slight extension of the release date is not the most important issue. The real issue here is when do we move across a line from being stewards of our state's resources ‑‑ has always been the position of TWA to act in the best interests of our state's wild resources. With the best interest of fawn survival in mind, and considering the fact that the Commission has already provided post-fawning release, TWA supports the minimum size and brush requirements for deer-management permit pens, as well as the slightly extended release date for DMP participants holding a valid DMP.
The minimum size and brush requirements protect that individual pen to hold fawns ‑‑ individual wild deer ‑‑ excuse me ‑‑ and the extensions would allow permittees to utilize DMP pen to hold fawn ‑‑ this provide private landowners enhanced flexibility to determine release times while using biological-based regional-breeding chronology to address fawn age requirements, concerns, and mortality, primarily in South Texas as opposed to the current arbitrary release date of August 31st.
TWA also recommends the review by the Department's White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee on the handling of fawns in DMP pens. While TWA continues to support biologically based concepts that provide landowner flexibility in managing white-tailed deer, we want to express concern that rules and processes with this and any other permit utilizing our state's wild deer resources should ensure that the permit does not impact or change the nature of wild deer in Texas.
TWA believes the Commission should consider the hunter's perception of our wild deer as an important factor to maintain a stable and positive image for hunting here in Texas. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right, Joey. Thank you. Okay. That was the only two speakers. Any other questions or comments from the Commission? Okay. Do I have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Morian.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Martin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you. We'll move on to action item number 5, Deer Permit Program Rules ‑‑ standards for denial/refusal to review, inclusion of Lacey Act Violations ‑‑ Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes. Mr. Brad Chappell and Scott Vaca please.
MR. VACA: Good morning. For the record, my name is Scott Vaca. I'm the assistant chief of Wildlife Enforcement. I'm here to present an item which seeks adoption of proposed amendments to the trap/transport/transplant permit, deer-management permit, and deer-breeder permit rules.
Current Department rules allow the denial of permit issuance or renewal for five years following conviction or deferred adjudication for violating Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapters C, E, L, or R, a violation of Parks and Wildlife Code classified as a Class A or B misdemeanor or a felony or a violation of Parks and Wildlife Code, Section 63.002, which is possession of live game animals.
The proposed rules would allow the Department to deny permit issuance or renewal following a final conviction or assessment of a civil penalty for violating the federal Lacey Act. The proposed rules would also allow the Department to withhold or delay issuance of a DMP or TTT to a person who has been charged with a Lacey Act violation.
I'd like to point out that current rules allow the Department to deny permit issuance or renewal for various levels of offenses, including Class C misdemeanors which are punishable by fine only. However, there are currently people serving time in a federal penitentiary who are eligible and are still doing business with the Department. Staff feels that the Department should have the means to cease doing business with such individuals. Lacey Act prosecutions are not pursued for minor infractions of wildlife law. We're not talking about one dove inadvertently brought home or a fish that's an inch short. We're talking about major, egregious violations.
These Lacey Act prosecutions are reserved for the most egregious commercial wildlife violations of state law. For example, the interstate and foreign commerce in reptiles, endangered species, or wildlife parts would be prosecuted under the Lacey Act. And to discuss the Lacey Act further I'm going to turn it over to Sergeant Brad Chappell.
SERGEANT CHAPPELL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, I'm Sergeant Game Warden Brad Chappell with the Special Operations Unit of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Lacey Act is a federal law enacted in 1900 which was established to help deal with excess market hunting contributing to the decline in wildlife populations. The Act makes it illegal to transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife, fish, or plants taken or possessed in violation of state law. Conviction may be obtained without state prosecution. Persons convicted in federal court are convicted of violating a federal law.
At the present time unless Texas Parks and Wildlife Department seeks prosecution in state court, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rules concerning permit delay for trap, transport, and transplant and deer-management permits cannot be applied. At the present time unless Texas Parks and Wildlife Department obtains convictions in state court, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rules concerning permit denial for trap, transport, and transplant, deer-management permit, and deer-breeder permits do not apply.
Duplicate prosecutions are redundant and they're time consuming. They're very costly and divert time and resources from other duties and obligations of our law enforcement staff. Currently persons convicted of Lacey Act violations are continuing to obtain permits and renewals and engage in permitted activities as assistant chief Vaca stated moments ago. During the last Commission meeting on March 31st I provided summaries on two separate Lacey Act cases which resulted in three Lacey Act convictions. I'd like to summarize a case that has resulted in Lacey Act conviction since the last Commission meeting.
On October 2008, Parks and Wildlife Special Operations Unit coordinated efforts with special agents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to intercept a load of white-tailed ‑‑ live white-tailed deer which were imported into Texas originating at a deer-breeders facility in Oklahoma. Upon completion of the investigation a defendant, who was and is a current Texas deer breeder, agreed to plea to a felony Lacey Act charge if the state agreed to not prosecute seven pending trap, transport, and transplant charges against him, which are all Class B Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanors. The state agreed not to prosecute the pending state charges and the defendant pled guilty to felony Lacey Act charge on April 14th of this year associated with illegal importation of live white-tailed deer into Texas. The subject is currently awaiting sentencing and is still currently engaged in permitting activities today.
