Conservation Matters August 2012

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • New issue of txH2O: Texas drought recovery - are we there yet?

    txH2OThe Texas Water Resources Institute has published the Summer 2012 issue of txH2O. This issue of the magazine spotlights the efforts of community water system operators, farmers and ranchers to recover from the historic 2011 drought. Experts speaking at the Texas Water Summit, organized by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas, share their thoughts on securing Texas water for the future, and environmental flows experts discuss the importance of environmental flows regulations, particularly as illustrated by the recent drought. Heather Harward, executive director of H2O4TEXAS, answers questions about the organization and its promotion of Texas' state water plan implementation. The new Water Conservation and Technology Center and its director are also spotlighted.

    Read the issue for more information, and subscribe to receive future issues.

  • Congressman Gohmert visits Caddo Lake and giant salvinia weevil-rearing facility

    Caddo LakeCongressman Louie Gohmert of Texas and many members of his staff recently visited the Center for Invasive Species Eradication’s giant salvinia weevil-rearing facility at the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge in East Texas, according to Lucas Gregory, a Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) project manager.

    Dr. Allen Knutson, Texas A&M University professor, Texas AgriLife Extension Service entomologist and lead researcher at the facility; Lee Eisenberg, AgriLife Extension assistant; and Gregory gave the Congressman an overview of giant salvinia, a free-floating aquatic fern native to South America, and the center’s research program on managing the invasive plant with biocontrol, using giant salvinia weevils, and chemical application.

  • Water quality, land-management workshops for Trinity River Basin begin Sept. 7

    Trinity WatershedTrinity Waters, a landowner organization based in the Trinity River Basin, and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are hosting a series of workshops for landowners and other interested stakeholders in the region.

    The no-cost, half-day workshops will address water resource protection and improvement. Times and locations for the initial workshops are:

    • Sept. 7 from 8 a.m.-noon, IOOF Event Center, 600 N. 45th Street, Corsicana,
    • Oct. 29 from 8 a.m.-noon, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Center, 5301 County Rd. 4812, Athens,
    • Nov. 1 from 8 a.m.-noon, Walker County Storm Shelter, 455 State Highway 75 North, Huntsville.
  • Save the date: Texas Riparian Association annual meeting and tour Oct. 26-27

    The Texas Riparian Association (TRA) is hosting its annual meeting Oct. 26-27 at McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Bastrop. McKinney Roughs is a 1,100-acre nature park where the Post Oak Savannah, Blackland Prairie, East Texas Piney Woods and Colorado River valley converge to create an unusual blend of natural resources, according to organizers.

    The event will begin with a series of presentations and a social on Friday, followed by a trip to the Bastrop Fire Zone on Saturday to tour burned riparian areas with personnel involved in the recovery effort to stabilize creek banks and restart understory vegetation. For more information, visit texasriparian.org. To RSVP, contact Nikki Dictson at n-dictson@tamu.edu.

  • New Lone Star Healthy Streams manuals available for download

    LSHS manualA group of research scientists, resource conservation agencies, agricultural groups and producers has collaborated to compile five new Lone Star Healthy Streams manuals, all of which are now available for download from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Bookstore at agrilifebookstore.org.

    The Lone Star Healthy Streams program aims to educate Texas livestock producers and land managers on how to best protect Texas waterways from bacterial contributions associated with livestock production and feral hogs, said Jennifer Peterson, AgriLife Extension program specialist in water quality.

  • Nominations open for Blue Legacy Awards in Agriculture

    The Water Conservation Advisory Council is accepting nominations for 2012 Blue Legacy Awards in Agriculture. The award promotes the agricultural industry's efforts in water conservation in Texas and honors groups or producers whose practices enhance conservation of water while maintaining or improving profitability, according to the council.

    Due Oct. 26, nominations are welcome from any individual, group, agency, association, council or organization nominating an individual producer, family operation or partnership business operation. Individuals, families or businesses may also nominate themselves. Past nominees are eligible; previous winners may not reapply. The selection committee considers the use of best management practices, innovative technologies, leadership of the producer and sustainability of business as a whole.

