MINUTES

BOARD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Ramada Plaza Hotel

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Friday, February 19, 1999

10:00 a.m.

 

The regular meeting of the Board of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, February 19, 1999, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Fort Mill, South Carolina. Notice of the date, time and place of the meeting was posted and mailed to the news media. Dr. George Graham presided at the meeting. Board Members present included Tommy Miller, Marion Burnside, Campbell Coxe, Edwin Oxner, Mary Pope Waring and Edward Lee. Dr. Paul A. Sandifer and staff members of the Department of Natural Resources were present at the meeting as were various guests.

 

I. Call to Order

Chairman Graham called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m. and welcomed everyone to the meeting.

 

II. Meditation

Chairman Graham asked for a moment of silent meditation.

 

III. Introduction of Guests

Chairman Graham introduced Thomas Spratt, representing Governor Hodges, and Mr. Spratt's father.

 

IV. Constituency Comments

Chairman Graham stated that there were two constituents that have asked to be on the agenda for comments, Ed Fitzgerald representing the SC Sierra Club and Bob Bailey of the Sportsmen's Coalition.

Chairman Graham welcomed the constituents and asked Mr. Fitzgerald to speak to the Board. Mr. Fitzgerald addressed the Board with regard to the Santee Coastal Reserve. Mr. Fitzgerald stated that their request is to defer any decision on the plan and also no vote be taken until the Sierra Club and other interested groups and individuals receive copies of the complete management plan, including the plan for the management of the longleaf pine ecosystem. He also requested that at least one public hearing be held at a location near the Reserve.

Chairman Graham asked Mr. Bailey to address the Board. Mr. Bailey also addressed the Board with regard to the Santee Coastal Reserve. Mr. Bailey stated that they are supportive of the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee's recommendation regarding the plan.

Chairman Graham stated that he had two items of correspondence that he wanted to present. The first being from Director Emeritus, Dr. James Timmerman, thanking the Board for the honor bestowed by the Board in naming the Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges in his honor.

The second correspondence being from Don Hammond expressing appreciation to the Board for his Distinguished Service Award.

Chairman Graham stated that he has also tried to respond to all the letters he's received from the residents around Lake Murray concerning the waterfowl hunting issue.

 

V. Approval of Minutes

Chairman Graham asked if there were any corrections or additions to the minutes of the January 15, 1999, meeting. There being no corrections or additions, Mr. Miller made a motion that the minutes of the January 15, 1999, meeting be accepted as mailed. Mr. Lee seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

 

VI. Presentations/Commendations

Dr. Sandifer announced the following awards that were presented by the National Wild Turkey Federation. David Baughman received an award from the State Chapter for his outstanding service and leadership. Captain David Yougue and Law Enforcement District 7 were recognized for their outstanding contributions in relation to enforcement and wildlife conservation by the State Chapter. Dr. Sandifer called attention to a bronze sculpture on display in the room and stated that this is a sculpture of three generations of turkey hunters. This piece will be developed into larger than life size and placed in front of the National Wild Turkey Federation Headquarters, in Edgefield, in the year 2000. There are 50 of this limited edition sculptures that have been made available by the NWTF, they auctioned off number one and presented number two to the Department on behalf of the State Chapter of NWTF for all the efforts done together as partners of conservation in the state.

 

VII. Advisory Committee Reports

A. Conservation Education and Communication

Mr. Burnside reported that the Advisory Committee received a report on magazine product sales, product sales were down but magazine sales are up. Mr. Burnside stated that Richard Peterson is scheduled to give a report from the CEC Education Subcommittee. Dr. Sandifer noted that Mr. Peterson will be attending the meeting but will be late in arriving. Mr. Burnside stated that the Committee also received a report on the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic.

B. Land, Water and Conservation

Freddy Vang reviewed several items that were discussed at the Advisory Committee meeting held at Myrtle Beach. Mr. Vang reported that the present use of water in the State of South Carolina is six billion gallons per day. Mr. Vang stated that it will be an interesting year relative to the hurricane season. Mr. Vang noted that the Southeastern Association of Conservation Districts will be having their annual meeting in Charleston on July 30 - August 3, 1999, at Charleston Place and immediately following will be the Regional Climatologists meeting. Mr. Vang reported that the Reedy River kick off meeting was held in Greenville. Mr. Vang stated that the Land Trust Network is having regular meetings and Mrs. Waring is now the Chair. Mr. Vang reported that March 16, is still the target date for conservation districts to host the members of the General Assembly.

