October 22, 2019

Panel: Bipartisan Bills Enhance ESA Protections, Boost Hydropower Reliability

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 12, 2017 –

Today, the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a legislative hearing on H.R. 3144 (Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA) and H.R. 3916 (Rep. Ken Calvert, R-CA), the “Federally Integrated Species Health Act” or “FISH Act,” bills to improve the recovery of Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed fish while providing certainty for water and power users.

Clearly, the ESA process is broken and the status quo isn’t working for species, farmers and ranchers and rural communities that depend on our natural resources. Under the status quo, American taxpayers and ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the West spend literally billions of dollars each year resulting from conflicting or duplicative federal regulatory or judicial edicts under the guise of the ESA. These bills represent bipartisan, pragmatic solutions,” Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) said.

The current hydropower system along the Columbia-Snake Rivers is held hostage to litigation and unpredictable federal rulings that could impose tens of millions of dollars on taxpayers and Pacific Northwest ratepayers with little additional benefit to endangered salmon. H.R. 3144 creates a more reliable and cost-efficient regulatory framework by providing federal agencies that operate Northwest hydropower dams with statutory clarity in the enforcement of the ESA, in line with a collaborative plan deemed scientifically sound by the previous two administrations, several states, tribes, utilities, ports and other stakeholders.

The dams of the Columbia-Snake River system are multipurpose in that they provide hydropower, flood control, navigation, irrigated agriculture and recreation. The benefits of the dams cannot be measured by megawatts alone but in the overall value they provide the region,” United Power Trades Organization President Jack Heffling stated. “[Keeping the current federal plan] continues the programs that have proven extremely successful in migrating fish survival.”

“Eighty percent of PNGC’s power supply comes from the Bonneville Power Administration… PNGC values the clean, carbon free, flexible hydropower resources that BPA provides,” PNGC Power President and CEO Beth Looney stated“If BPA’s rates continue to climb at their current trajectory, they will likely not be competitive with alternative power supply choices in the region at that time… as an electric cooperative, we have a responsibility to supply power to our members at an affordable rate whether that comes from Bonneville or elsewhere.”

The four dams along the Snake River produce enough renewable energy to power 1.8 million homes annually or the equivalent of two nuclear, three coal-fired or six gas-fired power plants.

Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation Alan Mikkelsen expressed support to reduce litigation and refocus resources on the current operation plan while working towards “a quality long term [Federal Columbia River Power] System solution.”

The need to balance the ongoing operations of the [Federal Columbia River Power] System and achieving compliance with environmental laws is what H.R. 3144 seeks to achieve,” Mikkelsen added.

H.R. 3916, a concept supported by President Obama in 2011,  also eliminates redundancies and regulatory confusion across federal agencies related to ESA enforcement.

H.R. 3916  is [an] important step in reducing wasted time and money and represents a practical, common-sense change… that we strongly support,” Executive Director of the Family Farm Alliance Dan Keppen stated. The FISH Act provides an opportunity to enhance protections to threatened and endangered species by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government’s approach to species protection through better decision-making.

[SOURCE]

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DAM! What’s Going On?

Yesterday, I gave readers information, including a link to a Working Paper, the result of lawsuits and the compiling of information that appears as a possible threat to Americans when the U.S. Congress granted control of the Kerr Dam to the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) of the Flathead Indian Reservation located in northwestern, Montana. According to information provided by Lawrence A. Kogan and Anita Bradley, there are Turkish connections to the CSKT and involvement with the dam. These connections gave rise to concerns to many.

As part of this “concern,” the below information and links followed emails about the Working Paper, that included updated information. Before reading the below, I suggest you might want to first read the Working Paper. I’ve followed all the links provided and thoroughly read the media accounts. The media accounts provide what most people would call items of a legitimate concern – mostly because nobody has provided explanations of these events.

I will, however, remind readers of my comments yesterday when I stated that all media reports are, “lies and full of distractions.” That, of course, doesn’t mean a total disregard for what is written. On the same token it is irresponsible to blindly accept everything written as truth. That is up to the reader to determine.

I will point out one obvious example of how the media and those who provide information to the media screw things up and send mixed messages – either deliberately or ignorantly. In one of the news outlets, that media quotes a person of supposed authority as saying that over 50 stolen propane tanks could not be the work of terrorists because stealing the tanks would draw the attention of law enforcement. This is followed by another news report of “tens of thousands” of blank passports “possibly” stolen by ISIS or other terror/criminal groups. In that report, the concern was about the possibility that ISIS or other terror groups stole the passports. Why then, is stealing of propane tanks, that would draw the attention of law enforcement, not be terrorist activity and stealing passports would?