I might mention at this time, Texas Parks and Wildlife does have the authority to deny permit issuance and renewal for applicants who have convictions for trap, transport, and transplant violations. I might also mention that although we cleared a Lacey Act case since the last Commission meeting, we now have 18 different cases involving Lacey Act violations related to illegal importation of deer into Texas, which range from ‑‑ in stages from infancy to near completion. Nine of those investigations involved at least one person who is currently permitted by our agency.
I might also mention another brief example of a flagrant activity that justified prosecution under the Lacey Act, which was made public on May 25th of this year when a federal grand jury in Wichita, Kansas, returned a 23-count felony indictment of two brothers from Texas. The indictments charged both with conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. According to the indictments the brothers provided guided hunts where the hunters exceeded the bag limit on deer, hunted deer without valid permits for management units that they were hunting in, and killed deer using prohibited methods such as spotlighting. Additionally, the indictments also charged that the guides to ‑‑ arranged for the transport of deer parts, particularly antlers, from Kansas back to the state of Texas.
A recent query of Lacey Act cases opened in Texas by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the last five years indicated that less than 1 percent of those investigations were referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for prosecution and resulted in a violation ‑‑ excuse me ‑‑ in a conviction of a Lacey Act violation. Some of the Lacey Act cases investigated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service resulted in the issuance of a violation notice that imposed a forfeiture of collateral. The vast majority of the remainder of those cases over the last five years were handled with a simple abandonment or forfeiture of the wildlife by the individual that possessed the wildlife. Neither of those scenarios or situations resulted in a conviction of Lacey Act.
Wildlife-related offenses must exceed a certain level of flagrant activity in order to qualify as a Lacey Act violation. In other words, only the most egregious violations of wildlife resource laws which go over a certain threshold are taken to the U.S. Attorney's Office for prosecution under the authority of a Lacey Act. Inadvertent infractions of wildlife resources ‑‑ wildlife resource laws do not meet the elements of the Lacey Act and, therefore, are not pursued as a Lacey Act investigation.
MR. VACA: The proposed amendments would allow denial of permit issuance or renewal following a conviction or assessment of civil penalty for a violation of the Lacey Act. This would also allow the Department to deny issuance or renewal of a permit for someone convicted of conspiracy to commit a Lacey Act violation. And, once again, it's important to note here that under these proposed rules, denial of a permit for a Lacey Act conviction would not be automatic. The rules would authorize the Department to deny issuance or renewal, but they do not require it.
The proposed amendments would also allow the Department to delay processing DMP and TTT applications if a person is a defendant in a criminal or civil proceeding for Lacey Act violations. It's important to note here that since May 23rd, 2006, the Department has had the discretion to delay processing DMP and TTT applications if a person is a defendant in a criminal proceeding for violating Parks and Wildlife Code Chapter 43 Subchapter C, E, L, R, or a violation of 63.002, possession of live game animals.
Some of the factors the Department would consider in determining whether to issue or renew a permit based on a Lacey Act conviction or civil penalty would include, but not be limited to, the seriousness of the offense, the number of offenses, existence of a pattern of offenses, the length of time between the offense and the permit application, and the applicant's efforts toward rehabilitation. One thing also to note is that the denial of permit issuance or renewal would apply to a person acting as an agent for a permittee.
The proposed amendments would allow the denial of permit issuance or renewal following conviction or deferred adjudication for violating the following regardless of when the offense occurred ‑‑ and what essentially this does is eliminate the five-year limit on considering a conviction for one of these offenses, which is Chapter 43, Subchapter C, E, L, R, any Parks and Wildlife Code Class A or B misdemeanor or a felony, and, once again, Parks and Wildlife Code 63.002. And this would apply to a person acting as an agent for a permittee.
Based on the Commission comments yesterday, there are some recommended changes. Under delay and processing we would clarify that the delay is also applicable to persons acting as an agent for the applicant, and change delay the processing to withhold processing. Under types of disposition, our direction was to add plea of nolo contendere to the types of criminal disposition that may disqualify a person from receiving a permit, add pretrial diversion to the types of criminal disposition that may disqualify a person from receiving a DMP ‑‑ and that was under 65.132(e)(2) ‑‑ and delete, finally, in describing conviction that may disqualify a person from receiving a TTT or breeder permit. And that applied to 65.109(b)(1) and 65.603(g)(1).
The proposed DMP provisions ‑‑ currently a DMP is valid from September 1st of one year through August 31st of the following year. The proposed amendment would make the DMP valid from the date of issuance through the last release date authorized under the permit. Public comment on the DMP expiration date has been unanimous in support.
Public comment for the Lacey Act ‑‑ the latest ‑‑ the last figures were agree completely ‑‑ it was 101 ‑‑ and disagree was 504. Some of the reasons given ‑‑ review from yesterday ‑‑ 104 felt it was unconstitutional or a violation of due process, no guarantee that the Department would fairly administer the rules, would devastate potentially innocent people, too broad, severe penalty for minor infraction, and should be limited to deer violations.
Once again, there were 212 comments that gave a specific reason for opposition. Some of the more specific reasons ‑‑ punishment should fit the crime, don't trust the federal government, should be able ‑‑ should not be able to deny permanently, civil penalties should not be a basis for denial, and denial and issuance should only be affected by convictions. A few more of the comments with a specific reason given are displayed before you.
