Minutes

Board of the Department of Natural Resources

Rembert C. Dennis Building, Room 335

Columbia, SC

Friday, May 17, 2002

9:30 a.m.

 

 

The regular meeting of the Board of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was held at 9:30 am, on Friday, May 17, 2002, at the Rembert C. Dennis Building, 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 Dr. Julius Leary, Danny Ford, Ben Gregg, M. Russell Holliday, Jr., 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 9:30 a.m. and welcomed everyone to the meeting.

 

II.           Meditation

         Chairman Lesesne asked for a moment of silent meditation.

 

III.         Introduction of Guests

         Dr. Sandifer introduced Angela Viney, Executive Director of the SC Wildlife Federation and Marge Davenport, USGS.

 

IV.        Constituency Comments

            Dr. Lesesne noted that two requests were received earlier for comment but neither Mr. Alfred Wood nor Mr. Cecil Hodge were present. 

 

V.          Approval of Minutes

Chairman Lesesne asked if there were any corrections or additions to the minutes of the April 26, 2002, meeting.  There being no corrections or additions Dr. Leary made a motion that the minutes of the April 26, 2002, meeting be approved as submitted.  Dr. Rucker seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

 

VI.        Presentations/Commendations

            Dr. Sandifer attended the Landsford Forest Legacy Project ceremony held on May 6.  Dr. Sandifer noted that there was a large crowd in attendance and good media coverage.  Dr. Sandifer commended John Frampton and other staff for their work on this project.

 

            Dr. Sandifer participated in the DNR Service Pin/Employee of the Year ceremony held on May 7, to present 10-20-30 year pins and honor Division employees of the Year, as follows:  Executive, Sandy Rucker; Administrative Services, John Meir; CEC, Glen Connelly; Law Enforcement, Lane Peters; Marine Resources, Jack McGovern; Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Doug Cooke; and Land, Water and Conservation and DNR Employee of the Year, Jim Scurry.  Dr. Sandifer congratulated these employees and Nancy Caughman and Eva Smith who coordinated the event.

 

            Dr. Sandifer commended Law Enforcement officers involved in the Palmetto Pride’s Zero Tolerance for Litter Weekend held May 10-11.

 

            Dr. Sandifer commended Law Enforcement staff involved in case of 11 shrimpers charged with shrimping out of season near Hilton Head Island in Port Royal Sound.  Each of the shrimpers faces a fine of up to $10,000 or 30 days in jail if convicted.  A total of 7,584 pounds of shrimp, valued at more than $24,000 was seized during the operation.

 

            Dr. Sandifer commended Law Enforcement staff for their involvement in Exercise Harbor Shield 02, a two-week port security training exercise conducted by the Coast Guard in Charleston. 

 

            Dr. Sandifer congratulated Carole Collins and Linda Renshaw for receiving their Certified Public Manager credentials on May 16, after completing the nationally recognized professional management certification program.

 

            Carole Collins stated that ESPN will be filming portions of BOW this weekend.  This is one of two workshops ESPN will be attending to film for a broadcast of the Women in Sports show on June 22 and 23.

 

            Dr. Lesesne informed the Board that Mr. Gregg received a letter from Mr. Hodge and Mr. Wood, other Board Members had not received their copy before the meeting, explaining that due to time restraints for comment they decided to decline the invitation to be at this meeting.

           

VII.            Advisory Committee Reports

A.      Heritage Trust

Mr. McEachin reported that the Heritage Trust Advisory Board met on May 2.  Mr. McEachin stated that the Heritage Trust Advisory Board approved the following protection project:  Ditch Pond and Watakoe Mountain.  Mr. McEachin reported that the Cultural Areas Committee described the significance of the site of Fort Moore; the Advisory Board then approved Fort Moore as a protection project.  Chris Judge informed the Advisory Board that several hundred people attended Archaeology Days at the Great Pee Dee Heritage Preserve.  The Heritage Trust Advisory Board approved an updated Heritage Land Trust Fund Budget.  Mr. McEachin noted that some donors think they are giving money to the Heritage Trust Program, when they check the “Heritage Trust Fund” on their tax form.  They are actually donating money to the “War Between the States Heritage Trust Fund”.   There was also a report on the new trail system at Peters Creek Heritage Preserve, which was built by volunteers.

