Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Public Hearing

August 21, 2008

Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Houston Zoo
Brown Education Center
6200 Golf Course Drive
Houston, Harris County, Texas

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 21st day of August, 2008, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Brown Education Center of the Houston Zoo, to wit:

APPEARANCES:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

Donations of $500 or more not Previously Approved by the Commission
Item Donor Description Details *Amount
1 US Fish and Wildlife Service Cash SEAFWA 2008 Conference $15,000.00
2 Bat Conservation International Other Goods Two (2) Pettersson D-100 bat detectors and two (2) Skymaster weather meters to help volunteers collect data and monitor bat population in Houston $1,020.79
3 Dallas Arms Collectors Association Controlled Items One used Champion 20-gauge single-shot shotgun, one used Stevens Model 94 single-shot 12-gauge shotgun and one used Mossberg 20-gauge pump shotgun to be used for hands on experience during Annual Youth Shooting Sports Event. $414.87
4 Partners of Palo Duro Canyon, Inc. Capital Property One 2008 Polaris Ranger 6X6 utility vehicle, serial #4XARF68A784409336, to be used as brush fire response and trail rescue. $11,770.00
5 Harold and Vicki Ogg Controlled Items One 1998 Jeep Cherokee $4,810.00
6 William Bradley Other Goods Outdoor Chess/Checker Board and Set with Storage Shed to add an activity to Abilene State Park that would generate fees. (Eagle Scout Project) $2,389.00
7 Friends of Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery SHS Capital Property 20' x 20' metal storage building including concrete work and erection of building $10,200.00
8 Blue Bell Creameries Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $5,000.00
9 Shady Oak Christian School Cash Support Attwater Prairie Chicken Restoration $500.00
10 Shady Oak Christian School Cash Support Attwater Prairie Chicken Restoration $1,539.17
11 Brown County Controlled Items Two (2) DVD recorders to assist with criminal case preparation $632.98
12 Southwick Associates Cash 2008 SEAFWA Conference $3,000.00
13 Campbell Timberland Management LLC Cash 2008 SEAFWA Conference $500.00
14 Shikar Safari Club International Foundation Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $5,000.00
15 Texas Farm Bureau Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $1,500.00
16 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Purchase of vehicle to support Anheuser-Busch programs within TPWD $9,000.00
17 Strake Foundation Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $2,000.00
18 Horace C. Cabe Foundation Cash Texas State Parks Operations $7,000.00
19 Upper Guadalupe River Authority Cash Guadalupe Bass Restoration Program $886.06
20 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation (EXXON) Cash Funding for 'Keep Texas Wild' kids pages in the TPW magazine $225,000.00
21 Lower Colorado River Authority Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $5,000.00
22 Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $1,500.00
23 Texas Bighorn Society Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $1,500.00
24 Hixon Land & Cattle Company Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $5,000.00
25 USDA-APHIS Cash SEAFWA 2008 Conference $5,000.00
26 Claude Brabston Controlled Items One (1) GE Ericsson handheld portable radio to be used by volunteer group and park hosts at Lake Texana SP $100.00
27 Jackson County Sheriff's Department Controlled Items Four (4) Motorola MT2000 Portable handheld radios to be used by volunteer group and park hosts at Lake Texana SP $800.00
28 Texas Wildlife Association Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $1,500.00
29 Othal E. Brand, Jr. Other Goods Two (2) Kenmore dehumidifiers for office use at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park $573.68
30 Maritech Resources, Inc. Cash Artificial Reef Program Rigs-to-Reefs $92,700.00
31 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Support hatchery programs - CCA Marine Development $6,755.00
32 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Support hatchery programs - Perry R. Bass MRS $5,899.00
33 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation Cash Support hatchery programs - Sea Center Texas Visitor Center $19,695.00
34 Texas Lures & Leaders Cash Anything to do with fishing $1,390.00
35 Underwater Expeditions Other Goods Offshore fishing trips $1,300.00
36 Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation (Toyota) Cash SP Guide, SP maps, SP interpretive brochures, EXPO, Texas Outdoor Family, Life's Better Outside Advertising, conservation license plates, Spanish translation, Archery Schools, Texas Scholastic Clays $295,000.00
37 Maritech Resources, Inc. Cash Artificial Reef Program Rigs-to-Reefs $47,200.00
38 Texas Bass Classic Foundation Cash To support TPWD's youth fishing and outreach programs $250,000.00
39 Worth Casualty Co. Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $1,500.00
40 Jack Williamson, MD Capital Property One (1) 1994 Dodge Durango SUV to support operations of Big Bend Ranch SP $5,500.00
41 Holt Cat Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $25,000.00
42 US Fish and Wildlife Service Cash Sponsorship for Wildlife EXPO $5,000.00
        $1,085,075.55

*Estimated value used for goods and services

Service Awards
Division Name Title Location Service
State Parks Angela D. Deaton Manager II Galveston, TX 25 Years
State Parks Fernando Fernandez Maintenance Technician V LaPorte, TX 25 Years
Coastal Fisheries Robin K. Riechers Manager V Austin, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Richard Kevin Creed Game Warden Crosby, TX 20 Years
Law Enforcement Don R. Taylor Game Warden Lubbock, TX 20 Years
State Parks Aronda D. Wheeler Administrative Asst. IV Huntsville, TX 20 Years
Public Testimony
Name/Organization, Address Item Number Matter of Interest
Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association, 2800 NE Loop 410, Suite 105, San Antonio, TX 78218 5 — Action — 2008-2009 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation For
Kirby Brown, Texas Wildlife Association, 2800 NE Loop 410, Suite 105, San Antonio, TX 78218 6 — Action — Commercial Nongame Regulations For
Bo Whitus, City of Mineola, 300 Greenville Highway, Mineola, TX 9 — Action — Small Community Grant Funding For
Sally Gavlik, City of Corpus Christi, 1201 Leopard, Corpus Christi, TX 10 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding and, 13 — Action — National Recreational Trail Grant Funding For
Sam Contreras, Reeves County, 100 E. 6th Street, Ste. 207, Pecos, TX 10 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding For
Cindy Gonzales, Kenedy County, P.O. Box 418, Armstrong, TX 10 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding Neutral
Randall Freeman, City of Henderson, 400 W. Main, Henderson, TX 75652 10 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding For
Roxana Hunt, Nueces County, 901 Leopard, Corpus Christi, TX 78401 10 — Action — Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding For
M. Lucia for Joe Turner, Houston Parks and Rec. Dept., Houston, TX 12 — Action — Urban Outdoor Recreational Trail Grant Funding Neutral
Patrick Burchfield, Gladys Porter Zoo, 500 Ringgold Street, Brownsville, TX 78520 14 — Action — Local Park Grant Funding — TPWD Appropriations Act Rider 34  
Garson Silvers, 1001 Usener, Houston, TX 21 — Action — LaPorte Regional Office  

P R O C E E D I N G S

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning, everybody. This meeting is called to order. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make. Are you here?

MR. SMITH: I am.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. SMITH: A couple quick announcements. 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 of the 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.

I also just want to welcome everybody to our Commission meeting today. It's always nice to have another day in Houston. And so we're so glad to have all of you that have joined us, both on the staff side and then also our partners that have come from near and far to join us today.

For those of you who are new to the Commission meeting, just a couple of little housekeeping matters, if we could, if you will be so kind as to turn off your cell phone or your BlackBerry or your PDA, so we don't have that interference, that would be great. It interferes with some of the AV equipment.

Some of you may have come to speak on a few items, and if so, I would respectfully ask that you sign up outside. And when the issue with which you want to speak comes up, our chairman will call you by name and ask you to come to the microphone. You'll have three minutes to state your name and your affiliation and what you want to visit with the Commission about. And we'll keep time, and so there'll be a green light, which means go, and a yellow, which means you're running out of time, wind it down, and red means stop.

And so ‑‑ and when you address the Commission, we'd just ask that you do so in as respectful and courteous a manner as possible. So thank you again for coming today. We appreciate your being part of this meeting.

So thank you, Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Thank you, Carter.

And I want to second what Carter said. I thought yesterday's meeting went wonderfully. And Houston and the Houston Zoo have been just very, very accommodating and very gracious. And so I also want to thank the zoo staff that's been helpful ‑‑ I don't know if any of them are in the room ‑‑ and, of course, Texas Parks and Wildlife.

When we decided to do this, it turned out we hadn't done it for about 10 years. So we all ‑‑ this is all kind of new to us. But it's been great to get out and come to a great city like Houston. And then I'm from a dry part of Texas, so it's nice to see the rain, also. It's been good to see the humidity and the rain.

Next is the approval of the minutes from the May 22nd and July 17th, 2008, meetings, which have already been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HIXON: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And the first by Commissioner Brown and second by Commissioner Hixon. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Any opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you.

Next, we have the acceptance of donations list, which has been distributed. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. A first by Commissioner Friedkin and also a second by Commissioner Duggins. All in favor say aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

Next, we'll do some service awards and special recognition. I think we're going to do that ‑‑ turn around ‑‑ from the middle.

(Pause.)

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. For the record, my name's Carter Smith, with the Parks and Wildlife Department, the executive director.

I think, as you all know, this is my favorite part of the meeting, because we get to recognize our colleagues for all of their dedication and commitment and tenure and leadership inside the agency.

Right down the road here is one of our most visited parks, on the barrier island there at Galveston, Galveston Island State Park. I know that all of you, as businessmen and women, recognize the importance of promoting from within. We have a great example of that today with Angela Deaton. She's been with us for 25 years.

She started there at the park as an hourly worker, worked her way up to office manager. From there, she became a park ranger and then the assistant superintendent and then after that has become our superintendent at Galveston Island State Park. She wakes up every morning and watches the sun come up over the gulf and then watches it go down over the bay. So she does not have a bad job.

So Angela is a great lady. We're real proud to work with her. And so please join me in welcoming her. Angela?

(Clapping.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Congratulations.

MS. DEATON: Thank you.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. SMITH: I had the chance recently to go visit the Battleship, which I hope all of you will take the time to do. And we spend a lot of time talking about our plans to dry-berth that dreadnought.

But something I would just ask all of you to think about ‑‑ we have a phenomenal team that works day in and day out inside that battleship. And one of our colleagues, Fred Fernandez, has been with us for 25 years on that battleship and just does a masterful job. He actually started out with the ship before the agency took on responsibility for it. And I believe his dad worked on the ship before that.

And when we dry-berthed it there at Todd's Shipyard, Fred was there to help kind of oversee that process, came back with the ship to where it is now, and now he is charge of really all of our kind of historic interpretation that we do, particularly looking at all the restoration to make sure it matches, sort of, the period and time, and just does a phenomenal job. He's a great master and craftsman, and the restoration that he and his team are doing inside the ship are really, really special. And so Fred's been with us for 25 years.

So, Fred Fernandez, there you are. Welcome.

(Clapping.)

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. SMITH: Our next individual needs no introduction. He's a great scientist. He's a great policy maker. He's a brilliant thinker. He's a great conservationist. Robin Riechers has just been a real star with our coastal fisheries team.

He started out doing a lot of the human dimensions and attitudinal survey work. He's really helped shape a lot of our regulations and policy, works phenomenally well with all of the diverse stakeholders from the commercial side to the recreational side. He's been very involved in our natural leaders program ‑‑ also, the only two-time chair of the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council.

And, Commissioner Parker, we could use him in that position right now.

But Robin Riechers is ‑‑

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Aye.

MR. SMITH: Yes. You vote yes. Do I hear a second?

(Laughter.)

MR. SMITH: Robin's been a great leader for us, and we're celebrating 20 years with the department today.

So, Robin, please come forward wherever you are. There you are.

(Clapping.)

(Simultaneous discussion.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Congratulations, Robin. Thank you.

MR. SMITH: You know, it's important on the law enforcement side when we can have a game warden that is stationed in a particular community for a long period of time. And Kevin Creed, when he got out of the academy 20 years ago, came to Harris County. And he has confronted a whole host of things, working in this urban area ‑‑ a lot of urban outreach, as you might imagine, a lot of work in the gulf there on Galveston Bay, a lot of water safety issues.

He was named officer of the year by the Downtown Optimists Club, a great honor. The Houston Police Department honored him for a lifesaver award. And so the community has really recognized his accomplishments, representing our game wardens here in Harris County. And to boot, he's got a wife who's a game warden. And so it's a special one-two punch.

So, Kevin, if you'll please come forward, we celebrate your 20th anniversary. So ‑‑

(Clapping.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

MR. CREED: Thanks.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. SMITH: One of Kevin's classmates is Don Taylor, from the academy. And Don also started out his career in kind of the Harris County area and doing a lot of work on the water when he was stationed at Baytown. And then I think he must have had all of the fun he could stand with all that water work, and so he moved about as far away as he could get from it, and moved up to Wilbarger County, up near Vernon.

I didn't ask Don this, but he probably kept some of my in-laws in line, Pete, up there, around Harrold and Electra. So I won't ask him to elaborate on that.

He's now ended up in Lubbock, and although we obviously don't play favorites with acknowledging his roots at Texas Tech, I will just mention that anyway.

So, Don, with 20 years ‑‑ Don, please come forward.

(Clapping.)

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. SMITH: I think all of you know that we have folks that are oftentimes behind the scenes that really make our jobs work, and our administrative staff are just some of the absolute best that you'll ever find. And so it is really a special honor to be able to recognize them when they've celebrated a long tenure and career at a place.

And Aronda Wheeler has been with us at Huntsville State Park for 20 years. She's our office manager there. I know that folks will tell you that she's the one that makes sure all the bills are paid and all of this stuff is processed. And all of those duties that typically folks don't like to do, she takes it on and does it with a smile.

And so Aronda is celebrating her 20th year with the department today. So please join me in welcoming her. So ‑‑

(Clapping.)

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. SMITH: And one of the great joys in my life are these unexpected surprises. When the mother of a game warden starts to tell me stories on our lieutenant colonel Craig Hunter. And so I'm going to save those for another day.

But we have a very special honoree today, Marvin Wills, Jr. And one of the things that our law enforcement team has been very, very active in ‑‑ various regional and national association groups for networking and training and professional development. And the Association of Midwest Fish and Game Law Enforcement Officers, each year, recognizes an officer of the year. And it's a very special one and a little bittersweet one for us today.

