Millaree Hunt Club
Friday, December 10, 2004
The regular meeting of the Board of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was held at 9:30 am, on Friday, December 10, 2004, at Millaree Hunt Club, Columbia, South Carolina. Notice of the date, time and place of the meeting was posted and mailed to the news media. Chairman Mike McShane presided at the meeting. Board members present included Michael Campbell, Stephen Davis, John Evans, Karen Floyd, Frank Murray and Smith Ragsdale. Mr. John Frampton and staff members of the Department of Natural Resources were present at the meeting, as were various guests.
Chairman McShane called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. and welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Chairman McShane asked Rev. Ron Kenyon to offer the invocation.
III. Pledge of Allegiance
Vice Chairman Campbell led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
There were no guests to be introduced present.
V. Constituent Comment
Tthere were no requests for constituent comment.
Chairman McShane asked if there were any corrections or additions to the minutes of the November 18, 2004, meeting. Mr. Davis made a motion to accept the minutes of the November 18, 2004 meeting as presented. Mr. Evans seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Frampton introduced Nancy Hadley and Loren Coen and congratulated the Marine Division’s South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement Program (SCORE) staff for receipt of the Coastal America Partnership Award that was presented to the SCORE partners on November 19, at the International Conference on Shellfish Restoration.
Chairman McShane and Vice Chairman Campbell presented the first duck box built for the renewed duck box program to DNR Board Chairman Emeritus Marion Burnside, for his continued hospitality in allowing the Board and its advisory committees to hold their meeting at Millaree.
VIII. Advisory Committee Reports
Mr. Davis reported that the Waterfowl Advisory Committee met on December 7. This is the first meeting of this Committee since July. Mr. Davis stated that the Committee is reviewing a mission statement. The Committee received a report on the early draw hunts, and updates on the wood duck boxes, the pin-tail telemetry project and phragmities control.
B. Law Enforcement
Mr. Campbell reported that the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee met on December 8. The Committee received a report on waterfowl enforcement; an update on Region 3; and an update on uniforms, long guns, BDU’s and cell phones.
Mr. Evans reported that the Marine Advisory Committee met on December 9. The Committee received a presentation on Blue Crab Limited Entry Legislation and voted to recommend that the Board move forward with the legislation as presented. The Advisory Committee also received a presentation on offshore fisheries monitoring and assessment. The Advisory Committee discussed raising the limit for Red Drum.
D. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
Mr. Davis reported that the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee met on December 9. The Advisory Committee received a report on the catch and release mortality of striped bass. The Advisory Committee received a briefing on gopher tortoise management and research. The Advisory Committee also covered the meeting locations for the public meetings for game zone restructuring and hatchery permit.
IX. Item for Board Information
A. Lower Savannah River Striped Bass Creel and Size Limits
Fisheries biologist Chris Thomason presented a proposal to lift a harvest moratorium on striped bass in the lower Savannah River that has been in place since 1991. Thomason provided a brief history of the sportfishery and the drastic decline that occurred during the 1980’s. A tide gate constructed in 1977 by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Back River along with a diversion canal (New Cut) as well as channel deepening resulted in increased salinity levels, flow velocities and siltation in spawning areas. Since 1991, restoration efforts have included removal of the tide gate, the diversion canal was filled in, and Georgia DNR has conducted an aggressive striped bass stocking program in the Savannah River. Thomason stated these restoration efforts have proven successful, although recruitment remains low.
The proposal is to lift the moratorium nine months early (October 2005) and would allow a two fish daily limit with a 27-inch minimum length limit in the Savannah River system from the Lake Thurmond dam downstream to the mouth. This would allow anglers a chance to harvest fish for consumption and possibly trophy fish. The creel and size limit would also allow nearly all female striped bass to spawn at least once in order to continue the long-term goal of restoring the fishery to a self-sustaining population. Another benefit would be partnering with the Georgia DNR promoting consistency in management and enforcement.
Mr. Davis made a motion that the Department move forward with staff recommendation, as approved by the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee, on the creel and size limit of striped bass in the Lower Savannah River. Mr. Campbell seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
B. Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner Appointment Process
This item was deferred to executive session.
X. Director’s Briefing
Mr. Frampton informed the Board that delivery of the new plane is expected in January.