 

            B. Law Enforcement

Dr. Leary reported that the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee met on May 8.  Dr. Leary stated that he charged the Advisory Committee to discuss and receive presentations about the coyote issue.  The Advisory Committee received a presentation from Buddy Baker about the biology of the coyote, its habitat, the history of fox and running pens.  Dr. Leary noted that at the next meeting discussion will be held on Law Enforcement issues in regards to importation and possible problems.  Dr. Leary stated that Col. Wright gave an update on the Division’s activities for the month.  Capt. John Watford submitted a plan on fixed nuclear facilities to the Advisory Committee as a part of Homeland Security.  Dr. Leary noted that Harbor Shield 02 is a national pilot program for port security.  The first exercise was held in South Carolina.  Dr. Leary stated that it appears hopeful that some federal funding will be received for Homeland Security.  Dr. Leary noted that even with budget and mileage cuts, officers issued 2100 tickets and 2400 warnings in the month of April.  Dr. Leary reported that DNR made more cases in the Palmetto Pride Zero Tolerance for Litter weekend for the second year.

 

VIII.      Items for Board Information   

A.      Heritage Trust Update

                  Tom Kohlsaat gave the Board a brief presentation reviewing the history of the Heritage Trust Program and discussed options for the future.  Mr. Kohlsaat noted that the Heritage Trust Program was founded by Joe Hudson, who was serving as Chairman of the Wildlife Commission and Pat Noonan, who was serving as President of The Nature Conservancy.  South Carolina formed the first Heritage Trust Program in the country.  Mr. Kohlsaat reviewed the authorizing legislation, which was passed in 1976, for the Heritage Trust Program.  Mr. Kohlsaat reported that in the past 25 years 66 heritage preserves have been created and dedicated.  These 66 preserves total approximately 80,000 acres.  Mr. Kohlsaat reviewed the steps in the process of targeting, acquiring and dedication of areas. 

 

B.     Morgan Island Acquisition and Management

                  Dr. Sandifer stated that the Department has just acquired Morgan Island and gave the Board an overview of the property itself.  Dr. Sandifer explained that Morgan Island is part of the ACE Basin and noted that Morgan Island is a sea island and essentially anchors the southern edge of the ACE Basin.  This property was slated for development.  Dr. Sandifer stated that Morgan Island is a complex of approximately 4500 acres of marshes and 635 acres of highlands.  Dr. Sandifer noted that by protecting the highland we’ve effectively protected the 4500 acres of associated creeks and marshes for the public.  The original development plan emphasized the development of the perimeter of the island, there were to be 64 perimeter lots.

 

John Frampton reiterated to the Board that the contractual obligations of Morgan Island had been discussed at several previous meetings.  Mr. Frampton gave the Board a brief review of the acquisition and the actual costs.  Dialogue was initiated with the owner in May 2001.  The intent of the owner was to determine the value of Morgan Island and to proceed with development.  The negotiations were complicated because there was an existing lease with LABS of Virginia for the propagation of Rhesus Macaques for health related research.  Mr. Frampton stated that the Board’s direction to him was to be able to extinguish the lease within three years.  Negotiations went from April 2001 until January 7, 2002.  Mr. Frampton then reviewed the funding sources for the purchase price.

 

Paul League showed the Board a copy of the plat of the property.  A Limited or Special Warranty Deed was conveyed to the State, which is common when you deal with a corporate entity.  The appraisal that the Department obtained was not based upon a per acre basis, it was based on an economic development potential and limited to the 64 lots.  This was an appraiser of our selection.  The appraiser came up with a value of $23 million based upon the sellout value of the 64 lots.  At the closing, we became the owner of this island subject to a pre-existing lease from Morgan Islanders to LABS of Virginia.  We now are considered landlord in regard to the lease.  Lease payments for the first two years go in their entirety to the grantor.  This is part of the purchase price.  The grantor will also receive $125,000 of the third year lease payment; this again, makes up part of the price.  The remainder will come to the Department to be used in the programs for which this property was purchased.  The lease itself was signed in December 2001 and runs from January 1, 2002 through December 31, 2004.  Near the end of the third year, the tenant, LABS of Virginia has a right to extend the term of the lease if they give 90 days notice prior to the expiration of the third year.  The landlord has the right to terminate the lease in its entirety by giving notice 180 days prior to the conclusion of the third year.  If the lease is terminated by September 30, 2004, there will be a $70,000 penalty to the landlord.  The purpose of the lease is to breed monkeys, but in doing so, the tenant has to abide by all applicable laws and may not create a nuisance.  It is the tenant’s responsibility to post the property properly against trespassing.  The lease contains a hold harmless agreement in favor of the landlord, which says that the tenant agrees to hold the landlord harmless against any and all claims of damage resulting from any of its activities that take place on the island.  There is a requirement in the lease for insurance.  The tenant, at its sole expense, is required to carry and have in place at all times a liability insurance policy with limits of $5 million for bodily injury or death for one person, they are also required to have $1 million in property damage insurance and the landlord is to be named as an additional insured on the policy.