C. Heritage Trust

Mr. Lee reported that the Heritage Trust Advisory Board met on February 4, in Columbia. At this meeting they voted to approve a proposal to pursue the protection of 168 acres on Croft Mill Tract and to pursue the protection of Bay Point Island. This approval is granting approval to Heritage Trust to proceed with investigating whether, in fact, those are properties that can be bought and how much they will cost. Mr. Lee stated that the Advisory Board approved the Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve Management Plan. Also approved was a 51-acre Carolina Bay in Barnwell County referred to as Long Branch Bay. This property will be donated and the acquisition cost may be in the range of $5,500. The Advisory Board approved the purchase a 6-acre addition to the Henderson Heritage Preserve, for approximately $17,000. The Advisory Board approved a $300,000 capital improvement for heritage preserves to pursue the management on these properties.

D. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Mr. Coxe reported that the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee met on February 11, in Columbia. There were several constituency comments from residents in the Lake Murray area concerning problems they are having with waterfowl hunting. Ed Muckenfuss will chair a committee to address this issue. The committee will consist of conservation groups and residents. Mr. Coxe stated that the Advisory Committee was updated on legislation and the proposed Yadkin-Pee Dee Ecosystem Restoration Project. Presentations were made regarding Teaming With Wildlife and the proposed fish pond stocking. Mr. Coxe reported that the Advisory Committee took action on the proposed Management Plan for Santee Coastal Reserve. The Advisory Committee is making the following recommendation to the Board for adoption, "1) It is recommended that the SC DNR Board adopt the habitat management and public access use plan and instruct staff to work with The Nature Conservancy to obtain the approval of these revised documents. 2)We recommend that the SC DNR Board adopt the 1999-2000 public hunting plan. Recommendations include plans to charge $50.00 for waterfowl hunt fee and conduct selection of hunters under the existing public waterfowl drawn system. 3)We recommend that the SC DNR Board approve expenditures of carry over duck stamp funds to purchase new equipment to start up the waterfowl hunt as approved." This was approved unanimously by the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee. The other action item was regulation changes on DNR public lakes.

E. Law Enforcement and Marine

Mr. Miller reported that the Law Enforcement and Marine Advisory Committees had a joint meeting on February 11, in Charleston. Mr. Miller stated that Maj. Taylor and Corporal Frampton presented the proposed Coastal Watch Program, the goal is to have this program in place by July. Maj. Taylor also gave a report on the joint agreement with NMFS, through this agreement five additional officers have been hired. Col. Wright and Maj. Taylor announced two promotions in District 9, Capt. McClellan and Lt. Thomas. Sgt. Walters gave a presentation on the Manpower Assessment. Capt. McClellan reported that officers spent 4,075 hours, during the 60-day season, patrolling shrimp baiting activity.

Mrs. Waring reported that the Marine Advisory Committee has had several requests to consider on shrimp baiting issues. These include alleged commercialization of the shrimp bait resource and over harvesting. The staff of Marine Resources Division and Law Enforcement Division gave an overview of the issues on enforcement of the laws, shrimp baiting in other southeastern states, the shrimp fishery, and also the impact to water quality. Mrs. Waring stated that John Miglarese summarized the issues and explained that the data indicate that there are no biological resource issues that warrant curtailing or banning shrimp baiting activities. The staff has proposed a study to examine attitudes, opinions and concerns. Also, the commercial shrimpers noted that they have been impacted severely from the increases of shrimp baiting and they would like to see an economic impact study. A motion was made and carried unanimously by the Marine Advisory Committee and the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee to form an ad hoc committee on shrimp baiting to consider the social and economic impacts. It will be done by staff over the next six to eight months. The motion included appointing this committee by July 1, 1999, comprised of representatives from the commercial industry, recreational shrimping interests, Marine Advisory Committee and Law Enforcement Committee members, the environmental sector, marine biologists, natural resource law enforcement officers and members from the general public.

F. Conservation Education and Communications

Richard Peterson presented and reviewed the recommendations of the CEC Education Subcommittee regarding DNR educational programs (copy attached to original minutes).

 

VIII. Items for Board Information

A. Report from the Catawba River Corridor Plan's Implementation Committee

Tom Kohlsaat introduced Lindsay Pettus, President of the Katawba Valley Land Trust; Murray White, President of the Nations Ford Land Trust; and Paul Gettys, representing the Catawba Regional Planning Council. Mr. Gettys, Mr. Pettus and Mr. White each gave a brief presentation regarding the charge of the committee, the actions of the committee and successes of the Catawba and Nations Ford Land Trusts.

B. Catawba River Resource Planning Process

Breck Carmichael introduced John Garton and Bill McCabe of Duke Power. Mr. Garton reviewed the Catawba River Planning Process.