Marvin is a third-generation game warden. So his grand-daddy was a game warden, and his father was a game warden. And through it all, his mom and his wife and his daughter, who are with us today, have supported him during his career. When he got out of the academy, he also was sent to the coast, right in the middle of all the gill-net wars over redfish and trout. And so he did a phenomenal effort, helping to curb that harvest of that resource, that all of us cared so much about that area.

He and his family then moved to the Hill Country in Coryell County, served the Hill Country very, very well there around Gatesville and Fort Hood. When we needed him over there during Katrina, he was there with an air boat with search and rescue. And, apparently, Marvin just did a great, great job in that regard. When there were issues closer to home and needed help with apprehending a gunman in a big crowd, they called on Marvin, and he came and helped to defuse a very, very tense situation.

He's also played a phenomenal role in helping to introduce young people out in the out-of-doors. And so he's been very active in working with the game warden association and introducing young kids into hunting and fishing and making sure they had an opportunity to be exposed to the things that we love and do.

And so it's a bittersweet day, because today's his last day. The Cattle Raisers' Association and Commissioner Bivins have hired him away. He's going to go work as a special ranger for them. They've hired very proudly a lot of our game wardens over the years, and they couldn't have picked a better one than a third-generation game warden.

And so we want to honor Marvin and particularly recognize his sweet mother and wife and daughter, who are also with us today. So please join me in congratulating him. So ‑‑

(Clapping.)

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. SMITH: We had a very nearly tragic situation at Huntsville State Park back in June, and thanks to the heroic efforts of our assistant superintendent, Leon Abbs, and one of our very new park employees there, Heather Heatherly ‑‑ came to the rescue of a three-year-old boy that had fallen into Lake Raven there at the state park. They were able to pull him out of the lake; they administered CPR ‑‑ take care of that young boy before the Walker County EMS could come with an ambulance and transport him to the hospital.

I want you to know that Leon and Heather were credited with saving that little three-year-old boy's life, and if that doesn't pull on your heart strings, I don't know what will. And so I hope you'll join me in recognizing them for their great accomplishments and professionalism.

So, Leon and Heather, please come forward.

(Clapping.)

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. SMITH: Commissioner Parker, I didn't put this next one on the agenda, because I'm in complete denial, but after ‑‑

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I am, too.

MR. SMITH: Well, let's just skip it then. You want to?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Good.

MR. SMITH: Okay. After 30 years and seven months, our colleague Steve Whiston has decided to retire from the department. And I think you all know that Steve has had a very exemplary career with our agency. He's an architect by background, started out in the old historic branches site, worked his way up to a variety of positions inside the agency. He's been involved with the acquisition and development and build-out of over 24 of our state parks and natural areas and wildlife management areas.

And I think if you ask Steve, you know, what's been the most satisfying element of his career, he will unquestionably tell you that. It is walking into a raw piece of land, whether it is a historic site at Fanthorp Inn or Fort Griffith, or it is a state park and natural area, like Government Canyon, and taking a look at that and thinking what are the needs that we need to address there to serve the public.

And Steve has just done a phenomenal job in leading our infrastructure team, making sure our funds are expended wisely and efficiently. And I'll tell you, we're going to miss Steve. He's been a great colleague.

And so, Steve, I just want you to come forward and just thank you for all you've done. So, Steve?

(Clapping.)

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I can't ‑‑ I cannot sit up there, Steven, and say what I need to say. Don't you run off.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: John, can you speak into the microphone? It'd be great. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Five-and-a-half years ago, when I came on the Commission, somebody found out that I was a house builder. And I only thought I was a builder, until I met this man. He is the most tedious, forward-thinking builder and organizer that I have ever met in my life.

And let me reiterate what was said a little bit about our state parks yesterday. We got a late start from the last legislature, due to stuff. Anyhow, we wanted to get over 100 state parks remodeled, repairs, whatever going quickly.

I can give you over 100 bad things and do them quickly, because, well, we're going to do it because of Steve. What did he do? He bundled them up, and he told the contractors that, Here, you can bid on these jobs, but you've got to bid on them and go do them just like this. (Indicating.) And that's exactly what he did. He made about two or three bundles, and only a guy like Steve Whiston could dream up something like that, so that we could be ready to go back to the legislature and finish up the rest of the park.

And I just hope that Steve will come back after he's had a little time off and help us with the next group of state parks.

Steve, it's been a pleasure.

MR. WHISTON: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.

(Clapping.)

MR. WHISTON: Thank you, Commissioners; thank you, Mr. Smith, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners.

Just briefly, it's been an incredible privilege, you know, to work with this agency. I joined the department, you know, as you well know, 30 years ago and, like others, thought this would be kind of a stepping stone in my career ‑‑ it wouldn't last too long ‑‑ and move on to a architectural career. But after really realizing and really coming to learn and know the people, this was a place I could never leave. And it's been an incredible journey for me. My life has been really blessed with the friendships and the support that I've gotten.

I've got an incredible team, you know, so the credit is not mine. I've got a great staff that support me, work side by side with me, and in many cases, work ahead of me. And so to their credit, too, I really appreciate it. I have enjoyed the opportunities. And not to say goodbye, but we'll be in touch. So thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you very much.

(Clapping.)

MR. SMITH: That's it for me, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, everybody. Again, it just shows how diverse this department is and what it gets involved in and all the great individuals that work at TPW. So it's always exciting to do these kind of different awards.

All right. At this time, I'd like to inform the audience that everyone is welcome to stay, if they'd like, for the remainder of the meeting. However, if anyone wishes to leave, now would be a good time, before we kind of get into the heart of the subjects here. So take a few minutes if you all want to leave.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: No, no. Commissioners can't leave.

(Laughter.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We have Bivins over here; he's ready to get out of here for some reason.

Thank you, everybody.

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. The first order of business is Item Number 1. It's an action item: Approval of the Agenda. We've got to start with that. Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. First by Bivins ‑‑ Commissioner Bivins. Do I have a second?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second by Commissioner Brown. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. Thank you.

Chair ‑‑ excuse me. Item Number 2, a briefing, "Keep Texas Wild," by our Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine in the schools, Ms. Lydia Saldana.

Lydia.

MS. SALDANA: Good morning.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning.

MS. SALDANA: For the record, I'm Lydia Saldana, Communication Division Director, and it's my pleasure today to brief you on a brand-new section in the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. It's called "Keep Texas Wild."

Now, this new section debuted in the September issue. I certainly hope you've seen it, but if you haven't, I've conveniently put one in front of each of you. It starts on page 51, and it's a brand-new section in the magazine, targeted to fourth graders.

We've been talking about this for years. I mean, this is something that we've wanted to do, is provide magazines in Texas schools, I think, for certainly as long I've been division director, and I think it's been talked about a long time before that. It's finally been made possible by a very generous grant from ExxonMobil through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

You all may recall your former colleague, Donato Ramos. I don't think a Commission meeting went by that he didn't say it, I think at every single Commission meeting, We need to get the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine in every school in Texas. And now, thanks to ExxonMobil, we have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MS. SALDANA: Now, the funding for this is providing copies of ‑‑ into every single public school in Texas, as well as private school libraries as well. We're also providing additional copies for fourth-grade social ‑‑ science and social studies teachers. We geared this ‑‑ the standards toward fourth graders, and that's where we're targeting most of our information, is toward fourth graders.

We think this is a great time to catch kids and nurture their interest in the outdoors and conservation, and we certainly hope that we're going to be inspiring future, hopefully, Texas Parks and Wildlife employees, hunters, anglers, and conservationists.

Now, the first issue, as you can see, is on predator versus prey. One of my duties that I enjoy the most is going over to the magazine offices each month and reviewing all the layouts. And when we went over to the magazine earlier in August and this one came up, my first reaction was, Ooh. And the magazine staff said, That's exactly the reaction that we wanted to have.

So our first issue, again, is on predators versus prey. You'll see that the design is a little more whimsical than the rest of our magazine, very creative and eye-popping. Obviously, it's designed to appeal to kids. It is a four-page section, and we are, again, focusing on fourth-grade learning standards.

Also, every single issue, obviously, is very targeted to Texas. When you have some schoolchildren in Texas that think that white-tailed deer are endangered and know about the rain forest but don't know about the Piney Woods in East Texas, we think it's real important to focus on Texas in this section.

Now, it includes hands-on activities. We've used arts, math, science, and social studies curricula. Obviously, there's a special attention to conservation issues. And the bottom-line message is to get outdoors and get involved. We really want to connect kids to nature and connect kids to the outdoors.

We also have quite a few tools for teachers that you don't see in the magazine but that are up on our website. We have a very robust web presence for teachers. We're setting up an e-mail list for teachers to receive material each month.

We also are going to be doing an online survey later on this fall, because we want to know what do teachers think about it, how we can continue to tweak and improve it. We did involve a little focus group of teachers on the front end of this, before we designed it. So we feel like we're, you know, hitting the right mark here, but we're going to continue getting feedback to make sure that it continues to be the best it can be.

Other tools on the website include lesson plans that they can download, a list of upcoming topics and additional activities, and there's also a great deal of supplemental information for students.

The upcoming issue next month is going to be on bats. We've also got issues coming up on Native Americans, bees and pollinators, and I can't wait to see the section on wildlife babies.

So we've already gotten pretty good response on this. I was mentioning to a few of you last night this did drop to schools on August 14th. We received our first phone call from a teacher on August 14th. And just this past Monday ‑‑ also on the table there is a cover wrap that we had on our first issue ‑‑ we've already begun receiving additional requests for subscriptions. So I think we're off to a very, very good start.

I wish ‑‑ the one thing about being in Houston is we're not able to have the Austin staff here that worked on this so hard. We did initially talk about outsourcing this, but because the staff was so excited about this, this was done completely in house.

I want to mention a few folks. Louie Bond, our managing editor for the magazine, took the lead on this. Randy Brudnicki, the publisher of the magazine, worked hand in hand with Nancy Herron, our project wild staff ‑‑ and we have great, great teamwork with the wildlife division to make sure that we were hitting all the right messages.

Also, the little cartoon character you see in there is Spike, the horny toad. You're going to be seeing a lot of him, and that was done by our very own Clemente Guzman in Creative Services.

So it was a great team effort. We couldn't have done it without them. We also couldn't have done it without the foundation and without ExxonMobil. And I'd like to introduce Dick Davis for a special presentation.

(Pause.)

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Lydia, Commissioners, Commissioner Holt, Carter.

It's a thrill to wake up every morning to be able to go to work for the foundation, because we represent you and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which is the greatest in the country. One of the great things that I get to do is cultivate friendships and potential partnerships for the foundation and on behalf of the department, so that we can do conservation together around this state.

If it were not for our recent recruitment and cultivation of corporate partnerships, the foundation would be pretty much standing still, and maybe the department would be moving a little bit slower than it is. But we're really thrilled when we can renew our partnerships on an annual basis, and also cultivate, provide some catalytic funding to make things like the "Keep Texas Wild" project possible.

We appreciate the opportunity to do this on your behalf, and we're going to aggressively offer other corporate partners around Texas the opportunity to become proactive and become conservation partners with us on a day-to-day basis.

It's my honor this morning to present a check, for a photo op, and so I might impose on Mr. Holt and Mr. Smith to come back and have a picture made in a few seconds. But I'd like to introduce our partner representatives this morning, Zeb Nash and Jim Green, here from ExxonMobil. It's great for us to be able to welcome them into our conservation family.

So, gentlemen, if you'd join me up here, we'll take a picture, and then you'll have an opportunity to respond.

(Pause.)

MR. NASH: Good morning. For the record, I'm Zeb Nash, and I work at our facility in Baytown.

And I just wanted to say ExxonMobil's long history of support for education reflects our commitment to providing students tools to make balanced choices in a complex world. We are proud to partner with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation in engaging kids' interest in wild environment.

On behalf of all our employees and shareholders, we want to thank everyone associated with this "Keep Texas Wild" program. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you very much.

MS. SALDANA: I'll be glad to answer any questions, if you have any.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. Well, first, I just wanted to say ‑‑ I wanted to thank ExxonMobil. As we sat down and talked to them ‑‑ Dick Davis is the one who kind of pulled all this together and visited with various people at ExxonMobil. Their whole focus from the very start was, you know, we'd love to work with you, but we want it focused on education, and we want to be able to reach into all schools across the state of Texas. So, you know, how can we do that?

And, Lydia, I appreciate you and Dick Davis and others working together to come up with a way that made sense for ExxonMobil and made sense for us.

But I really want to thank ExxonMobil. I don't know if people understand, but ExxonMobil, just for example, is the largest taxpayer in the state of Texas. And so they're a tremendous supporter of everything that goes on in the state in so many ways, and this is just another way that they're a big part of the state. So thank you, both of you, for being here today.

MR. NASH: Thank you.

MS. SALDANA: Any questions?

(No response.)

MS. SALDANA: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thanks, Lydia.

Item Number 3, a briefing ‑‑ Houston Zoo, A Vital Community and Conservation Asset. Dr. Mike Berger and Mr. Rick ‑‑ Rick, how do you pronounce your last name?

MR. BARONGI: Barongi.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Barongi ‑‑ okay. Thank you.

MR. BERGER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. It is my distinct pleasure to introduce Rick Barongi this morning, the zoo director here. And I first want to start off by thanking him and his staff for the great hospitality and work they've done to host this meeting and put up with us.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. BERGER: And so I really do appreciate that. I know we all do.

He's been working in the zoo and wildlife conservation field for over 35 years and has a B.S. from Cornell and a master's from Rutgers. And he's been the director of the Houston Zoo since 2000 and led the effort to privatize the zoo in 2002.

Prior to coming here, he's had a great career. He held a position of director of animal programs for Walt Disney World. He played a key role in the design, construction, and opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom, a $1 billion theme park. He created the first Disney advisory board for Animal Kingdom Park and helped engineer the concept and formation of Disney's wildlife conservation fund.

Prior to Disney, Rick has held managerial positions at the San Diego Zoo and the Miami Metro Zoo. He currently serves on several AZA boards and conservation boards and has consulted on numerous international conservation projects and led over 25 eco-tours to Africa and Central America.

