MINUTES

BOARD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Rembert C. Dennis Building, Room 335

Columbia, South Carolina

Friday, September 18, 1998

9:30 a.m.

The regular meeting of the Board of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was held at 9:300 a.m. on Friday, September 18, 1998, in room 335 of 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. Dr. George Graham presided at the meeting. Board Members present included Tommy Miller, Marion Burnside, Campbell Coxe, Edwin Oxner, and Edward Lee. Mrs. Mary Pope Waring was absent. 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 9:30 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 recognized Bob Bailey, President, Sportsmens' Coalition; and Lisa Sox, Research Director with the Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Committee.

IV. Approval of Minutes

Chairman Graham asked if there were any corrections or additions to the minutes of the August 21, 1998 meeting. There being no corrections or additions the minutes were accepted as mailed.

V. Presentations/Commendations

Dr. Sandifer recognized Dr. Charles Barans for receiving the Mentoring Professional Diversity in Fisheries Award from the American Fisheries Society. This is a national award for efforts in attracting minority students to careers in marine science.

Dr. Sandifer congratulated Maj. Van McCarty on his recent graduation from the FBI Academy.

VI. Advisory Committee Reports

A. Conservation Education and Communications

Mr. Burnside stated that the Conservation Education and Communications Advisory Committee met at Millaree on September 11. Mr. Burnside reported that staff will research the possibility of the Department selling advertisements in the Rules and Regulations.

Mr. Burnside noted that Mike Willis reported that from the $30,000 invested in the South Carolina Broadcasters' Association there is a return of $1 million in advertising.

Mr. Burnside stated that the position left vacant by Ted Borg's retirement needs to be filled as there is a need for photographer not only for the Department but also to assist PRT by providing photographs. Mr. Burnside then asked Sonny Baines if there were further items to be reported.

Mr. Baines reported that they are currently updating the Citizen's Guide.

Mr. Baines reviewed the changes that are being considered for the Rules and Regulations to make it more customer friendly and also explained some of the options available if the Department would sell their own advertising.

Mr. Burnside asked John Davis to report on the Magazine revenue. Mr. Davis stated that there has been a 14% increase over 1996-97 and a 13% increase over 1997-98 in revenue, to date.

Mr. Davis also noted that the position left vacant by Rose McManus will be filled and discussed the plan for Ted Borg's position.

B. Marine

John Miglarese reported that the Marine Advisory Committee met on September 11 at Fort Johnson. Dr. Miglarese stated that there was much discussion regarding the Dolphin Legislation that was introduced last year. Dr. Miglarese noted that since the legislation did not pass last year, they have been able to consolidate it and go through a thorough legal review. The Marine Advisory Committee chose to postpone action on this legislation until November.

Dr. Miglarese reported that the Advisory Committee received a presentation and had discussion concerning the Blue Crab Legislation.

Dr. Miglarese stated that the Advisory Committee was presented the 1997 shrimp baiting report.

Dr. Miglarese reported that Maj. Taylor gave a status report on the federal grant for offshore fishery enforcement.

Dr. Miglarese stated that there was discussion about the sub-committee of the Advisory Committee for disease related issues.

Dr. Miglarese discussed the concept of marine reserves. This concept has been around for about 6-8 years, but it is a potential tool for managing commercial and recreational fishing.

Dr. Miglarese reported that one individual made public comments at the meeting. Mr. Paul Fields is an active waterman and supporter of the Department and local search and rescue in the area. Mr. Fields' suggested an increase in law enforcement efforts along the coast through citizen involvement. Based on this request, Mrs. Waring asked that a sub committee be established from the Marine Advisory Committee and the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee. Dr. Miglarese suggested that the Marine Advisory Committee and the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee have a joint meeting in January or February.

Maj. Alvin Taylor stated that he felt Mr. Fields' comments were constructive and was more a show of support than criticism.

VII. Items for Information

A. Wetland Mitigation

Ed Duncan gave the Board a briefing on wetland mitigation policies and procedures. Mr. Duncan gave a history of wetland mitigation. Mr. Duncan stated that essentially all the regulations pertaining to mitigation are federal and the wetland permitting functions are through the federal permit statutes. Mr. Duncan distributed copies of the joint State/Federal Administrative Procedures for the establishment and operation of Wetland Mitigation Banks in South Carolina. Mr. Duncan reviewed a summary of the key features of the policy. Mr. Duncan discussed the Standard Operating Procedures for Compensatory Mitigation document. Mr. Duncan also discussed the Guidelines for Siting of Preservation Mitigation Banks document. Mr. Duncan reviewed the draft Fee Based Mitigation Program Guidelines.

