BOARD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Myrtle Beach Convention Center
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Friday, January 14, 2000
The regular meeting of the Board of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was held at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, January 14, 2000, at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, Ballroom C, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Notice of the date, time and place of the meeting was posted and mailed to the news media. Chairman Joab Lesesne presided at the meeting. Board Members present included Ben Gregg, Russell Holliday, Dr. Julius Leary, Malloy McEachin and Dr. Douglas Rucker. Board Member absent was Danny Ford. Dr. Paul A. Sandifer and staff members of the Department of Natural Resources were present at the meeting as were various guests.
Chairman Lesesne called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. and welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Chairman Lesesne asked for a moment of silent meditation.
Cary Chamblee stated that there was one request for constituency comment and no one from that organization has yet arrived.
Chairman Lesesne asked if there were any corrections or additions to the minutes of the December 17, 1999, meeting. Dr. Leary made a motion that the minutes of the December 17, 1999, meeting be approved as presented. Mr. Gregg seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
Chairman Lesesne called on Freddy Vang to present the 1999 Stewardship Development Awards. Mr. Vang asked Dr. Barry Beasley and Dr. Elise Schmidt to assist him with these presentations. The Natural Resources Stewardship Award is given to projects that promote the conservation, protection and enhancement of the state's natural resources while recognizing the place of people in the environment.
Mr. Vang presented the first award to the I'On Company, of Mt. Pleasant. The I'On development uses southern style architecture in a setting in which the concept of community is foremost. The result is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. The development's homes take inspiration from coastal towns such as Beaufort, Savannah, and Charleston and incorporate elements of classical architectural style. Public spaces are plentiful and are centered around two lakes and the marsh frontage on Hobcaw Creek. Commercial property is an integral part of the neighborhood which reduces the need for automobile transportation.
Mr. Vang presented the next award to Huntington Beach State Park for their use of sustainable methods and materials in recent park projects. SCPRT has carefully planned the siting and construction of a new entryway and fee station so as to reduce impacts to wildlife and important trees. Wildlife habitat is a priority at the park which now includes a least tern nesting site, management of ponds for birds and alligators, and a 'Grow Don't Mow' program which provides excellent wildlife edge habitat. SCPRT is also cooperating with various groups in the re-introduction of the endangered sea beach amaranth, an important dune-building plant. The education of park visitors on the impacts of people on the environment are an important part of the park's plan.
Mr. Vang presented the award to the Ramsey Creek Preserve in Oconee County, which is a nature preserve created for the purpose of providing an environmentally responsible cemetery. The preserve contains high quality forest in addition to recovering cotton fields. Burials will take place on the preserve for people who desire a chemical-free interment and will be very low density. The plan for the preserve is to maintain low impact visitation and the trails are low maintenance. Structures and roads will be located in already disturbed areas of the preserve. A simple chapel and visitors center are planned. Memorials will take the form of locally appropriate, ecologically functional stones if desired.
Dr. Sandifer commended DNR officers Henry Stackhouse and Angus McBride for their rescue of a teenage girl who had survived a plane crash, in the Francis Marion Forest. Dr. Sandifer also passed around the front page of the Post and Courier, from January 5, 2000, which described the rescue.
A. Conservation Education and Communications
Sonny Baines reported that the CEC Advisory Committee met January 7, in Columbia. The Advisory Committee received reports from the Education Council, the Information and Outreach Committee and Becoming an Outdoors Woman. The Committee also discussed that product sales were up 6% from last year and there has been a small increase in magazine subscriptions. The Committee also discussed the policy pertaining to the criteria and procedures for photo requests from outside entities. Mr. Baines stated that the Committee heard a presentation from BeBe Harrison on SC Reel Kids. Mr. Baines announced that the partnership of the magazine and printer were presented an award for being recognized internationally for the outstanding print graphics and editorial work.
