Conservation Matters March 2012

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • Institute hosts water seminar

    The Texas Water Resources Institute-Texas AgriLife Research and Extension is hosting a water seminar, "Collaborative Modeling for Integrated Energy and Water Planning," on Friday, April 6. The seminar, given by Dr. Vincent C. Tidwell of Sandia National Laboratories, is set for 11 a.m. in room 129 of the Agriculture and Life Science Building on the Texas A&M University campus.

    Dr. Tidwell is the first of three candidates for the chief water scientist position with the institute. Video of his presentation will be available after the seminar on the institute’s website.

  • Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership wins Texas Environmental Excellence Award

    Arroyo ColoradoThe Texas Water Resources Institute was recently selected as the winner of the Texas Environmental Excellence Award in the civic/community category for its Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership.

    Presented annually by the Governor of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Environmental Excellence Awards spotlight the state's highest achievements in environmental preservation and protection. Representatives from the institute will accept the award during the commission's annual awards banquet as part of its Environmental Trade Fair and Conference at the Austin Convention Center, on May 2 in Austin.

    "This award is definitely an honor for the institute, but the real credit goes to the farmers, the cities and other project participants who have made this partnership such a success," said Dr. Neal Wilkins, the institute's director.

  • Military Sustainability Program recognized with Extension Superior Service Award

    Soldiers on Fort HoodThe Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources recently received the Texas AgriLife Extension Service's 2012 Superior Service Award in the team category for its Military Sustainability Program.

    Institute members of the team are Brian Hays, AgriLife Extension program specialist; Dr. Roel Lopez, the institute's associate director; and Todd Snelgrove, AgriLife Extension program specialist. Other team members are Bill Ross, natural resources policy consultant with Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey and Leonard, LLP, and Justin Tatum, program specialist with the Texas Watershed Management Foundation.

    The annual Superior Service Awards recognize AgriLife Extension faculty and staff members who provide outstanding performance in Extension education or in service to the organization.

  • 2012 Texas Water Summit to be held May 20–21 in Austin

    2012 Water Summit BannerThe 2012 Texas Water Summit, hosted by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas (TAMEST), will be held May 20-21 in Austin. The event is focused on "Securing Water for Texas' Future," and will include experts from water suppliers, universities, and organizations throughout Texas.

    "Water security is increasingly linked to the security of our food, fiber and energy production systems," said Dr. Neal Wilkins, director of the Texas Water Resources Institute and the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources. "This conference will develop a common understanding of the science, technology, economics and policies needed to address the emerging challenges to our region's water security."

  • RFP: Corps of Engineers and NIWR water resources grants

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Institute for Water Resources (IWR) in cooperation with the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) has requested proposals for grants to support research related to water resources issues in the U.S.

    Grant proposals may request up to $200,000 in federal funds. Proposals must be submitted to the USACE Institute for Water Resource by a NIWR-designated institute or center, which for Texas researchers, is the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI). The government's obligation under this program is contingent upon the availability of funds.

    All proposals must be submitted by July 16 to TWRI in order to be approved and submitted to IWR. The RFP is available online. For more information, contact Danielle Kalisek at 979.845.2781 or

  • Conference highlights bacterial source tracking practices, advances, improvements

    Water Quality LaboratoryNearly 120 participants from 13 states participated in the 2012 Bacterial Source Tracking – State of the Science Conference February 28–29 to hear discussions on bacterial source tracking (BST) and current practices, scientific advances and improvements in application.

    The conference, held at the T Bar M Resort and Conference Center in New Braunfels, was coordinated by the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and funded by a state general revenue nonpoint source grant from Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB). Presenters highlighted BST uses in the existing regulatory framework and applications in food safety, provided an overview of BST case studies nationwide and updated participants on the Texas E. coli BST Library.

  • Texas Deer Study Group to convene April 19–20 in Stephenville

    White-tailed deerThe Texas Deer Study Group conducted by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service will convene April 19-20 and meetings will focus on deer management practices. Dr. Dale Rollins, originator of the deer study-group concept said that this year's theme is "Deer Management in Texas: Navigating the Deer Management Continuum."

    The group will meet 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. April 19 in the Graham St. Church of Christ Family Center, 375 N. Graham St., Stephenville and from 8-11:30 a.m. April 20 on the Dearing Ranch at Mingus.

    Rollins said the program was created in 1997 as a posthumous tribute to Donnie Harmel, the long-time manager of the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, and since their beginning, the meetings have moved around the state and have been planned around topical issues in deer management.

  • Wurbs appointed to McFarland Professorship

    Ralph WurbsDr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering, has appointed Dr. Ralph A. Wurbs holder of the Arthur McFarland Professorship in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University.

    Wurbs is a professor in the Water Resources Engineering Division of the civil engineering department and associate director of the Texas Water Resources Institute. His research interests are in water resources planning and management, hydraulics, hydrology and water resources systems analysis.

    Wurbs is the developer of the Water Rights Analysis Package (WRAP), which is the generalized model for simulating river/reservoir system management incorporated in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Water Availability Modeling (WAM) System.

  • Fish exposed to SSRIs exhibit abnormal behavior, Baylor study finds

    A recent study by Baylor University researchers has found that fish exhibit abnormal behavior and lower levels of anxiety when exposed to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), which are common drugs used to treat depression, among other disorders. Published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the study also found that human data for drug activity can be used to predict surface water concentrations of these substances that negatively impact fish behavior.

    The Baylor research, which builds on their previous study of pharmaceuticals found in fish downstream of a wastewater treatment plant, has implications not only for the environment but for communities planning to begin wastewater reuse programs.

    "This research is an important step in determining the long-term consequences of drugs taken up by fish in the environment and has direct implications for both survival and fitness of fish," said Dr. Bryan Brooks, professor of environmental science and biomedical studies and director of environmental health science at Baylor.

  • TPWD begins lesser prairie-chicken aerial survey

    Lesser Prairie ChickenThis spring, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will collaborate with state fish and wildlife agencies from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, West Ecosystems, Inc., and Texas Tech University to conduct a large-scale aerial survey for lesser prairie-chicken booming grounds across the High Plains region in all five states.

    Information from these surveys will be used by TPWD and the other state agencies to help conserve the bird in partnership with landowners and private industries, including oil and gas, wind energy and electric utilities, according to TPWD.

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