 

John Miglarese stated that there would be two goals over the next few months regarding Morgan Island: 1) develop the management plan for the island; and 2) most importantly, provide the Board with the information necessary to make an informed decision, especially related to contractual arrangements as it relates to the lease.  Dr. Miglarese reviewed the timeline for assessment and staff recommendation.  Dr. Miglarese’s recommendation is to have a decision, by the Board, in April or May.  Mr. McEachin and Mr. Gregg stated that they would like to have a Board decision by December 2002.  Dr. Miglarese noted that by the end of the process the Board should know every issue involved and who has the authority to make decisions for each issue.  Dr. Miglarese stated that there are three major priorities:  1) disease issue, 2) public use, and 3) security and enforcement. 

 

Dr. Miglarese introduced Dr. Al Segars and asked that he give an update on the natural resource impact.  Dr. Segars updated the Board on the impact of diseases associated with the Rhesus colony and how it affects native wildlife.  Dr. Segars reported that there have been no positive TB tests, no rabies positive and, they do have tetanus, but that is common among monkeys.  Dr. Segars reported that rabbits and mice are used as models with Herpes B and you can kill rabbits and mice if they are injected with very high doses of Herpes B.  Herpes B is a very sensitive virus, it is not shed very often by the monkeys, that are infected, and it would be an unlikely scenario to have one of these animals come down with the disease Herpes B.  Dr. Segars noted that to this point there is no real consequence in terms of disease that they have been able to document but they are continuing to look and will share further information.

 

Dr. Jerry Gibson, DHEC, directed his comments toward the health implications to the people of Beaufort County and the people around Morgan Island.  Dr. Gibson stated that there are two health outcomes for people; 1) injuries from bites or scratches; and 2) communicable diseases.  Dr. Gibson noted that with regard to bites or scratches it’s the bigger primates that inflict serious injuries to people.  Dr. Gibson reported that for thousands of years, billions of people have lived in close proximity with Rhesus monkeys in the Middle East and Africa and the people and cultures have not identified these monkeys as a serious threat to people.  One reason may be that the viruses and bacteria that people and primates share, because they are so close genetically, are the type that spread by very close contact, with the exception of TB, and are not airborne or easily spread.  Dr. Gibson addressed the issue of primate Herpes B.  It is known that several primates, including the Rhesus monkeys, carry this virus.  It doesn’t make them sick, usually, and they shed it occasionally.  There have been over 40 cases since the 1950’s, since the disease was identifiable in people.  These cases were identified, around the United States, as having been occupational exposure.  Even this exposure is a very low risk and the rate has been declining as the people who are or monkeys have learned how to protect their employees.  DHEC has been in touch with the veterinarian and physician who work for LABS, Inc., regarding bites by monkeys and there has been no record of this disease in their employees since 1979, when the Rhesus monkeys first came to Beaufort County.  DHEC also reviewed death records from a four year period and looked for anything that may have been missed or that may have been an encephalitis death but coded as something else and in that period there were none in the Beaufort County area.  There were three deaths in the whole state over that four-year period but non were in the Beaufort County area.  Dr. Gibson stated that it seems rare that monkey/human contact results in the passage of disease in our area, you can never say zero but at the same time it appears to be a very, very low risk.

 

Dr. Miglarese stated that the first action is to make sure the perimeter security is tightened.  Dr. Miglarese noted that they would develop a management plan including the monkeys and without the monkeys and present the impact with the colony and also a philosophical concept of DNR being involved in this type of activity.  Dr. Miglarese stated that if the timeline is shortened he will only be able to brief the advisory committees but probably will not be able to get advisory committee motion and recommendations within that timeframe.

 

After much discussion, it was decided that staff would provide an assessment report at the July meeting and the Board will decide, at that time, when to take further action.

 

Dr. Leary has requested the following:  1) have the DNR Attorneys to review the insurance policy and liability issues; 2) have staff look at our disaster policy, post exposure policy and safety protocol; 3) have LABS of Virginia give information on animal health and security plan; and 4) have DHEC give written opinion on the current status of monkey health and public health risks.

 

Mr. McEachin also requested that after the assessment report and discussion in July, there also be a discussion on the agency leasing public property to private enterprise.