So, very distinguished, and my pleasure to introduce Rick Barongi to tell us about the zoo and its programs and operations. Welcome.

(Pause.)

MR. BARONGI: Thanks, Steve, and good morning.

First, I'd like to thank you for allowing us to host your meeting. I think this is the first one in 10 years that's outside of Austin, and judging by last night's reception, I think it's been a mutual success. It's also a good time for us to reinforce our partnerships and develop new partnerships, which we've done with Carter over the years.

The second thing I'd like to thank you is the opportunity to take a few minutes to talk about my favorite subject: zoos and conservation. I'm going to have to talk fast, like a New York Yankee. I don't think that's going to be too difficult. I wish I had that rich Texas twang that Carter has, but I've grown ‑‑ all the places I've been, I've got to say that Houston is really special, and that's why I'm still here, and that's why we have a great vision for the future.

So let me show you some pictures to illustrate this. Some are ugly; those are the past ones. And the pretty ones are the present and the future.

This is our zoo. This is our 55-acre facility in the heart of Houston, here, in Hermann Park. It's kind of ironic in a way that, you know, this Commission oversees hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, acres of stewardship of natural habitat, and I'm here giving you a talk about a 55-acre zoo and captive animals.

But when you look at it as a window into the wild for 1.6 million people that come here every year ‑‑ and then we touch the 5 million metro population ‑‑ zoos can be a powerful ally in getting people connecting with wildlife. We're kind of like the appetizer; you guys are the entree. And when we do that, we get people to care more about wildlife. So I think those things go hand in hand.

It started ‑‑ one quick story, because last night I got a real colorful story about a zoo from Commissioner Parker over here; he will have to tell you sometime about the Christmas Eve he spent with a hippo about 35 years ago. But ours is kind of colorful, too.

We started with a bison named Earl. And this is ‑‑ the former zoo director is on the right here, the first zoo director. There's been about five or six. But the first zoo director, in 1922, started the zoo as a German zookeeper that came over, and then he was kind of an animal tamer, and he wore a pistol. But in 1941 he was shot dead in a gunfight on zoo grounds. So, I mean, it was a very colorful history with the Houston Zoo.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. BARONGI: And now we still have ‑‑ we have an 86-year-old zoo. It's a beautiful zoo, with some things haven't changed, like our reflection pond area, the trees, the landscape. But under the city for the first 80 years, it started to struggle near the end of that, as most city zoos do.

So six years ago, as Deborah Cannon, our president CEO, echoed yesterday, that ‑‑ we privatized the zoo. And just a little bit about that ‑‑ you know, we've got a mission, and we've got great projects, but you've got to have a business plan, a good, strategic plan, to back that up.

So we've got an advertising campaign that won the big award last year, the AMA ‑‑ American Marketing Association ‑‑ with "Have you seen your zoo lately?" ‑‑ because we're really about six years old now, after we privatized.

And we have a mission statement. It's very similar to yours in a lot of ways. I mean, you find unique, inspirational experience to force that appreciation, knowledge, and care of the natural world. And then we have guiding principles to go along with that.

And privatization ‑‑ just a couple of key points, you know, on this ‑‑ at the beginning, we transferred from a city operation to the private nonprofit. It's a 50-year lease and operating agreement that we have with the city. They still own the zoo, but we run it with a board, and you met some of our board members last night. Our chairman is Bob Graham this year.

The city gives us operation support, in the tune of about a little over $7-1/2 million. It goes up a little bit more every year for inflation. That's with a $25 million total operating budget that we have. And 20 percent of our board is appointed by the mayor, who works closely with us in selecting those individuals. And we started off with a $10 million transition fund. Since then, we've raised a lot more money and put about $40 million in improvements in the zoo in those six years.

Just one more number slide here ‑‑ just the change since that year that we became a public private institution. We went from a $12 million budget back in 2002 to $25‑. Our membership has more than doubled. It's at almost 34,000 households right now and growing. It'll grow a lot more than that, I'm sure.

And our attendance is ‑‑ it's always been about 1.5-, but we had a record attendance last year. Our gate prices have gone up a little bit, but it's still ‑‑ you know, for an all-day experience, it's still one of the best deals in town, for 16 ‑‑ about $16 for a parent and a child to come to the zoo.

This is our business plan in a graphic form. It's good that it's going up, in the right direction there. You can see our two biggest revenue generators are the city subsidy that I talked about and our gate revenue, which is about $7-1/2, $8 million. We make quite a bit of money from concessions, special events, after-hour events, unrestricted donations, and membership.

A couple of before-and-after slides ‑‑ this is what our bear exhibit looked like, on the left, just six years ago. That was the first thing that we fixed. It's ‑‑ you know, it's still a captive environment, but it looks ‑‑ it's a lot better message to the public.

This is where you couldn't see the lions before. Now you can see them sleeping. So ‑‑ but, at least, it's clear. They sleep a lot, as they do in the wild.

This is the building you were in last night for the reception. It was our small mammal building and it was built in the '60s ‑‑ a $5 million renovation and now we have that natural encounters. It had about 40 little concrete cubicles for animals. Now we've got, like, seven ecosystem habitats. I don't know if you went into the piranha tunnel last night, if anybody had enough drinks to do that, but you can see the kids love it.

The newest thing ‑‑ just ‑‑ there were a lot of other improvements, but the thing we just opened up a few months ago was the Janice and Bob McNair Asian elephant habitat. This is a barn that's incredible. This ‑‑ I don't know if you can see that too well. It's a 7,000-foot indoor barn. It's a heck of a horse barn, I told Bob McNair, because he's into horses, but he's never seen a barn quite like this.

And we just welcomed in two additional elephants. We've had a breeding program here, but these guys just came in last week. They haven't even been released to the press yet. This is a male, Tess and her calf, Tucker. This calf and our calf are starting to play together, and that's going to ‑‑ that's an incredible show that'll be ‑‑ the public will be able to see next week, probably.

And there have been a lot of other things that ‑‑ for kids. I mean, we're a family zoo. You got to touch ‑‑ you got to get them when they're really young. The carousel ‑‑ there's a lot of that ‑‑ our wildlife carousel. We have a lot of behind-the-scenes close, personal tours.

In this case, in the left ‑‑ upper left, that's Ethel Carruth, whose name is on that natural encounters building. I was privileged to have her out here before she passed away. And she's just a joy. She was our fairy godmother. We have a daughter of a CEO in town, getting kissed by a sea lion, and then we have a little girl there that someday may be a conservation hero, because of these kind of experiences.

Scouting programs, education programs that we have here ‑‑ we reach about 200,000 school kids a year. About 50,000 of those classes come to the zoo for free. We've got free access to any school in the Houston city district; that's because of our subsidy. We have other free-access programs. We have summer camp going on right now. I think you've seen the little pink shirts running around the zoo today. We have about 1,200 kids this summer, and a lot of those kids come back every year.

All right. Just some more fun things you can do at the zoo, if you get on our website ‑‑ feed the giraffe and feed him with celery in your mouth, too. You've got ‑‑ we've got our rhinos. You can see we've got a celebrity down there. And President Bush is a good friend of Deborah Cannon's, so he's been out here. He's on our endorsement campaign. We have ‑‑ everybody loves the zoo, and it's just getting better.

But the key is the connection between our keepers, our animal staff, and our animals. This is a training demonstration, Angie here with our male lion, Jonathan. Obviously, it's not the wild. You know, these animals are born in captivity. They don't even know they're wild, sometimes. But they're great ambassadors for their wild counterparts, and I think that's what's important.

We get people as close as we can to the animals, like our prairie dog exhibit. Here's Jane Goodall talking to our meerkats. We have a lot of good allies in the conservation and animal welfare community. Again, just keepers and animals interacting with the public.

The last thing, and my favorite thing, of course, is animal care and conservation. And we have projects in about 10 countries now. We have a lot of local projects, and we have ‑‑ we work with Texas Parks and Wildlife on quite a few. Carter and I met over the Attwater prairie chicken project, I believe, and he's going to be one of our keynote speakers in our conservation ‑‑ Zoos and Aquariums Committed to Conservation Conference that we host every other year in Houston in January.

So, I mean, we go through all these projects, obviously, but two favorite ones are our project in Panama ‑‑ you've heard about declining amphibians and the chytrid fungus; it's in this country, too ‑‑ but Panama is kind of like the front lines right now. And we've built with our facility staff a rescue facility down there, a rescue and research facility. We've produced ‑‑ a cameraman went down there; we did a tape, a documentary, in Spanish and English that's free to all the folks down in Panama and Central America.

This is the center at Guardo. One of our staff members, who's ‑‑ is a Panamanian, works down there. And he's showing our conservation committee from the zoo around in these slides here. It's very successful. You can see the frogs are doing exactly what we wanted them to do. So, hopefully, someday they'll be safe enough to be put back in the wild, when we can figure out this chytrid fungus that's decimating the amphibian populations around the world.

And then locally, at home, the Attwater prairie chicken project, of course ‑‑ we have a great partnership with NASA now, so our breeding facilities are out there. They used to be in the center of the zoo ‑‑ we used to call it Boom Town ‑‑ but that wasn't that conducive for those birds. So now they're out on that 1,600-acre Johnson Space Center. We've had better success out there this year. I think we had 20 ‑‑ 200 eggs laid; about 160 of those hatched, and we've introduced about 80 of those back into the protected areas, in two different areas, I think, this year.

I'll end with our vision. Obviously, a lot of this is about, you know, how we're getting to that vision and measuring our success. But African forest is a model that I think you may have seen in the break room in there; I'd love to take you through it, if we have time, at lunch. But it's got renderings about ‑‑ to bring people that have ‑‑ will never get a chance to see Africa like a lot of us do.

And this is a part of Africa that very few people get to. It's much more, again, conducive to our climate and the space we have. We can't do the savannahs of east Africa here, but we can do the dense jungle areas of central and west Africa. We're going to do chimp exhibits, great ape exhibits, gorilla exhibits. We're going to bring people as close as we can, again, but also make these exhibits responsible and large enough so the animals can behave naturally.

These animals, again, will probably never go back to the wild, but they will help us advertise the threats that exist in the wild and will always exist. If we didn't have those threats, we probably wouldn't need zoos. But we don't have a perfect world, so we have to go there.

We went to Gabon, one of those countries that we're going to model our African forest master plan over. This is our cameraman here on a ‑‑ in a by [phonetic]; that's a clearing in east Africa. We're going to try to bring a piece of that back to Houston. We got the right ‑‑ again, we got the right climate. We got the right people and architects. This will be transformational, not just for the zoo but for the city. And I think it'll, again, whet people's appetite, so we can bring people as close as possible.

This is looking into the eyes of an orphaned adult gorilla in Gabon, and when you do that, you get real attached about what's happening over there. But if we all do this and we all bring people in, we'll end up caring more. That's what we do here. We care ‑‑ we touch the hearts of people, I think, before we go to their heads. Everybody wants to educate, but ‑‑ I learned that from Disney. You know, if we go to their heart and pull on their heart strings, then they're going to want to care. And then if they care, then they'll understand, and then they'll act.

And, you know, in my 10 minutes ‑‑ I hope that was not more than 10 minutes ‑‑ I just bring you a piece of the ‑‑ a snapshot of the Houston Zoo. And, again, thank you for having your meeting here today.

(Clapping.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, Rick, thank you very much. And I know we've thanked you and your staff before many times, but, you know, yesterday worked beautifully, and the reception last night ‑‑ a great turnout. It was wonderful to meet a lot of people, and a lot of people are, you know, directly involved with the zoo itself. And your vision and just what you've accomplished since you privatized is amazing. So you're ‑‑ it's wonderful to be part of it. And anything we can do at Texas Parks and Wildlife to help you accomplish your vision, please stay in touch and let us do whatever we can. Thank you, Rick.

MR. BARONGI: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Item Number 4, Action ‑‑ Operating and Capital Budget. Ms. Mary Fields.

MS. FIELDS: Well, good morning, Commissioners. For the record, I am Mary Fields, Chief Financial Officer for Parks and Wildlife. And I'm here to present the proposed 2009 operating and capital budget and the budget and investment policies for your adoption. Yesterday, I provided an overview of the proposed budget, and today I'll mention just a few key points.

The 80th legislature appropriated $251.5 million to the department, plus additional funds that were included in contingent bills that passed. And during the budget process, we identified adjustments and additional funds that brought our operating and capital budget to $402.9 million.

That budget breaks down as follows: the operating portion of the budget is $272.6 million; the capital budget is $101 million; grants are budgeted at $21.6 million; and debt services at $7.6 million. Our FTE cap stays at $3100.1 for fiscal year 2009, and the department will stay within the capped amount.

Since this is the second year of the '08-'09 biennium, we are basically carrying several of the same funding issues that we dealt with in 2008. The additions and reductions that resulted from the contingent bills, such as House Bill 12, are incorporated into the 2009 budget.

We established the operating budgets at or pretty close to 100 percent of the fiscal year 2008 base budget per division, and we did go ahead and apply that 2 percent pay raise for state employees that applied to fiscal year 2009.

We budgeted our capital items at 100 percent of available funding. We have the authority to increase those line items up to 125 percent, and we may elect to add some capital at some point during the fiscal year. Finally, we incorporated unexpended balances from 2008, primarily related to construction and land acquisition.

I do want to mention that there are several riders specific to the agency that require us to follow certain rules that relate to our appropriation. And there are some riders that require specific studies to be conducted or reports to be submitted. And, of course, we will continue to comply with all rider requirements.

That concludes my presentation on the proposed fiscal year 2009 operating and capital budget. If there are no questions, I'll move on to the next item, which is to review the budget and investment policies. Any questions?

(No response.)

MS. FIELDS: We'll move, then, to the next section. Here, again, I'll touch on just a few key points regarding the budget policy. The Commission authorizes the executive director to approve and execute necessary expenditures, budget adjustments, and transfers. Several different types of transactions are detailed in the policy, which you have in your handout, to be approved.

Budget adjustments, excluding federal grants and bonds, that exceed $250,000 require prior approval from the chairman of the Commission and the chairman of the finance committee.

