Conservation Matters January 2012

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • A new year, a new look

    Notice something different? Formerly New Waves, this monthly newsletter is now Conservation Matters and has changed to better reflect the research and education efforts conducted by both the Texas Water Resources Institute and the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, as well as water and natural resources news from other universities and organizations.

    Conservation Matters is your connection to the latest research and educational outreach programs on land, water and wildlife in Texas and beyond state lines.

    Dr. Neal Wilkins, director of the two institutes, said both institutes have historically been successful in carrying out their respective mandates to enhance water and natural resources in the state. “This new electronic newsletter will communicate these efforts as well as news from university faculties and agencies across the state and beyond,” Wilkins said.

    News submissions or input on upcoming articles can be directed to Leslie Lee, Conservation Matters editor, at or 979.862.7139.

  • Institute seeking chief water scientist

    The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) is seeking a chief water scientist to lead the institute’s water science program in addressing high priority water management needs in Texas and the south-central United States, according to the institute’s director.

    “With water issues becoming the highest priority in Texas and across the region, TWRI is increasing our focus on collaborative programs with interdisciplinary teams of research partners within Texas AgriLife Research, the Texas A&M University System, and other state, national and international partners to address some of these issues,” said Dr. Neal Wilkins, TWRI’s director.

  • Edwards Aquifer plan will reconcile endangered species protection with stakeholder needs

    The Edwards Aquifer region The Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) has overcome the final hurdle in resolving a long-standing struggle to balance the protection of endangered species with water use in the Edwards Aquifer, according to the program’s coordinator.

    “The Edwards Aquifer Authority Board of Directors recently approved a funding and management agreement to implement a habitat conservation plan for the Edwards Aquifer,” said Robert Gulley, Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources program coordinator for the EARIP. “The plan is focused on protecting threatened and endangered species whose only known habitats are the aquifer-fed Comal and San Marcos springs.”

  • 2012 Water Resources National Competitive Grant announced

    The Texas Water Resources Institute announces the Request for Proposals for the FY 2012 National Competitive Grant Program by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR).

    Proposals must be filed online at by 3:00 p.m. on Feb. 23. The proposals will then be approved for submission to the National Competitive Grants Program by the Texas Water Resources Institute by March 8.

  • Prescribed burn alliance forms after record-breaking wildfire season

    Prescribed burn The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Texas AgriLife Research and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service recently assisted prescribed burn associations throughout Texas in a historic formation of a statewide Prescribed Burn Alliance of Texas to safely increase the use of prescribed burning, according to the institute’s associate director.

    Roel Lopez said prescribed burning, or the controlled application of fire to the naturally occurring build-up of fuels in a predetermined area, has been used for years to improve and manage forests and rangelands, improve wildlife habitat and reduce the risk of devastating wildfires.

  • Seminar to help conservation scientists take advantage of social media

    Science may be the last thing that comes to mind when considering the growing use of social media, but with the latest research showing that fully 65 percent of adult internet users frequent social networking sites, Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel are helping researchers embrace social media as an opportunity to communicate their work.

    On Feb. 13 at the College Station Convention Center, 1300 George Bush Drive in College Station, the Conservation Science and Social Media seminar will introduce researchers to using social networks to share their work in the digital age.

  • Expertise just a click away thanks to eXtension Ask an Expert program

    “Is a gherkin simply a small pickling cucumber?” “Do Rocky Mountain horses tend to be slightly cow hocked?” “Where can I send a hay sample for nutritional analysis in New Mexico?”

    The answers to these questions and many more can be found on and are provided through a program known as Ask an Expert.

  • Upcoming Forest Service events to help landowners recover from drought

    The Texas Forest Service is holding two events in February aimed at assisting landowners trying to recover from the ongoing drought and its impact on forestry impact.

    East Texas landowners are invited to a Drought Symposium on Feb. 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lottie and Arthur Temple Civic Center, 601 Dennis St., Diboll, Texas. The Forest Service also is offering a 2012 Timber Income and Property Tax Workshop on Feb. 17 in Diboll.

  • Free soil analysis program for producers in Lower Rio Grande Valley

    Free Soil Analysis Farmers in Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties are encouraged to take part in a free soil testing program to help the environment and their bottom lines, according to officials with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

    “Our soil testing program has been very successful for many years now in helping growers know exactly how much residual fertilizer is already in the ground,” said Donnie Valdez, a longtime grower in the Weslaco area and an AgriLife Extension specialist.

  • Improved free online mapping tool will help Trinity River basin stakeholders

    Improved free online mapping The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources in College Station recently released an upgraded version of its free Trinity River Information Management System (TRIMS), an online mapping tool for stakeholders within the Trinity River Basin. The upgraded information management tool can be accessed at

    “TRIMS provides access to the latest aerial photographs and information such as elevation, soils data, hydrology, land use, vegetation cover type and more,” said Amy Snelgrove, a geospatial technology manager with the institute. “This data provides the information necessary for conservation and restoration projects within the basin, particularly native grassland and wetland restoration, and bottomland hardwood establishment.”

  • TWDB requests research topics

    The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is soliciting input on ideas for research topics relating to the conservation and development of the state's water resources. As directed by the Texas Water Code, the research must be related to the conservation and development of water resources. According to the Texas Administrative Code, Title 31, Chapter 355, any person may apply for research grants. Generally, the research topics should address practical problems and not be duplicative of previously completed or ongoing research.

  • New Publications/Papers and Training Courses

    Methodologies for Analyzing Impact of Urbanization on Irrigation Districts, Evaluation of the CRITERIA Irrigation Scheme Soil Water Balance Model in Texas, A Progress Report for the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan, Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan Implementation Project Final Report, The Pond Destroyers: Common and Giant Salvinia, Estimating the distribution and abundance of the black-capped vireo in Texas, and upcoming training courses.

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