Recommended motion is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to Section 65.109 concerning permits to trap, transport, and transplant game animals and game birds, Section 65.132 concerning deer-management permit ‑‑ or DMP ‑‑ and 65.603 concerning deer-breeder permits with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the April 23rd, 2010, issue of the Texas Register. With that, I'll conclude my presentation and take any questions you might have.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission? Dr. Falcon?
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Yesterday there was mention of a number of those comments coming from the same computer, and for the record can you just remind us of those numbers?
MR. VACA: There was 145 comments received from two IP addresses in Waco over a span of I believe six hours.
MR. SMITH: Commissioner, I want to clarify that. We learned during the committee meetings yesterday the source of those comments. And it does appear to have been a legitimate effort by somebody representing the interests of people that apparently he had secured permission to represent their position through the public comment ‑‑ through the electronic submission. We haven't gotten confirmation of that but we believe we've identified the source and we don't think that this was an attempt by one individual to deliberately skew the results on this. We believe somebody was acting in good faith.
We have advised someone who is close to that individual in the future if they would notify us if they are going to be taking such action and that they will make sure that they have an appropriate authorization to act on their behalf and submit it. So just wanted to provide that clarification.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions?
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've got one question. And I'm sorry I wasn't here yesterday to hear this presentation. So I understood the Lacey Act presentation to say in essence that there are no minor or inadvertent prosecutions under the federal Lacey Act. Is that what you were saying?
MR. VACA: Yes, sir. There's a certain threshold that has to be met for it to be a Lacey Act prosecution. And, in fact, we do have representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service here that could give specifics on that if you'd like to ‑‑
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Well, my next question is has there ever been someone prosecuted for one redfish, one dove, or any other inadvertent ‑‑ is the word I'm using ‑‑ violations of state law?
MR. VACA: If I may, I'd like to turn it over to the agency that would ‑‑ you don't mind?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, no, I don't mind. I do just want to make sure ‑‑ remember it showed up there ‑‑ the Lacey Act's been in place since 1900. So it is a 110-year-old law. To say something didn't happen inadvertently in 110 years ‑‑ I don't know if anybody can. But, no, I think we do have some representatives or somebody from the Fish and Wildlife. Is that correct?
SERGEANT CHAPPELL: Yes, sir. Mr. Chairman, if it please you, I'd ask that a representative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure.
SERGEANT CHAPPELL: ‑‑ resident agent in charge, Dave Hubbard, come forward, please.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yeah, that would be fine.
MR. HUBBARD: God morning, Chairman, members of the Commission. For the record, my name's David Hubbard. I'm the resident agent in charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stationed in San Antonio.
To answer your question, Commissioner, I do not know of any. We did a query just of the last five years in Texas, and I've been with the service for ten years and do not know of any instance where somebody one fish over the limit, one bird over the limit, and a duck or dove situation was ever charged with a Lacey Act. The Lacey Act is a general intent law, unlike other strict liability laws. We must prove the criminal's state of mind.
So in instances where somebody brings one fish over from Louisiana that simply does not meet the elements of the crime and will not be charged with a Lacey Act. As well in those cases every instance that I know of, it's simply more appropriate for everybody involved to charge the underlying state offense that it would be used as a predicate for the Lacey Act.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you. And I'm not talking in legal terms. I'm just talking conceptually here ‑‑
MR. HUBBARD: Uh-huh.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: ‑‑ the intent. My second question is how many Lacey Act cases have there been in Texas? Do you know that in the last five years or two years?
MR. HUBBARD: The numbers that we ran ‑‑ thousands ‑‑ I believe somewhere around 1,500 Lacey Act cases were initiated. One percent of those were presented for prosecution. The vast majority of those, as the Sergeant pointed out earlier, were handled through simple abandonment, they were issues at the port of entry ‑‑ items coming in from Mexico ‑‑ or handled with a collateral ‑‑ a forfeiture of collateral through a violation notice ‑‑ a ticket. So very few of those made the threshold that we set internally within the Fish and Wildlife Service and as set by the Department of Justice for us to pursue a Lacey Act violation.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Were those pursuits prosecutions or were those convictions? So it would be 15 if my math's right.
MR. HUBBARD: I believe those are convictions.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Convictions.
MR. HUBBARD: Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Any ‑‑ oh, excuse me. Any other questions for the agent? Okay. Thank you.
MR. HUBBARD: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We do have some public comments on this. I'm going to call first person up and then the second will be on standby. I think it's ‑‑ sorry, I don't have my glasses ‑‑ Russell Ray Burdett. Am I saying that right? Yes. And then, Amy Clapper, you're on standby.
MR. BURDETT: Chairman Holt, Commissioners, Director, thank you for your time. My name is Ray Burdett ‑‑ Russell Ray Burdett. I'm from Raymondville, Texas, Kenedy County. I'm a deer breeder; I'm a rancher. We run a nature tourism business. We have threatened and endangered species on our ranch. And we are ‑‑ consider ourselves stewards of the land.
I commend you for your effort to institute a regulation that would restrict the use of our permits by violators of the Lacey Act or any other game law violation. However, I feel like this particular regulation as written I have to oppose. I feel like it's very broad in scope, all encompassing, and is designed to put all the authority for ‑‑ which rightfully you have ‑‑ within the hands of a few people within the ‑‑ or within the Department. And I'm not saying that anybody in the Department is not worthy of that authority, but they won't be here forever. There is no appeal process, and I have some concern about that.
