TITLE 31. NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION

PART 2. TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT

CHAPTER 57. FISHERIES

SUBCHAPTER O. COASTAL MANAGEMENT AREAS

31 TAC §57.1011, §57.1012

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in a duly noticed meeting on January 27, 2022, adopted amendments to 31 TAC §57.1011 and §57.1012, concerning Coastal Management Areas, with changes to the proposed text as published in the December 24, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 8987). No changes were made in §57.1011. It will not be republished. In §57.1012(n)(4)(A) an improper citation was corrected, and in §57.1012(n)(4)(B) a term was standardized in reference to the executive director. Section 57.1012 will be republished. The amendments comport department rules governing the possession and display of handguns on coastal management areas (CMAs) operated by the department with the provisions of legislation enacted in the most recent general session of the Texas Legislature.

Under the provisions of House Bill 1927 (Regular Session, 2021), a person 21 years of age or older who is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm may carry a handgun in a holster without a permit in any location where such possession is not expressly prohibited. Under the provisions of H.B. 1927, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission does not have the authority to establish regulations to modify or prohibit the effect of the legislation.

The amendment to §57.1011, concerning Definitions, adds a reference to the Penal Code definition of firearms for clarity.

The amendment to §57.1012, concerning Rules of Conduct, creates an exception to the current rule regarding display of handguns to allow persons to possess a handgun in compliance with applicable law, including, but not limited to, applicable regulations adopted pursuant to Government Code, Chapter 411, Subchapter H and Penal Code, Chapter 46.

The department received four comments opposing adoption of the rules as proposed. Of the four comments opposing adoption, two provided a reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department's response to each, follow.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that a permit should be required to possess a handgun. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that statutory law provides for the possession of a handgun by a person without a permit and the commission does not have the authority to modify or eliminate the provisions of that statute. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the proposal is confusing and the public cannot determine what the legal requirements are for weapons possessed on department lands. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the wording of the rules is necessary to ensure their legal validity. The department strongly recommends that any person uncertain as to the rules concerning firearms on department properties contact the department prior to visitation in order to ensure that any prospective conduct is lawful. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

The department received nine comments supporting adoption of the rules as proposed.

The amendments are adopted under Parks and Wildlife Code, §81.006, which allows the department to authorize access to wildlife management areas (which includes coastal management areas) and §81.405, which provides the commission with authority to adopt rules governing recreational activities in wildlife management areas, including coastal management areas.

The rule as adopted affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 81

§57.1012.Rules of Conduct.

(a) General.

(1) This section applies to all CMAs unless an exception for a specific area and time period is designated by the executive director or by written permission of the department.

(2) The provisions of this section do not apply to persons authorized by the department to conduct research on the area and department employees in performance of their duties.

(3) It is an offense for any person to fail to obey regulations posted at the area or policies established by order of the executive director, fail to comply with instructions on permits or area leaflets, or refuse to follow directives given by departmental personnel in the discharge of official duties.

(b) Abandoned and unattended property. It is an offense for any person to:

(1) abandon a vehicle or other personal property;

(2) leave a vehicle, boat, barge, or other property unattended in such a manner as to create a hazardous or unsafe condition; or

(3) leave property unattended for longer than 24 consecutive hours.

(c) Alcoholic beverages. It is an offense for any person to publicly consume or display an alcoholic beverage.

(d) Animals and pets. It is an offense for any person to:

(1) possess dogs in camp that are not confined or leashed; or

(2) allow vicious or dangerous dogs to create a disturbance or hazard.

(e) Arms and Firearms. It is an offense for any person to display or discharge an arm or firearm, except while:

(1) hunting migratory game birds under the provisions of this subchapter;

(2) fishing by means of lawful archery equipment; or

(3) the person is licensed to possess and carry a handgun under Government Code, Chapter 411, Subchapter H, and is in possession of and carrying the handgun in compliance with applicable law, including, but not limited to, applicable regulations adopted pursuant to Government Code, Chapter 411, Subchapter H; or

(4) the person carries a handgun in a holster in compliance with Penal Code, Chapter 46.

(f) Camping. It is an offense for any person to:

(1) camp for more than 14 consecutive days on a CMA where overnight camping is allowed, or for more than 21 days in any 30-day period; or

(2) establish a camp and leave it unattended for a period of longer than 24 hours.