To improve our process of accepting and budgeting donations, we have added a requirement to the budget policy, and that is for the chairman of the Commission and the chairman of the finance committee to accept donations or gifts that exceed $500 on a monthly basis. And then we can budget those adjustments more timely. The Commission will continue to acknowledge the acceptance of the donations, as you did today, in each Commission ‑‑ scheduled Commission meeting.

Moving on to the investment policy, this policy has not really changed since the prior year, but, again, as the governing body of this department, you're required by statute to review the policy annually.

All funds administered by Parks and Wildlife are required to be deposited in the state Treasury, except for the three funds that are highlighted on this slide. While not required, all of these funds reside in the state Treasury, except for Operation Game Thief. Those funds are invested in CDS and several separate bank accounts. All bank accounts must be authorized by delegated investment officers and must be properly collateralized, and specific reporting requirements are also included in the policy.

If there are no questions relating to these items, staff recommends the Commission adopt the following motion: The executive director is authorized to expend funds to operate the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in accordance with the proposed fiscal year 2009 operating and capital budgets at Exhibits A and B. The Commission also approves the budget policy at Exhibit C and the investment policy at Exhibit D.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Nobody's signed up to speak. No questions for Mary? Everybody's got it all figured out?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good.

MS. FIELDS: I think we covered all the questions yesterday.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: They did. Mary, you did a great job the other day and in July, also, for us. We thank you.

MS. FIELDS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Is there a motion on this item?

COMMISSIONER FALCON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you, Commissioner Falcon.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And second by Parker. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Mary.

MS. FIELDS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: That was easy. Yes.

Number 5, Action ‑‑ 2008-2009 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, Late Season Provisions. Mr. Vernon Bevill.

MR. BEVILL: Mr. Chairman ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Are you going to talk to us about treaties, Vernon?

MR. BEVILL: Sir?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I'm teasing you. You started talking about those treaties yesterday.

MR. BEVILL: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Way over my head.

MR. BEVILL: I'm Vernon Bevill, Program Director for Small Game and Habitat Assessment Programs. Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission, we're here today to finalize the late-season migratory bird regulations and to also recap very briefly how we got here.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. BEVILL: In May, I came to you with a presentation on early- and late-season migratory game bird regulations, which at that time was an opportunity to make those initial proposals so that we could go to the Texas Register and open up the appropriate code sections within Chapter 65, which we did and published in the June 27 Texas Register.

On July 29th, the early-season regulation changes were put into effect by executive order. And today we're here to talk to you about the late-season migratory bird regulations that primarily govern waterfowl season and sandhill cranes.

The current year, we're looking at a minor amount of change; mostly calendar shift is what we're dealing with. But just to highlight a couple points, we are once again in the liberal package for waterfowl seasons. This year, we're also in our third and final year of testing the hunter choice bag experiment.

We have a few minor changes in the goose zone regulations and also a minor change in the sandhill crane rate regulations, which actually bring them and the goose season regulations into tighter congruency for, we think, more opportunity.

In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit, our waterfowl seasons have an ‑‑ actually have extra days of hunting opportunity, because throughout the western half of the central flyway is considered a lightly hunted region, from Texas all the way to the Canadian border. So we get the benefit of some extra days of hunting for our waterfowl hunters in those zones.

And this year we're just proposing calendar shift from last year. The ending framework in January closes a little earlier, because of that same calendar shift, and as you can see in the material, the dates that are presented.

The north and south goose zones, once again this year, because we're in a liberal framework, we're proposing the same season options for both zones. As I have spoken to you before, we begin to split those seasons up a little more when ‑‑ if we ever go into a more restrictive package, because that makes ‑‑ we have to do that to improve our opportunities from north to south Texas. And so this year, again, this is a calendar shift adjustment for the north and south zones.

The hunter choice bag requires that we have a five-bird bag limit. We are the only flyway in the country that has an option for hunting canvasbacks this year because the service and the other flyways have supported our hunter choice experiment being completed. Otherwise, the canvasback season would be closed, because that population would dip below 500,000 birds, and the allowable harvest was only 25,000 birds. However, because we only harvest about 15,000 under the hunter choice experiment, flyway-wise, we were given that option to continue.

Also, the scaup season and all the flyways would have been ‑‑ was restricted further this year; however, the regulation stayed in place for us, as it has for the last several years, so that we've made no changes in our bag regulations during this hunter choice experimental period.

And we appreciate the support of the service and our other flyway partners for helping us achieve the goal of finishing this hunter choice experiment. And so we have a five-bird bag with the restrictions that you see in your information.

In the western goose zone, the season for both light and dark geese will open on November 8th and run through February 8th ‑‑ a 20-bird bag for light geese, five-bird bag for dark geese, with an aggregate bag of four Canadas and one white-front.

For the eastern goose zone, the season opens on November 1st, runs through January 25th, and as I mentioned to you, January 25th is also the closing date for the duck season. We're also in the white-front season on November 1st, but because it is a shorter season, we have to close it a couple weeks earlier, on January 11th. And the bag limits are precounted: those two white-fronts and 20 light geese.

We have a falconry season option that fits within the allowable 107-day framework for waterfowl seasons. Because the High Plains Mallard Management Unit uses up all this 107 days, between teal seasons and late-season options, there is no extended falconry season in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit, but there is an extended falconry season, with those remaining days, in the north and south waterfowl zones. And that season is January 26th through February 9th, with a three-bird daily bag.

The sandhill crane season, we have three zones in Texas. Zone A is our longest season, and this year it will mirror the goose season, and opening on November 8th and running through February 8th. Zone B and C are shorter seasons because of the fly-through migration route of the whooping crane to Aransas. So we have to stagger those opening and closing dates to accommodate that migration.

The light goose conservation order will begin on February 9th in the western goose zone and on January 26th in the eastern goose zone, both closing on March 29th.

We had very supportive comments from the public on these proposals, and I also reviewed these proposals with the Migratory Game Bird Advisory Council on Monday, and they also had unanimous support for what we are proposing here before you today.

And, with that, our recommendation is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the amendments to 31 TAC 65.318, .320, and .321, concerning the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text, as published in the June 27, 2008, issue of the Texas Register.

And if there are any questions, I'll be glad to answer them.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I have one.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Parker.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: On the youth hunting?

MR. BEVILL: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: What will be the dates of our youth hunting for deer?

MR. BEVILL: For what?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Deer.

MR. BEVILL: I don't know those dates off the top of my head.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Mike might know. Yes. Vernon's a bird man.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Somebody does.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. BERGER: I don't know the dates without looking at a calendar, but I believe it's the ‑‑ just the weekend prior to the opening of the general season.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Is that October 25, 26?

MR. BERGER: If that's the Saturday and Sunday prior to the opening of the general season, it is. I can ‑‑

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It's on the card, October 25th.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Ah, good man.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: October 25th?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

COMMISSIONER PARKER: So, to me, Mr. Berger ‑‑ to me, personally, I just think that we should pay more attention to our youth hunting, our special youth hunting dates. And, to me personally, it is tragic that we hold a youth hunting weekend for deer and waterfowl on the same weekend because generally the habitats are different. You've got to drive here for deer; you've got to drive here for waterfowl.

And if there was any way that we could address that ‑‑ what I perceive to be a problem with our youth hunting program, I think we should. And, you know, we talk, Youth, youth, youth, youth, and then, bang, we put all of their opportunities on the same weekend. It's impossible for a daddy or a mother to get their kids here to a duck hunt and drive somewhere else to a deer hunt.

And, you know, am I out of the ballpark on this?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: No, not at all. I think if we're going to have an interesting situation ‑‑ now, of course, with migratory birds, you've got a federal ‑‑ so Vernon and we have to operate under certain guidelines. On the white-tailed deer, no, it is our choice.

So I think you bring in a good point. Because it's not on the agenda, I think what we ought to do is ‑‑

Mike, can we talk about it in the next meeting?

MR. BERGER: Yes, we can.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Obviously, this year is already set up, but ‑‑ no, I think you bring up a good point, John.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Well, I think I clearly remember us taking some rounds in the press last year of this exact same issue that I brought up, and here we are going to repeat the same program for the youth.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, I'm not disagreeing with you. I don't remember taking rounds from the press, but, I mean, more importantly, what's the right thing to do? And that's what we'll look into.

So, Mike, why don't we talk about it in the next meeting?

MR. BERGER: We can do that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And, like I say, on the migratory bird issue, remember, a lot of things we have to do there have to be within all the federal guidelines.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I understand that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Now, the white-tailed deer, yes ‑‑

COMMISSIONER PARKER: The white-tailed deer.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ we have, obviously, a lot more control.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: So we could move the white-tailed deer.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right. And, obviously, we can't do it this season. But, no, you bring up a good point, and we certainly could look into it.

And so why don't we do that in the November meeting?

MR. BERGER: We will do that, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Great. November is our next meeting ‑‑ yes, November. Thank you.

No, no, John. You bring a good point.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Mr. Chairman, I have one much lighter question for Vernon.

On the postponing the opening of the goose season in the north zone to coincide with the crane season opening as well, is that based on public comment?

MR. BEVILL: It was based on ‑‑ or looking at the opportunity side of it, and there was discussion with various people on that. And we have ‑‑ you get this calendar shift that sometimes changes the proximity of the opening date a little bit, depending on the calendar side of it.

And so we have generally opened the goose season in November, sometime within the first week of November, and we have also opened the crane seasons in and around those same times as well. And we felt like, by merging the opening dates, we just expand the opportunity for people who are in the field to have a full plate of opportunity to hunt those species, because, as you know, a lot of times they are in proximity of each other. So we ‑‑

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Well, I didn't know if it was based on issues of specie identification, in that if the two seasons didn't open simultaneously, you ran the risk of people inadvertently shooting a crane in the goose setup.

But I was also curious if the goose hunters were complaining that you take a week off the early part of the season, which normally in the north zone isn't that impactful, because the birds really haven't gotten there yet.

MR. BEVILL: Yes. The goose buildup is still occurring in October and November. And I did look at ‑‑ because I heard a little bit of that complaint, and we did look at the opening dates of goose season over the last seven or eight years, and they have run from around the 1st of November to about the 10th of November ‑‑ or 8th of November.

So we're ‑‑ and that, again, is that calendar shift issue. So we're within the time lines that we have normally set those goose seasons to open. And as you point out, your goose populations are building up in early November. So it's toward the peak in late November to the first half of December, depending on weather and fall flights and that sort of thing. So ‑‑

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Thank you very much.

MR. BEVILL: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions for Vernon?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. We do have one individual who would like to speak to this. Who is this guy? Kirby Brown.

Kirby, are you there?

(Pause.)

MR. BROWN: Actually, I was just going to pass, but my name is Kirby Brown. I'm the Executive Vice President of the Texas Wildlife Association. And we support the staff proposal on the late-season regs and also the efforts on the early-season surveys that will help us next year look at these things with the white-winged zones, some of the stuff in the south zone, especially with the opening, and looking forward to that.

Mr. Parker, we've got, I think, 20-plus deer hunts lined up that weekend, October 25th, 26th, for the youth hunting program. And, I believe, right now we have two duck hunts lined up that weekend, too. So we try and let the kids tell us what they're interested in, and that's what we try to go by. I'll be running a quail hunt that weekend for kids, if anybody wants to join me. So I'll be glad to help on any of that. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right, Kirby. And, TWA, if I can ask you, too, as we get into this, going from ‑‑ to now to November, you know, help us, give us some feedback. That was on the youth hunting, at least your type. And I think John ‑‑ Commissioner Parker's got a very good point. So I really do want to look into it.

But maybe you can also give us ‑‑ because you've run ‑‑ your group's run more youth hunts than anybody ‑‑ is it, you know, driven by the demand of the child or the family or whatever, or is it the season's really creating issues for people. And I think, you know, if you don't mind getting involved and helping us.

MR. BROWN: Be glad to. I will go back by memory. When we started developing youth seasons with the Commission and talking about these, we wanted youth seasons both at the front and the back of the seasons as often as we could get them. But for deer especially, there's probably opportunity to develop some more early opportunity, and I certainly think that we'd be very supportive of that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Good. Thank you.

MR. BROWN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you, Kirby.

VOICE: Thank you, Kirby.

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I guess we have to take action on this, don't we, Vernon?

MR. BEVILL: Definitely.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Is there a motion on this item?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Moved by Commissioner Friedkin, seconded by Commissioner Brown. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

Thank you, Vernon.

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Item Number 6, Action ‑‑ Commercial Nongame Regulations. Dr. Matt Wagner.

MR. WAGNER: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Matt Wagner; I'm Program Director for Wildlife Diversity. As we talked about yesterday, we're coming to you with some relatively minor changes to our nongame permit program.

In March, staff received permission to publish the following changes to commercial nongame regulations. There are three: to extend the grandfather period for possession of prohibited nongame for noncommercial use to November 1, 2000 ‑‑ or 2010; secondly, to allow for possession and captive breeding and sale of prohibited nongame from out-of-state sources ‑‑ those are imported nongame that are on our prohibited list; and then lastly, to remove three species that were erroneously included on our prohibited list, the corn snake, house mouse, and rough-footed mud turtle.

We had a total of 12 comments on this item: eight were in support; four were in opposition. Basically, the disagreements were with the species on the prohibited list and general disagreement with those species, one comment that the regulations were not strict enough, another comment or two on the need to extend ‑‑ no need to extend the grandfather period, and then clarification on some of the subspecies that are included in these regs.

So staff is recommending that the Commission adopt amendments to Section 65.325, .327, and .331, concerning commercial nongame permits, with changes as necessary in the proposed text, as published in the July 11th issue of Texas Register.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do we have a motion?

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, wait. I'm sorry. I do have somebody ‑‑ I'm sorry. This is 6, isn't it?

Kirby, you want to speak?

Kirby likes to talk. We appreciate you coming up, Kirby. Kirby?

MR. BROWN: I drove all the way to Houston; I thought I'd talk.

(Laughter.)

MR. BROWN: No. I'll ‑‑ I do want to support the staff proposal. These are good changes, make a lot of sense.