Regardless, it seems that there have been recent events following the supposed terror act in San Bernadino, that should be of concern. In addition, with relatively recent information that the U.S. Government is covering up possible terror events, including Iranian hacking into control systems of dams, I would think there should be legitimate concern about the Kerr Dam with the residents of Montana and the whole of the U.S.

Then again, all of this could be just distractions. Remember though, distractions are for a reason. Trust no one! Do your own work…if you care.

Here is the email addendum to the Working Paper:

Readers throughout the United States should be concerned about the connections the Kogan-Bradley report <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2704179> makes between otherwise separate policy areas, especially in light of the following recent media reports identifying troublesome but seemingly unconnected incidents-of-concern.  These include: 1) the FBI’s investigation of Middle Eastern men expressing interest in touring Bagnell Dam/Reservoir on Lake Ozark < https://www.ijreview.com/2015/12/495768-fbi-missouri-dam/ >; 2) the FBI’s investigation of 5 total confirmed incidents of bulk (60-100 unit) cell phone purchases at various Walmart locations in south and central Missouri < http://www.abc17news.com/news/fbi-investigating-suspicious-purchase-at-columbia-walmart/36877514>; 3) the administration’s cover-up of an FBI investigation of Iranian computer hackers securing access to the control system of a small dam outside of New York City two years ago < http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/12/21/iranian-hackers-gained-access-to-suburban-nyc-dam-in-2013-report-says.html >; 4)  the FBI’s investigation of the stealing of dozens of propane tanks at Kansas City, Missouri-based CVS stores and a BP gas station < http://fox2now.com/2015/12/11/dozens-of-propane-tanks-stolen-from-three-different-missouri-locations/ >; 5) Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s meeting with Khaled Meshaal, leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas <http://news.yahoo.com/turkeys-erdogan-meets-hamas-leader-meshaal-istanbul-sources-190315386.html >; 6) Islamic State’s stealing of “tens of thousands” of blank passports that it could use to smuggle its fighters into Europe, and potentially, the U.S., as refugees < http://news.yahoo.com/jihadists-stole-tens-thousands-blank-passports-report-154955786.html;_ylt=AwrXgiO003ZWWEsA_z_QtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjR0MTVzBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwM3BHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg– >; and 7) the administration’s cover-up of U.S. troops with prior Middle East combat experience <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/21/AR2010062104103.html> and current Syrian refugees being stricken with a lethal skin-eating disease capable of surviving for up to one year within the host’s body in tropical and sub-tropical climates and being transported to the United States <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/syria-epidemic-leishmaniasis_5671e7d7e4b0dfd4bcc07c8e >.

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How luck might run out for West Grand Lake’s superior landlocked salmon

By Randy Spencer and published in the Bangor Daily News:

Moose. Lobster. Blueberries. Potatoes. They’re all emblematic of Maine and our way of life.

Promotions of Maine often show another icon, too, usually airborne, a colorful fly dangling from its mandible — our landlocked salmon.

There were only four original sites where landlocked salmon were native in Maine — Sebago Lake, Sebec Lake, the Union River system, and West Grand Lake. The West Grand Lake strain has been deemed so pure that for decades, brood stock from these bloodlines has supplied 75 percent of the salmon stocked in Maine lakes. The economic ripple effect for Maine has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Scientists from Cornell and UNH have come here to study the spawning sites of West Grand Lake salmon to try, unsuccessfully so far, to replicate them in their home states. Whatever delicate balance exists, it continues to produce a valued Maine natural resource — the result not just of good luck, but of smart science.

Now, that luck might be about to run out, and at least four biologists have come out of retirement to work as volunteers to try to head off a fisheries disaster.

A startling recommendation made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would open the fishway at the outlet of 14,360-acre West Grand Lake and let in three invasive species: sea run and landlocked alewives (technically the same species), as well as largemouth bass established in lakes downstream.

If a private citizen were to do what FERC is recommending, it would result in steep fines and possibly jail time. Maine laws guard against the introduction of invasive species into Maine lakes with good reason. From baitfish to aquatic plants to exotic species, the record shows dire consequences can and do happen from such introductions.