C. Location of Charleston Bump in Relation to Offshore Fisheries

Dr. George Sedberry reviewed the location of the Charleston Bump in Relation to Offshore Fisheries. Dr. Sedberry explained where the Bump is located, its characteristics and its impact on offshore fisheries.

 

IX. Items for Board Action

A. Proposed Management Plan for Santee Coastal Reserve

Dr. Graham noted for the record that the Board has received requests to postpone a final vote until a final overall management plan including forestry, hunting, site management, property management and financial plan is completed, hopefully, by the March meeting.

Requests have been received from three Senators that final action on this proposal not be taken today and certainly we would like to honor the request of those Senators. In addition, a request was presented this morning from the Sierra Club that this be delayed; also, a faxed letter from the SC Center for Birds of Prey, Mr. James Elliott requesting that this be read into the record. "This letter is not any opposition to the plan but he is merely requesting that any final decision and policies be delayed until sufficient opportunity for those who most appreciate the Santee Coastal Reserve are given the chance to participate in determining its future. I appreciate the opportunity to make this request and ask that it be read into the record and shared with the other commissioners. If I can be of any assistance in this matter, I trust that you will not hesitate to contact me."

Dr. Graham stated that he would like to proceed, knowing that there is some difference of opinion among the Board. He would like to see this management plan for the Santee Coastal Reserve in draft form carried forward to the next Board meeting.

Brock Conrad stated that Derrell Shipes has been working with Tommy Strange on the management plan and he has some overheads he would like to show and Tommy can answer any questions the Board would like to direct to him. Mr. Conrad also stated that the draft forest management plan is not ready for approval. Dr. Graham asked if it would be in the package for the next Board meeting along with the overall, comprehensive plan so that they can be put before the Board at one time. Mr. Conrad stated he thought that may be possible. Dr. Graham asked that this be expedited.

Dr. Graham asked that staff make their presentation of the proposed management plan for waterfowl that was presented to the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee. The staff recommendations were passed unanimously by that Advisory Committee last Thursday.

Derrell Shipes presented the proposed management plan to the Board and answered questions posed by Board Members.

Mr. Miller made a motion to approve the Santee Coastal Reserve Management Plan as presented by staff conceptually with the following fundamentals to be incorporated into the final plan. These fundamentals being:

1. A more clear and concise understanding of costs and expenses as well as a better understanding of the sources of funds; a proviso that no new appropriated monies be used in managing waterfowl hunting within the Reserve.

2. More consideration will be given to further reducing hunting pressure and disturbance on the waterfowl resource. If as referred to in number 1 of this motion, ample funds are not readily available to defray the waterfowl hunting costs, then the area to be hunted should be reduced until it fits into a reasonable budget. Until these areas not being hunted can be adequately funded, they shall be refuges.

3. No proviso will be made to allow renting or leasing of any portion of the Reserve to private interests for any purpose.

He stated that time is of the essence and to make sure that before our next meeting that the Board members have plenty of time to go over this plan. Copies should also be sent to The Nature Conservancy, Senate Finance Committee, Senate Fish, Game and Forestry, as well as any other concerned citizens, and interested legislators.

Mr. Burnside seconded the motion.

Mrs. Waring expressed her concerns and reservations on the proposed public use plan. Major points in her discussion was the need for broader public access to the property.

After lengthy discussion, Chairman Graham called for the vote. Mr. Coxe, Mr. Burnside, Mr. Miller and Mr. Lee vote in favor of the motion with Mrs. Waring and Mr. Oxner voting against the motion. The motion carried.

Mr. Oxner expressed his concerns of the proposed plan (written comments provided by Mr. Oxner are attached to original minutes). Much of his concerns related to financial matters.

At this time, there was more discussion on various points of the plan such as facilities maintenance which Chairman Graham instructed staff to include in the revised plan to be presented to the Board in March.

Chairman Graham stated that to address one of Mr. Oxner's points, Mr. Miller had another proviso that staff would have the latitude to add a surcharge to the normal $50.00 fee if deemed necessary in formulating the plan. Chairman Graham asked if anyone on the Board had an objection to include this. There were no objections.

Mrs. Waring stated that the entire public should be addressed in the Public Use and Access plan.

Mrs. Waring made a motion that a public hearing be held prior to the next meeting. Mr. Coxe seconded the motion. Mrs. Waring, Mr. Coxe and Mr. Oxner voted in favor of the motion with Mr. Burnside, Mr. Miller, Mr. Lee and Chairman Graham voted against the motion. Motion failed.