B. Accomplishments for 1997-98 and Objectives for 1998-99

Dr. Sandifer explained to the Board that the Department Accomplishments will now be reported on a fiscal year basis, to better connect with budgetary and strategic planning activities. Dr. Sandifer mentioned that in future years the objectives will be completed by the August Board meeting. Dr. Sandifer stated that the objectives are still in draft form and are related back to the Strategic Plan. Chairman Graham suggested that the objectives be finalized and brought back for Board review.

C. Teaming with Wildlife Update and Action Plan

Billy McTeer gave a brief history of Teaming with Wildlife. Several years ago the states, in conjunction with the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, started promoting this legislation. This goal was to try to convince Congress to put a small excise tax on items such as binoculars, backpacks, camping gear and items used while enjoying non-game species. Congress has said they like the principle but they do not like the idea of another tax. An alternate proposal is being discussed in both the House and Senate. This proposal would take $2 billion from offshore oil leases. Mr. McTeer discussed some concerns with this proposal.

Dr. Sandifer stated that the IAFWA had their meeting in Savannah this week and there was much discussion on this issue. Dr. Sandifer also stated that no one wants to back away completely from the user pay concept. There have been efforts to introduce a bill to place excise taxes on equipment used by non-consumptive users of wildlife resources for quite sometime. Dr. Sandifer believes the stance should emphasize the importance of maintaining the wildlife diversity, non-game emphasis, leaving flexibility for managing lands. He also feels that the funds should be handled like Pittman-Robertson, and distributed by a reasonable formula to the states.

VIII. Director's Briefings

A. Executive Office

1. Director

Dr. Sandifer reported that he and Benny Reeves have briefed Chairman Brown on our budget request.

Dr. Sandifer mentioned that he attended a very positive meeting of the Law Enforcement Captains and Buck Sergeants to resolve inequities created previously by fluctuations in pay raises related to promotions in the past. Dr. Sandifer noted that he feels the solution is equitable and adequate.

Dr. Sandifer briefed the Board on the Moore's Island boat ramp situation. The US Fish and Wildlife Service had announced that they were closing Moore's landing but they have since stated that the ramp will remain open through shrimp baiting season and only the pier will be closed. After shrimp baiting season the landing will be closed to make the necessary improvements.

Dr. Sandifer reported that Billy McTeer's position as legislative director, has been changed to include 30% of his time working with the focus areas across the state. This change will help elevate involvement by DNR in focus area activities and to ensure that we are following up on what we need to be doing and what we may have committed to do. One example of an area of importance is the Winyah Bay Focus Area. Dr. Sandifer and Mr. McTeer have met with the Chairman of the Land Protection Committee of the Winyah Focus Area.

Dr. Sandifer mentioned his attendance at the IAFWA meeting in Savannah. The Teaming with Wildlife initiative was a major item of discussion. Dr. Sandifer served as Chair of the Marine and Estuarine Committee which met jointly with the Inland Fisheries Committee. Dr. Sandifer stated that one of the most important items coming from this meeting was a resolution to support continuation of the President's Executive Order on the importance of recreational fishing throughout the nation and the involvement of state and federal agencies through state roundtable discussions.

Dr. Sandifer noted that Mrs. Waring co-chaired the Commissioners' Forum. One resulting action from that forum was a request that the International host a forum for fish and wildlife department commissioners and boards at each annual meeting.

Dr. Sandifer stated that he hopes to attend the wildlife Biologists meeting on September 22-23 at the Webb Center.

Dr. Sandifer announced that the Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Committee, House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee and the Coastal Caucus will be meeting in Charleston on October 1-2, for a Coastal Fisheries briefing.

Dr. Sandifer mentioned that the Senate has been invited to tour the Jocassee Gorges area on Friday, October 9. The tour will begin at 10:00 a.m. and end at 3:00 p.m. Board members are encouraged to attend.

Dr. Sandifer reminded the Board of the MEHRL Groundbreaking in Charleston on Saturday, October 10.

Dr. Sandifer also reminded the Board of the 10 year ACE Basin celebration on Sunday, October 18.

Dr. Sandifer noted that the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies annual meeting on October 3-7, in Orlando, FL.

2. Associate Director

Cary Chamblee reported that he attended the recent meeting of the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund. This meeting is the first since the agreement was signed with the Department. Mr. Chamblee noted that most of the meeting was centered on the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic. Mr. Chamblee stated that the Hampton Fund approved over $50,000 in grants for the Department this calendar year. Mr. Chamblee announced that the Hampton Fund has hired Linda Amick as their staff person.

3. Legal

Ester Haymond stated that she has a legal briefing for Executive Session.

4. Human Resources

Jean Cowell updated the Board on the Law Enforcement Officer selection process. Ms. Cowell stated that panel interviews will start next week.

5. Audit Services

Bethany Narboni reported that three audit projects have been closed and her office is completing the equipment inventory audit. Mrs. Narboni noted that they have been providing assistance with the Law Enforcement local revenue deposit procedures.

