MINUTES

BOARD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Rosewood's - State Fairgrounds
Columbia, South Carolina

Friday, March 24, 2000
9:00 a.m.


The regular meeting of the Board of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was held at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, March 24, 2000, at Rosewood's, Columbia, South Carolina. Notice of the date, time and place of the meeting was posted and mailed to the news media. Chairman Dr. Joab Lesesne presided at the meeting. Board Members present included Danny Ford, Ben Gregg, Russell Holliday, Dr. Julius Leary, Malloy McEachin and Dr. Douglas Rucker. 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 Lesesne called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. and welcomed everyone to the meeting.


II. Meditation

Chairman Lesesne asked for a moment of silent meditation.


III. Introduction of Guests

Cary Chamblee introduced the following guests: Pat Robertson, Outdoor Writer with State Newspaper; and Bob Bailey, Executive Director of the SC Sportsmen's Coalition.


IV. Constituency Comments

Mr. Chamblee stated that there two requests for constituency comment made in advance by Chip Sharpe and Ken Kinard. Mr. Sharpe=s comments were directed toward agency operations (copy of comments attached to original minutes). Mr. Kinard spoke in support of H 3782 (provides for State Tax Credit for Donated Easements). Mr. Kinard asked Mark Robertson, Executive Director of the South Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, to address the Board. Mr. Robertson explained that this bill would provide additional incentives to landowners to donate conservation easements. This bill would create a state income tax credit for landowners donating easements that meet strict guidelines. Mr. Robertson was seeking the support of the Board for this bill. Mr. Gregg made a motion that the Board endorse the concept of the bill and include it in the Department's legislative priorities. Ms. Holliday seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.


V. Approval of Minutes

Chairman Lesesne asked if there were any corrections or additions to the minutes of the February 18, 2000, meeting. Ms. Holliday made a motion that the minutes of the February 18, 2000, meeting be approved as presented. Dr. Rucker seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.


VI. Presentations/Commendations

Dr. Sandifer stated that the Reel Kids fishing and fishing art program was launched this morning. Reel Kids introduces ages K-12 to aquatic resources and the importance of maintaining water quality in the state. Dr. Sandifer commended Bebe Harrison for her efforts in this program.

Dr. Sandifer announced that the largest class of law enforcement officers in the agency's history is graduating from the Criminal Justice Academy this morning.


VII. Advisory Committee Reports

A. Land, Water and Conservation

Dr. Rucker reported that the Land, Water and Conservation Advisory Committee met Tuesday, March 14, 2000. The Committee received presentations on several programs including the aquatic nuisance species program. The aquatic plant management plan for 2000 has been approved by the Council and 38 comments were received during the public review period. This year, 18 public water bodies will be treated for nuisance aquatic plants at a cost of approximately $595,000. Also, the Committee received an overview of the activities of the Berkeley Soil and Water Conservation District. Dr. Rucker stated that this was a very interesting presentation and recommended that conservation districts from various areas of the State be invited to report on their activities at future Board meetings, especially the Berkeley Conservation District. Dr. Rucker noted that the Committee received a climate and drought status update. Dr. Rucker reported that the Governor's Summit on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held March 13, 2000, with approximately 200 individuals in attendance. Dr. Rucker stated that the Committee also received an update on the Reedy River Project.


B. Law Enforcement

Dr. Leary reported that the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee met March 15, 2000, at District 4 in Ridgeland. Dr. Leary noted that the Law Enforcement Division continues to be involved in more than just law enforcement, they have been attending continuing education courses on hunting accident investigation, DLEO training, supervisor training, physical fitness programs and project readiness and hurricane disaster planning. Dr. Leary reported that Major Taylor went to Washington, DC, to meet with Senator Hollings with regard to the Coastal Enforcement Grant, it is hoped that this funding will become permanent. Dr. Leary stated that the Committee received a presentation on lease versus purchase of vehicles and gasoline versus diesel. The study indicated that the current policy of purchasing vehicles is more economical as well as continuing to use gasoline engines. Dr. Leary announced that South Carolina will be participating in a pilot with the Wildlife Crime Information Center (WCIC). This program is an interconnection between state's for wildlife offenses. South Carolina and New Hampshire are the pilot states for this program.