And so because of that I will ask that you would postpone this decision until a group of industry representatives ‑‑ people like myself and other breeders ‑‑ along with your staff sit down and go over the regulation and develop something that has some sort of process where we can go back and review the violation, if it is, in fact, a violation of the Lacey Act.
The gentleman said they had 1,500 Lacey Act issues, and of that they prosecuted about 15. Of those 1,500, according to this ‑‑ the way this regulation is written, individuals' licenses would be suspended if they were under investigation for a Lacey Act violation if I believe I read it correctly. I have some concern with that because if you own 300 white-tailed deer and you've got them in pens you just can't stop breeding them. You have to do something with those live animals. It's not like being in the business where you have the inventory on a shelf and you can just sell that to somebody else. It's just not as easy as that.
The other thing I'd like to point out is that your preamble in your regulation has some errors. One of the errors is that there is an economic impact to both the community and to the business if you do deny or do not renew their application. And so for that reason I think they need to go back and relook that economic impact as part of that regulation in the preamble. So I'd ask that you all postpone the decision until it can be reevaluated. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Could we get staff to describe the appeal process that we currently have in place and also give us a sense of how that's operated historically? Thanks.
SERGEANT CHAPPELL: If it would please the Chairman I'd like to ask Ann Bright to address the appeal process please.
MS. BRIGHT: For the record, I'm Ann Bright, General Counsel. First of all, as I mentioned yesterday, these permits are not rights; these permits are privileges. The ‑‑ as a result there is no formal hearing requirement in order to not renew a permit. I'm not talking about revocation, I'm talking about just not renewing or not initially issuing.
However, the Department has established an internal review process for these permits. That process basically goes to a committee chaired by the deputy executive director ‑‑ in this case it would be Ross Melinchuk, the deputy executive director over Natural Resources. And my experience has been that that review process is taken very seriously. As I mentioned yesterday, it's not a rubber stamp. It's something that's looked at very carefully. And that review process does exist for breeder permits, DMP, and TTT.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: But it's already in place for all of that.
MS. BRIGHT: Yes, sir. And if I could also make just one other minor comment, in terms of ‑‑ the delay in processing stems from a person who's actually a defendant in a prosecution, not someone who's just under investigation. It's a little bit higher than just being under investigation.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thanks, Ann.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions on that? Okay. Amy Clapper please. And then after that David Hayward.
MS. CLAPPER: Good morning. My name is Amy Clapper, and I'm here today representing the Deer Breeders Cooperative in the role of director of operations. Our office is located at 3613 Williams Drive, Suite 601, in Georgetown, and I will hereinafter reference our organization as DBC.
DBC has over 500 members in 18 states with over 80 percent of our member base located in the state of Texas. Deer breeders in this state average over $300,000 in annual expenditures and have a direct economic impact of over $318 million in the Texas economy annually with a total industry impact of over $650 million to the state. Additionally, deer-breeding entities contribute to over 7,500 jobs located across Texas, and those are primarily rural in nature.
Upon review of the proposed change to deny the permit issuance and/or renewals for Lacey Act violations the DBC has raised concerns. The primary issue is that the scope of the language contained therein is broadly sweeping and may result in unintended revocation of breeding permits. It is our hope that the Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department would choose to maintain a strong state stance in such regulatory matters while mitigating federal controls. The federal Lacey Act has a history of arbitrary application, particularly in matters concerning the rights of deer farmers across our great country. We are cautious in expanding the role of federal mandates in that reach of such programs may become burdensome and litigious.
As the deer-breeding industry has successfully integrated with the sporting industry of Texas and many other states, the reach of regulatory authorities into the income-producing operations of our members gives us pause. While we agree that individuals who blatantly ignore the federal act Lacey requirements should be punished, we see unintended consequences to our members that may result in loss of their livelihood.
As a result, we respectfully request that the Commission deny the proposal as written and look to an industry and Department cohesive working together to provide alternate language that suitably addresses minor infractions as compared to the proposed language that could have far-reaching economic impacts to the state. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Amy, thank you. David Hayward up. Gilbert Adams ‑‑ I think I'm reading that right ‑‑ Gilbert Adams next.
MR. HAYWARD: For the record, David Hayward, Texas Deer Association. I'm going to defer to my fellow representative Gilbert Adams. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Sure.
MR. ADAMS: Thank you, Commissioner Holt, Commissioners. My name is Gilbert Adams. I'm a third-generation lawyer. I practice law in Beaumont. And I'm a fourth-generation rancher. And I'm here ‑‑ I'm also executive officer/treasurer of the Texas Deer Association.
And we want to commend the Commissioners for looking at this issue. TDA does not support the illegal movement or importation of deer in Texas or any other state. In fact ‑‑ and one of the investigators mentioned someone in jail today who could come and get his permit when he's out of jail. Unfortunately for him he will not be able to use the TDA apparatus to further his business. He will not be able to participate in auctions and he will not be able to DNA his deer, which significantly reduces, if not eliminates, the value of that deer.
So ‑‑ and we do believe that is an important gap. That gentleman should not receive his breeder's permit, at least for some fair period of time. And we ask that you look at that and close that loophole. But know that he will not be participating in the organization for our industry in Texas.