6. Environmental

Ed Duncan reported that there have been two court cases that may have a significant impact on wetland rules and regulations. One case involves the regulation of excavation in isolated and headwater wetlands. The court has ruled that there is no permit required in isolated and headwater wetlands for excavation. The court has ruled that the Corps of Engineers has no authority to regulate wetlands, that are truly isolated from navigable waters of the US in the second case.

B. Deputy Directors

1.Natural Resources Enforcement

Col. Wright reported on the Buck Sergeant's meeting and thanked Jean Cowell and the staff of Human Resources for their efforts in the Buck Sergeant salary equity study.

Col. Wright reported that in answer to a question from the Board at the last meeting that the Department can provide badges, hats, and badge wallets for non Department DLEO's.

Col. Wright noted that they are currently conducting an in-service training for enforcement officers. A video presentation on "officer's discretion" has been added to the in-service training.

Col. Wright reported on recent cases involving dove season and the opening of shrimp baiting season.

Maj. Taylor reported on the opening of shrimp baiting season. Maj. Taylor stated that thus far there were high numbers on opening night and the first weekend with good shrimp catches, and sizes reported as mixed. Maj. Taylor also reported on several cases that have been made.

Maj. Taylor stated that this calendar year there have been 25 boating fatalities and 120 boating accidents reported in the state.

Maj. Taylor reported that two Senate Fish, Game and Forestry subcommittee hearings on boating safety have been held and were perceived as positive.

Maj. Taylor announced that Tim Baxley has been traveling with International Dive giving presentations about DNR's dive program as well as the Smith case and our participation.

2. Conservation Education and Communications

Sonny Baines reported that they are developing a new DNR delivery package. This package contains a new folder design, a fact sheet, an updated citizen's guide, an updated education guide and career opportunity brochure. This package will be used by all divisions to promote the Department at their various activities.

3. Marine

John Miglarese stated that the Marine Advisory Committee is working closely with Law Enforcement on illegal commercialization of shrimp taken over bait.

Dr. Miglarese reported that the Marine Advisory Committee had lengthy discussion about disease issues and noted that one of the largest farms in the state has reported a case of white spot virus. The owner has undergone almost complete decimation of his stock.

4. Land, Water and Conservation

Freddy Vang announced that this weekend is Beach Sweep/River Sweep. They are expecting about 6,000 volunteers statewide.

Mr. Vang noted that on October 13, the SC Association of Conservation Districts will be meeting.

Mr. Vang reported that the next Land, Water and Conservation Advisory Committee meeting will be October 28.

5. Administrative Services

Benny Reeves reported that the State Auditors have not completed the FY 96-97 audit. They were instructed to go to another agency but will return to complete the audit.

Mr. Reeves mentioned that Buck Hall landing is now open and serving the boating public well.

Mr. Reeves noted that the financial report summary sheet , found in the monthly report, has been presented in a different manner.

6. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Brock Conrad stated that the Commercial Fur Harvest Report for 1997-98 has been distributed for information.

Mr. Conrad noted that an opening day, WMA Public Dove Field Program summary has been distributed. Mr. Conrad asked Tim Ivey to review this report.

Mr. Ivey reported that there are 48 fields in 46 counties with approximately 1,700 acres of prepared agriculture. Mr. Ivey stated that some hunts have had to be canceled. The Youth Hunt in Oconee was canceled because the field had been illegally baited by persons unknown, this hunt has been rescheduled. The field in Richland County, on the landfill, was canceled because the County decided to dig a 20 foot deep ditch through the middle of the field. The Kershaw County field was canceled because the total crop was decimated by army worms. Mr. Ivey reported that to date, this is the best year yet for public dove fields.

IX. Executive Session

At this time, Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board hold an Executive Session to discuss contractual matters relating to land purchases and mitigation, legal briefing on the Hilton Head injunction and personnel matters. Mr. Lee seconded the motion and the 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.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board approve the purchase of a 110 acre addition to the Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve as proposed by the Heritage Trust Advisory Committee. Mr. Lee seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board approve the acceptance of the addition to the Wacammaw River Heritage Preserve, through a transfer from the Historic Rice Fields Association, pending approval by the Heritage Trust Advisory Committee. Mr. Lee seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board approve the purchase of a tract of property of approximately 4 acres adjacent to the Jocassee Gorge property, subject to contingencies to be imposed by staff. Mr. Burnside seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board name former DNR employee, Michael L. Thompson, as an honorary Lt. Col. Mr. Burnside seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Miller made a motion that the Board approve the Agency Head Planning Document as submitted. Mr. Lee seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

X. Time and Location of the Next Meeting

Chairman Graham stated that the next meeting of the DNR Board will be held on Friday, October 16, 1998, at 10:00 a.m, in room 335 of the Rembert C. Dennis Building, in Columbia.

XI. Adjournment

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