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Board Meeting Minutes

MEETING MINUTES
BOARD OF GAME AND INLAND FISHERIES
4000 West Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 
March 25, 2004, 9:00 a.m.

PRESENT:  Dan Hoffler, Chairman, Marshall Davison, John Montgomery, Jr.,  Richard Railey, Jr., Will McNeely, Sherry Crumley, Jack Shoosmith, Dan McCoy, Cecil Campbell, Chuck Cunningham, ABSENT:  Richard Corrigan, schedule conflict; DIRECTOR:  William L. Woodfin, Jr., LEGAL COUNSEL:  Roger Chaffe; SENIOR STAFF:  Ray Davis, Bob Duncan, Jeff Uerz, Charlie Sledd, David Whitehurst, Herb Foster, Gary Martel 

Chairman Hoffler called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.  He welcomed visitors, announced that a quorum was present, and requested Jeff Uerz to lead the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. 

Recognition of Employees and Others:  Director Woodfin announced that the Board was adjusting its posted agenda to accommodate scheduling needs for former Congressman Howard Pollock, Vice President of Shikar-Safari Club International.  Dr. Pollock recognized Sergeant Chris Thomas as the Shikar-Safari Club International’s wildlife officer of the year and presented him with the Club’s awards.  Sergeant Thomas thanked Skikar-Safari for the recognition. 

Closed Session:  At 9:15 a.m., Ms. Crumley moved, seconded by Mr. Railey, passed unanimously, that the Board go into a closed meeting pursuant to § 2.2-3711.A.3 of the Code of Virginia for discussion or consideration of the acquisition of real property for a public purpose, or of the disposition of publicly held real property with respect to a property acquisition in Frederick County, and pursuant to § 2.2-3711.A.1 of the Code of Virginia for discussion or consideration of employment, assignment, appointment, promotion, performance, demotion, salaries, disciplining, or resignation of specific public officers, appointees or employees of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, specifically regarding the Director’s annual performance evaluation. 

In open session at 9:50 a.m., Ms. Crumley certified, seconded by Mr. Montgomery, passed unanimously in a show of hands vote, that whereas the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries had convened a closed meeting on this date pursuant to an affirmative recorded vote and in accordance with the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, and whereas § 2.2-3712.D of the Code requires a certification by this Board that such closed meeting was conducted in conformity with Virginia law, now, therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries hereby certifies that (i) to the best of each member’s knowledge, only public business matters lawfully exempted from open meeting requirements by Virginia law were discussed in the closed meeting to which the certification resolution applied, and (ii) only such public business matters as were identified in the motion convening the closed meeting were heard, discussed or considered by the Board.  Ayes:  Davison, Hoffler, Montgomery, Railey, McNeely, Crumley, Shoosmith, McCoy, Campbell and Cunningham). 

Ms. Crumley moved, seconded by Mr. Railey, passed unanimously in a show of hands vote, that the Board authorize the Director to proceed to acquire up to approximately 30 acres of land in the county of Frederick to be known as the Redbud Run Conservation Area, and such authorization shall be according to applicable state procedures not to exceed $25,000 in total costs.  Ayes:  Davison, Hoffler, Montgomery, Railey, McNeely, Crumley, Shoosmith, McCoy, Campbell and Cunningham). 

Public Comment, Non-Agenda Items:  Chairman Hoffler asked individuals speaking for themselves to limit their comments to three minutes.  Speakers representing groups were asked to limit their comments to five minutes. 

Paulette Albright, Montebello, Virginia indicated that she attended a Board meeting in the fall and encouraged the Board to keep fish hatcheries, and specifically Montebello, in operation and opened to the public.  She referenced a petition that she distributed and indicated that she sent an additional 600 signatures to the Fifth Congressional District representative, and asked the Board to give the petition the attention that it deserved. 

Lee Martin, Vice-President of the Richmond Power Boat Association, Quinton, Virginia indicated that she was attending the meeting to advise the Board of a problem of sand and silt build-up at the Osborne Boat Landing.  She stated that it was a public safety issue and asked the Board to accelerate the Department’s plans to have the site dredged before the summer months. 

Marcia Carvalho, Richmond, Virginia asked the Board to help to have the Osborne Boat Landing dredged as soon as possible, and she offered her assistance to staff to help facilitate the project before the boating season begins. 

Director Woodfin commented that due to a 60% reduction in the Department’s boating funds (the watercraft sales and use tax) being redirected from the Department, much of the agency’s planned boating work has been negatively impacted.  He stated that the agency is committed to completing the work needed at the Osborne Landing. 

Minutes of the October 23, 2003 Meeting:  The draft October 23, 2004 meeting minutes were included in the meeting briefing materials and they have been posted on the agency’s Website.  Chairman Hoffler called for any additions or corrections to the minutes.  As there were none, Mr. Cunningham moved, seconded by Mr. Montgomery, passed unanimously in a show of hands vote, that the minutes be approved as written.  Ayes:  Davison, Hoffler, Montgomery, Railey, McNeely, Crumley, Shoosmith, McCoy, Campbell and Cunningham). 