Also, I just want to point out that the nongame regulations were developed under previous Executive Director Bob Cook. And so as an opportunity to make a shameless plug, we have the Texas Outdoorsman of the Year recognizing Bob Cook on September 10th. It'll be in Creedmoor, and we'd certainly love to invite all of you to be there and be a part of that and tell Bob thanks again for the nongame regs. So we appreciate it.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Thanks, Kirby.

Any other discussion for Matt?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: By Commissioner Brown. Second? Somebody?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, Commissioner Hixon. Great. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

Thank you, Matt.

Item Number 7, Rule Amendment Regarding Additional Bycatch Reduction Devices for Shrimp Trawls ‑‑ Mr. Robin Riechers. Robin?

MR. RIECHERS: Thank you, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Robin Riechers, with the coastal fisheries division. And I'm here to present to you an agenda item that is an action item, to add three additional BRDs, bycatch reduction devices, to the approved list in Texas state waters.

As I indicated yesterday National Marine Fisheries Service approved these three new bycatch reduction devices on March 14th of 2008. It basically allows them to be used in gulf shrimp trawling activities which would be outside of nine nautical miles. By adopting this change, we basically will allow those vessels who are outside of nine also to fish in state waters, without having to change their gear back and forth.

So with that, on our public comment, as I indicated yesterday, we had seven in agreement now and one in disagreement.

And so we ‑‑ staff would recommend that we approve the changes as proposed and provide you with the following motion: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts a proposed amendment to 31 TAC Section 58.160, concerning taking or attempting to take shrimp, with changes as necessary to proposed text, as published in the July 18th, 2008, issue of the Texas Register.

With that, I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Robin?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: It's straightforward. Okay. It is an action item. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Friedkin; second, Commissioner Martin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Aye.

Thanks, Robin.

Action Item Number 8, Target Range Grant Funding. Mr. Steve Hall.

Hello, Steve.

MR. HALL: Hi, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission. My name is Steve Hall, Education Director in Charge of the Hunter Education and the Target Range Grant Program.

This morning we have seven target range projects proposed for fiscal year '09. Four are amendments to existing projects; three are new projects. As a reminder, the applicants provide 25 percent, and the federal matches 75 percent. The emphasis ‑‑ as you passed in the last ‑‑ last year's meeting, was the emphasis more on youth sports or youth shooting sports projects, in addition to hunter education.

Some of these are the 4-H shooting sports project, the scholastic clay target program, and we've instituted a new ag clays program, which we had our first competition this year. You'll see the picture of the young ladies on the bottom. That was the winning female team for that competition in May, held at one of the proposed project sites.

These proposed projects total $278,000. The first is the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center. This is an amendment. I'd like to point out that they held the World Cup competition in May. That picture is on your right.

You can see the USA took third, but I will ‑‑ happy to report that Glenn Eller, who took fourth in this competition, did win the gold here recently at the Olympics, as well as many of you have met Kim Rhode. She's been to five of our expos. She is a four-time Olympic champion, four different Olympics, if you can believe that, and she did win the skeet silver medal this year ‑‑ all of which goes through this Hill Country Shooting Sports Center, in terms of the World Cup. So it is a ‑‑ it truly is a world-class facility, and we're proud to be a part of that.

Other projects proposed this year are amendments to the Central Texas Rifle and Pistol Club, the American Shooting Center's right here in Houston, and the Cochran County 4-H. These are all continuations of projects that are under way.

New projects are the Legacy Gun Club north of Austin in Williamson County, the Pine Sporting Club ‑‑ that's in Angelina County, near Lufkin. And I will say that the Pine Sporting Club is really kind of the model that we're going to use for our Texas scholastic clays program.

And thanks to Mr. Parker for all your help getting us acquainted with that club. It is one of the older clubs in East Texas and certainly is a model shotgun facility that we can use for those school programs.

I have one amendment that I'll have to verbally enter into the record. One amendment is that I am switching the total financial package for the Pine Sporting Club with the Legacy Gun Club. $60,000 would go to the Pine Sporting Club; it's $30,000 would go to the Legacy Gun Club, to start their planning on their project. Those were backwards.

Also, I would note that we did receive one letter in opposition to the Hill Country Shooting Sports project. That letter was given to Carole and will be entered into the records of this meeting.

The recommendation is as follows: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the executive director to execute the contracts for target range projects at Exhibit A, pending the availability of those federal funds.

I'll be happy to address any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from the Commission?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Parker, thank you for all your help and all the things you've done as you've traveled around the state.

And, Steve, got a lot of great comment ‑‑ as an aside ‑‑ great comments from the Houston Independent School District on their archery program. And the lady was here last night at the reception who, I guess, oversees it. I didn't quite get her title and all that. But she'd had three teachers from last spring introduce it to, I think, 10 teachers who are going to take it this fall. I think I have my numbers right. And her enthusiasm ‑‑ I mean, she was off the charts, and she said the three teachers talking to the other 10 really made the difference. So that program has really turned into a heck of a program.

MR. HALL: You bet.

And I'd like to recognize Ed Gerhardt ‑‑ if you'd stand, Ed. If he's somewhere ‑‑ yes, there's Ed.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. And Ed and I talked last night. Yes. No, Ed's been terrific.

MR. HALL: Ed was responsible for bringing it to the Houston Independent School District. And when you consider those kinds of partnerships, Ed heads up the Junior Hunter and Anglers of America, an organization right here in Houston and doing fabulous things, including working with the school system.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. No, it's really wonderful, wonderful.

Yes, sir?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I would also like to say to the Commission and to all of the outdoor enthusiasts of the shotgun and archery and rifle or pistol groups that I want to compliment both Steve Hall and Lydia for their grand support and organization skills and putting all the pieces together for this new advocacy of target shooting for children that they are doing. They are doing a masterful job. And I appreciate Commissioner Martin for her support and her appearances and active activities with regard to the promotion of this new idea for clay target shooting for youth in Texas.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. It's wonderful. Yes.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: I wanted to say a few words, too ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: ‑‑ and compliment Steve and Lydia and Commissioner Parker and all the great team behind them. But without the vision, dedication, and passion of these three individuals ‑‑ they kind of, you know, spearheaded it and did a phenomenal job and kept to the ‑‑ you know, in the presence of all the excitement was certainly a privilege. But I think those three individuals were quite a team. I wanted to make that ‑‑ and thank you, Commissioner.

MR. HALL: We appreciate your travel and support as well.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I also forgot one thing, Mr. Chairman, that the partnership that Steve has made with the 4-H ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: ‑‑ has really been the bedrock of this new shotgun youth shooting program. And 4-H, Dr. Howard's group ‑‑ they have just been very, very supportive of this new idea.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure.

And, Steve, lots of kudos.

MR. HALL: Well, I always feel we're just getting started again.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, I like that. I think that's great.

Any other discussion?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Parker.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Second by Commissioner Friedkin. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Motion carries.

Item Number 9, an action item ‑‑ Small Community Grant Funding. Mr. Tim Hogsett. Tim?

(Pause.)

MR. HOGSETT: Good morning.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Morning, Tim.

MR. HOGSETT: Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, I'm Tim Hogsett, Director of Recreational Grants Program in the State Parks Division. It is my pleasure to bring to you a number of items for funding for various parks and recreation activities this morning.

The first item is the small community grant program. This is an extremely popular program with small communities. We define small communities as those being 20,000 in population or less. Currently, we make grant awards of up to $50,000 in matching funds to these kinds of projects. That will increase, in the next time we come back to you, to $75,000. That was a result of the rule changes that we did the last time I was before you.

We received 24 applications for our January 31st, 2008, deadline, requesting $1,050,225 in matching funds. We used the scoring system that you've adopted to rank-order each of these projects. You can find that rank order at Exhibit A. We're recommending approval for 17 applications, in the amount of $759,964.

I do have a change in the list in Exhibit A. Currently we show Project Number 17, City of Helotes proposed for funding. They called the first of this week and have withdrawn their application. So we would like to replace Helotes. We'd like to drop down and pick up Project Number 18, the City of Idalou.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, Idalou lucked out, huh?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes, they did. I think they're very happy about it.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. I'll bet they are.

MR. HOGSETT: With that, we ‑‑ the staff recommendation is funding for projects listed in Exhibit A, as amended, in the amount of $759,964, is approved.

And I'd be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any discussion from the Commission?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: I have one question.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: What is the cutoff ‑‑ if the small community grants is populations of 20,000 and below, and then we also have our major metropolitan area grants ‑‑ I think it's the seven largest cities in Texas or whatever ‑‑ and then the criteria that falls in between the two, how is that based?

MR. HOGSETT: Actually, any community of population of 500,000 or less are eligible for either our regular indoor and outdoor recreation grant programs, up to 50 ‑‑ $500,000 matched for outdoor ‑‑ and they are also eligible for this program, those that are under 20,000. So, potentially, a community of less than 20,000 can apply for the larger grants as well.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Okay.

MR. HOGSETT: But then they are also solely eligible for this program.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: All right. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: On the small grants, do they have to match on these?

MR. HOGSETT: These are all 50 percent match.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: These are all 50 percent match. Okay.

MR. HOGSETT: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions from the Commission, because we do have one speaker, Bo Whitus or Whitus. Bo?

MR. WHITUS: Either one. I'll answer to both.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Bo ‑‑ we'll just call him Bo.

MR. WHITUS: My name is Bo.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Hello, Bo.

MR. WHITUS: Mr. Commissioner ‑‑ Commissioners, I'm Bo Whitus, with the City of Mineola. I'm the self-appointed park director, would you believe, for a 3,000-acre tract of land just south of the City of Mineola.

Mineola ‑‑ and I know everybody here knows where it is, so I won't even attempt to explain it. Actually, if you take an arrow or a dart and throw it halfway between Shreveport and Dallas, just north of Interstate 20, you got me.

We have a 3,000-acre tract of land owned by a population of 5,611, about a half an acre per citizen. It was purchased, very reluctantly I might add, several years ago, and without the assistance of Texas Parks and Wildlife, it would probably be in private hands today.

So I want to commend you for the fact that we're the proud owners now of a ‑‑ what we call the Mineola Nature Preserve on the Sabine River. It's a very long title. We like to entertain the Metroplex folks with long titles; maybe they'll come visit us.

I'm here essentially to say we thank you so much for your small community grants. Without your continuing assistance, we probably would not be able to continue to exist. And with that, we have a master plan. We have a lot of great ideas ‑‑ picked up a few here from the Houston Zoo, would you believe ‑‑ and we appreciate all that you do. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, thank you, Bo. Glad to do it; glad you all qualified.

Any other questions for Tim?

MR. HOGSETT: Mineola is the perfect example of what you were asking about. Their first grant was a $500,000 matching grant for the acquisition and development of that site. And so they're now coming back and doing some additional work.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Perfect. Very good.

Any questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Hixon. Second by?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Bivins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Motion carries.

Item Number 10, Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding. Tim's up again.

MR. HOGSETT: Again, for the record, I'm Tim Hogsett, Director of Recreation Grants and State Parks Division. We bring forward to you today the first renewed funding round at full funding for our outdoor recreation grant program. We had a special called deadline of April 1st, so we were able to take two rounds of these this year. In the past four years, we've only done these kinds of grants once a year.

We received 16 applications for the April 1st deadline, requesting $6.9 million in funds. As in the other program, we have a scoring system that you adopted for recommendations. We've reviewed all the applications, scored them and rank-ordered them. And the rank order can be found at Exhibit A.

And we're recommending funding to you today for eight projects, listed in Exhibit A, in the amount of $3,915,400. And, again, I'd be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do we have Exhibit A? Have we not seen it?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: I don't.

VOICES: I don't.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Tim, do we have a copy of Exhibit A?

MS. HEMBY: It was in the Commission book.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: It was in the other book. It was in that original book?

(Simultaneous discussion.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: You're at 10 ‑‑ no ‑‑ oh, eight projects.

MR. HOGSETT: Eight projects ‑‑ eight out of 16.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. On these, a 50 percent match also?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any questions from the Commission, first, because we have some people who do want to speak. Any questions for Tim?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. We do have some speakers. Sally Gavlik, City of Corpus Christi.

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sally? Yes.

MS. GAVLIK: I'm Sally Gavlik. Commissioners and Mr. Smith, we just want to tell you how much we appreciate this grant program. The City of Corpus Christi is one of the applicants and one of the recipients that ‑‑ for this grant program and also for Number 13.

This is grant programs that go through the process ‑‑ through the application and ranking process, that all of the Texas Recreation and Parks Society and the local communities support completely.

Our particular project is the Oso Bay Wetland Preserve and Learning Center. It is a 162-acre park that is on Oso Bay. It is the first in a string of parks in linear trails that will actually go along Oso Bay, Oso Creek, up to the Nueces River. It is what we are calling a string of pearls that, when it is completed, it will actually circle Corpus Christi with a string of pearls of park systems.

Our partners, besides Texas Parks and Wildlife, include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ‑‑ as you heard yesterday ‑‑ the Trust for Public Land, the Harte Institute, and the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries program.

We feel like this will be a really unique establishment for the community, because it will be wetland restoration as well as a birding and education center.

And now I'd like to put on my other hat. I am a past president of the Texas Recreation and Parks Society. And we just wanted to tell you how much we support you. In the next legislative session, we will be there with you at the legislature, for your budget, and also to expand and increase the local park grant funding for grants exactly like this for our local communities. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. And thank you for your help in the past.

Another speaker ‑‑ I think, Reba George?

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, that says, "Observing only," so maybe Reba doesn't want to speak.

Sam Contreras? Sam? Okay.

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And next up would be Cindy Gonzales.

MR. CONTRERAS: Thank you, Commissioner. My name is Sam Contreras. I'm a regional county judge out in West Texas, and I appreciate the consideration for our project, as we are looking to expand our golf course. It was, at one point, 11 holes, and then we expanded to 14. And so this funding would go a long way to complete our golf course, along with the community center park in that area. And half a million dollars goes a long way, especially when we do it in halves.

And I have Peter Moore. I want to recognize him. He's done a tremendous job as golf superintendent. He definitely has a lot of experience. And this money will go a long way, if it's funded.

