Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee Meeting
Jan. 26, 2011Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 26th day of January 2011, 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:
- Mark E. Bivins, Amarillo, Texas, Committee Chairman
- Peter M. Holt, San Antonio, Texas, Chairman
- Ralph H. Duggins, Fort Worth, Texas
- Antonio Falcon, MD, Rio Grande City, Texas
- T. Dan Friedkin, Houston, Texas (absent)
- 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
P R O C E E D I N G S
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I would like to call the Conservation Committee to order. The first order of business is the approval of the previous committee meeting minutes from the November 3, 2010 meeting, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: So moved.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: By Martin. A second?
COMMISSIONER HIXON: Second.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: By Hixon. All in favor, please say aye.
(A chorus of ayes.)
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any opposition?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Hearing none, the motion carries. Committee Item Number 1, Update on TPWD progress in implementing the Texas Parks and Wildlife Land and Water Resource Conservation and Recreation Plan. Carter.
MR. SMITH: Let me start with a couple of bits of good news. I mentioned December was a busy month for this Agency. And a lot of great conservation work ‑‑ Wildlife Division at the forefront of that, with their work out in West Texas state parks, with the stocking of bighorn sheep into the Bofecillos Mountains area, Big Bend Ranch.
Just an extraordinary effort. We have a number of the folks in the audience here that were very instrumental in that effort: Clay Brewer, of course, who you know well, and Fraylon Hernandez, who I am not sure everybody knows.
Fraylon, why don’t you raise your hand, so we can embarrass you appropriately. Fraylon is a biologist out in West Texas and has been hired as our new Bighorn Sheep Coordinator. And we are real proud to have him in that role.
But we had 12 rams and 34 ewes that were captured there at Elephant Mountain, and then moved over to Big Bend Ranch State Park. It was a wonderful collaborative effort between Wildlife and State Parks. Communications did a great job of getting a lot of media out there and just a great conservation success for Texas.
As you might imagine, the Texas Bighorn Society was very much part and parcel of this, and played a major role in helping to make that happen. They do great work behind the scenes, as do our partners. So a wonderful project. It got great media coverage. Real proud of the Wildlife and State Parks team on that.
You know, we have given you all a lot of reports on what is happening on oysters in Galveston Bay following Hurricane Ike, and the loss of about 8,000 acres of reefs there. A lot of sediment deposited on those reefs, smothering those reefs.
We have also talked to you about how just how expensive it is to go back in and add culch to try to build oyster reefs from scratch. You know, we completed a project recently ‑‑ 22 acres of it cost us a little over $800,000, or roughly $36,800 per acre. So it is expensive to go back and start an oyster reef from scratch.
But our Coastal Fisheries team, working with commercial oyster vessel operators this fall completed a project in which they dragged bagless dredges over those reefs that were covered, to open them up and get rid of that sediment. And make those vibrant again. They were able to affect 1,104 acres to reexpose them.
About an $800,000 cost, $740 per acre, compared to the costs associated with building them from scratch. So very efficient smart project, great partnership between Coastal Fisheries and our commercial oyster men.
So with that, Mr. Chairman, I will turn it back over to you.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Thank you, Carter. Committee Item Number 2, the 2011 Water Communications Initiative. Ms. Lydia Saldana.
MS. SALDANA: Good afternoon. It is almost afternoon. I am Lydia Saldana, Communications Division Director here. And I am here to brief you on the ongoing multi-year Communications Initiative having to do with water. The newest work in this body of work is our upcoming "State of the Gulf — America’s Sea" documentary that will be airing across the state next month on PBS stations.
The documentary is just one element of this multimedia, multi-year campaign. And we will show you a little bit of that in a little bit. And you will be seeing some of that later today as well. This is the ‑‑ 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of this effort. We got started on this effort in 2002.
Just this morning, I was going through some of those magazines. And I realize that none of you all were on the Commission in 2002, when we started. So I brought you an issue here. I don’t know if you have it or not. These are fast becoming collectors’ items. But I wanted you to kind of see where we started.
That issue was called the State of Water. Again, we produced that in 2002. And it became the umbrella for the entire campaign, which has proceeded over the last ten years. Certainly, I hope you are familiar with the July issues of our magazine that began in 2002. Since then, we have covered a lot of ground and water since then.
