MINUTES

BOARD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Rembert C. Dennis Building, Room 335

Columbia, South Carolina

Friday, April 17, 1998

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, April 17, 1998, at the Wampee Training and Conference Center, in Pinopolis, 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 Thomas 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. Approval of Minutes

Chairman Graham asked if there were any corrections or additions to the minutes of the March 27, 1998 meeting. There being no corrections or additions, the minutes were accepted as mailed.

IV. Items for Board Action

A. Proposed Heritage Trust Dedications for Crab Bank, Joiner Bank, Bay Point Shoal and North Santee Bar

Stuart Greeter introduced Mark Dodd and asked him to explain the proposal. Mr. Dodd described the four sites that have been selected. These sites all have a history of nesting seabirds and are strategically located in estuaries which do not contain other nesting habitat. They are being proposed for approval as protection projects. They are located on accreted lands, meaning they belong to the State of South Carolina and fall under the control of the State Budget and Control Board. Mr. Dodd explained that there are more than eight species of sea and shore birds and two species of wading birds utilizing these sites for nesting. Mr. Dodd described that the primary threat to these sites is dredging from both beach renourishment projects and channel maintenance dredging. (Proposal attached to original minutes).

After brief discussion and clarification of questions, Mrs. Waring made a motion that the following amendments be made to the Agreement.

2. The following restrictions, conditions, permissive and non-permissive issues shall apply to the area:

(h) No change shall be made in the general topography of the area or feature except for those alterations which may benefit the species of concern; and this shall be done only where wholly compatible and consistent with the character of the property and where no detrimental effect shall result. Deposition of dredge spoil on or around Crab Bank may be permitted if approved by the Heritage Trust Advisory Board Director.

(j) Navigational aides may be constructed on or around dedicated sites, with construction times coordinated with the SCDNR so as not to interfere with nesting periods, and with construction plans and specifications approved by the Heritage Trust Advisory Board Director.

Mr. Lee seconded the motion to amend the Agreement and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Lee made a motion that the Board accept the amended recommendation by staff and accept these four properties into the Heritage Trust Program. Mrs. Waring seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

B. Proposed Regulation of White-Tailed Deer as Pets

Charles Ruth reviewed the draft document that outlines the course of action for dealing with captive deer (draft document attached to original minutes). These guidelines will by used by staff in developing permits. The permit will cover the specific conditions and requirements. After discussion and clarification of questions it was decided that guideline number six be amended to read:

6. Permittees are responsible for damages resulting from escaped or released deer. Any escapes or releases will be considered a public nuisance and the Department or designee may capture or destroy such animals.

Mr. Coxe made a motion that the Board approve the staff recommendation on Board Policy on pet white-tailed deer. Mr. Burnside seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series 1998 Annual Report

John Miglarese introduced Bill Cox, Chairman of the Governor's Cup Billfishing Series Advisory Board.

Mr. Cox reviewed the highlights of the 1997 Annual Governor's Cup Billfishing Series Performance Report. Mrs. Waring made a motion that the Board approve the 1997 Annual Governor's Cup Billfishing Series Performance Report as submitted by the Governor's Cup Billfishing Series Advisory Board. Mr. Lee seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

D. Hunt Activities at Francis Marion National Forest

Mr. Miller stated that new information has been received since the sub committee met previously on the problems within the Francis Marion National Forest. Mr. Miller read the following motion from the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee regarding this issue. "Motion was made to recommend that the number of dog hunting days on the Francis Marion National Forest be reduced to half its current level, from 78 to 39, and if the situation remains the same that the following year the days will be reduced in half in 1999 and that a dog hunt be held for two days during the season in the Hell Hole Unit. This will be administered by the Department of Natural Resources. This motion was seconded by Coy Johnson and passed unanimously."

Mr. Miller requested discussion at this time due to the new information received.

Brock Conrad reported that the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee also discussed this issue and they concur with reducing the season, but recommended that the special hunt, from the Hell Hole Unit, be taken back to the subcommittee for further discussion in view of the new information.

Mr. Miller stated that since there is agreement from the subcommittee, the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee and the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Committee concerning the reduction of the season and that the issue of the Hell Hole Unit hunt be referred back to subcommittee he would like to make a motion that the number of dog hunting days on the Francis Marion National Forest be reduced half its current level, from 78 to 39, and if the situation remains the same the following year the days would be reduced in half in 1999.

Jim Quinn reported that he understood that the intention of the subcommittee and the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee is that if the situation improved then there is a chance that the days would be returned.