B. Land, Water and Conservation
Dr. Rucker reported that the Land, Water and Conservation Advisory Committee met in conjunction with the SC Association of Conservation Districts Annual Conference on January 7, in Charleston. The Committee heard presentations on several projects, including: work being done by the Charleston Conservation District; the rationale for our appeal to FEMA of their Congaree River floodplain regulations; how riparian buffers and filter strips are used in the Conservation Reserve and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Programs; a summary of data staff are gathering on saltwater movement in the Santee and Savannah Rivers; the Soil and Water Conservation Society's policy statement on land use planning; a climate update - forecasters expect the drought to continue until June of this year. The Committee heard statistics on the rate of urban growth in several areas of the state. The Board may wish to have a presentation on this study at a later date. The committee approved conducting an eligibility study for the Black River to see if it should be made a State Scenic River. The request for this study came from the Williamsburg County Council, Senator McGill and Representative Randolph and others.Chairman Lesesne noted that it would be useful to receive a presentation on the urban growth study in the near future.
Dr. Leary commented that he heard there were over 600 people in attendance at the conference and stated that he felt that was outstanding.
Chairman Lesesne asked Mr. Vang to comment on the status of the drought. Mr. Vang reported that there is a deficiency of rainfall in excess of 20 inches in the Piedmont. As of Wednesday, with the present release strategy and operations of the dam on the Savannah River, Lake Keowee has 10 days of water, this is without any changes in flow. Rainfall in the southern United States will be 70% of normal through June.
C. Law Enforcement
Dr. Leary reported that the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee held a separate meeting prior to the joint meeting with the Marine Advisory Committee. At its earlier meeting, the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee reviewed the diverse activities of the officers. Officers will be assisting SLED and other law enforcement officers with the upcoming Martin Luther King holiday, in addition to their typical activities officers have been making litter cases and assisting in search and rescues for planes. Dr. Leary stated that the hiring process is going smoothly and by January 17, there will be 23 individuals will be ready for training with the remaining 14 beginning March 17. Dr. Leary noted that at the Regional Staff meeting held recently in Pendleton there were complaints heard about Jocassee Gorges. Law enforcement took that seriously and had two saturation patrols, spending 412 hours there in the past month writing 76 cases and 31 warnings. Dr. Lesesne noted that the prior problems in the Francis Marion Forest have been dealt with successfully by law enforcement and they will consider giving back the days taken earlier from dog hunters. Dr. Leary reported that the Committee made one motion that the road hunting bill that has been somewhat diluted in the legislature be re-sent to the legislature in its original form. The Committee received an update on Sunday Hunting and a briefing from Charles Ruth and Paul League on high fences.
Chairman Lesesne stated that while being on the subject it may be appropriate to deal with the legislative issue at this time. Dr. Sandifer reported that at the last meeting of the Board, staff was asked to draft a letter for Chairman Lesesne's signature that would provide information on the road hunting bill. At this time the Board reviewed the draft letter and the proposed legislation. After much discussion about the restriction to paved roads, fines and penalties Mr. McEachin made a motion that the Board approve the letter and bill with the following amendments: delete paved road and insert state or county road, include the word "not" in Section 50-1-91 (2)(c) where it refers to fines and in Section 50-11-760 make the maximum fine consistent at not more than five hundred dollars and also include the revocation of hunting privileges if found in violation of railroad right of way. Ms. Holliday seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
D. Joint Marine and Law Enforcement
Mr. Gregg report that the Marine Advisory Committee and the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee held a joint public meeting to discuss the recommendations from the Ad Hoc Shrimp Baiting Committee. Mr. Gregg proposed that the report of this Ad Hoc Committee be reviewed by the Board by the next meeting and it be placed on the agenda for action. The Joint Committee accepted the report and are waiting for comments of each member of the Ad Hoc Committee. Dr. Miglarese stated that the motion of the Joint Committee was to accept the Ad Hoc committee's report, end Ad Hoc Committee and provide it to the DNR Board for their review and referral to the General Assembly.