B. Proposed Regulations for State Lakes

Mac Watson reviewed the proposed regulation changes for three of the Department's public fishing lakes. There were no objections to the proposed regulation changes for Lake Oliphant in Chester County and no changes to the proposed regulation changes for Mountain Lake in Chester County. Mr. Watson then reviewed and answered questions concerning Lake Wallace.

Mrs. Waring made a motion that the Board disapprove the request for a special permit to allow the use of alcohol on Lake Wallace. Mr. Coxe seconded the motion. Mr. Miller abstained. The motion carried.

Mr. Coxe made a motion that the Board accept the staff recommendation to close a portion of Lake Wallace for this special activity on May 1, 1999, for use by the Chamber of Commerce of Bennettsville to conduct a water ski show. Mr. Miller seconded the motion and the motion carried.

 

X. Items for Board Information

A. Private Ponds Fish Stocking Program Customer Survey

Mr. Watson reviewed the results of the Private Ponds Fish Stocking Program Customer Survey.

XI. Director's Briefings

A. Executive Office

1. Director

Dr. Sandifer stated that he, Benny Reeves and David Hegler made a presentation to the House Ways and Means Committee in January and will make a presentation to the Senate Finance Committee in March.

Dr. Sandifer noted that Governor Hodges participated in the Environmental Awareness Awards by presenting the award to Yancey McLeod.

Dr. Sandifer informed the Board that Governor Hodges has signed an Executive Order creating the Natural Resources Policy Council.

Dr. Sandifer reminded Board Members that their Economic Interest Forms are due to the Ethics Commission by April 15, 1999.

Dr. Sandifer informed the Board of the upcoming Legislative Event at the State Museum on Tuesday, February 23, from 5:00 - 7:30 p.m.

2. Legal

Buford Mabry stated that he had three legal issues for Executive Session.

3. Legislative

Billy McTeer reported that the Boating Safety bill has passed subcommittee and is going to full committee on March 3.

Mr. McTeer stated that the Chapter 5 rewrite is being proofed at Legislative Council. Representative Witherspoon has agreed to introduce the bill.

Mr. McTeer reported that the Dolphin bill passed the Senate this week and is going to the House.

Mr. McTeer stated that Representative Witherspoon is supportive of a Habitat Passport. Representative Witherspoon introduced a bill that the Department had some concerns with and has decided to take the Department's proposal and substitute it in its entirety.

4. Human Resources

Jean Cowell stated she had nothing to report

B. Deputy Directors

1. Marine Resources

Dr. Sandifer reported that the Department had received a good review from NOAA's national office regarding our Estaurine Research Reserve portion of the ACE Basin.

2. Land, Water and Conservation

Mr. Vang stated he had nothing further to report.

3. Administrative Services

Dr. Sandifer stated that there is no report.

4. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Brock Conrad recognized Naomi Bridges as the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division Outstanding Employee of the Year.

5. Law Enforcement

Col. Wright distributed the Property Watch Program brochure.

6. Conservation Education and Communications

Sonny Baines stated he had nothing to report.

 

XII. Executive Session

At this time, Mr. Lee made a motion that the Board hold an Executive Session to discuss conservation district commissioner appointments/reappointments, advisory committee appointments, contractual matters, legal briefing and personnel matters. Mr. Miller seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

 

RETURN TO REGULAR SESSION

Following the Executive Session, the regular meeting was resumed and participants were invited into the meeting.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board approve staffs recommendation to appoint as conservation district commissioners Charlton Watt and W. D. Harrington, from Clarendon - District 6, and also approve as commissioner emeritus, Harold H. Harvey, Jr., from Berkeley - District 6. Mr. Lee seconded the motion and the motion carried.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board approve staff recommendations to appoint to the Land, Water and Conservation Advisory Committee Dr. Nadim Aziz to replace Dr. Earl Hayter. Mr. Coxe seconded the motion and the motion carried.

Mr. Coxe made a motion that the Board reappoint Ed Muckenfuss to the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee with his term being September 30, 1998 through September 30, 2002. Mr. Lee seconded the motion and the motion carried.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board name to two retired DNR officers, Robert Snipes and Bobby Joe Smith, as Honorary Lieutenant Colonel for outstanding service to the Department and also the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel be awarded to George Hines with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for outstanding service in protection of our State's wildlife. Mrs. Waring seconded the motion and the motion carried.

 

XIII. Time and Location of the Next Meeting

Chairman Graham stated that the next meeting of the DNR Board will be held on Friday, March 26, 1999, at 10:30 a.m., at the Dennis Building in Columbia, South Carolina.

 

XIV. Adjournment

There being no further business to be brought before the DNR Board at this time, the meeting was adjourned.