We have provided in-depth coverage of our bays, rivers, springs, wetlands, lakes and, of course, the Gulf. And we are working now on our 10th anniversary issue. Thanks to a fund-raising effort that we completed in December, we are going to be able to produce an expanded 96-page issue of the magazine. And once we knew that, of course, our magazine staff, they are represented in the back row there, we have got Louie Bond and Randy and Russell back there, they began immediately planning for a very ambitious issue that will come up in July.
Three writers will be returning from the first issue that you will see there. Larry McKinney, Joe Nick Patoski, and Carol Clay Chapman. We will also have an article by Andy Sansom, our own Larry Hodge will be writing for us as well. Wendy Holtkamp, and then, Carter Smith will be writing an extended foreword.
Did we mention that Carter? You will be writing an extended foreword for the July issue. And, of course, throughout it, you will see just spectacular photography that will help us tell the story.
Now since 2002, we have also produced a companion series of five video documentaries that have also covered the topic. The first one aired in 2003. And I just noticed this slide is incorrect. The actual first video documentary aired in 2003.
Now, since we began producing these, they have been seen by almost 800,000 folks ‑‑ that’s, and counting because, of course, all of these are now available up on YouTube and are experiencing new life through that venue as well. These segments have also been repurposed through our PBS series, on our website. Of course, on YouTube. And we have also distributed over 13,000 of the DVDs. Most of them have been distributed to schools.
Now, the "State of the Gulf" documentary, you will be seeing a preview of that this afternoon. Again, as I mentioned, it is the fifth and last in the series. It takes a lot to produce a documentary. We have been working on this for over a year. Unfortunately, Lee Smith is not here with us today. He and Richard Roberts are down at the Bullock right now, getting set up for the event this evening.
They have done over 37 interviews, 62 different location shoots. Have researched almost 300 different articles. And a really cool hallmark of this documentary is some really high quality, high definition aerials of the entire Texas coast, which you are going to see a little bit of, in just a few minutes.
Editing a documentary, as Carter and now Ross and Gene are certainly aware, it is like making sausage. It is a long, involved process. And it has gone through a lot of iterations. But I think we are all going to be pleased when we see the product that airs next month. Of course, a big part of this, again, we spent a lot of time producing this documentary. We want to make sure that folks see it.
So we will be spending a lot of time and effort over the next month or so, really giving it a big push in terms of promotion. We have got a website up. We just put out one news release. We are putting out more localized media relations efforts. And we are going to be depending on a lot of our partners to help us get the word out about this.
We have really great success with partners such as the Sierra Club. The Wildlife Federation and other partners, as well as our sponsors which I am going to talk about in a minute, to really help us get the word out, so folks are out there and view it. We will be doing a video news report.
We have got coverage in the February issue of the magazine. And the Governor has written a letter that will be in the March issue, that will help us promote this effort. So a lot of big push to get the word out.
We have also ‑‑ and this, we are really looking forward to as well, here in Austin, I hope some of you all are familiar with the Alamo Drafthouse. On February 9, we are going to be viewing a special screening at the Alamo Drafthouse, which is going to be a lot of fun. Probably a little more relaxed than the event tonight.
But Carter is going to be there. We are expecting a full house. And it is going to be a really good effort there. Of course, you will see promotions on the PBS stations, print ads, radio advertising. You will begin to hear that. So we are really beginning that push.
We have got some online advertising. And, of course, we are utilizing all of our social media vehicles to get the word out as well. I want to point out that we did not have an advertising or promotional budget for this. That was also funded through sponsor dollars. This effort is really contingent on sponsorship dollars.
This is the print ad. I just got my issue of Texas Monthly. That ad is in Texas Monthly. You will see it in the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine as well. The website is really phenomenal. Just went up this, in the last week or so. Tim Peterson and Sara Conejo on our staff did just a great job on that.
Along with the documentary that will be available on that, Ron Kabele on our video staff has produced a series of really slick trailers to promote each of those individual segments. So if you have got a chance to check out the website, please do.