Mr. Miller offered to amend his motion to include that language.

Mr. Frampton stated that the motion may need to include "at least in half" because if the situation is not corrected other recommendations may be made beyond.

Mrs. Waring commented that she feels it should be made clear, when publicizing this issue, that the Department supports deer hunting with dogs as a traditional form of hunting in the State and that the Board will review and consider any possible opportunities that may be created in other coastal plain areas for additional deer hunting with dogs.

Mr. Frampton asked Bill Mahan to express some of the concerns relative to the hunt on the Hell Hole Unit. Mr. Mahan stated that the initial idea for having a hunt at the Hell Hole was for biological reasons, a deer herd reduction effort. Mr. Mahan reported that since Hurricane Hugo there has been significant habitat changes on the Hell Hole and the rest of the Francis Marion and they have had difficulties obtaining desired deer harvest level on the Hell Hole Unit under the still hunting regime which has been in place for several years. The harvest on the Hell Hole last year, on 40,000, acres was less than 200 deer. Mr. Mahan stated that deer hunting with dogs on the Hell Hole has been considered for a number of years. Mr. Mahan reported that one of the problems with the draw hunt is that it severely limits the number of areas and acres that can be hunted on the Hell Hole because of the regimented activities of a draw hunt. Mr. Mahan stated that under our guidelines only approximately 50% of the Hell Hole could be hunted.

Mr. Miller asked that with this information the Hell Hole proposal be sent back to the subcommittee for further discussion.

Mr. Frampton stated that if this motion is approved the information would be placed in the Rules and Regulations and if the hunt on the Hell Hole is available at a later date a PR campaign would be made.

Mr. Miller clarified his motion. Mr. Miller made a motion that the number of dog hunting days on the Francis Marion National Forest be reduced to half its current level, from 78 to 39 days, and that if the situation remains the same the following year the days would be further reduced, however, if the situation improves the days may be returned to the 1997 level. Mr. Burnside seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

V. Advisory Committee Reports

A. Law Enforcement

Mr. Miller reported that the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee met at the Webb Wildlife Center on April 8. Lt. Col. Smith and Maj. Pulaski were introduced and recognized for their promotions. Elese Limehouse from the Marine Resources Coastal Information section was introduced and will be attending the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee meetings regularly. Mr. Miller stated that the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee felt this was a good idea and decided to suggest that the Law Enforcement staff be represented at other advisory committee meetings. Mr. Miller reported that there was also discussion on dress uniforms. Mr. Miller reported that Derrell Shipes outlined a pilot program underway in Newberry and Orangeburg Counties concerning deer depredation to be administered by Clemson Extension Service.

B. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Nothing further to report.

VII. Director's Briefings

A. Executive Office

1. Director

Dr. Sandifer reported that the Senate Finance Committee is meeting today on the State budget. He and Benny Reeves met before the Senate Finance Subcommittee on April 9.

Dr. Sandifer stated that he has been working with the Deputy Directors concerning a Board Retreat. Dr. Sandifer mentioned several topics for possible consideration at this Retreat. Dr. Sandifer will be asking Board Members for other topics of discussion.

Dr. Sandifer praised the Jocassee Gorges Management Planning Team for their job in development of the draft plan. The last public meeting was held in Columbia on April 2. The final conceptual plan will include comments received up until April 9. Comments received after that date are being held and if further evaluation is needed these will be used. The plan will be brought before the Board for action at the May meeting.

Dr. Sandifer commented that Departmental displays and staff participation with the public at the Sportsmen's Classic was the best he has ever seen.

2. Legal

Jim Quinn stated that he had two items for discussion in Executive Session.

3. Legislative

Chairman Graham called on Cary Chamblee for this report. Michael Thompson could not be present due to a death in his family.

Mr. Chamblee asked Maj. Alvin Taylor to give a brief on the proposed bill for Boating Under the Influence. Maj. Taylor reported on two bills, first the Points bill. This bill was held up originally but went through the Senate Subcommittee and several endorsements were received. Maj. Taylor explained that this bill is a repeat offender bill that sets point values on current boating violations that are already on the books and gives Law Enforcement an opportunity to get someone who is a repeat offender off the water.

Maj. Taylor reported that last year there was a bill to give Law Enforcement increased summons authority. This new bill will add three violations to the summons authority (1) indecent exposure, (2) destruction of sea oats, and (3) use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. This bill remains in the House and Senate Committees.