The re-licensing of the West Grand Lake dam with FERC is due to be completed by this summer. “Normally, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) provides important comments in a timely manner on FERC licensing. After a deadline extension, MDIFW prepared those comments and sent them to the Governor’s office in December for approval, but for some reason FERC never received any comments from Maine on this highly important matter,” says Rick Jordan, retired senior fisheries biologist for Region C with 31 years experience.

He and two other former Region C senior fisheries biologists, Ron Brokaw and Denny McNeish, have mobilized, along with former Director of Fisheries Peter Bourque to try to prevent the impending crisis.

Lacking input from Maine’s biologists, FERC is recommending that the West Grand fishway “be operated 365 days a year to pass any and all fish upstream and into the lake,” according to Jordan. Up to now, the gates were operated by MDIFW in a manner that permitted salmon, but not other unwanted species, to return to the lake. This method protects the lake from invasive species while preserving its genetically superior population of salmon. This, in turn, preserves the salmon stocking program for the rest of the state.

FERC did consider input from both U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service. In a glitch that has left Jordan, Brokaw, McNeish and Bourque thunderstruck, submissions from the Maine scientists who have managed the fishery fell through the cracks of a bureaucratic labyrinth that has seemingly let in only the pro points of view with regard to the exotic species invasion.

Maine scientists fear that such an abrupt biological blitz will set in motion the devolution of landlocked salmon in Maine. “All alewives carry an enzyme that causes early mortality syndrome in landlocked salmon,” says Jordan. “These syndromes can lead to poorer vision, less prey capture, poor growth, reproductive failure, and a less immune fish, sometimes resulting in death of adults or juveniles.”

Jordan says alewives are capable of out-competing smelts for zooplankton, while larger alewives feed on smelts themselves, the preferred forage of landlocked salmon.

If the source of 75 percent of Maine’s stocked salmon is jeopardized by the lack of egg availability expected from this move, there may be a point on the horizon when landlocked salmon in Maine, like Atlantic salmon before them, would need to be listed as endangered. Fishery crashes of that magnitude have happened, but this team of biologists question the wisdom of bringing one about deliberately.

As for the glitch on why they haven’t been heard, they aren’t spending time assessing guilt or assigning blame. Instead, they’re working to sound a clarion call to all who care about Maine’s landlocked salmon. “If we lose this battle, the results in West Grand Lake will be irreversible,” Jordan added.

Jordan and his colleagues are asking concerned citizens to contact IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, Gov. Paul LePage, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin. On a final note, he said, “The West Grand Dam should not be relicensed in the absence of vital comments and actions recommended by the State of Maine.”

Randy Spencer is a working Master Maine guide, columnist, and the award-winning author of two books on the Grand Lake Stream region. Visit www.randyspencer.com.

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Busy As A Beaver

On one of my journeys through the woods hunting this fall, I came upon a very sizable destruction, if you will, of where beavers had created dams and flooded several acres of forestland. The below photo depicts only a tiny portion of what was taking place here.

beaverwork
Photo by Tom Remington

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Is A Landowner Responsible for Wildlife Destruction?

It used to be a common remark is response to something unbelievable to say, “You can’t make this stuff up.” It seems these days “you can’t make this stuff up” is so regular we just pass the information on is disgust.

In Maine, a person is being sued by the town because beavers built a dam, the dam broke, causing damage to roads, railroad bed, etc. and the town want the landowner to pay the damages because the landowner didn’t do anything to stop the beavers from building dams. And if that isn’t absurd enough, the landowner’s property is listed on the town tax maps as a protected resource.

I would guess that while readers find a way to get through this story, I will refresh your memories of a similar exchange of letters between a landowner and town officials over a beaver dam incident from several years ago.

Subject: Go Figure

This is a copy of an actual letter sent to Ryan DeVries, from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan. Wait till you read this guy’s response – but read the entire letter before
you get to the response.

Mr. Ryan DeVries
2088 Dagget
Pierson, MI 49339
SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;

Site Location: Montcalm County

Dear Mr. DeVries:

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:

Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department’s files shows that no permits have been issued.

Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994,
being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted.

The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2002.

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
David L. Price
District Representative
Land and Water Management Division
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RESPONSE:

Dear Mr. Price,

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;
Montcalm County

Reference your certified letter dated 12/17/2000 has been referred to me to respond to. First of all, Mr. Ryan De Vries is not the legal landowner and/or contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan.

I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris” dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.