I think my favorite promotional tactic was the little card that you saw here. We had hundreds of these printed for $37. And we will be giving these out tonight, and at other opportunities, just to get the word out about the air dates.
The other thing I want to mention is that we have leveraged all of these materials over the past decade, educationally. Nancy Herron and her team have been instrumental in helping us put together educational CDs, education kits. Keep Texas Wild CDs, Education loaner trunks. We now do a Groundwater to Gulf summer institute. All of this is utilizing these materials. So none of this has been a one-shot deal in terms of a July issue of the magazine, or a documentary that airs once. We have multi-purposed this material, and will continue to do that through the course of the months and years ahead.
Did I mention our sponsors? We really could not have done it without our sponsors. And for this particular years effort, Harte Research Institute, Larry McKinney has been a staunch advocate of this effort, when he was here at the Department and now with Harte. GBRA, that is the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, as well as the San Antonio Bay Foundation have contributed heavily. They have also been involved in many of the other efforts over the years. So if you see any of these folks tonight, please tell them thank you.
Of course, the Parks and Wildlife Foundation and Dick Davis has been involved, from the beginning, he has been a key sponsor as well. And then other sponsors include the Nature Conservancy, Apache, Texas Monthly, Ducks Unlimited, the San Antonio River Authority, Wells Fargo, and TCEQ. And then other partners have included the Texas Wildlife Association and their foundation. The Coastal Conservation Association, and LCRA.
And I want to take a quick moment to thank the Foundation over the years. Carter, for your efforts on behalf of this. I know you were busy fund-raising last month on other things. Darcy Bontempo, our marketing director in the Marketing group. And Jim Stone, our advertising director with the magazine, were instrumental in this.
Tonight as you know, we have got a special event to kind of culminate this effort. Carter and I met with Evan Smith on Friday. And I think this is going to shape up to be a very interesting discussion here, starting at 4:30, we will be videotaping that. And we will be making that symposium available on our website afterwards. So that is promising. It is shaping up to be a very good evening.
We have also had quite a few RSVPs. They are still coming in today. We are expecting quite a few legislators here. So there might be an opportunity to talk to a few of them about this, and other issues.
I want to end by showing, rolling some tape of this aerial footage. And this footage was shot with a ‑‑ I am going to call it a gizmo. It is a gizmo that allowed the video camera on the footage to just be absolutely rock steady. Are we able to roll on this, Mark?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Yes. And I am going to turn this monitor so the Commissioners can see a little better.
MS. SALDANA: Yes. But if you have seen aerial footage on like news stations, you usually get a real jittery picture. This footage is pretty incredible. And we were actually able to go up and down the entire coast. See, the chopper is moving; the horizon is steady.
And the footage that you will see throughout the show is also footage that we will likely be literally using for years and years. Even better than that, we have developed a relationship with the company that does this. And Commissioner Bivins, you will be pleased to hear that we got a phone call a couple of weeks ago that said, hey, we are flying in the Panhandle. Anything you would like us to shoot up there? And we now have some spectacular imagery of Palo Duro.
So this relationship that we developed for the documentary, I think, is going to stand us in good stead over the years, as we have these opportunities. Really, to be able to tell this story with aerial footage is something that is really going to help. And you will see some of that.
Urban sprawl demonstrated there, that can really only be demonstrated by aerial footage. And you will see that throughout the documentary, and in the weeks ahead, in the show as well.
You know, really in 2011, first of all, we are not done yet. I mean, we are going to continue communicating about water resource issues. This is the most important conservation issue facing our state. So we are going to continue reporting and covering it. But with the July issue of the 2011 issue that we are working on right now, we are really going to put a bow and call it a wrap for the State of Water initiative.
And so I want to take this opportunity. I know I am not going to have a chance to brief you all again. And say kudos to some of my staff. The magazine staff, as I have mentioned back there. Tom Harvey just showed up as well. This really has been an ongoing effort. Not just Randy and Louie and Russell who you see back there now, but really staff that goes back 10 years. Robert Macias, Elaine Roberts, Robins.
The first issue of the magazine, Susan Ebert was the publisher. And that is what got it all started. So I really want to acknowledge the work of the staff over the years. I mentioned Lee Smith. And if you don’t know him, you will meet him tonight. He is absolutely passionate about this topic. A passionate conservationist. And Lee has done four of the five documentaries. We have won several Emmys for them. I think this one is going to do well as well.