 

  IX.      Items for Board Action

A.      South Carolina Statewide Flood Mapping Project

Freddy Vang explained to the Board that the proposed statewide flood-mapping project would produce accurate and dependable maps.  Mr. Vang asked Lisa Holland to present the proposed project to the Board.  Ms. Holland gave the Board a brief overview of where South Carolina ranks in the flood program.  Ms. Holland provided a comparison, to the Board, of current maps and maps using the proposed project (digital flood insurance rate map).  The proposal to FEMA is to be a “mapping state”, which involves the full management and implementation of developing flood insurance maps for South Carolina.  Ms. Holland explained the need and scope for this project.  Ms. Holland then informed the Board of the cost for this project and funding sources available.  Dr. Sandifer noted that a portion of the Land, Water and Conservation Division staff would be working on this project for several years in order to match federal funding.  Dr. Rucker made a motion that the Board approve the request to become a “mapping state” and proceed with plans in the Land, Water and Conservation Division for this to be a priority item and funding be sought.  Mr. Ford seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

 

Mr. Vang gave the Board a progress report on the Savannah River Basin Study.

 

B.     State Lakes Fishing Regulations

Val Nash reviewed the proposed regulation for the Webb Center Lake, which provides for fishing on Sunday.  Dr. Leary made a motion to approve the proposed regulation for the Webb Center Lake.  Ms. Holliday seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

 

The proposed regulations for Star Fort Pond, Greenwood County were then reviewed.  Dr. Leary made a motion that the regulations be adopted as presented with the amendment that any radio-controlled devices have a permit from the Department.  Dr. Rucker seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

 

   X. Deputy Directors’ Reports

A.      Land, Water and Conservation

Report was given earlier.

 

B.     Marine Resources
John Miglarese reported that shrimp season opened on May 15 and reports are that the season is mixed. 
 
C.     Law Enforcement

Col. Wright reported on the recent shrimp cases that were made.  Col. Wright also reported on the Zero Tolerance weekend.

 
D.     CEC and Administrative Services

Carole Collins reported that BOW is this weekend, there will be a Ladies on the Lake event held June 5, and an It’s a Girl Thing on June 26.  Camp Wildwood will be June 16-22 and the Media Fishing Tournament will be June 8.

 

  XI. Director’s Briefings

A.      Habitat Protection Activities

No further report.

 

B.     Legislative Report

Derrick Meggie distributed copies of a status sheet on DNR legislation and other bills of interest.  Mr. Meggie then reviewed several bills and answered questions posed by Board members.

 

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. 

 

XIII. Return to Regular Session

            The Board returned to regular session and invited staff and guests to join the meeting.

 

Dr. Leary made a motion that the Board present an appropriate certificate of appreciation to an individual as requested by the Land, Water and Conservation Division.  Dr. Rucker seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

 

XIV. Directors’ Briefings

Dr. Sandifer informed the Board that Neb Cline, Sr., father of David Cline, passed away earlier this month.  The Cline family has been a long-time supporter of DNR, particularly the Law Enforcement Division.

 

Dr. Sandifer reported that he just returned from Honolulu for the fifth round of regional meetings of the US Commission on Ocean Policy.  The next meeting is scheduled for June 12-14 in Seattle, Washington.

 

Dr. Sandifer noted that he is planning to go to Washington, DC, on May 21-23 for various meetings.

 

Dr. Sandifer noted that Representative Billy Witherspoon has been elected as Chairman of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee.

 

Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Billy McTeer distributed copies of the Northern Bobwhite Quail Initiative.  Mr. McTeer reported that a Jocassee Gorges Citizens Management Committee has been established and reported that the committee has been meeting with Mark Hall and will continue to meet as we proceed with the forest management plan.  Mr. McTeer updated the Board on Chronic Wasting Disease.  Mr. McTeer then asked Buddy Baker to provide the Board with additional information regarding coyote.  Mr. Baker reported that both the Law Enforcement and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Boards have been provided with information on the impact of coyote.  Mr. Baker stated that the biggest problem with coyotes as it relates to pens is the ability to ensure that the animals in the pen are not imported.  The major problem with importation is the introduction of new diseases.  Mr. Baker noted that there have been studies conducted on the impact of coyotes on habitat.  Dr. Sandifer suggested that we invite someone from outside the agency with expertise in coyotes.  Col. Wright noted that if it’s legal to possess coyote it may make some people more comfortable to import them.  Lt. Col. Smith stated that in states where it is legal to possess coyote they still have importation problems.  Mr. McTeer noted that he feels the General Assembly will be asking the Board that if importation is a concern, how much does the penalty need to be.  Dr. Sandifer also suggested that with regard to disease there be a select bibliography with some key papers relative to the technical side to be reviewed by the Board.  Mr. McTeer noted that one of the ways to address the fair chase issue would be to limit how many dogs, how big the pen and how many animals will be released.  Dr. Lesesne suggested that the Law Enforcement and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committees have a joint meeting and bring a report back to the Board. 

 

XV.      Time and Location of the Next Meeting

Chairman Lesesne stated that the next meeting of the DNR Board will be held on Friday, June 21, 2002, at the Dennis Building in Columbia, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

 

XVI. Adjournment

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