Mr. Frampton stated that the Board should receive a draft of the Long Gun Policy in January.
Mr. Frampton distributed copies of a letter from USDOI – Office of Inspector General setting up USFWS’ audit of DNR’s Sport Fishing and Wildlife Restoration Programs for FY 2003-04.
Mr. Frampton announced that there is a newly formed Habitat Protection Section. Dr. Barry Beasley will service as the Section Chief and it will be housed in the Land, Water and Conservation Division.
Mr. Frampton updated the Board on Federal legislation relative to South Carolina.
Derrick Meggie distributed copies of the 2005 Legislative Package and requested approval for the first nine items for prefile. Mr. Evans made a motion that the Board approve the first nine items, as presented, as the 2005 Legislative Package with the understanding that it is subject to additions, deletions and changes. Mr. Campbell seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
XI. Deputy Directors’ Reports
A. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
Breck Carmichael reported on the trout stocking in the lower Saluda River. Mr. Carmichael reviewed the WMA waterfowl hunt results from the first part of the split season. Mr. Carmichael reported on the Pintail/Mallard satellite telemetry project. Mr. Carmichael informed the Board of the locations for the Game Zone Public Restructuring Meetings. After much discussion regarding game zones, Mrs. Floyd made a motion to empower the biologists of the DNR to reconstruct, logically, a plan regarding the game zones for the State of South Carolina, based not on politics, based on nothing but the biological needs of the State. Mr. Ragsdale seconded the motion. After more discussion, Chairman McShane tabled the motion until Mrs. Floyd returned so she can clarify the time frame.
B. Law Enforcement
Col. Alvin Taylor reported on waterfowl enforcement activities, so far this season. Col. Taylor gave the Board an update on 2004 boating accidents.
C. Outreach and Support Services
Carole Collins reported that license sales are down by 1% as compared to this time last year. Ms. Collins also reported that shop sales and magazine subscriptions are up.
D. Marine Resources
Robert Boyles reported that they will take delivery of the new research vessel in late January to mid February. This vessel will replace the Anita, which is 42 years old. This vessel is being purchased with federal funds. Mr. Boyles informed the Board that Bob Chapman and Craig Browdy were recently featured in an article in the Charleston Post and Courier regarding their marine genomics work.
E. Land, Water and Conservation
Freddy Vang distributed copies of the 2004 Tropical Cyclone Season Report prepared by the State Climatology Office. Mr. Vang distributed copies of the program for the Conservation Partnership Annual Meeting, which will be held in Charleston, January 3-6, 2005. Mr. Vang congratulated Jim Scurry on his completion of South Carolina’s Senior Project Management Certification Program. Mr. Vang distributed copies of the article “Beyond the Basin” Guide to Water Rights, from Governing Magazine, December 2004. Mr. Vang distributed copies of the Phragmites Monitoring and Control Summary 2004. Mr. Vang distributed copies of the Aquatic Plant Management Plan for Santee Cooper Lake Impoundments.
Mrs. Floyd clarified her earlier motion by stating that she wants Breck and his team do a biological justification for the rezoning of the various game zones for purposes of study and possible action down the road, as soon as possible but not necessarily for this legislative session. The second to the motion by Mr. Ragsdale still stands and the motion carried unanimously.
XII. Executive Session
At this time Mrs. Floyd made a motion that the Board hold an Executive Session to discuss contractual, legal and personnel matters. Mr. Campbell seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
XIII. Return to Regular Session
Mrs. Floyd made a motion to appoint Arthur Ravenel, Jr., to the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee, replacing Obie Stokes. Mr. Evans seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Campbell made a motion that the Board reappoint Knox Haynsworth to the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee. Mr. Davis seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Evans made a motion that the Board authorize the Director and Chairman to work with Mr. Vang on creating an appropriate award for Mr. Van Noy Thornhill to be presented at the Association meeting in January. Mr. Campbell seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
XIV. Time and Location of the Next Meeting
The December Board meeting will be held on Friday, January 21, 2005, at the Rembert C. Dennis Building, Columbia.
The February meeting will be held on Friday, February 18, 2005, in Charleston.
The March meeting will be held on Friday, March 11, 2005, in Columbia.
There being no further business to be brought before the DNR Board at this time, the meeting was adjourned.