Mr. Chamblee stated that the Ag Land Protection bill has made some positive moves recently and asked Hank Stallworth to report on this and other bills.

Mr. Stallworth reported first on the designation of the Ashley River as a state scenic river. This bill was introduced by Sen. Ravenel and is now on the House floor.

Mr. Stallworth stated that the Farm and Forestland Protection Act was stalled in the Senate Agriculture Committee and also in the House Agriculture Committee. This was stalled because the Municipal Association and Farm Bureau had some amendments. Mr. Stallworth reported that these amendments have been addressed and the bill was reported out of the Senate Ag Subcommittee and Full Senate Ag Committee.

Dr. Sandifer reported that the bill regarding the Jocassee Gorges Trust Fund has been carried over. The Conference Committee are currently at an impasse over a House sponsored requirement for a special advisory committee to advise on the use of funds from the trust. The Senate feels that it is not necessary to have an additional advisory committee. They are working on a compromise and will meet again next week.

4. Human Resources

No report.

5. Environmental

No report.

Mrs. Waring commented that the Board's concern over the condition of many boat landings has been previously discussed and has been a topic of discussion recently relative to Murrell's Inlet. Mrs. Waring would like to see a report to the Board on boat landings for which DNR is responsible. She would like information on their condition and law suits that have been filed against the Department relative to boat ramps.

Mr. Miller requested a future discussion and staff position on mega ramps.

Mr. Lee asked that they also be briefed on the procedure that is followed for maintenance and improvements to boat landings.

Mr. Burnside then asked that photographs be taken of the entrance at each landing in their current condition. Dr. Sandifer recommended that a video may give a more detailed picture of the condition of landings.

6. Audit Services

Bethany Narboni reported that presentations are being made to the Deputy Directors and receiving input regarding the development of an Annual Audit Plan. This plan may be presented for Board approval at the May meeting.

Ms. Narboni stated that an Audit Services Charter has been developed and that Mr. Oxner has offered his comments.

Mr. Oxner made a motion that the Board approve the Audit Services Department Charter. Mr. Lee seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. (Charter attached to original minutes).

B. Deputy Directors

1. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Brock Conrad asked Bill Mahan to present a report on the Wildlife Management Area Program involving Santee Cooper.

Mr. Mahan stated that the Department has been involved with Santee Cooper in wildlife management for over 50 years and gave a brief outline of the ongoing projects and programs involving Santee Cooper.

2. Natural Resources Enforcement

Col. Wright welcomed Lt. Col. Stanley Smith and Maj. Windy Pulaski. Col. Wright also commended Cpt. Bradford, Sgt. Dial and Tom Curtis for their part in the highly successful Fishing Rodeo held recently at the Dennis Center.

Col. Wright reported that he attended a Chief's meeting which included the 16 Chiefs of Natural Resources Law Enforcement in the Southeast. Col. Wright stated that there will be some joint operations between Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina with the upcoming boating season.

Maj. Taylor distributed copies of a Boating Accidents Statistics Annual Report and commented on boating accident trends over the past few years.

3. Conservation Education and Communications

No report.

4. Marine Resources

No report.

5. Land, Water and Conservation

No report.

6. Administrative Services

No report.

VIII. Executive Session

At this time, Mr. Lee made a motion that the Board hold an Executive Session to discuss legal, contractual and personnel matters. Mr. Miller seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

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RETURN TO REGULAR SESSION

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

Chairman Graham called the meeting back to order.

Following the Executive Session, Mr. Miller made a motion that the Executive Director of DNR be exempt from reimbursing commuting mileage due to the nature of his position, specifically, the director must be available to communicate via Department radio and to respond to emergencies twenty-four hours/day seven days/week. Mr. Burnside seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board accept staff recommendation to reappointment Dr. Earl Hayter to the Land, Water and Conservation Division's Advisory Committee. Mr. Burnside seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Miller recommended that the Board appoint Dr. John Mark Dean as a new appointment to the Land, Water and Conservation Division's advisory Committee. Mr. Burnside seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board accept staff recommendations for conservation district commissioner appointments, reappointments, emeritus appointments (recommendations attached to the original minutes). Mr. Burnside seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Miller noted the first official donation to the Jocassee Gorges Trust Fund from the Wildlife Action Upstate Chapter in Spartanburg.

IX. Time and Location of the Next Meeting

Chairman Graham stated that the next meeting of the DNR Board will be held on Friday, May 15, 1998, at 10:00 a.m., at the Quail Unlimited's National Headquarters, in Edgefield.

X. Adjournment

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