Our main concern with this proposal is it would give the Department the authority to completely disregard one's constitutional presumption of innocence. That's been ‑‑ that's guaranteed to all of us and we would like it to be extended to the deer industry as well. I looked for other statutes where the state of Texas gives a permit, and I couldn't find a statute anywhere where any regulatory agency had the authority just upon a charge to delay or deny a permit.
I think a good example is a concealed carry permit, which we allow people to carry weapons just about anywhere in the state. Even in Texas your concealed carry permit could not be delayed or denied without a conviction. So being simply charged or some sort of revocation proceeding to take away your concealed carry permit ‑‑ that would not result in a delay of issuance of your permit.
Finally, Commissioner Friedkin asked specifically about an appeals process. And Ms. Ann Bright stood up and explained that there's a committee that looks at these things. But that is not an appeals process. A committee of internal people is not an appeals process. The fact is there is none. And an important distinction should be made in the fact that the Department has the authority to delay or deny a permit with respect to investigations by the Department. Here you're talking about an investigation ‑‑ true, an indictment ‑‑ by the federal government ‑‑ someone that the ‑‑ there may not be close contact. The Department may not have all the facts because it's being handled by the federal government. And I think I've run out of time. Thank you for your time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: We appreciate your time. Thank you, Gilbert. We've got a couple more. Joey Park up ‑‑ I'm sorry ‑‑ and Lane Laning.
MR. PARK: Good morning again, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Joey Park. I'm here on behalf of the Texas Wildlife Association today.
I want to report that TWA executive committee was unanimously opposed to including defendants in Lacey
Act violations in this proposal. While we understand the Department staff's desire to get out in front of serious violations we believe it is a violation of the individual's constitutional rights that that person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. We recommend that this be struck from the proposed rules.
Our members, who are sympathetic and want the bad actors our of this business, nevertheless feel and encourage the Commission to consider this in your decision. Thank you very much for letting me be here today. I appreciate it.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Joey, thank you. Lane Laning.
MR. LANING: My name is Lane Laning, rancher and deer breeder and hunter, outdoor enthusiast located in the metropolis of Zephyr, Texas. Gentlemen, I agree with everything that's been said to date. I've written all of you letters and anybody else I could write a letter to I would.
I didn't write anything down ‑‑ probably should have because I'll probably miss a lot of points I wanted to make. But the main point I really look at is I agree with putting the bad actors out of this game. If somebody has moved a deer illegally or something of that sort they should be prosecuted. But this rule that you're putting up is too sweeping in scope. Although it is a privilege to have a permit or license almost everybody here is in a business that requires a permit or a license. And I guess we all should be privileged to have a business.
It kind of strikes a chord in my heart that I could get caught for something ‑‑ or my agent, i.e. foreman could get caught doing something and have my business taken away from me, which is what we do ‑‑ is we breed deer and we hunt deer and we have a ranch. And we harvest pecans, we do hay, we do everything we can to keep our hands on our property.
I worked with ‑‑ I've been on the TDA Board and I've been on the DBC Board. We've worked closely with Texas Parks and Wildlife to try to come up with good regulations and laws. I'm in favor of prosecuting those that break those laws. However, I think the scope in this is too broad and I would ask you to not pass this. I think it should be brought back to a committee and done at a more review and be more focused in its comments. Anyway, I appreciate the time in letting us come up.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, sir. Relative to the comments that have been made today I'd like to take just a few minutes and visit Carter. Can you and I visit for a second?
MR. SMITH: Did you want to just take a break?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yeah, why don't we take about a five-minute break? This is a public hearing so it will be just Carter and I need to visit. I want to visit on some procedural issue. I maybe need Ann Bright with that too. Can we visit for a moment. Thank you.
(Whereupon, a short recess was taken.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you all for being patient and giving us a little time as I visited with our executive director and our counsel. And I appreciate everybody's comments. I know this has been a contentious issue for various people for various reasons. And what I want to make sure and assure everybody of is that this Commission has spent a lot of time and effort on this, certainly with the Department, with the counsel, with the game warden group, our law enforcement ‑‑ all elements trying to understand everything, and certainly then yesterday spent a lot of time in a public hearing yesterday.
And so I want to thank everybody for coming in and making their comments and ‑‑ but I do want to go forward on the vote. And so, with that, do I have a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Morian.
COMMISSION FRIEDKIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second by Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you very much.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Mr. Chairman? May I make ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: ‑‑ a few comments? I'd like to react with some of my personal observations to some of the concerns that have been expressed today. As general counsel stated, these permits ‑‑ the TTT permits and the deer-breeder permits and the deer-management permits ‑‑ are privileges.
And I think, and believe the rest of the Commission agrees, that character and integrity are clearly relevant to a determination of whether or not to issue a permit. And the vast majority of deer breeders we know are good stewards. And we believe if they ‑‑ if all of the facts were understood would support this proposition. And I think when I say that I don't mean to suggest that people haven't tried to understand it.
But one commenter, for example, said there is no review process when their ‑‑ when the current rule in Subpart J has a very explicit review process in place right now. And that remains for a denial of a permit or a refusal to renew a permit for all three types of permits. And that will not change based on today's vote at all. That same review process will now apply should the Department refuse to issue or renew a permit based on a Lacey Act violation.