C. Marine

Mr. Gregg reported that the Marine Advisory Committee met February 25, 2000. Mr. Gregg stated that the Committee received comments from Capt. Perry Hall and Dr. Randy Cross, of Beaufort, about their concerns with dirt causeways blocking the flow of water in the saltwater estuaries. Capt. Hall and Dr. Cross have invited the Marine Advisory Committee to Beaufort to see the problems. Dr. Holland and David Whitaker are following up on this concern. Mr. Gregg reported that Dr. Holland discussed the Marine Environmental Health Research Laboratory which will link human health issues with environmental conditions. Mr. Gregg noted that David Whitaker presented a habitat protection update. Mr. Whitaker informed the Committee that the recommendations and report of the Task Force on Riparian Buffers will be complete this summer. Mr. Gregg announced that the billfish tag and release rate through the Governor's Cup has increased from 10% during its first year to 97%.

VIII. Items for Board Action

A. Lake Hartwell Event Type Facility

Chairman Lesesne asked Cary Chamblee to facilitate the introduction of constituents wishing to address the Lake Hartwell Event Type Boating Access Facility item on the agenda.

Mr. Chamblee gave some introductory comments which reviewed the background of this topic.

Mr. Chamblee introduced Gary Beatty, Concerned Citizens for Lake Hartwell. Mr. Beatty reviewed the information that had previously been sent to the Board (copy of information attached to original minutes). The Concerned citizens for Lake Hartwell opposes an event type facility being built on Apple Island.

Mr. Chamblee introduced Linda McConnell, President of the Anderson County Development Partnership. Ms. McConnell reviewed the information that had previously been sent to the Board (copy of information attached to original minutes). The Anderson County Development Partnership supports and event type facility being built on Apple Island.

Mr. Chamblee introduced John Geer, Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Geer distributed copies of his comments to the Board. Mr. Geer stated that the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce is in support of an event ramp and feel that the chosen event site is Apple Island.

Mr. Chamblee introduced Dave Loudin, Chairman of the Apple Island event Site Steering Committee. Mr. Loudin presented reviewed the information that had previously been sent to the Board (copy of information attached to original minutes). Mr. Loudin asked the Board to endorse the direction taken by the prior Board to build a major boating facility on Lake Hartwell and direct the engineering professionals of DNR in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers review all the data pertinent to the site selection process and present a proposal for the best location to the Anderson County Legislative Delegation a lease request for the site from the Corps and the scheduling of public hearings for final site approval and initiation of the funding process. Mr. Loudin also distributed copies of a petition of signatures of individuals who support the construction of a boating facility on Lake Hartwell.

Mr. Chamblee asked Representative Martin if she had any comments on the topic. Representative Martin stated that she supports the development of a facility on Lake Hartwell and would give her support to whatever decision the Board makes.

Mr. Chamblee asked Senator Bob Waldrep if he had any comments on the topic. Senator Waldrep indicated that he would like to have a boating facility on Lake Hartwell in Anderson County but would like for the Board to consider all the concerns and recommendations heard today.

At this time Board members asked questions of the represented groups.

Mr. Ford made the following motion "that the Board endorse the concept of the development of a major boating facility on Lake Hartwell in Anderson County, further, I would like to ask the staff to continue to review the issues, analyze the data that has been presented today and come back to this Board with a final staff recommendation on the location and the design for this facility. This should be done as soon as possible." Ms. Holliday seconded the motion. Dr. Leary suggested that a deadline be set for this recommendation. Chairman Lesesne suggested that the report be submitted to the Board not later than the June meeting but prefer that it be submitted by the May meeting. Mr. Ford and Ms. Holliday accepted the amendment. The motion carried unanimously.


IX. Items for Board Information

A. Impacts of Lexington Toxic Spill

Chairman Lesesne asked Val Nash to update the Board on the impacts of the Lexington toxic spill. Mr. Nash stated that since this is primarily a DHEC investigation at this time Butch Younginer and Joe Rucker, of DHEC, will report on their findings to date. Mr. Rucker informed the Board that the toxic release and fish kill at Crystal Lake and Red Bank Creek has been the most catastrophic event in a surface water body in the Midlands in his 26 years with DHEC. Mr. Rucker reviewed a time line of DHEC's involvement. DHEC received the initial notification of the fish kill was February 12, indications are that the release may have been happening previously by as much as two weeks. Mr. Rucker informed the Board that the toxic compounds have not been identified at this time. EPA has been contacted and has sent a consultant to assist in the investigation. Mr. Rucker reported that an emergency order has been issued prohibiting fishing, swimming, and use of the water for serving livestock and pets. Mr. Rucker then answered several questions posed by Board members.

