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Big Bend Regional Sierra Club
Regular Public Meeting
September 16, 2003

Call to Order and Welcome

Don Dowdey opened the meeting at 7:05 p.m. in 309 Lawrence Hall, Sul Ross State University.

Announcements:

BBRSC and the Lone Star Chapter, plus 160 other organizations have signed on to a letter advocating clean air for American parks, with specific mention of Big Bend National Park with regard to mercury contamination in Peregrine Falcons. The letter, presented to all members of Congress last Friday, calls for clean up of haze in our national parks.

The group known as Beyond Nuclear Power is now the Texas Nuclear Waste Defense Fund. Margot Clark (who took Erin Roger's position) is our representative. The group will seek a grant to obtain an expert's review of the radioactive waste legislation.

As announced at the summer social, BBRSC established the Hal Flanders Fund as a means of raising money to fight radioactive waste disposal sites in west Texas, specifically to aid in alerting Vermont citizens of the nature of the proposed Andrews dumpsite, which falls far outside the parameters of the Texas-Vermont Compact. Members may make donations earmarked for the Hal Flanders Fund to BBRSC, in memory of Hal.

On October 25, 2003, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Lone Star Chapter is hosting a regional conference, Water for People and The Environment, at Holiday Inn and Suites in Midland.

The club needs to start thinking about nominations for two upcoming vacancies on the BBRSC ExComm. The nominating committee will be Don Dowdey, Scott May and Jim Sage. Names of nominees or volunteers should be submitted to the nominating committee as soon as possible; nomination may also be done by petition. The deadline for nominations is around Oct 28 but watch the newsletter for the precise date.

Facts about Texas Water booklets are available for the taking.

Program:

Speaker: John Holland, site supervisor at Davis Mountains State Park "Texas Parks and Wildlife Department:  Past, Present and Future"

John presented an administrative history of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), beginning with the creation of the Fish and Oyster Commission in 1895.  In 1963, TPWD as we know it today was created from separate state agencies. Presently there are 10 divisions within TPWD.

John presented the TPWD mission statement:

To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

And philosophy:

We seek to balance outdoor recreation with conservation as we achieve greater self-sufficiency. On one hand, we must manage and protect our natural and cultural resources. At the same time, we must generate increased revenue by adding value through more and better public services. We affirm that a culturally diverse well-trained staff will best achieve this balance. And we must never forget, not in the haste of business, nor in the pride of science, that the outdoors should above all be a source of joy! Providing outdoor experiences, whereby young minds form values, will be our greatest contribution to the future.

After an overview of the state parks in the Trans-Pecos area, including prominent wildlife, John answered questions.

How is funding for TPWD secured?

From diverse sources: appropriations, federal matching funds, license fees, dedicated funding (capped) through sporting goods tax.

How did TPWD fare during the state budget crisis?

Not hurt as badly as other state agencies. Parks division came out pretty well this session, since severe budget cuts have been made over the past number of years.

When is Chinati Mountains State Natural Area opening?

Work is being done to allow limited public access. A visitor use management plan is in draft at this time.

Will Indian Lodge be privatized?

At this point, privatization is not happening.

Are Wildlife Management Areas publicly accessible?

Elephant Mountain: portions are open with some exceptions; there is no public access on Elephant Mountain per se.  Sierra Diablo: extremely limited access.

Business Meeting:

No minutes.

No treasurer's report.

Upcoming programs were announced.

Meeting adjourned.

Submitted by Linda Hedges, Secretary


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