Dr. Leary commended the Marine Resources Division staff for their efforts in researching and handling this issue. Dr. Leary also wanted to be sure that the recommendations are reviewed by the Legal Section to be sure there are no problems before being handled as an action item by the Board.
At this time Mr. Chamblee stated that Gordon Stamler, Sea Pines Association for the Protection of Wildlife, is present and had asked for time on the agenda under constituency comment to discuss a depredation permit issued to thin a deer herd at Sea Pines.
Mr. Stamler distributed copies of his statement to the Board (copy of statement attached to the original minutes). Mr. Stamler reported that his presence at this meeting is to contest the permit recently issued to Sea Pines Community Services Associates (CSA) and all other, now expired, permits to kill deer in Sea Pines. Mr. Stamler stated that they have sued DNR and the CSA to protect their esthetic, recreation and conservation interests in the enjoyment of deer in their natural habitat. Mr. Stamler asked the Board to withdraw the new permit until the SC Court of Appeals can rule on the merits of the case, which is scheduled to be heard in April.
Chairman Lesesne stated that since this matter is currently in litigation that Chief Counsel Buford Mabry may want to speak on the Board's behalf. Mr. Mabry stated that this argument will probably be presented at 11:00 a.m. this morning to the Circuit Court in Richland County. Yesterday afternoon the Sea Pines Association for the Protection of Wildlife filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on the recently issued deer depredation permit. Mr. Mabry outlined the levels of legal process governing and recommended that the Board accept Mr. Stamler's comments as information and continue their meeting.
Mr. Gregg asked questions about the process of issuing a permit and what avenues are available for public input. Derrell Shipes addressed Mr. Gregg's questions.
Mr. Stamler asked for an opportunity to respond to Mr. Shipes' comments and was granted his request.
Dr. Leary asked that since this matter is currently in litigation wouldn't it be more appropriate to discuss this in Executive Session.
Mr. McEachin made a motion that the Board accept Mr. Stamler's comments as information and move on with the other items on the agenda. Mr. Gregg seconded the motion and also suggested that the Board review the policy on the depredation program to be sure there is public input on the applications and also be sure that the facts, such as numbers, are verified by DNR experts or independent experts. Dr. Sandifer respectfully disagreed with Mr. Gregg's suggestion and asked that this matter be discussed in Executive Session. Ms. Holliday asked that if the court grants the temporary restraining order would it affect the eliminating of deer on a certain time frame. Dr. Sandifer stated that it would and he is willing to discuss the specifics in Executive Session. Mr. Stamler offered more comments at this time. Dr. Leary called the question on the motion. There being no opposition to the calling of the question the motion carried unanimously.
A. Women in Natural Resources Committee Survey
Chairman Lesesne asked Linda Renshaw to present to the Board the Women in Natural Resources Committee Survey Report. Ms. Renshaw reviewed the history for the formation of the Committee and described the process taken to compile this survey. Ms. Renshaw and Ms. Mary Jo Clise then presented the findings of this survey (copy of report attached to original minutes). Dr. Sandifer thanked the Committee for their efforts and the Board will receive progress reports.
B. Affirmative Action Efforts by DNR
Chairman Lesesne asked Jean Cowell to present to the Board the Affirmative Action Efforts by DNR. Ms. Cowell reported that each year the Department files a report with the Human Affairs Commission. This report is submitted to the General Assembly each year and the Human Affairs Commission evaluates efforts towards reaching goals. Based upon the evaluation, potentially, the legislature could withhold funding. Failure to reach 75% of any goal requires written justification. Ms. Cowell referred to a copy of the report placed at each member's seat. The Agency has reached 72.4% of its overall goals.