(g) Fires. Fires are permitted and visitors may bring firewood or collect deadwood or driftwood for fires; however, it is unlawful for any person to:

(1) fell or cut any living vegetation for firewood; or

(2) leave a fire unattended.

(h) Fireworks are prohibited.

(i) Fishing. Fishing is allowed under the provisions of Subchapter N of this chapter (relating to Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation).

(j) Graffiti and Vandalism. It is an offense for any person to write on, scratch, or otherwise deface natural features, signs, buildings, or other structures.

(k) Hunting.

(1) No person may hunt any wildlife resource other than migratory game birds.

(2) The hunting, taking, and possession of migratory game birds shall be as provided by Chapter 65, Subchapter N of this title (relating to Migratory Game Bird Proclamation).

(3) It is an offense for any person to hunt migratory game birds without possessing a valid Annual Public Permit.

(l) Motor Vehicles and Off-Road Vehicles. It is an offense for any person to:

(1) operate a motor vehicle anywhere other than designated roads, parking areas, or other areas designated as open for motor vehicle use; or

(2) operate an off-road vehicle anywhere other than in an area designated as open for off-road vehicle use.

(m) Airboats. The use of airboats is prohibited on CMAs.

(n) Natural and Cultural Resources. This paragraph does not apply to incidental or unintentional disturbance occurring as result of normal visitation activities.

(1) Plant life. It is an offense for any person to willfully mutilate, injure, destroy, pick, cut, remove, or introduce any plant life except by permit issued by the director.

(2) Geological features. It is an offense for any person to intentionally or negligently take, remove, destroy, deface, tamper with, or disturb any rock, earth, soil, gem, mineral, fossil, or other geological deposit except by permit issued by the director.

(3) Cultural resources. It is an offense for any person to take, remove, destroy, deface, tamper with, disturb, or otherwise adversely impact any prehistoric or historic resource, including, but not limited to, buildings, structures, cultural features, rock art, or artifacts, except by written order of the director.

(4) Wildlife. It is an offense for any person to:

(A) harm, harass, disturb, trap, confine, catch, possess, or remove any wildlife, or portions of wildlife, except as provided in subsection (k) of this section or authorized in writing by the department;

(B) release or introduce any species of animal life (including to waters within or bordering a CMA), except as authorized by the Parks and Wildlife Code and written order of the director or designee; or

(C) feed or offer food to any wildlife, or to leave food unsecured in a manner that makes the food available to wildlife, unless specifically authorized by the department.

(o) Wastewater, Sewage, and Garbage. It is an offense for any person to:

(1) deposit waste water, sewage, or effluent from sinks, toilets, or other plumbing fixtures directly on the ground or into the water; or

(2) dispose of garbage except in a receptacle provided for that use or as may otherwise be specifically authorized by department personnel.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on April 20, 2022.

TRD-202201517

James Murphy

General Counsel

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Effective date: May 10, 2022

Proposal publication date: December 24, 2021

For further information, please call: (512) 389-4775


CHAPTER 59. PARKS

SUBCHAPTER F. STATE PARK OPERATIONAL RULES

31 TAC §59.131, §59.134

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in a duly noticed meeting on January 27, 2022, adopted amendments to 31 TAC §59.131 and §59.134, concerning State Park Operational Rules, without changes to the proposed text as published in the December 24, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 8989). The amendments comport department rules governing the possession and display of handguns by visitors to state parks with the provisions of legislation enacted in the most recent general session of the Texas Legislature. The rules will not be republished.

Under the provisions of House Bill 1927 (Regular Session, 2021), a person 21 years of age or older who is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm may carry a handgun in a holster without a permit in any location where such possession is not expressly prohibited. Under the provisions of H.B. 1927, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission does not have the authority to establish regulations to modify or prohibit the effect of the legislation.

The amendment to §59.131, concerning Definitions, adds a reference to applicable provisions of the Penal Code to the definition of "arms and firearms" to accommodate the effect of H.B. 1927.

The amendment to §59.134, regarding Rules of Conduct in State Parks, alters current rule to the effect of ensuring that department regulations regarding the possession and display of handguns in state parks do not conflict with the provisions of House Bill 1927. Additionally, the amendment alters current language regarding exceptions to the prohibition of display and use of arms and firearms to clarify that the exceptions exist only during the authorized activities and not at any other time the person is within the park.