I would just like to thank the Commission for everything that you do. And I believe, on the small community grants, the mayor of Toyah ‑‑ City of Toyah ‑‑ was not able to attend. They applied for a $15,000 grant, and if funded, the county would match that, if funded. So I appreciate everything that you do. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Cindy Gonzales up?

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Cindy? Yes. And then next up after that, Randall Freeman.

MS. GONZALES: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Cindy Gonzales. I'm the Kenedy County commissioner. And although we're disappointed that we didn't score high enough for funding in this grant cycle, I'm just here to let the Commission know that we intend on submitting a master plan that will cover any deficiencies we missed in our first application ‑‑ and, also, to let you all know don't forget the smaller counties.

Our population is less than 900, but we do have needs for a park. Kenedy County doesn't have a park. And like I said, I'm just here to let you all know that we will be working on a better, tighter master plan. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great, Cindy. Thank you.

And, of course, Tim, any guidance that you can give Kenedy County ‑‑ please don't call ‑‑ hesitate to call on us.

MS. GONZALES: I would appreciate that. We missed it, but by ‑‑ not by much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MS. GONZALES: So I know that we have work to do.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure and all ‑‑ but anything we can do to help you, you know ‑‑ and then come back and see us.

MS. GONZALES: All right. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Great. Thank you.

Next up, Randall Freeman? And last on the list was Roxanne Hunt.

MR. FREEMAN: Good morning, Commissioners and Mr. Chairman. I'm the city manager of the City of Henderson, and I just came by to thank you for all the help that Tim and his staff worked with the City of Henderson.

We haven't applied for an outdoor grant since 1995. So we are in the process of aggressively doing park work in the City of Henderson. So we'll be back. We are included in the requested funding this year. And we'd like to thank you very much for that. It is very beneficial to our community. We're a small city of 12,000. So this goes a long ways to our master plan.

And I just wanted to say thanks. And Roxanne and Tim worked with us, and they were very great. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

And Roxanne Hunt.

MS. HUNT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Roxanne Hunt. I represent Nueces County. I'm here on behalf of County Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria of Precinct 2 in our county.

We applied for Banchetti Park previously and missed it by a very narrow margin. And she wanted to extend her thanks to Mr. Hogsett and his staff for helping us with our deficiencies. And we're glad and we're thankful that we are recommended for funding.

We have tremendous community support from Banchetti. It's a really small, unincorporated community in the west part of our county. It's a really needed park that we want to develop there, recreation-wise, and we got a really big backing from our community ‑‑ and our senior center. And they're really excited for their new walking trails.

So we'd like to thank you all for supporting our previous projects that have been funded through this same program. And we've had the opportunity to work with park and wildlife ‑‑ Texas Parks and Wildlife on many projects, including boat ramps and parks. So we're really excited to get started on this project.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

MS. HUNT: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Congratulations.

Any other ‑‑ any ‑‑ no other speakers. Any other questions for Tim?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. This is Item 10. Right? Yes. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Martin, seconded by Commissioner Bivins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Aye. Okay. Motion Carries.

Item 11, Urban Indoor Recreation Grant Funding. Tim Hogsett.

(Pause.)

MR. HOGSETT: We're pleased to be bringing to you for the very first time recommendations for the newly created urban parks account program. The official name in the law is the Large County and Municipality Recreation and Parks Account. This was created by the 80th Legislature. They carved out 40 percent of the amount of money that was appropriated to us for local park grants and set that aside for the largest communities and counties in the state ‑‑ those counties and cities of populations of 500,000 or more.

We had a summit meeting of the park directors. All the eligible participants were there. They helped us write a set of draft rules and scoring criteria. You adopted that set of scoring criteria at the last meeting. I made a presentation to you.

The eligible sponsors include the following. We received two grant applications for the urban indoor recreation grant program, requesting $1,500,000. The limit on applications is $1 million.

We, unfortunately, have a situation with Hidalgo County where they are not in compliance on a previously supported grant project. We tried to wait and work with them up to the last minute. They still have not corrected the deficiency. For that reason, we're asking that they be not eligible for assistance at this time, and then once that deficiency is taken care of, that they come back and make this application and hopefully will be able to be funded.

The staff recommendation before you today, then, is funding for one project, listed in Exhibit A, in the amount of $1 million is approved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And what is that project, Tim?

MR. HOGSETT: It is the City of Houston.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. That's why I wanted you ‑‑

(Laughter.)

MR. HOGSETT: I had a momentary lapse of memory there.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: That's all right.

MR. HOGSETT: But Joe Turner will remind me, I'm sure.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. And glad to do it.

Anything else, Tim?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: No question ‑‑ Commissioner Duggins?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes, sir.

You said that you had a meeting with each ‑‑ with representatives of each of the cities who are listed in here?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes. We had pooled all the parks and recreation directors ‑‑ our leadership together, and they helped us write the set of rules and the criteria that we're using.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Did each ‑‑ did everybody at each city have someone there?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And you only got two applications?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Okay.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: I was going to say you had more money ‑‑ a lot of money on that.

VOICE: That is interesting.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: What do you think the issue is ‑‑

MR. HOGSETT: Probably match, for one thing. The ability to ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: A match issue?

MR. HOGSETT: The ability to have match.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: It's 50 percent, also?

MR. HOGSETT: We do, in the outdoor program, have some participation from some folks it had been a long time since we've helped. The City of Dallas is a good example of that.

We'll see. It's a new program ‑‑ sort of a short time frame in terms of when the application deadline was, which was April 1st.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Is this an ongoing program?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes. It would be once a year.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: It's all indoor?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

Okay. Any other questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do you have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So moved, Commissioner Friedkin.

Seconded by?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Seconded by Commissioner Duggins.

All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

Thank you, Tim.

Item Number 12, Action ‑‑ Urban Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding. Tim Hogsett.

MR. HOGSETT: Again, for the record, I'm Tim Hogsett, Recreation Grants in State Parks Division. This is the first funding proposal for the newly created urban parks account for outdoor recreation grants. Again, these are communities of over 500,000 in population. The same process was used in the development of the rules and scoring criteria that I mentioned previously.

For 17 eligible applicants, we received five applications for the April 1st, 2008, deadline, requesting $4-1/2 million in matching funds. We used the scoring system that you adopted for recommendations. And we're recommending approval of the top four projects, in the amount of $4 million. And those would be for the City of Dallas, Travis County, the City of San Antonio, and the City of Houston.

And, again, Hidalgo County, we have an ongoing compliance issue with. Hopefully, they'll be able to resolve that and come back.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: They had an outdoor and an indoor?

MR. HOGSETT: They had applied for both, yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: They applied for both. Okay.

Okay. Any questions for Tim?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What's the grant, the percentage of match?

MR. HOGSETT: Fifty percent.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Same here?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. We have one speaker, Joe Turner. You're up.

MR. TURNER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, welcome again to Houston. Thank you very much for these grants that are going to be ‑‑ that have been approved. These grants, even though we are a large city, are very crucial to our development of our programming, either from a facilities standpoint or from a parks standpoint. And we're very appreciative of that.

We work very hard for grants, to stretch our dollars, just like all of us, whether we're a big city, small city, populous county, unpopulous county. We're all with the same issue. We're all looking for grant funding. And we're very appreciative of this opportunity to have this grant funding.

I would also like to let you know just a little tidbit on the urban park grant ‑‑ that one. We had an intern work with us this summer from Texas A&M; he had just graduated from the school up there, and he just started his master's program. And that handiwork you see in that urban grant program that went through, that was most of Steve Cooksey's work, our intern from this past summer. He just started his ‑‑ like I said, just started his master's up at A&M in the recreation department. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. Tell him congratulations, also.

Any other questions for Tim?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do we have a motion on this item?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So moved, Commissioner Hixon.

Second?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Martin.

All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Aye. Motion carries.

Okay. Item Number 13, an action item ‑‑ National Recreational Trail Grant Funding. Tim Hogsett, also.

MR. HOGSETT: The national recreation trails program is a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Transportation. The funding source is gasoline tax on off-road vehicles. And it is an 80/20 matching program. We received a record number of applications for this program in this review round for this year ‑‑ 73 proposals, requesting $12.5 million.

We also are proposing to carve out some of the money and use it in our state parks system. Specifically, we're talking about $490,000 for projects in Bastrop, Big Bend Ranch, Caprock Canyons, Cooper Lake, Franklin Mountains, Garner, Huntsville, Martin Dies, Pedernales Falls, and Ray Roberts.

The projects in this particular program are ranked by a trail advisory board. It's required by the federal Act that creates this program and funds this program that there be an independent advisory board appointed. The chairman has appointed that board. And they review these projects, make recommendations, score them ‑‑ results in the rank-ordered list that you can find at Exhibit A.

So we're recommending to you today the following motion: funding for 30 projects, recommended in Exhibit A, in the amount of $4,805,187; and state park trail improvements, in the amount of $490,000, is approved.

Be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: One question. Do you have a breakdown on motorized versus non-motorized, as far as ‑‑

VOICE: Allocations?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Yes ‑‑ allocation to each?

MR. HOGSETT: How much?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Right.

MR. HOGSETT: We're required to do 30 percent.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Okay. Thirty percent.

MR. HOGSETT: And we don't always have applications for that amount. So when we don't, we hold that money in reserve, and we'll have that available subsequently. But we do have several projects in this particular review that are off-road vehicle projects. And we just completed ‑‑

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: And ‑‑ I'm sorry ‑‑ 30 percent is allocated to?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Motorized.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Motorized ‑‑ okay.

MR. HOGSETT: Thirty percent, by law, has to be set aside for motorized ‑‑

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Motorized. Okay.

MR. HOGSETT: ‑‑ kinds of projects.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Motorized. Okay. That was ‑‑ yes ‑‑ my question. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions from ‑‑ do we have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Friedkin.

Second?

(Pause.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Commissioner Falcon.

All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Aye. Great. Okay. The motion carries.

Number 14 ‑‑ Tim, you're just hanging out, aren't you, today?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Local Park Grant Funding ‑‑ this is the fun stuff, though; it's fun to get the monies out to the local communities and doing what people want ‑‑ Texas Parks and Wildlife Appropriations Act Rider 34.

Tim?

MR. HOGSETT: In the last session of the legislature, the money that was not available to us in the two previous sessions, because of the lack of appropriations authority, was available for appropriation, and the legislature chose to appropriate that money to us and give us a list of projects ‑‑ what we call special appropriations projects ‑‑ to go with those funds.

We received a list of 18 projects of $16,685,000. We brought two of these to you previously for endorsement. We're bringing you a total of five more today, for seven of the 18. We're continuing to work with the other sponsors on helping them put their applications together, so that they can submit their applications.

These do not require ‑‑ they are outside of the competitive process. They do not require scoring, using our scoring criteria.

The five projects that we're bringing you today include the City of Brownsville, Gladys Porter Zoo; City of DeSoto, Old Nance Farm; City of Midland, Sibley Nature Center and Beal Park Tennis Center; and then Montgomery County, Spring Creek Parkway. These applications have all been received and meet all the other required criteria of the law, in terms of eligibility and match.

So we're asking you to adopt the following motion: funding for the special appropriations rider projects, as listed in Exhibit A, is approved.

Be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do you have any questions for Tim?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Yes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Let's hear it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: You had $16,600,000 available?

MR. HOGSETT: Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: And how many ‑‑ you only had these five applications?

MR. HOGSETT: There's a list of projects, Commissioner, of 18 projects, totaling that $16.8 million. We're actively ‑‑ on each of those 18 ‑‑ helping them put their applications together and bringing them to you as we receive the application. So we're going to come back with the rest of the projects at a subsequent meeting, which will make up that total amount. This is just the group that we have that are available and submitted applications to date.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions? Ralph?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. We do have one speaker, Patrick Burchfield. Patrick?

MR. BURCHFIELD: I don't think I requested the ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, okay. I'm sorry. It says, "Observing only." I'm ‑‑

MR. BURCHFIELD: I'll never pass up a microphone.

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. BURCHFIELD: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I want to thank you on behalf of the Gladys Porter Zoo for your generous support. You're very lucky. Here in Houston, Texas, you have one of the finest zoos in the country, and, in fact, Texas is blessed by having several of the finest zoos in the country.

And the one thing I'd like to point out is the fact that, in meeting with young people and working with young people, I like to say there's several levels of awareness. You can open the page of a book or read about an animal on a piece of paper. You can look up and you can see a video presentation. You can see them move, and you can hear them roar. But for the vast majority of children of the world ‑‑ and adults ‑‑ most will never get to experience them in the wild.

And as your own zoo director very pointedly emphasized, this is our window of opportunity to get these people involved in conservation and the things you all do so well.

And I just want to thank you on behalf of the Gladys Porter Zoo and a part of the state of Texas that needs your help very much. And thanks again for helping us to improve our facility. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Wonderful. Thank you.

Any other comments or questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FALCON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Second.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And moved, Commissioner Falcon. Second, Commissioner Duggins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Aye. This motion does carry.

Item Number 15 ‑‑ Mr. Walt Dabney has a briefing update on Sheldon Lake State Park right here in Harris County.

MR. DABNEY: Chairman and Commissioners, I'm Walt Dabney, State Parks Director, and I'll be talking to you today about Sheldon Lake Outdoor Education Center, here 13 miles north of us.

Before I do that, I'd like to introduce the superintendent of that great spot, Rob Comstock, who's been there almost as long as the park has been, and Tom Olson, interpretative specialist. And they're here to help answer any questions that you might have.

Again, it's 13 miles north of here, Sheldon Lake. I'm talking to you today because of some exciting developments we have going on at that site. It's a 2,700-acre park; about 1,200 of that is in the lake ‑‑ is taken up by the reservoir itself.

A little background history: Sheldon Lake Reservoir was established to support defense industries during the Second World War. It was built by the Works Progress Administration. It became a fish hatchery, and then that fish hatchery was closed in 1973. And it was transferred to State Parks in 1984, and since that time has been the destination for literally thousands of Houston students, who have come out to learn about nature in a real place.

Exciting developments that are going on there: The site plan from the management plan, Phase 1 includes all these different kinds of components, and we're well under way with getting those in place. The fishing pond is, in fact, completed. It's stocked. We're not using it yet, but it'll be a place where we really teach kids about fishing ‑‑ one of the places at Sheldon where we do that.