C. Youth and Fish in South Carolina, a Survey Report
Chairman Lesesne asked Gene Hayes and BeBe Harrison to present the report on the Youth and Fish in South Carolina survey. Mr. Hayes noted that the Freshwater Fisheries Section spends approximately 1/3 of its annual budget each year on survey and inventory of freshwater fish and their habitat. In recent years it has been recognized that there is much needed assessment of human dimension aspect of sport fisheries as well as biological assessment. In 1990 and 1998 a survey was conducted of all licensed anglers, the findings were used to develop new programs and fine tune existing programs. One of the new initiatives resulting from this is the aquatic education program Reel Kids, however, the 1990 survey only target anglers of licensed age, therefore there is little information to guide the aquatic education program. During the 1998 survey, Responsive Management was contracted to conduct youth focus groups throughout the state.
BeBe Harrison presented the findings of the focus groups. One of the findings was that children would go fishing if invited. It was also found that younger children's focus was keeping the fish while children of middle school age are more interested in the naturalist aspect of fishing. The larger issue with children of high school age is retention in the sport. Another finding is that urban residents are receptive to programs that provide information as well as fishing equipment. The aquatic education program has been tailored toward these issues by using the results of the focus groups. Ms. Harrison then reviewed the activities of the SC Reel Kids program. This is much like a scouting program as it has rewards for meeting goals, but involves the family.
IX. Items for Board Action
A. Middle Saluda Fish Kill Report
Chairman Lesesne asked Dan Rankin to present the Middle Saluda Fish Kill Report. Mr. Rankin reported that there was a fish kill on the Middle Saluda River in September. This was reported to DHEC initially and it was found that there was a substantial number of fish impacted. After the Department was contacted they found approximately ½ mile of the Middle Saluda impacted by the event and conducted a complete pick up of all the dead fish and enumerated those fish based on their size. The cause is thought to be concrete poured in the stream at a bridge construction site. The estimated amount of fish lost is 524 representing 14 species. The American Fisheries Society guidelines for replacement and restitution of the fish and DNR manpower costs to investigate and follow through with this report is $1,497.38. Discussion of this item will take place in Executive Session.
B. Heritage Preserve Management Plans
1. Brasstown Creek
Tom Kohlsaat reviewed the proposed management plan for Brasstown Creek (plan is attached to original minutes). Dr. Rucker made a motion that the Board approve the proposed management plan for Brasstown Creek. Ms. Holliday seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
2. Cathedral Bay
Johnny Stowe reviewed the proposed management plan for Cathedral Bay (plan is attached to original minutes). Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board accept the proposed management plan for Cathedral Bay. Dr. Rucker seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
3. Little Pee Dee River
Jamie Dozier reviewed the proposed management plan for Little Pee Dee River (plan is attached to original minutes). Ms. Holliday made a motion that the Board accept the proposed management plan for Little Pee Dee River. Mr. McEachin seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
C. Continuation of Hearing - Carter vs. SC DNR and Edmondson vs. SC DNR -
This item was deferred to Executive Session.
X. Director's Briefings
A. Executive Office
Dr. Sandifer welcomed Mr. Chamblee back after his recent heart attack.
Dr. Sandifer noted that he has asked the Office of Human Resources to study employee actions during the past two years. The Department has been able to use existing funds, funds from retiring personnel at higher pay, to give some type of raise to 39% of Department employees.
Dr. Sandifer stated that DNR is very near to finalizing an agreement with three other law enforcement agencies to continue the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Program.
Dr. Sandifer asked Benny Reeves to present the Governor's Budget Recommendations. Mr. Reeves distributed copies of the Governor's recommendation to the General Assembly. This is the first step in the budget process.
Dr. Sandifer informed the Board that John Frampton will be leading the Department's habitat conservation/open spaces effort.
Dr. Sandifer announced that the next Regional Staff Meeting will be held January 31, 2000, at the Clinton House in Clinton, beginning at 3:00 p.m.
Dr. Sandifer noted that the Environmental Awareness Award Ceremony will be held February 1, 2000, at 10:30 a.m.