The department received four comments opposing adoption of the rules as proposed. Of the four comments opposing adoption, two provided a reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department's response to each, follow.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that a permit should be required to possess a handgun. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that statutory law provides for the possession of a handgun by a person without a permit and the commission does not have the authority to modify or eliminate the provisions of that statute. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the proposal is confusing and the public cannot determine what the legal requirements are for weapons possessed on department lands. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the wording of the rules is necessary to ensure their legal validity. The department strongly recommends that any person uncertain as to the rules concerning firearms on department properties contact the department prior to visitation in order to ensure that any prospective conduct is lawful. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

The department received nine comments supporting adoption of the rules as proposed.

The amendments are adopted under Parks and Wildlife Code, §13.101, which provides the commission with authority to promulgate regulations governing abusive, disruptive, or destructive conduct of persons; the activities of park users including camping, swimming, boating, fishing, or other recreational activities; and conduct which endangers the health or safety of park users or their property.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on April 20, 2022.

TRD-202201518

James Murphy

General Counsel

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Effective date: May 10, 2022

Proposal publication date: December 24, 2021

For further information, please call: (512) 389-4775


CHAPTER 65. WILDLIFE

SUBCHAPTER H. PUBLIC HUNTING PROCLAMATION

31 TAC §§65.199, 65.201, 65.203

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in a duly noticed meeting on January 27, 2022, adopted amendments to 31 TAC §§65.199, 65.201, and 65.203, concerning the Public Hunting Proclamation, without changes to the proposed text as published in the December 24, 2021, issue of the Texas Register (46 TexReg 8991). The rules will not be republished. The department notes that due to an error on the part of the agency, the introductory line of the proposal preamble as published was not accurate. As published, the proposal preamble indicated amendments to 31 TAC §§65.199, 65.202, and 65.203, which is erroneous. The statement should have indicated amendments to 31 TAC §§65.199, 65.201, and 65.203. The remainder of the submission, including the rule text, was correct. The amendments comport department rules governing the possession and display of handguns on wildlife management areas operated by the department with the provisions of legislation enacted in the most recent general session of the Texas Legislature.

Under the provisions of House Bill 1927 (Regular Session, 2021), a person 21 years of age or older who is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm may carry a handgun in a holster without a permit in any location where such possession is not expressly prohibited. Under the provisions of H.B. 1927, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission does not have the authority to establish regulations to modify or prohibit the effect of the legislation.

The amendments to §65.199, concerning General Rules of Conduct, §65.201, concerning Motor Vehicles, and §65.203, concerning Hunter Safety, create exceptions to current rules regarding possession of firearms to allow persons to possess a handgun in compliance with applicable law, including, but not limited to, Penal Code, Chapter 46 and Government Code, Chapter 11, Subchapter H. The amendment to §65.203 also make nonsubstantive changes to enhance clarity.

The department received four comments opposing adoption of the rules as proposed. Of the four comments opposing adoption, two provided a reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department's response to each, follow.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that a permit should be required to possess a handgun. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that statutory law provides for the possession of a handgun by a person without a permit and the commission does not have the authority to modify or eliminate the provisions of that statute. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the proposal is confusing and the public cannot determine what the legal requirements are for weapons possessed on department lands. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the wording of the rules is necessary to ensure their legal validity. The department strongly recommends that any person uncertain as to the rules concerning firearms on department properties contact the department prior to visitation in order to ensure that any prospective conduct is lawful. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

The department received nine comments supporting adoption of the rules as proposed.

The amendments are adopted under Parks and Wildlife Code, §81.403, which allows the department to issue permits authorizing access to public hunting land or for specific hunting, fishing, recreational, or other use of public hunting land or a wildlife management area and requires the commission to prescribe by rule the conditions for the issuance and use of such permits, and §81.405, which provides the commission with authority to adopt rules governing recreational activities in wildlife management areas.

The rule as adopted affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 81.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on April 20, 2022.

TRD-202201516

James Murphy

General Counsel

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Effective date: May 10, 2022

Proposal publication date: December 24, 2021

For further information, please call: (512) 389-4775