At this time Mr. Younginer updated the Board on several monitoring methods being used.

Mr. Nash reviewed the responsibilities of DNR, first as a landowner and secondly to evaluate the natural resource and aquatic resource damage. Mr. Nash stated that the Department was fortunate that one of the pumps at the Campbell Fish Hatchery was broken so no water was pumped into the hatchery while the material was going downstream. Several activities that were to be held at the hatchery have been canceled. Mr. Nash reported that emergency contracts have been processed for wells to be placed at the hatchery. At this time no toxins have been found in water from private drinking wells.


B. Update on Ad Hoc Advisory Board High Fence Committee

Chairman Lesesne thanked John Jernigan and other ad hoc committee members involved in the public hearings to study the subject of high fences for deer. Mr. Jernigan distributed and reviewed copies of the report from the ad hoc committee (copy of report attached to the original minutes).

Billy McTeer also thanked Mr. Jernigan for his efforts. Mr. McTeer read a draft letter to be sent to the General Assembly (copy of letter attached to the original minutes). Mr. McEachin suggested that the Board take a strong position of opposition to high fences. Mr. McEachin made a motion that the message from the Board to the Members of the General Assembly be the first and third paragraph of the letter from Mr. McTeer and Col. Wright while striking the second paragraph and change the statement from staff to DNR Board. Mr. Ford seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.


X. Items for Board Action

A. Heritage Trust Property Acquisitions

Chairman Lesesne stated that this item will be dealt with in Executive Session.

B. 2000 Shrimp Trawl Season

John Miglarese requested the Board's approval to set the 2000 Shrimp Trawl Season. Mr. Gregg made a motion to authorize the Marine Resources Division to open the 2000 spring commercial shrimp trawling season on or after May 15, 2000, based upon sampling data and following notification of the DNR Board by telephone and also adjust the season on brown shrimp as required if necessary. Mr. Ford seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.


XI. Director's Briefings

A. Executive Office

1. Director

Dr. Sandifer thanked the Board and staff for their support during the illness and passing away of Betty's mother.

Dr. Sandifer reported that he attended the National Wild Turkey Federation annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee, February 24-27.

Dr. Sandifer informed the Board that John Frampton and Tom Kohlsaat represented DNR at the CARA Rally held in Washington, DC on February 29-March 2.

Dr. Sandifer attended the Governor's Summit on Agriculture and Natural Resources held at the State Museum on March 13. Dr. Sandifer thanked Freddy Vang, Janice Conner and other staff for their efforts.

Dr. Sandifer attended the SC Association of Conservation Districts Legislative Event held on March 14, and thanked Freddy Vang, Von Snelgrove and other staff for their hard work.

Dr. Sandifer reminded the Board that their Statement of Economic Interest forms need to be completed and mailed to the Ethics Commission by April 15, 2000.

Dr. Sandifer informed the Board that John Frampton is representing DNR at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference and also on the Atlantic Flyway Council meeting which will be held during the conference. One of the main topis of the Atlantic Flyway Council meeting will be the extension of the waterfowl season.

Dr. Sandifer reported that South Carolina is officially a Forest Legacy State and thanked John Frampton and Emily Cope for this accomplishment.

Dr. Sandifer stated that he received a letter from Angela Viney, Executive Director of the SC Wildlife Federation with copies of Resolutions passed by the Federation concerning Growth Management, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, National Flood Insurance, Prescribed Burning and the Habitat Protection Programs.

Dr. Sandifer noted that Mac McCaskill, a long-time DNR employee and manager of Capers Island passed away.

Dr. Sandifer noted that the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic starts today and runs through Sunday, March 26, and invited Board members to visit the booths and displays after the meeting.