Richard Roberts in the media productions group has also been involved from the beginning. I mentioned our marketing group, our creative services. This really has been a team effort. I would also like to acknowledge Cindy Loeffler. Cindy Loeffler in our Water Resources group has been our consultant, I guess you would say, from the very beginning. And I mentioned Larry McKinney. Phil Durocher has been involved, and now, Gary Saul and Robin. And then, of course, Gene McCarty who has been there from the very beginning. And Ross has been involved this year. And, of course, you, Carter, Bob Cook, Andy.
And finally, I would like to thank you all. Because the Commission has been supportive of this for the last 10 years. Under your leadership, Chairman Holt, under Chairman Fitzsimons’ leadership, under Chairman Armstrong’s leadership. And we believe it is critical to tell the story. And through this effort, we have been able to do that. And we will continue to do that. And with that, if you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: What was the name of the company that was doing the photography?
MS. SALDANA: The name of the company is Aerial Film Works. And it is just again, a great relationship. Look at the footage of those dolphins. It is really phenomenal.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Is it all ‑‑ is it hi-def?
MS. SALDANA: Not the whole thing, no. Very expensive.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It is beautiful.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other questions or comments for Lydia?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: This is very exciting. I really want to observe though, this would be a great chance for us to use a blast email to ‑‑
MS. SALDANA: Oh, we definitely are going to do that, sir. Yes.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: But I am saying, if we had more email addresses for hunters ‑‑
MS. SALDANA: We ‑‑
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: We have talked about this.
MS. SALDANA: Yes. And we actually have ‑‑
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Get to where we could do a blast email to every constituent, and send them this link, that is so attractive.
MS. SALDANA: Right. We have begun to step up those efforts. And I certainly hope that you have seen some of that email. Actually, that is another topic that we would like to come back and brief you on, perhaps later this year. On how we have stepped those efforts up.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And you said, Gene had been helping on this for several years. Was it 100 years?
MS. SALDANA: Yes. Oh dear, I am not answering that one. Gene has been great.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Have you sent in your email?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: No one has asked. I am happy to give it to you.
COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Lydia, thank you for your passion and effort, and keeping the banner going. And you have given kudos to everyone else. But kudos to you for championing this. It is beautiful. As always, wonderful work.
MS. SALDANA: We will see you tonight. It will be a good pachanga.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Thank you very much. That was really spectacular. Okay. The following items will be heard in Executive Session. Committee Item Number 3, acceptance of land donation, Kendall and Bandera Counties, 3,700 acres, the 3K Ranch. Committee Item Number 4, New Park Search briefing for Palo Pinto County.
Committee Item Number 5, request for easement, Briscoe County, transmission lines crossing Caprock Canyon’s trailway. Committee Item Number 6, the CREZ administrative litigation related to the competitive renewable energy zone, transmission line route selection. And committee Item Number 7, personnel matters, selection of the new internal auditor.
Therefore, I would like to announce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time, for the purposes of deliberation of real estate matters under Section 551.072 of the Texas Open Meetings Act. And seeking legal advice from the General Counsel under Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act. And deliberation regarding personnel under Section 551.074 of the Open Meetings Act. And we will now recess for Executive Session.
(Whereupon, the Committee recessed into Executive Session at 12:15 p.m.)
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: At this time, we will reconvene the regular session of the Conservation Committee, regarding the following items that were heard in Executive Session, Committee Item Number 4, New Park Search briefing in Palo Pinto County, no further action is required at this time.
For Committee Item Number 6, the CREZ administrative litigation, no further action is required at this time as well. And for Committee Item Number 7, personnel matters, selection of the new internal auditor, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action. Committee Item Number 3, acceptance of land donation, Kendall and Bandera Counties, 3,700 acres, known as the 3K Ranch. Corky Kuhlmann.
MR. KUHLMANN: Good afternoon, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation Program. This is the 3K Ranch in Kendall and Bandera county. This is the second reading of this item. So it will be an action item tomorrow. We reviewed it last Commission meeting.