Right next to it is a place to teach them about canoeing and kayaking in a ‑‑ obviously, in a body of water. And they'll be wearing life jackets and so forth, but if they flip over, they can also stand up. And that'll be reassuring to them ‑‑ three feet deep.

Seasonal wetlands, we're restoring the site as much as possible. And this'll be a great place to look at waterfowl and so forth, migratory and otherwise, that ‑‑ right there on the site.

The pond center, an exciting piece of the development there ‑‑ this is the 1955 maintenance building on the hatchery. This is before we had converted it to this, which is our reception center/orientation center. And as you can see, this is a typical day at Sheldon, with classes coming in and folks getting ready to disperse through the site. Exciting place, it's just a beehive of activity on almost every day.

Alternative energy, SECO, the State Energy and Conservation Office, provided a $100,000 grant. This'll generate about three kilowatts of power on a given day, through wind and solar energy. It's a great demonstration spot.

The Heron Plaza, which is student staging, restrooms, and so forth, we're well under way there as well. Many of these sites incorporate green technology. You're going to see a whole lot of recycled oil field pipe and so forth that are being used in there. The lumber is all certified as environmentally safe; it's farmed. And so we're doing great things here, obviously well used, and many of these facilities are now in place and receiving the students.

The restrooms are really a neat deal: surplus oil field pipe, used brick, and solar. This is what they look like now. And wonderful facilities ‑‑ and, again, the hot water is solar heated.

Outdoor classrooms, there are three more in the pond area, again using the recycled products. The lab ‑‑ the aquatic lab is, in fact, completed and well under way with being used. It's a hands-on place. These kids get up close and personal with the wildlife, and they're holding them and touching them and looking at them and so forth.

There's no substitute to have them in your hands and be right there with it. And these kids, while they may be squeamish at first, by the time they leave there for the day, know a whole lot more than when they got there. Very tastefully done.

Wastewater wetlands, this is an exciting prospect. These are where the sewage goes from these in these constructed wetlands. By the time it's through, it is tertiary treated water ‑‑ in theory, drinkable. We don't advocate that, but it is clean water for wildlife and otherwise. One of the interesting things is using solar and storage batteries. Our pumping for this site is done with ‑‑ by solar and battery storage. So it's reduced our power consumption and our sewage handling, as well as not having to run it through a treatment plant. So it's a great demonstration area.

Site plan for Phase 2 includes the road, the lake tower, the visitor learning center, and habitat restoration ‑‑ the habitat restoration, which is intended to restore wetlands and restore native prairies.

We're not burning here yet, but we certainly intend to establish a burning program, which in this area will require some careful work, not necessarily because it's going to get away from you, but smoke management is going to be a huge issue here. So our smoke dispersal will have to be really figured into our prescription. But it'll be a great place to demonstrate the use of fire in the restoration as a resource management tool.

The lake tower, which should begin construction in '09, is going to be a place to teach and observe. This should be through by 2010, and it'll be another great addition to this.

One of the exciting new prospects, and one that isn't there yet but is coming soon, is this visitor learning center, which will be kind of the centerpiece of this. We have not gotten this off the ground yet, but it looks like it's almost imminent, in that we will have a partnership with National Audubon to build this center.

In this case, the proposal ‑‑ and it's going to go before the Audubon National Board soon ‑‑ is that Audubon would raise the money to actually build the learning center. They would ‑‑ we would manage the design, contracting, and construction, and get this site built. They would then donate that building to us. And then we jointly will operate this site, with Audubon securing the funding to staff, to cover their own costs, the staffing costs. We would operate the site, maintain it, and we would jointly work to educate the kids and others that are going to be using this place.

It is truly an exciting opportunity to partnership and one that I think it'd be a long time before we could have gotten this built on our own, with our own funding. I think we'll be better, combining our resources and working together. And Audubon, I think I can confidently say, is very excited about this project, and so are we.

So with that, if you have any questions, either myself or the regional director, Justin Rhodes, is here, and Tom and Robert are in the audience.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Not a question. But for the benefit of younger members of the Commission, we must say that this learning center was the hope and dream of a former commissioner, Al Henry. And I'm sure that Al, if he was here, would be very, very pleased with the progress of this Sheldon Lake learning center.

MR. DABNEY: I know he would, also.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Walt, has the school group visitation come up quite a bit since we've completed Phase 1, or how does that ‑‑ I'm just curious what the ‑‑

MR. DABNEY: Robert, come on up here.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: ‑‑ Harris County and Houston school district ‑‑

MR. DABNEY: The answer ‑‑ the nod was yes, but I'm going to let him quantitatively tell you what that is.

(Pause.)

MR. COMSTOCK: Good morning. I'm Robert Comstock, the manager of Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center.

Since the completion of the new facilities, a slow rise that ‑‑ since we were closed for a year and a half ‑‑ but we've returned to our preconstruction numbers and actually increased them. So we're serving 7,000-plus students a year. This past summer, we partnered with a lot of the county groups and the City of Houston for their summer programs, and we were pretty much booked up every day through June and July.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: That's terrific. Thank you.

MR. COMSTOCK: We've got a ‑‑ and we're doing this with a staff of eight. So we're ‑‑ and that is up. We were able to add an additional two classified staff members, a resource manager and another interpretative ranger, with the additional funding from the legislature last year.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. I'm sorry Al's not here, so I'm glad you spoke to it, and ‑‑ because it certainly was near and dear to his heart.

But congratulations, Walt. I mean, Sheldon Lake's been, you know, an up-and-down battle for a while, but it looks like we got some momentum with it, if we can get the Audubon Society to build that visitor center. It really would turn this into something ‑‑

MR. DABNEY: I hope this becomes a model for us.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ especially for the City of Houston. I'm sorry?

MR. DABNEY: I hope it becomes a model for us, this kind of partnership.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. You've got a partnership you like, and then you leverage relationships.

MR. DABNEY: If we can double that eight staff into 16 or 20 staff by combining those, we can handle a lot more kids.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.

Okay. Any other questions for Walt?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you. There was no action on that one.

And Item Number 16, Briefing ‑‑ Update on Hurricane Rita Repair Efforts in State Parks Region 4, Mr. Justin Rhodes.

MR. RHODES: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good morning, Justin.

MR. RHODES: I'm Justin Rhodes, State Parks Region 4 Regional Director, and I'm glad to have you guys down in our area.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes.

MR. RHODES: Approximately three years ago, our region was struck by Hurricane Rita, and not only did it damage our infrastructure, it had ‑‑ it was a very unique storm. It had multiple effects on our area of the state, the employees, people living out here, and also our agency.

It was a unique storm, in that, weeks before, Hurricane Katrina had hit Louisiana, which stretched out federal resources. FEMA was busy working on that storm, and then right after that, we had this. So it hit our agency and division with several challenges that we hadn't faced.

Of the parks affected in this region, we had Lake Livingston, Village Creek, Martin Dies, and Sea Rim. Lake Livingston received the least amount of damage. We had several trees knocked down. We had some electrical damage, some damage to the park store pier, and the most significant was to the bulkhead you're looking at. The park was able to reopen to the public within two weeks, and all related ‑‑ hurricane-related repairs have now been completed. They were completed in May of 2008, with a cost of approximately $103,000.

Village Creek, it took a more direct blow. It's state-owned property just north of the Beaumont area, approximately 1,000 acres. We were fortunate in that our infrastructure wasn't devastated, but our forest, in a way, was. We lost approximately 50 percent of our timber out of the park, and this is old-growth timber. We had a couple of state champ trees that were knocked down in the ‑‑ that were in the record books.

Typical damage at Village Creek ‑‑ again, the infrastructure didn't receive a huge blow. We were lucky in that aspect, but campsites were still damaged. We had roofs to buildings that were peeled back, minor water damage. Overall, at Village Creek, relatively low ‑‑ monetary-wise, we only spent $67,000, and of that $67,000, we were reimbursed $55,000 from FEMA.

And the park did open back up approximately six months later, on a limited basis. We are fully open to the public now, and all the repairs have been completed, with the exception of one hiking trail, which we're still in the process of clearing.

But, again, with 50 percent of the forest coming down, it ‑‑ everything out there was devastated. So we ‑‑ not that it was good, but we came out lucky, as far as our infrastructure's concerned at Village Creek.

Martin Dies, we weren't as lucky. We lost approximately 30 percent of our timber. And Martin Dies is up in the Jasper area. And that's another unique aspect of this storm, where we're 60 miles inland and we still have a storm that's producing steady 100-mile-an-hour winds.

And the forest was devastated there, and in the process it literally crushed many of our campsites, shelters. We had a tree you kind of reach your arms around laying on top of our nature center. And in the process, these trees had just humongous root balls. As you can see there, it's twice the height of one of the rangers standing there.

And if you can imagine those trees coming down, all the utility lines in the ground, the water lines, the electric lines ‑‑ just literally being ripped out of the ground. So, in addition to the buildings being smashed, we had to go back in and lay new water lines and electric lines throughout the park.

We are making progress there, though. We are fully open to the public. We had a grand reopening back in July, and all the work is nearing completion. As far as public use, all the work's done, but we're in the final phases of completing a vehicle storage shed at Martin Dies right now.

The cost of this was a little more significant than Village Creek. We were $787,000 ‑‑ that's the projected expenditures once this vehicle shed is completed. And we have submitted for reimbursement with FEMA and haven't got anything back yet to date.

Sea Rim, it took a direct hit. If I recall the first slide, right where that eye was coming onshore was Sea Rim State Park. And there literally wasn't a building on the site that wasn't damaged in some way, either wind damage, water damage, or literally covered in sand.

The shot to your left is a photo of the maintenance area, where we store our equipment. The shot to your right is the entry booth, right when you come into the park.

The residence ‑‑ we have two residences on the site, where two different employees live. They were both damaged, water damaged and wind damaged. And the shot to your left is a photo of a restroom there close to the beach. It's our east beach restroom, and it had a big washout underneath of it and, again, severe water and wind damage.

Also, the wastewater treatment plant at Sea Rim was literally destroyed, and that was a huge blow to the park. It's a complicated process to redesign and re-permit one of those facilities. And that's been a challenge.

We are making progress. We are in the final stages. The work has been done. That photo you're looking at on the left is that east beach restroom. We recently completed repairs on that facility. The bottom right is a photo of our new entry booth, and, of course, the top is the headquarters.

Sea Rim's total expenditures, projected, $627,000, and, again, we've submitted for reimbursement with FEMA but have not got anything back yet, to date. The lesson learned ‑‑ this is tricky at this point. We're still learning from this experience. Again, this was unique. We had several parks hit at one time. And working with FEMA was new for us.

And we're learning from it. We've learned that any aid that we receive on these facilities, we have to go back and insure them. And, traditionally, we're self-insured, but now we have to go out and buy policies in order to receive this aid. And then we learned, in having to have that insurance, we need to establish methods to go out base-mapping of all our structures, where we'll be ready in the next event.

And, you know, some of these parks ‑‑ well, Sea Rim's going on being closed for three years. Martin Dies was closed for approximately two-and-a-half years. The longer we're closed, the longer we're not bringing in revenue. For example, over that two-and-a-half years that Martin Dies was closed, we lost three-quarters of a million dollars. We're not generating.

And that brings up the next question, and this is something, when it's all said and done, when all the projects are complete and all the reimbursements are in, we need to sit down with the executive office, the state parks division, infrastructure division, and decide, Do we want to utilize FEMA in the future, because part of the delay in this process has been waiting on guidance from FEMA and going through the steps in order to get the reimbursement.

But over the process, you have parks closed, and you have employees struggling with their parks being closed as well. It's a great hardship on the people in the parks to not have the park operating and at the same time having their hands tied in a way, as far as being able to make repairs, waiting on direction from FEMA.

So that's something that, again, when we're all said and done, we need to sit down and talk about as a division: what is the best way to handle the next event? And to sum it up to date, we have about $1-1/2 million in expenditures on these four parks alone, and we've been reimbursed $55,000. Any questions?

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. I have questions.

MR. RHODES: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Where are we on that?

MR. RHODES: Which step ‑‑

(Simultaneous discussion.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: No. I'm not sure that's ‑‑ go ahead ‑‑ well, on the dollars.

MR. DABNEY: Walt Dabney, State Parks director.

Steve, do you know the actual dollar figure? We've gotten this Sea Rim just recently.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Well, we've received ‑‑ and Justin just may not be aware of it, but I thought we'd received some money.

MR. DABNEY: Right. We have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. They had to buy the insurance policy. Can somebody walk ‑‑ Scott, can somebody walk us through it?

But I absolutely agree with you, Justin, on some of the questions you're asking. There's no doubt about we've got to figure out whether we want to go through this kind of situation or do it some other way.

But, anyway, Steve, can you walk us through to where we are?

MR. WHISTON: And, pardon me, I didn't come prepared with the actual numbers. But after many months and months of struggle, yes, we have been finally successful in working through all the details with both FEMA ‑‑ we have purchased insurance ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right.

MR. WHISTON: ‑‑ so that insurance policies are now in force. That now entitles us to full reimbursement for all of our expenditures. So we're in the process now of applying for those reimbursements. We're collecting all our invoices, all the necessary documentation needed to be supplied or submitted to the governor's office, and which we will anticipate very close to 100 percent reimbursement for all our expenditures, finally, for the cost of this restoration and repair.

And, again, I apologize not knowing the numbers offhand, but all the dollars, again ‑‑ the good news is all the dollars expended will be reimbursed to us.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any idea of time frames? I know that's been an impossible question for three years. But ‑‑

MR. WHISTON: Yes. An impossible question to know ‑‑ you know, we're kind of at the mercy of that agency and the governor's office to process our requests. It's kind of new territory for us, you know, to deal with FEMA on a disaster of this scale, of this magnitude. They are, you know, working with us. I'll assure you of that. And all indications are they're going to be cooperative and try to hasten the ‑‑ you know, the decisions, and make those reimbursements available to us.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And I ask the obvious question ‑‑ I mean, who's shepherding this through? With this big number of dollars here ‑‑ we're talking about, what, $2‑1/2 million, as I remember, roughly.