Proposed Regulation Cycle Change:  Charlie Sledd presented a proposal to the Board that would combine the wildlife, fisheries, nongame and boating regulation reviews into a single review to be conducted on a two-year cycle.  Mr. Sledd noted that because of HB 301 that gives the Board the authority to adjust fees no more than once every three years, the regulation review could also be conducted on a three-year cycle.  Board meetings would be held in March, June, August and late October of each year.  Beginning in 2005, at its March meeting, the Board would hear staff recommendations for regulation changes and the public would also present its requests at that time.  At the August meeting, the Board would approve regulation proposals for advertisement, the official public comment period would open, and public input meetings would be conducted around the state.  Final action would be taken on the advertised proposals at an October meeting, and the regulation changes would become effective in July of the following year.  Constituent input has shown support for this proposed change.  The Board would continue to take annual action on the webless migratory gamebird and migratory waterfowl seasons.  The scheduled 2004 review of fisheries regulations will be delayed until 2005. 

After the proposal was discussed, Mr. Railey moved, seconded by Mr. Montgomery, passed unanimously in a show of hands vote, that the Board adopt the staff recommendations to revise the regulatory process and authorize that the appropriate procedures be drafted to replace the January 1997 regulatory procedures currently in effect.    Ayes:  Davison, Hoffler, Montgomery, Railey, McNeely, Crumley, Shoosmith, McCoy, Campbell and Cunningham).  This revised process will postpone the 2004 fisheries, wildlife diversity and boating regulation review to 2005, when the regulations review for wildlife, fisheries, wildlife diversity, and boating will be conducted at Board meetings held in March, August and October. 

Access Fees at Agency-Owned Facilities:  Virgil Kopf was recognized.  He indicated that a workgroup that had been assessing access fees for agency-owned facilities had presented a preliminary report on its findings at the October 2003 meeting, and that they had planned to present final recommendations to the Board at this meeting.  Because the General Assembly has not approved a budget for 2004-2006, and due to language in the proposed budget that could potentially impact any decision made on access fees, the Board took no action on this item. 

Deer Enclosures:  Bob Duncan presented an overview of issues associated with any high fencing that may be erected by private citizens for the purpose of confining deer within enclosures when hunting would be permitted within the enclosure.  Legislation was enacted in 2001 that disallows the erection of high fences for this purpose.  Existing facilities were grandfathered if they registered with the Department, but the legislation prohibited the transfer of the existing facilities to another owner.  The facilities registered with the Department had to agree to adhere to management procedures established by the Department.  Five facilities registered.  Problems have been identified and the Department has had to close some of these facilities.  Staff is concerned about these facilities due to the intrastate ban on movement of cervids because of disease concerns as well as the unauthorized possession of a public resource.  Staff continues to evaluate this issue, but in the interim, when inquiries are received from landowners wishing to construct fences, they are advised that the fence must be five feet or less in height.  If the fence is higher than five feet, deer cannot be hunted within the enclosure.   Staff indicated that the topic will be evaluated further and that draft regulations will be brought to the Board at a future date to insure consistency. 

Automated Harvest Recording System and Associated Regulations:  Bob Duncan was requested to present an overview of the Board’s action that allows for the tagging of big game animals and automated checking of harvested game, beginning in 2004.  Licenses will be redesigned to eliminated the removable tags and provide a mechanism to allow the license to be notched in the appropriate area when game is harvested before it is moved from the harvest site.  Mr. Duncan indicated that turkeys and bears harvested in the fall must still be checked at a game check station to allow for the collection of biological data.  Once a tag is notched, the checking process must be completed and a validation number will be assigned that must be recorded on the license.  Hunters may also elect to check deer and spring gobblers by using a telephone checking mechanism to legally check harvested game.  A validation number will also be provided that will have to be recorded on the license. 

Mr. Duncan presented staff’s recommendations for amendments to 4 VAC 15-50-81, 4 VAC 15-90-231, 4 VAC 15-90-241, 4 VAC 15-240-81 and 4 VAC 15-240-91. 

Amend 4 VAC 15-50-81 to clarify the appropriate way to notch the bear tag from the bear-deer and turkey license. 

Amend 4 VAC 15-90-231 to clarify the appropriate way to notch a deer tag from the bear, deer and turkey license and remove the reference to Telecheck by substituting the phrase “Automated harvest reporting system”. 

Amend 4 VAC 15-90-241 to remove the reference to Telecheck by substituting the phrase “automated harvest reporting system” and add text to describe the forfeiture of the deer carcass to the Commonwealth if this section is violated. 

Amend 4 VAC 15-240-81 to clarify the appropriate way to notch a turkey tag from the bear, deer and turkey license and remove the reference to Telecheck by substituting the phrase “automated harvest reporting system”. 

Amend 4 VAC 15-240-91 to remove the reference to Telecheck by substituting the phrase “automated harvest reporting system and add text to describe the forfeiture of the turkey carcass to the Commonwealth if this section is violated. 