The current rule permits the Department ‑‑ or gives the Department the discretion to refuse to issue a permit or to renew a permit to any person who's convicted of a violation of the subchapter on scientific permits. Any violation of the subchapter to ‑‑ on permits to trap and transport game birds or deer. Right now that's in the current rule and has been in the rule.
Any violation of deer-breeder permits or any violation of the subchapter on deer-management permits, including any violation of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code that's either a Class A or Class B misdemeanor ‑‑ those are on the books right now. The Department can withhold a permit for any violation of those many, many rules and regulations and permits. The current rule, as I say, in Subsection J has a right to have a decision ‑‑ an adverse decision reviewed, and that will apply to any decision on a Lacey Act conviction.
And this is not about turning over the process to the federal government. This process will remain within your Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. And we believe they've shown us that they are working with deer breeders and people who have deer-management permits as well as TTT permits. I've not heard a single complaint about the Department in that regard in my two years on this Commission. It merely allows the Department to consider a conviction for a violation of the Lacey Act. And I think that the Department should be entitled to consider it because it is a serious violation when it occurs, and I've not seen anybody get prosecuted, much less convicted, for bringing a dove or, as the Chairman said I think, a fish one inch over the limit. That's not what the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney's Office is going to take their time in prosecuting. We're talking about serious violations here.
And even if ‑‑ even so, I want to remind everybody it is not automatic. The word "may" is in the current rule and it stays in all three rules. It's discretionary. And we have every expectation that the Department will administer this on an even-handed and fair and reasonable basis. And I think it will help us eliminate the circumstance that we have now where at least a couple of people have the privilege of the permit and they're serving time in a federal penitentiary for serious game violations. So thank you for indulging me in that respect, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That's fine. Any other comments? Okay. And, Carter, our executive director, and Ann Bright, our counsel ‑‑ the three of us talked. We all understand how serious this is to everybody that got up and spoke. We also understand how serious it is to the various associations. We understand how it can be looked at as came through some of the public comments as everything from unconstitutional to all those kinds of things.
So I think I just want to leave it at this ‑‑ to let everybody understand is, both our executive director and our counsel, our law enforcement, understand how sensitive this is for everybody concerned. And that we've used the term it is a privilege, but we also understand is a way of life for people. It is a way to make a living for people. It employs a lot of people. It is something that we've tried to as a Commission and as a Department to be supportive of.
And so what we're trying to do, just as some of you made comments about ‑‑ your various associations ‑‑ make sure that the bad guys ‑‑ for lack of a better term ‑‑ are not involved in this because we think that puts a black eye on all of it. And so it is our job as a regulatory agency to make sure that the right people are doing what is the right thing. And so we will and always will be very sensitive to all our constituents in the state of Texas ‑‑ that's 23 million people ‑‑ whether it's urban, whether it's rural ‑‑ and make sure that we do it in the appropriate manner, with consideration and always approaching it in the sense of trying to make sure that it ‑‑ our response as a regulatory agency is appropriate, whatever that response ‑‑ whatever response is needed.
And so I just want to make sure everybody understands from the Commission's point of view that this has been considered and talked about, and we take it as seriously as you do. So, with that, I just want to make sure we finish that.
MR. SMITH: And, Mr. Chairman, on behalf of staff, I just want to acknowledge that we understand your position fully.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.
MR. SMITH: We absolutely understand the importance and significance of the review process. I can assure you ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MR. SMITH: ‑‑ we will administer that with objectivity. We'll do it dispassionately, we'll do it fairly, and we'll do it thoroughly. And you have our pledge in that regard. I think we have a history of that already inside the agency in reviewing permits in the past. We will continue that and we understand fully your expectations of us as we go forward.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. Thank you, sir. With that, we'll move on to item number 6, action item ‑‑ Public Hunting Lands Approval ‑‑ Establishment of an Open Season on Public Hunting Lands and Approval of Public Hunting Activities on State Parks. Ms. Linda Campbell. Linda, you've been busy.
MS. CAMPBELL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Linda Campbell, program director for private lands and public hunting in the Wildlife Division. I'm here today to request your action on establishing an open season on public hunting lands and to present proposed public hunting activities on state parks.
Establishing an open season on public hunting lands allows the Department to hold public hunts during the upcoming hunting season beginning September 1st, 2010. Chapter 81 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code authorizes the executive director to approve public hunting activities on wildlife management areas. Chapter 62 of the Code requires the Commission to approve public hunting activities on state parks.
In your Commission booklets you were provided the proposed state park hunts for 2010/2011 season. We have a total of 44 state parks that will conduct public hunts during the 2010/11 hunting season. This is the same number as last year. There are a total of 1,745 drawn hunt positions proposed on state parks of which 242 of those are youth positions. This does represent an increase of 69 hunt positions compared with last year.
With that, staff recommends that the Commission adopt the proposed motions. The first one ‑‑ Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes an open season on public hunting lands to run from September 1st, 2010, to August 31st, 2011. And, number two, The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the public hunting activities contained in Exhibit A to take place on units of the state park system. So now I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have about this.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from our Commissioners?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Linda, you say increase of 69 hunt positions. What is a hunt position exactly?
MS. CAMPBELL: Those are drawn positions, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.