MR. WHISTON: My division is responsible.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. WHISTON: I have very competent staff that are working hand-in-hand, closely, on a weekly basis with FEMA. And so we're ‑‑ we are responsible for the process of applying and obtaining these reimbursements. And, again, all indications are that it's going to be a matter of time, but that we'll be successful.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay.

MR. BORUFF: For the record, I'm Scott Boruff, Deputy Executive Director of Operations. Just for clarification, Commissioners, there were two kinds of reimbursements we sought after the hurricane. One was for the physical damages, and there were definitions that applied there to the physical structures at the parks, that FEMA was not willing to look at things like picnic tables and structures like that. So we're talking about major buildings and those kinds of things that we applied for under one segment of the reimbursement process.

The other was more the law enforcement intervention for search and rescue and law enforcement activities and those kinds of things. The law enforcement side was reimbursed pretty quickly. This other side has been drawn out, and we were required ultimately to ‑‑ in order to be able to get this reimbursement ‑‑ and I believe the number was $2.2 million that we applied for, for the structures, the repair of structures.

We were ‑‑ ultimately, the only route we could take was to purchase insurance, which we did here about four to six months ago. And so we do anticipate the $2.2 million will be reimbursed, probably not all at once, because it kind of trickles in. But I think we have received more than $50,000. I don't remember the number of the top of my head, but they have started the reimbursement process. So we're pretty optimistic. And ultimately I, too, will be shepherding this and make sure that we get this money back in.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. Please do.

Okay.

(Pause.)

MR. RHODES: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Justin, you're asking hard questions now; we got to figure out how to answer them.

(Laughter.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions, sir? Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: What exactly are we required to insure, and at what value, and how long are we required to maintain the insurance?

MR. RHODES: The way I understand this ‑‑ and, Steve, you may correct me if I'm wrong ‑‑ anything with a roof and walls. So, for example, our screened shelters, we'd have to buy insurance on those ‑‑ and for the life of the building, the way I understand it, as well.

And we were fortunate to get a unique policy, where it's a fairly low premium for a high amount of insurance, in my opinion, where, I believe, the policy was roughly $5,500 for $100 million policy.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thanks.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And had just, you know, got caught up in the demands of FEMA, and there really was no choice. The state of Texas and all agencies are essentially self-insured. But their requirement was that we had to buy insurance. It's the trade-off, and then that's fine. And maybe we should have done it quicker. We fought it for a while and tried to explain to them and write letters and all that, but it just kind of got lost. And so then we finally have some movement.

Go ahead, Scott.

MR. BORUFF: Also, once again for clarification, historically when hurricanes had hit us in the past, FEMA had not exercised this parameter before. And probably because of the one-two punch of Katrina and Rita and the fiscal impact of that, this time they came in and enforced this requirement to get insurance.

Previously, the agency had applied for FEMA reimbursement in every previous hurricane event, and we had been successful in getting the reimbursement without going after the insurance. But evidently there was a clause under FEMA rules, which requires that even for state agencies. And as the Chairman said, the state does not insure property typically.

So we actually kind of came in and purchased the insurance after the event, with FEMA's blessing, as a way to trigger from them. So it was out of the norm.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Then, of course, you know what the insurance company is going to do. They're not going to want to pay.

So, anyway ‑‑ all right. Yes, Commissioner Parker?

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Did the other states have to buy insurance ‑‑ Louisiana, Mississippi? Do you know about that?

MR. BORUFF: We asked that question, Commissioner Parker, and I'm not sure. I think we got mixed answers. I think, early on, Louisiana was reimbursed without insurance, to be honest with you. That was the only state that I personally talked to who had received insurance immediately after Katrina hit.

But then when Rita hit, once again, not only was the communication slowed down, which it was ‑‑ we ‑‑ the infrastructure division spent months just trying to get answers to questions. But then we got the feedback that we were going to be required to purchase this insurance. I don't know if the other states, other than Louisiana ‑‑ if that happened.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Thank you.

Any other questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Justin, thank you very much.

MR. RHODES: Okay. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Item Number 17, this is an action item ‑‑ Land Exchange and Conservation Easement, Bandera and Medina Counties. Mr. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners.

VOICES: Good morning.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. I know you're happy to see me. It means we're nearing the end of the agenda.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes. We've missed you, Ted.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: This is an item the staff have been working on for quite a while. It's an exchange with an adjacent landowner at Hill Country State Natural Area. The landowner needs better access into his property, but we needed some protections for the east and south side of the state natural area.

So what we've done is exchanged him a strip of land he can put a driveway on, but we're receiving a large hill with a nice view of the park, and from the park, and a conservation easement on the balance of ‑‑ on the 700-acre balance of his ranch that will protect that property far beyond what it would have been protected, had we not granted the easement or not given him the piece of property to put a driveway on and had that simply been sold into the private sector. So we've protected that land.

Staff does recommend that you adopt the motion, reading, "The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the executive director to take all necessary steps to trade approximately 100 acres of park land for approximately 200 acres of adjacent property, with TPWD paying a fair market value for the difference, and accepting a conservation easement on approximately 700 acres of the adjacent land in Bandera and Medina counties."

I would add that that conservation easement ‑‑ the value is more than what we'd be paying for the difference in property, and that's a freebie. That easement's coming to us at no cost.

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission finds that the ownership of the 100 acres being traded is no longer in the best interest of TPWD, that this action is the most feasible and prudent alternative and that all reasonable planning has been taken to minimize harm to the park."

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Ted?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: No public speakers. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HIXON: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: All right. Commissioner Bivins and Commissioner Hixon.

All in favor, please say aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: The motion carries.

Item Number 18, action item ‑‑ Land Exchange, Presidio County. Ted.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth; I'm with the Land Conservation Program. This is another item staff had been working on for quite a while.

Big Bend Ranch State Park, at 300,000 acres, is the largest state park by far. It was acquired with a number of inholdings for a variety of historical reasons. This particular group of inholdings is the second largest in the park. Staff had been working to eliminate those. And by working with a cooperative landowner, we have ‑‑ we will be trading those inholdings for a smaller piece of land that will consolidate his remaining tract in the park.

The agency will be getting 1,434 acres, eliminating five inholdings and giving up 500 acres, and the location will not interfere in any way with implementation of the public use plan or with operation of the park.

We did have an appraisal done. The exchange is a straight-up trade. But for a number of reasons, we feel like it is in the best interests ‑‑ short-term and long-term interests ‑‑ of the state park, and staff recommends that you adopt the following motion:

The executive director is authorized to take all necessary steps to exchange approximately 502 acres of land for approximately 1,434 acres of land in Presidio County to be managed as part of the Big Bend Ranch State Park. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission finds that ownership of the 502 acres being traded is no longer in the best interest of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, that this action is the most feasible and prudent alternative and that all reasonable planning has been taken to minimize harm to the park.

I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions? Yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: I may have asked this yesterday; forgive me if I did. But did we ask or consider asking the landowner for some type of right of first refusal on the consolidated acreage that he will be obtaining?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Absolutely. We don't do anything without asking for right of first refusal. In this particular case, he was unwilling because of the heir of the property; you did not want to constrain the heir of the property. But we certainly did ask. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Any other questions for Ted?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER HIXON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. By Commissioner Hixon, seconded by Commissioner Duggins. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Thank you.

And, Ted, going back to Item 17, you kind of skipped over if you all are aware of Bandera and Medina County are being heavily developed, I guess would be about the easiest way to say it. So to get that kind of conservation easement ‑‑ congratulations ‑‑ at this time ‑‑

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: ‑‑ with what's going on in that part of the world. Yes.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, what we're ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: This actually really helps us protect the park in a lot of different ways.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, what we're learning is, in a lot of cases, we have to think 20 or 30 years from now these are going to be urban parks, or close to it.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, yes. Yes, absolutely.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: And where we can't afford to buy properties outright, we still can often leverage these needs for agreements and easements and so forth into actions that really do provide long-term protection.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Now, good thinking in thinking a way out. So thank you, Ted.

Item Number 19 is an action item: Conveyance of Pipeline Easement, Tarrant County. Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: This item is a very conventional request for a pipeline easement. It's actually a small four-inch gathering line. We do these regularly, but because the owner does not have mineral interests in this site or a generating facility on this site, it is required that the Commission concur with our recommendation to grant the easement.

What we do in these cases, rather than negotiate a cash settlement, which we certainly can do, is we prefer to receive something that is of benefit to the site, either in a biological sense or from a public view sense. In this case, what we're getting in exchange for granting the easement is a Kidfish pond. Our Kidfish program, of course, has been very successful.

They'll be taking one of the old hatchery ponds and cleaning it out and lining it and preparing the bank so that children can get to the pond to fish in it. It's something the staff has been wanting to do, looking for an opportunity, and this is the opportunity.

And the staff does recommend that you adopt the motion, reading, "The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the executive director to take all necessary steps to grant a pipeline easement to Barnett Gathering, LP, at the Inland Fisheries district office located in Fort Worth, Texas."

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Ted?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: One quick one.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: Does the ‑‑ do the terms of the proposed easement allow Barnett to abandon the pipeline?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. All of our surface use agreements and easements have clauses that allow the abandonment. They do require that the easement does come back to Texas Parks and Wildlife. And we retain the option to require the removal or not of the pipeline in an abandoned easement.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any other questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS: So moved.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. That motion by Commissioner Duggins, seconded by Commissioner Parker. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Aye. The motion carries.

Thank you, Ted.

Item Number 20, an action item: Conveyance of Easement, Aransas County.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: This is another item staff has been working on quite a while. This is at Goose Island State Park in Aransas County. As you can see, the park is surrounded by water. The island ‑‑ obviously, includes an island, which gives the park its name.

Up until recently, there was a couple hundred acres of land on the east side of the park, but basically landlocked by the park's land ownership. It's now prime for real estate development. It lacks utilities. It is necessary for the utility company ‑‑ the local utility company to cross the state park to get utilities into this subdivision.

Because of the magnitude of the impact from this subdivision, staff has been working very diligently, both through the regulatory process and through the fact that the utility easements did need to cross the park, with both the developer and the utility district to negotiate some concessions that we felt like would protect both the park and try to minimize some of the biological impacts there on the peninsula.

In a nutshell, those amounted to a buffer between the park and the development, a preservation of a wetland and a buffer around that wetland, a closing to a recorded ‑‑ unused, but recorded, county road to all except emergency traffic, access to the water and wastewater lines for benefit of the park, and a cash donation to the state park. We feel like this is fair, both to the utility district and the developer and the state park.

And staff does recommend that you adopt the motion, reading, "The executive director is authorized to negotiate terms and conditions under which a utility easement may be issued to the Lamar Improvement District for crossing Goose Island State Park with underground water and wastewater lines."

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions or comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. I need a motion; I'm sorry.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. Motion, Commissioner Friedkin. Seconded by? Somebody?

COMMISSIONER MARTIN: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Commissioner Martin there ‑‑ thank you.

All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: We say aye. Yes. Okay, Ted.

Chair ‑‑ excuse me.

Item Number 21, Action ‑‑ Land Sale, Harris County.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, my name is Ted Hollingsworth; I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

This item pertains to the regional parks office in La Porte, Texas. This has been a regional office for Texas Parks and Wildlife for 46 years now. The city has been working with us, has been talking to us for several years now. They have a vision of revitalizing the old downtown of La Porte, but it centers around the original traffic circle, which no longer exists but which the city is ‑‑ might like to replace.

But this particular building and property that we own is right in the middle of that effort to revitalize, to enhance, to improve the downtown area. In all honesty, it's not a particularly attractive building, and it has become a maintenance nightmare over the years. It's a flat roof; it has leaked for ‑‑ for the 15 years I've been an employee, the building has leaked.

And so, working closely with the City of La Porte to work out something that works to our advantage and their advantage, we've had the property appraised. The city has offered us almost twice the appraised value for the property. The state parks division has been working with infrastructure division and has determined that with that funding from that sale, the agency could build a new facility at Sheldon Lake State Park that would better serve the state parks division as a regional office. It would be a nicer facility.

The city is going to give us enough time to get that facility built and moved out ‑‑ before we need to move out of the facility, vacate it for their benefit. Staff does feel like this is a very good deal for the agency, in our best ‑‑ certainly our best long-term interest.

And staff does recommend that you adopt the motion, reading, "The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission finds that ownership of the La Porte regional office is no longer in the best interest of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and authorizes the executive director to take all necessary measures to sell the La Porte regional office property."

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Any questions for Ted?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. We do have one speaker, Garson Silvers. Garson?

(Pause.)

VOICE: Commissioner, he actually had to leave ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure.

MS. LARSON: Gretchen Larson, with the City of La Porte, just here today to ask that you support our initiative and authorize the sale of the property. Your ‑‑ just as a side note, your staff at Texas Parks and Wildlife in La Porte and in the regional office in Austin has just been terrific. And we're thrilled that we'll be able to proceed with the project, if you approve the land sale.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Sure. Thank you. Well, thank Ted. That's his hometown.

MS. LARSON: I know. And we love having them in the city, but we understand that they want to be out in the great outdoors, which we don't blame them.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Right. Well, it sounds like you can make better use of it than we can, at this point. So that'll work out great. Any other questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Good. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FALCON: So moved.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Okay. By Commissioner Falcon.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Seconded.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Seconded by Commissioner Parker. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Aye. Okay. This Commission has completed its business. I declare us adjourned.

Thank you very much. And thank you, Houston. This is a great place to do business.

(Whereupon, at 11:36 a.m., the meeting was adjourned.)

In official recognition hereof, we hereby affix our signatures as approved this 21st day of August 2008.

Peter M. Holt, Chairman

T. Dan Friedkin, Vice Chairman

Mark E. Bivins, Member

J. Robert Brown, Member

Ralph H. Duggins, Member

Antonio Falcon, M.D., Member

Karen J. Hixon, Member

Margaret Martin, Member

John D. Parker, Member

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Commission Meeting
LOCATION: Houston, Texas
DATE: August 21, 2008

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 133, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Leslie Berridge before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

08/29/08
(Transcriber) (Date)
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731


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