After discussion, Mr. Railey moved, seconded by Mr. Montgomery, passed unanimously by a show of hands vote, that the above referenced regulation amendments be advertised for public comment.  Ayes:  Davison, Hoffler, Montgomery, Railey, McNeely, Crumley, Shoosmith, McCoy, Campbell and Cunningham). 

Director’s Report:  Charlie Sledd presented an overview of the 41 bills that were tracked by the Department during the 2004 legislative session.  Of the 41 bills tracked, 24 passed, 12 failed and five were carried forward to 2005.   

Mr. Sledd presented an overview of two budget amendments that will impact the agency. The Senate has an amendment that would require the Department to maintain operation and visitor access to all state-owned fish hatcheries and it would allow the Department to charge up to $1.00 per visitor to offset its costs.  If passed as written, this budget amendment excludes two trout facilities (Wytheville and Paint Bank, which are owned by the Federal government).  It includes the four warm water hatcheries, where there is little or no demand for public access. 

The House has an amendment that would require the Department to continue to operate the Montebello Hatchery in both the first and second year of the biennium and that it provide public access to the hatchery for at least six months in both the first and second year. 

To comply with the Senate amendment, it will cost the Department approximately $85,000 annually.  It will cost approximately $60,000 to reopen trout hatcheries to public visitation for approximately six or seven months per year, and Mr. Woodfin asked for the Board’s support to allow staff to seasonally reopen the trout hatcheries to public visitation.  No objections were heard on this request.

Mr. Sledd indicated that at a future meeting, once the General Assembly has approved a budget, staff will present a draft regulation to the Board that may establish an access fee to agency-owned facilities.

Mr. Woodfin read letters he recently received from Danny Cox, and his son Blake, describing their experiences while participating in a youth hunt at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  The writers commended Department staff for its work.

Director Woodfin asked the Board to rescind an earlier action that directed the Department to proceed to acquire property in Tazewell County.  Ms. Crumley moved, seconded by Mr. Montgomery, passed unanimously by a show of hands vote, that the Board rescind its motion of August 21, 2003 regarding the acquisition of approximately 215 acres of land in Tazewell County to protect habitat for Virginia Big-Eared and Indiana bats, which are federally endangered species.  Ayes:  Davison, Hoffler, Montgomery, Railey, McNeely, Crumley, Shoosmith, McCoy, Campbell and Cunningham).  This motion reflects a decision by the landowner to withdraw his offer for the Department to acquire this property.

Director Woodfin reported that the Department continues its work with WalMart to automate its delivery of our licenses to buyers.  WalMart sells approximately 48% of the Department’s licenses.  WalMart hopes to have its automation in place before the opening of the 2004 hunting season.  The WalMart and Bass Pro automated licenses provide an opportunity for the purchaser of a license to donate to the Hunters for the Hungry program.

Mr. Woodfin reported that Department staff has been working with the Virginia Film Office to allow a film production company to use the Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area to construct a Native American village to be used in its production entitled “The New World”.  Filming is expected to begin this summer.

Mr. Woodfin reported that at the Board’s direction, a full time grants position was created and filled.  Tom Wilcox has successfully acquired new grant funds over the last year.

The Marion Office contractor is experiencing financial difficulty.  Subcontractors are not being paid. Ray Davis reported that the agency may have to declare the contractor in default and turn the project over to the bonding company for completion.

Ray Davis reported that he has received requests from several license agent applicants asking that they be exempted from requirements of the Board’s policy for the appointment and removal of license agents.  He asked, and the Board concurred, that staff be allowed to deal with these requests administratively.

Mike Caison was recognized.  He introduced David Turner to the Board and commended Mr. Turner and his family for their continued support of the Department.  Over the years, Mr. Turner and his family have sold bronze sculptures and donated the proceeds to the Department’s nongame programs.  Additionally, Mr. Turner donated a bronze deer sculpture to the Department that has been placed in front of the 4016 building.  This sculpture is valued at approximately $32,000.  Dominion Resources donated the costs to install the deer in front of the building.  The Board and staff thanked Mr. Turner and commended him for his continued support of the Commonwealth’s wildlife resources.

Mr. Turner commented that he is committed to the Commonwealth’s natural resources, and he pledged his continued support to the Department and its work.  He also thanked the Board for its presence on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  On behalf of the Board, Chairman Hoffler recognized and thanked Mr. Turner for his support.

Mr. Woodfin reported that advertisements will begin April 1 that advise the public not to drink and boat and drink and drive.  The Governor is the spokesperson and the advertisement features a game warden and state troopers.

Adjournment:  As there was no further business, at 11:15 a.m., Mr. McCoy moved adjournment, seconded by Ms. Crumley, passed unanimously by a show of hands vote.  Ayes:  Davison, Hoffler, Montgomery, Railey, McNeely, Crumley, Shoosmith, McCoy, Campbell and Cunningham).

Respectfully submitted,


Belle Harding
Secretary to the Director

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