MS. CAMPBELL: Basically draw and hunt positions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right. And, Linda, you've done a wonderful job. I mean, what's your sense of it. Do we ‑‑ for example, you know, you have 44 parks will conduct public hunting ‑‑ same number as last year. Is there ‑‑ I mean, do we have any momentum on this public hunting? You know, I've been frustrated. I mean ‑‑
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir. And ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ I'd like to see more.
MS. CAMPBELL: ‑‑ we do have some good news on this. The total number of drawn hunt positions on state parks, wildlife management areas, and our private lands hunts where we lease hunting privileges from private landowners is at 5,522 drawn hunt permits, which is an increase of 446 over last year. So our wildlife management area hunt positions have increased 362 over last year. And of those 972 are youth positions, so that's an increase as well of 144.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.
MS. CAMPBELL: We also are looking at, of course, expanding our work with private landowners because we feel like that's the way to go to try to grow the public hunting program, and we continue to do that as well.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: So your outreach is getting some response?
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir. And as far as our walk-in hunting is concerned, as of this week we had ‑‑ there's still signing units for small game leases for our walk-in hunting program. But we have 107 units for over 40,000 acres signed for our annual public hunting permit this year so far. And we hope to exceed or ‑‑ equal or exceed our numbers for those this year.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. So here we're just talking about the state park system. I was thinking WMAs and all of it. So you've ‑‑
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ given me the rest of that. Okay. Helpful. Lydia, are you ‑‑ can you get up and tell us how you're using all that social outreach to outreach on this?
MS. SALDANA: Would you like me to?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, I would like you to make a couple of comments please.
MS. SALDANA: For the record, I'm Lydia Saldana, Communications Director. As I explained yesterday during the presentation, we're using a very seasonal approach to some of our posts. So, for example, when it's right before a hunting season we'll put information out about that particular season. We've also certainly promoted the public hunting program through both videos on You Tube, posts on Facebook, and we're going to continue to explore ways to use that, as well as other online marketing strategies for public hunting.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Can we use that also to outreach to the private landowners to try to get the leased land and ‑‑ help me ‑‑ I mean ‑‑
MS. SALDANA: Well, and, Linda ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ it's going the other way.
MS. SALDANA: ‑‑ you might want to talk a little bit about the program that we have right now that connects landowners and hunters. You probably know more about that than I do.
MS. CAMPBELL: Well, we have a Hunt Texas online connection to try to connect hunters with landowners, of course. And the outreach to private landowners ‑‑ we continue to do that and continue to try to diversify our hunting opportunities on private lands, which our public hunters like.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MS. CAMPBELL: They like a lot of various opportunities. We are constrained somewhat by funding on that, you know, in our ability to negotiate with private landowners and pay what they need to provide those ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.
MS. CAMPBELL: ‑‑ public hunting privileges. But, yes, we continue to grow in that area and we'll continue to move forward, especially with both our small game leases and also our big game hunt positions with private lands.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.
MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, just a couple of other things I'd just like to add to this ‑‑ to add to Linda's presentation. And we're going to be the beneficiary of some additional Pittman-Robertson funds ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.
MR. SMITH: ‑‑ that will be coming to Texas. Those are provided by gun buyers and sportsmen. You know, we are making a priority to set aside some of those funds to acquire additional access ‑‑ public access for hunting. We are particularly focused in East Texas where, as you know, there's been a significant transition in landownership and it's very possible we may lose access in places. So that is a high, high priority for us. And I want to let you know that we're going to be investing there for more public hunting lands.
Also, at the national level the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies is acting on a recommendation that came up a couple of years ago when efforts to help promote our hunting heritage to create a hunting and shooting sports council that would be kind of the equivalent of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation to help support states' efforts to work on the issues of access and also mentors which have been two major barriers to entries for hunting. So there's a lot going on on that front too that I just wanted to let you know that we're a part of.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Wonderful. Good. Thank you. I know I expanded your scope a little bit, Linda, but I appreciate those comments.
MS. CAMPBELL: No, sir, I appreciate ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: And I appreciate everything you've done over the last few years. Any other questions? Yes, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Linda, a couple of questions. When this ‑‑ when we last talked about this I think we encouraged you and Colonel Flores to reach out through the Law Enforcement Division to try to encourage our wardens when they saw opportunities or to discuss or promote potential private landowners working with us we would try to do that. Has that occurred over the last year, and, if so, have we seen any results?
MS. CAMPBELL: We need to continue to work on that, Commissioner. We do have a game warden up in the Panhandle who is continuing to work really hard for the ‑‑ on behalf of the public hunting program and signing up a lot of small game leases up there ‑‑ Mark Collins is his name. And so we need to get more Mark Collinses out there, but we'll continue to work with law enforcement to try to do that.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay. That was one question. Then on the chart, Exhibit A, under the species hunt types ‑‑ for example, under Big Bend Ranch, you say mule deer and unlimited exotics, but if you go right above it it says deer and feral hogs without the word "unlimited." Why aren't we turning people loose on feral hogs in an unlimited fashion?
MS. CAMPBELL: We can look at that. I see what you're saying ‑‑ unlimited exotics. I don't know. We'll have to look into that. But, yes, generally speaking, on state parks unlimited feral hogs is definitely encouraged.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yeah. I can imagine.
MS. CAMPBELL: Mr. Dabney will ‑‑
VOICE: It's a typo.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Is it a typo?