Dr. Sandifer reminded the Board that they are invited to the Young Outdoor's Writers luncheon today at 1:00 p.m. in the banquet room. Dr. Lesesne will be speaking at this event.


2. Legislative Report

Derrick Meggie reported that the House has finished the Budget report. Mr. Meggie stated that notices have been received for House Ag meetings. Mr. Meggie reported that H 3617 - Chapter 5 Coastal Fisheries was ratified March 23, 2000. Mr. Meggie then gave a status report on S 753 - Authority to Regulate DNR Owned Lands; H 3344 - Hunting from Public Roads; S 12 - Farm and Forest Land Protection Act; S 688 - the Drought Response Act; and H 3469 - Trespassing. The only bill the Department has presented, to date, as new legislation is H 4748 - Technical Amendment to Title 50 is scheduled in subcommittee.

3. Habitat Protection Activities

Mr. Gregg reported that he has been working with a team of Department staff on habitat activities. This team is in the process of meeting with potential public and private partners. Mr. Gregg reviewed a draft concept for a program called Now or Never - Protecting Our Special Places. This draft was prepared by the habitat team and presents the vision, objectives, what comprises a partnership and also a short term timetable for accomplishments. Mr. Gregg reviewed the following goals which are enumerated in this draft: 1) to secure major legislative funding in 2001 for protection of significant lands throughout South Carolina; and 2) to implement a land protection strategy and develop a lasting stewardship legacy by 2010. Ms. Holliday made a motion that the Board accept this statement and endorse the concept. Dr. Leary seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.


XII. Executive Session

At this time, Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board hold an Executive Session to discuss legal, contractual and personnel matters. Mr. Ford 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 accept the Cooley Tract in as a Heritage Trust Preserve acquisition. Mr. McEachin seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board accept the McLeod Tract as a Heritage Trust Preserve acquisition. Mr. McEachin seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board approve a lease between SCE&G and DNR on Bundrick Point, Lexington County, on Lake Murray and also authorize staff to sublease this property in an agreement with Lexington County. Mr. McEachin seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board approve the appointment of Joseph Christ, Pickens County, as conservation district commissioner. Mr. McEachin seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.


XIII. Deputy Directors' Reports

1. Administrative Services - Benny Reeves distributed copies of the action of the Department's budget as it has proceeded from the Board's recommendation to the Governor's recommendation through the House.

2. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries - Mr. McTeer reported that the first meeting of the blue ribbon committee studying waterfows was held last week. This group was formed in cooperation with sportmen's groups.

3. Law Enforcement - Col. Wright reported that the Law Enforcement Division is proceeding with the Project Readiness program and the physical fitness program. Col. Wright mentioned that he stepped out of the Board meeting to attend part of the Law Enforcement Officer graduation. The Academy has five distinguished awards which are presented to individuals with a score of 96 and above DNR officers received four of the five awards. Thomas Kelly also received the marksman award and of the six physical awards DNR officers received four.

4. Conservation Education and Communications - Sonny Baines asked Glen Connelly to update the Board on the status of creating a more user friendly Rules and Regulations. Mr. Connelly reviewed several changes which have already been made to the Rules and Regulations and stated that a final proof should be ready by the first week in April allowing two weeks for review and go to press on May 1.

5. Marine - Wayne Waltz reported on the health notice put out by DHEC regarding mercury in King Mackerel. DHEC has announced that fish 33" and above are safe to eat.


XIV. Board Member Comments

Mr. Gregg requested that the Board receive a presentation on personal watercraft problems at a future meeting.

Chairman Lesesne stated that the Board had given staff their general consensus that they would like to see the appeals process changed in dealing with Administrative Law cases. Ms. Holliday has raised some questions about this change. Chairman Lesesne asked Ester Haymond if there is any way to limit what appeals would be heard by the Board or to reverse the process. Ms. Haymond stated that she didn't believe there was a way to distinguish appeals and the process could be changed but the process is easier as it stands. The Board decided to support changes to the appeals process that would remove the Board from hearing administrative appeals and requested to receive a report on the status of legal actions on a monthly basis.


XV. Time and Location of the Next Meeting

Chairman Lesesne stated that the next meeting of the DNR Board will be held on Friday, April 21, 2000, in Charleston. At this time no date or location was set for the May meeting.


XVI. Adjournment

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