Dr. Sandifer stated that the IAFWA Federal budget briefing will be held February 14-15, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Sandifer informed the Board that a legislative reception will be held February 15, at the State Museum, beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Dr. Sandifer distributed a request he received from the Governor's Summit on Growth: New Choices for South Carolina. This will be held March 26-27, in Greenville. The Palmetto Conservation Foundation is serving as the agent to put together and facilitate the conference. PCF is requesting that DNR contribute $10,000 for this conference. Dr. Sandifer stated that he felt DNR could contribute $5,000 to $7,000. Mr. Reeves said he would clarify the legality of spending state funds on this conference. Mr. Gregg made a motion that DNR make a contribution of $5,000 - $10,000 towards this effort, after legalities have been researched. Ms. Holliday seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
B. Deputy Directors' Reports
1. Conservation Education and Communications - Nothing further to report.
2. Marine - Dr. Miglarese reported that there will be no heat or air conditioning at the Marine Resources Division, therefore, the February Board meeting will need to be held at another facility.
3. Land, Water and Conservation - Mr. Vang reported that the conservation districts unanimously supported the Department's budget. Mr. Vang stated that there would be a series of what is agriculture shows on ETV. Mr. Vang noted that a report has been given to the Governor and this report will be the basis for the forum that will be held on ETV Tuesday, January 18. The next part of the process will be held on February, 18, this will be the Governor's Summit on Agriculture to be held in Columbia.
4. Administrative Services - Nothing further to report.
5. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries - Mr. McTeer reported that meeting notices on the high fence issue have been mailed. Mr. McTeer informed the Board that the meeting dates are scheduled as follows: February 1, Greenwood; February 7, Florence; February 8, Columbia and February 10, Moncks Corner.
6. Law Enforcement - Nothing further to report.
XI. Board Member Comments
Ms. Holliday commented that she would like to see the Rules and Regulations simplified and other publications reworked to clearly state the point system and contact phone numbers by the beginning of hunting season next year.
At this time, Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board hold an Executive Session to discuss legal, contractual and personnel matters. Dr. Rucker seconded the motion and the motion passed unanimously.
Following the Executive Session, the regular meeting was resumed and participants were invited into the meeting.
Mr. McEachin made a motion in connection with the appeal of the case of Joseph Carter vs. SC DNR and Edward Edmondson vs. SC DNR, that the appellants appeal be granted on the basis that the DNR was equitably estopped from assessing more than 14 points against each of these appellants hunting privileges. The reason being that the personnel of the DNR had an apparent authority to represent to Mr. Carter and Mr. Edmondson that there would be a 10 point violation for hunting over bait and only a 4 point violation for shooting waterfowl with lead shot in possession. Ms. Holliday seconded the motion. The vote was 3-2 in favor of the motion with Mr. McEachin, Holliday and Mr. Gregg voting in favor and Dr. Leary and Dr. Rucker voting in opposition. A written Order to this effect will be filed within 15 days.
XIII. Executive Session
At this time, Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board go back into Executive Session to discuss legal, contractual and personnel matters. Dr. Rucker seconded the motion and the motion passed unanimously.
RETURN TO REGULAR SESSION
Following the Executive Session, the regular meeting was resumed and participants were invited into the meeting.
Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board approve the following appointment to the Marine Advisory Committee - Terry Murray from Beaufort, SC. Mr. Gregg seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board approve the following conservation district appointments: Mr. Joseph Stogsdill and Charles Gaston. Mr. McEachin seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board approve the Middle Saluda River Fish Kill Report in regard to assessment of damages as it was presented. Mr. Gregg seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
XIV. Time and Location of the Next Meeting
Chairman Lesesne stated that the next meeting of the DNR Board will be held on Friday, February 18, 2000, at a designated location in Charleston.
There being no further business to be brought before the DNR Board at this time, the meeting was adjourned.