VOICE: I assume so.
MS. CAMPBELL: Well, we'll look at that again, sir.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Well, on the ‑‑ if we haven't had a motion I'd like to amend that exhibit to read "unlimited feral hogs" wherever the word "feral hogs" reads.
MS. CAMPBELL: Yes, sir. We will do that, sir.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, can we do that on this motion? I've just got to make sure we can ‑‑ all the ‑‑ Ann Bright, I'm asking you.
MS. CAMPBELL: Is that minor enough to ‑‑
MS. BRIGHT: Yes, sir, that's perfectly ‑‑
COMMISSIONER HOLT: That's not a ‑‑ doesn't create an issue. Okay. Okay. Any other questions or comments? You're picking up on things, Ralph. Let me see. Where are we? We're on six. Okay. Do I have a motion on this item?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I'll move approval with the modification that we add "unlimited" before the word "feral hogs."
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Duggins.
COMMISSIONER FALCON: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Seconded by Commissioner Falcon. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you. Number seven, Action ‑‑ Purchase Utility Easement, Bastrop County, one-tenth of an Acre at Buescher State Park, Corky Kuhlmann.
MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning. For the record, Corky Kuhlmann with Land Conservation Program. This is Buescher State Park, Bastrop County, right down the road close to Bastrop, Texas. It is for a utility easement. In our ongoing effort to link to municipal water and wastewater systems whenever feasible and possible we're looking to do this at Buescher. In order to do this we're going to have to purchase a utility easement from an adjacent landowner of approximately 50-by-125 foot.
Staff recommends that the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the executive director to take all necessary steps to acquire utility easement to facilitate the connection between Buescher State Park and the City of Smithville municipal wastewater system. I'll be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Corky?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do I have a motion on this item?
COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Morian.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Martin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Corky. Number 8, Action ‑‑ Grant Easement, Parker County, .2 Acres at Lake Minerals Wells Trailway, Requested by Parker County. Corky, you're up again.
MR. KUHLMANN: For the record, Corky Kuhlmann. This is an item at Lake Mineral Wells Trailway, Parker County, Texas, just west of Fort Worth. It's along a trailway ‑‑ an abandoned railroad. We have approximately 22 miles of railway there that's trail. Twenty of it is developed providing recreation opportunities for hikers, bicyclists, and equestrian use.
We have a request from Parker County. They're planning a new loop road around Weatherford. And in order to build the road they have to build a bridge across the trailway and an existing railroad right-of-way that's parallel with the abandoned right-of-way. The easement is on a part of the trailway that we don't ever intend to develop. As you see in the picture here the end of the trailway is about 3,000 feet up from where the easement ‑‑ where we'll grant the easement. And even with granting the easement if we ever plan to extend the trailway it will not affect our ability to do so.
So, with that, staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the executive director to take all necessary steps to grant Parker County a right-of-way easement at the Lake Mineral Wells Trailway. Be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Corky?
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Hughes.
COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Corky, I think you're up again. Let me see. Action item ‑‑ Acceptance of Land Donation, Hidalgo County.
MR. KUHLMANN: For the record, Corky Kuhlmann. This is granting of a donation ‑‑ or accepting a donation at Taormina and Chapote Units of the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area, Hidalgo County, which is in the Valley. Here is the donation of an approximate one-acre tract. It shows its relationship to the units. This acceptance will provide access between the two units. The fields that you see on either side of the yellow triangle are used for dove hunting and it will allow hunters better access between the two units.
Staff recommends the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following policy: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the executive director to take all necessary steps to accept a donation of one-acre tract of land as an addition to Taormina and Chapote Units of the Las Palomas Management Wildlife Area. And, again, I'll be glad to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any questions for Corky? (No response.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do I have a motion?
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: So move.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Martin.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second, Commissioner Duggins. All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you, Corky.
MR. KUHLMANN: Thank you.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Just before we end the meeting overall, Bob Armstrong, a former Commissioner ‑‑ is Bob in? ‑‑ would like to say a word about Senator Kennard. See, I offered this to him earlier and he wouldn't take it. He wasn't ready, I guess.
MR. ARMSTRONG: I appreciate your offering me the chance to talk and I didn't want to keep the thing going longer. But Don was really a remarkable person. He probably did more that you do to maintain parks because he bought them. But he didn't quit when he got out of office. He went on to the university and he did a piece on the piece of land that I wanted to buy, and he kept on with studies that showed everything about that piece of land. And I just wanted to say that we were real lucky to have him here and we were real lucky that he did what he did. So that's all I wanted to way.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right, Bob. Thank you. And thank you for all you have done and continue to do for Texas. Thank you.
Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its business. I declare us adjourned. Thank you very much.
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commission.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.
(Whereupon, at 11:20 a.m., the meeting was concluded.)
In official recognition of the adoption of this resolution in a lawfully called public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, we hereby affix our signatures this 27th day of May 2010.
Peter M. Holt, Chairman
T. Dan Friedkin, Vice-Chairman
Mark E. Bivins, Member
Ralph H. Duggins, Member
Antonio Falcon, M.D., Member
Karen J. Hixon, Member
Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Member
Margaret Martin, Member
S. Reed Morian, Member
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: May 27, 2010
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 88, 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.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731