It is located just outside of Boerne, Texas. It is a land donation from Albert and Bessie Kronkosky. Around 3,750 acres. Like I said, right outside of Boerne. It has about 2-1/2 miles of frontage along Highway 46. The infrastructure on the property consists of one house that the Kronkoskys used as a weekend place. It hasn’t been used in quite a few years. It sat idle.
We have toured the house. It is in decent condition. It has got a garage with it, and barn complex. There is a ranch manager’s residence. There is a caretaker in it now, hired by the trustee to take care of the property; the caretaker. It is also in relatively good condition, as far as we can tell. We haven’t been in the inside of that one.
The whole property is deer-proof fenced. The fence is in surprisingly good condition. There is a couple of water gaps out, but other than that, the fence ‑‑ the fencing around it is good. There is quite a bit of water on it, a couple of stock tanks, some seasonal creeks. It has got about a mile and a half of Pipe Creek, both sides. The views are fantastic. And just a lot to see from the ridges. As I said, there is 2-1/2 miles of Highway 46 front.
The housing complex is in relatively good condition. High fence, good road network [inaudible] just have identified over 200 plants. They expect that count to jump to four hundred, maybe five, in the spring count. And at least half of the site is potentially golden cheek warbler habitat. That half might be a low guess. This is the motion that will be presented to you tomorrow. I will be happy to take any questions.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any questions or discussion?
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I do have one question, Mark. That old vehicle that is in the shed, is that a Blazer or a Bronco? And what are we going to do with it?
MR. KUHLMANN: It is a Dodge Ram.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: A Dodge Ram.
MR. KUHLMANN: So as a Ram, I guess we can use it for a hunting blind.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Are we going to ‑‑ does that come with ‑‑ do we get the ‑‑
MR. KUHLMANN: No, sir. Unfortunately, if you ‑‑ now that you say that, and it is unique to see, I don’t know. Did you all see it?
MR. KUHLMANN: This upper right hand corner, there is some Model Ts, Model As, a vintage Cadillac, a vintage Buick. And that shed, that belonged to Bessie Kronkosky’s foundation. And I am not sure what they are going to do with them. I had called to ask if we could trade them all for a bulldozer and grader, and was told no.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Who is the executor of her estate?
MR. KUHLMANN: Bank of America. Kenny Wilson.
COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Kenny Wilson.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any other questions for Corky?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: If there are none, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action. Committee Item Number 5, request for easement, Briscoe County transmission line, crossing at Caprock Canyon trailway. Ted Hollingsworth.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners. Good afternoon. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I am with the Land Conservation Program. This item will be the second reading regarding a request from Cross Texas Transmission for an easement to cross a section of the Caprock Canyons trailway. The trailway is in the southern Panhandle, out in the middle of nowhere.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I was wondering if you were paying any attention. In the heart of God’s Country.
VOICE: Well said, for the record.
MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: There were a number of routes evaluated for this transmission line, this CREZ transmission line. And the most direct route, and the one that was approved by the PUC does take it across the trailway.
The company, Cross Texas Transmission did work closely with staff at Parks and Wildlife, not only to identify a route that would minimize the impacts to the trailway, both biologically and aesthetically. But they also have offered to do some other compensatory measures that would not only minimize those impacts, but would assist us in repairing the trailway, and taking care of some erosion that is taking place on the tunnel south of that site, that is a very important feature of the trailway.
And as a result of that, you can see in this slide, the value of that offer to assist us with the park as again, to offset the help ‑‑ offset those impacts, those aesthetic impacts from granting the easement, should the Commission choose to do so. And if you choose to keep this on the agenda for tomorrow, this will be the motion that you see, regarding the resolution, that would grant, authorize staff to grant that easement. I would be happy to answer any questions.
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Any questions on this agenda item?
COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Hearing none, I will place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action. Mr. Chairman, it saddens me to tell you that this committee has no further business at this time.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: I thought you were just going to keep on going, Bud.
Mr. Smith, this Commission has concluded its business for today. I declare us adjourned.
MR. SMITH: All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER HOLT: Onward to the next one.
(Whereupon, the meeting was concluded at 3:25 p.m.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Conservation Committee
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: January 26, 2011
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 24, 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