  • UNT hosting Quail Symposium Sept. 21

    The North Texas Quail Symposium is set for Sept. 21 in Denton and will include presentations from many of the nation's top quail scientists, according to organizers. The symposium begins at 8 a.m. and will be at the University of North Texas Gateway Center Ballroom, 801 North Texas Blvd. Speakers will discuss topics ranging from quail hunting to the philosophy and science of quail management.

  • TWRI grant recipient studies water use efficiency of hybrid corn

    Drought-tolerant hybrid corn can be irrigated less than nonhybrid corn without sacrificing crop yield, suggests a study by Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant recipient Jacob Becker.

    Becker has been around corn all his life. The McLean, Ill., native worked with his advisor, West Texas A&M University assistant professor Dr. Brock Blaser, to determine whether drought-tolerant corn hybrids can be watered less and still produce the same yield as their nondrought-tolerant counterparts.

  • Conference on air, soil and water quality seeks input from agriculture

    A national conference on the environmental impacts of poultry and livestock production is calling for abstracts and not just from professional scientists, but from farmers and other agricultural innovators too, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service engineer.

    The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center will host "From Waste to Worth: 'Spreading' Science and Solutions" April 1-5, 2013, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Denver. The deadline for abstracts is Sept. 14.

  • Study eyes economic impact of Lake Conroe's lowering levels

    Lake ConroeThough ranked as one of the fastest growing counties in the nation for the last two decades, groundwater-dependent Montgomery County, Texas, is confronted with a looming water crisis that threatens its future growth, according to a recent study by urban planners in the Texas A&M University College of Architecture.

    The study investigated how increasing regional demands for water from Lake Conroe and resulting reductions in the recreational lake's water level might impact the area's economy. Though researchers found that anticipated lower lake levels present a threat, limited primarily to the lake-area economy, they said the impending regional water crisis poses a more significant peril to the county's longstanding prosperity.

  • Imported beetles prove effective in controlling invasive saltcedar

    Saltcedar leaf beetleSince 2006, a steadily growing army of tiny beetles from the homeland of invasive saltcedar trees—Crete and Tunisia—have been providing biological control by slowly eating their way through saltcedar thickets, said Dr. Allen Knutson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service entomologist at Dallas.

    "Most Texans who spend time along West Texas' rivers, streams and reservoirs recognize saltcedar," Knutson said. "It was introduced into the United States as an ornamental plant in the early 1800s, but unfortunately it escaped to become an invasive species. Today, dense thickets of saltcedar choke out desirable vegetation, use large amounts of groundwater and increase the risk of flooding as trees narrow the river channel."

  • International Water Seminar Series features Brazilian and local experts

    The Texas A&M University Water Management and Hydrological Sciences program will offer its International Water Seminar Series in partnership with researchers from Brazil beginning Sept. 5. Seminars will be held every Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the KAMU-TV studio.

    Speakers include experts from Texas A&M, University of Pernambuco, Sandia National Laboratories and Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation discussing topics such as the impacts of climate change, water management and water quality issues.

  • New Extension resource helps Trinity River Basin residents restore grassland

    Trinity Grass RestorationTo aid landowners in the middle Trinity River Basin and similar areas, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service has produced a publication with step-by-step instructions on how to restore native grasslands, said agency experts.

    "Many native grasslands are being lost to urbanization, fragmentation, row-crop farming and introduced grasses used for livestock production," said Dr. Jim Cathey, AgriLife Extension program leader for wildlife and fisheries sciences. "The loss of these grasslands has resulted in a dramatic decline in numerous grassland bird species, including quail."

    The middle Trinity River Basin between Dallas and Lake Livingston, as well as tall-grass prairies within the Blackland Prairie and Post Oak Savannah ecoregions, currently contain only about 1 percent of their historical native grasslands, Cathey said. The recommendations provided in the new publication, Native Grassland Restoration in the Middle Trinity River Basin, can be used as guidelines to help address the many strategies and procedures toward restoring native prairies.

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