While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natural building materials “debris.” I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity. My first dam question to you is:
(1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers? or,
(2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?

If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.3010,1 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated. I have several concerns. My first concern is aren’t the beavers entitled to legal representation?

The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation – so the State will have to provide them with a lawyer.

The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing flooding is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harrass them and call their dam names. If you want the stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition – please contact the beavers – but if you are going to arrest them they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter (being unable to read English).

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I do to live
and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers’ Dams).

So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2002 The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real environmental quality (health) problem in the area. It is the bears. Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone.

If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!)

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your answering machine, I am sending this response to your office via another government organization – the USPS. Maybe, someday, it will get there.

Sincerely,
Stephen L. Tvedten
The University of Texas at: Austin
Office Community Relations/Accounting unit
P.O. Box 7367
Austin, TX 78713

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Save a Tree. Eat a Beaver…..or Something

Stupidity and common sense hves run so amok that now nobody seems to know what to do with a problem beaver – kill it, trap it, trap and move it, adore it, invite it to stay and bring in more or simply marry one of the dang things. Beavers are always a problem when they decide to build a damn in the culvert that runs next to your house or along one of the roads Maine’s towns must maintain.

Beavers are a stupid creature that knows nothing but chewing up trees and stopping the sound of running water. Water runs through a culvert and often when it comes out the outlet end of the culvert, rushing water can be heard. This is like smelling Spinney’s fried clams out at the end of Fort Popham for the tourist looking to clog their arteries with some deep fried clams.

But as things go these days, people who think animals, even those that are too numerous and present too many problems, have rights and deserve to live to build a dam another day, want the creatures spared the death sentence. Makes little sense but then again what does in this day and age?


Picture editorial by Richard Paradis

I suppose being that much of today has been the focus on ignorance, idiocy and the vacancy of common sense, it is time one again to bring out the famous letter of the guy trying to deal with nuisance beavers and his inept government.

Subject: Go Figure

This is a copy of an actual letter sent to Ryan DeVries, from the
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan. Wait
till you read this guy’s response – but read the entire letter before
you get to the response.

Mr. Ryan DeVries
2088 Dagget
Pierson, MI 49339
SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;

Site Location: Montcalm County

Dear Mr. DeVries:

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality
that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced
parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner
and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:

Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet
stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A
review of the Department’s files shows that no permits have been issued.

Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in
violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource
and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994,
being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws
annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially
failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at
downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently
hazardous and cannot be permitted.

The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities
at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by
removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel.
All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2002.

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so
that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure
to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the
site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement
action.

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter.
Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
David L. Price
District Representative
Land and Water Management Division
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RESPONSE:

Dear Mr. Price,

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;
Montcalm County

Reference your certified letter dated 12/17/2000 has been referred to me
to respond to. First of all, Mr. Ryan De Vries is not the legal
landowner and/or contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan.

I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State
unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris”
dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.

While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I
think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of
natural building materials “debris.” I would like to challenge your
department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any
place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could
ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam
ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their
dam work ethic.

As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must
first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam
activity. My first dam question to you is:
(1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers? or,
(2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said
dam request?

If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through
the Freedom of Information Act I request completed copies of all those
other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we
will see if there really is a dam violation of P! art 301, Inland Lakes
and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act,
Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.3010,1 to
324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated. I have several
concerns. My first concern is aren’t the beavers entitled to legal
representation?

The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay
for said representation – so the State will have to provide them with a
lawyer.

The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed
during a recent rain event causing flooding is proof that this is a
natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In
other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than
harrass them and call their dam names. If you want the stream “restored”
to a dam free-flow condition – please contact the beavers – but if you
are going to arrest them they obviously did not pay any attention to
your dam letter (being unable to read English).

In my humble ! opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build
their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green
and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I do to live
and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and
Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the
natural resources
(Beavers) and the environment (Beavers’ Dams).

So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be
referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until
1/31/2002 The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and
there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them
then.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real
environmental quality (health) problem in the area. It is the bears.
Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you
should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone.

If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The
bears are not careful where they dump!)

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to
contact you on your answering machine, I am sending this response to
your office via another government organization – the USPS. Maybe,
someday, it will get there.

Sincerely,
Stephen L. Tvedten
The University of Texas at: Austin
Office Community Relations/Accounting unit
P.O. Box 7367
Austin, TX 78713

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