Conservation Matters May 2012

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • Water Conservation and Technology Center to focus on statewide water issues

    WCTCTexas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp recently announced the formation of a new A&M system center to address multiple water issues in and develop solutions for Texas.

    Texas AgriLife Research, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and Texas A&M University–San Antonio are collaborating on the development of the Water Conservation and Technology Center, which will support high priority projects that focus on Texas' water issues.

    Administered by the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), the center will increase the System's ability to meet existing and emerging statewide needs in water conservation and technology, according to Dr. Neal Wilkins, TWRI director.

    "The center will accelerate the development and adoption of new and innovative technologies to solve emerging water problems and meet future water supply needs," Wilkins said.

  • Experts urge further progress towards water security at Texas Water Summit

    water summitThe state should not waste the attention the 2011 drought has brought upon water security, said experts at a recent water conference in Austin. The need to move forward in research, planning and policy and to diversify Texas' water supplies were the common threads voiced.

    Water resources scientists, agency staff and industry experts spoke to a packed house last week at the 2012 Texas Water Summit in Austin. The summit, organized by the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas, focused on water security for Texas' future. The Water Conservation and Technology Center, a center of the Texas Water Resources Institute and Texas Center of Applied Technology, was a sponsor.

    Dr. Ron Kaiser, a Texas A&M University professor, said the state should not waste a bad drought, but use this opportunity to make substantial changes to water policy. He cited major changes made to water planning regulations after previous droughts, including changes in integrating different water laws into a prior appropriations system after the 1950s drought, known as the drought of record, and Senate Bill 1 in the 1990s, which instituted the current state water planning process.

  • Arroyo Colorado Partnership receives Texas Environmental Excellence Award

    Arroyo Colorado TEEAThe Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) 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 award spotlights the state's highest achievement in environmental preservation and protection.

    Representatives from the institute accepted the award during the commission's annual awards banquet May 2 as part of its Environmental Trade Fair and Conference at the Austin Convention Center.

  • IRNR military sustainability program receives superior service award

    The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) recently received the Texas AgriLife Extension Service's 2012 Superior Service Award in the team category for its Military Sustainability Program.

    Team members are Brian Hays, AgriLife Extension program specialist; Roel Lopez, IRNR associate director; and Todd Snelgrove, AgriLife Extension program specialist; 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.

  • Private-public partnerships foster land and water conservation in Trinity River Basin

    Water Conservation in Trinity River BasinThe U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced on May 8 the launch of a new Water Quality Initiative dedicated to improving impaired waterways in Texas. NRCS will manage the initiative by making $2 million in financial assistance available to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in the Chambers Creek watershed. This stream is a Trinity River tributary, flowing into Richland-Chambers Reservoir, a water source for roughly 1.6 million people in Fort Worth and surrounding communities through the Tarrant Regional Water District.

    Through this initiative, eligible producers in the Chambers Creek watershed in Ellis and Navarro counties will implement voluntary conservation practices to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities.

  • Singh awarded Bush Excellence Award for International Research

    The Bush Excellence Award for faculty in International Research was presented to Dr. Vijay P. Singh, professor and Caroline and William N. Lehrer Distinguished Chair in Water Engineering in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University. Organizers say for more than 30 years, Singh has dedicated his scientific and intellectual efforts for the betterment of humanity through national and international contributions to water resources engineering.

    The research he pioneered in entropy theory in hydrology now has its roots in collaboration with distinguished scientists and engineers from 15 countries, representing every continent of the world.

  • College students invited to submit design plans to EPA's Campus RainWorks Challenge

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching a new design competition called the Campus RainWorks Challenge to encourage student teams on college and university campuses across the country to develop innovative approaches to stormwater management.

    According to EPA, student teams, working with a faculty advisor, will submit design plans for a proposed green infrastructure project for their campus. Challenge registration opens Sept. 4, and entries must be submitted by Dec. 14 for consideration. Winning entries will be selected by EPA and announced in April 2013. Winning teams will earn a cash prize of $1,500–$2,500, as well as $8,000–$11,000 in funds for their faculty advisor to conduct research on green infrastructure.


  • Cook's Branch Conservancy receives Texas' highest award for private land conservation

    Cook's Branch ConservancyThe transformation of a clear-cut, overgrazed working ranch into Cook's Branch Conservancy has earned a Texas family the 2012 Leopold Conservation Award, the state's highest honor recognizing habitat management and wildlife conservation on private land.

    Operated as a program of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, Cook's Branch Conservancy is located on 5,650 acres in Montgomery County north of Houston. The property offers a rare glimpse into what a century of regeneration looks like in the Pineywoods region of East Texas.

    The Leopold award is conferred each year by Sand County Foundation, an international nonprofit organization devoted to private land conservation, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), as part of its Lone Star Land Steward Awards program. In Texas, the Leopold award is sponsored by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Silver Eagle Distributors and the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation.

  • Reduced tillage doesn't mean reduced cotton yields under drip irrigation

    No-till CottonLoss of production may be one concern cotton producers have on the Rolling Plains when considering switching to reduced- or no-tillage systems, said Dr. Paul DeLaune, Texas AgriLife Research environmental soil scientist in Vernon.

    However, not only will cotton growers not lose production with subsurface drip irrigation, but their economics will also improve, according to DeLaune's latest research article that will appear in the July-August issue of Agronomy Journal.

    "We found that tillage has no impact on yields, the net returns are greater and, because we can deficit irrigate, we can save energy and water," he said.

  • June 22 seminar to cover decision support for sustainability of Mexico's Calera Aquifer

    Dr. Francisco Mojarro, research fellow professor at the Autonomous University of Zacateca, will present a seminartitled "A Decision Support System for the Sustainability of the Calera Aquifer in Zacatecas, Mexico" June 22 on the Texas A&M University campus. The seminar will begin at 3 p.m., in Room 305 of Scoates Hall.

    Mojarro will be discussing a recent study that applied models to the Calera Aquifer to make several simulations quantifying the effects of five hypothetical scenarios over a 20-year period. In Zacatecas, during the period of 1965 to 1980, the attention of government and farmers was turned to the exploitation and use of Calera groundwater, according to Mojarro. Due to the lack of a plan for long-term aquifer sustainability, said Mojarro, severe problems in groundwater availability, soil, natural vegetation, and water degradation became a concern of state and federal governments. The Texas Water Resources Institute and the Texas A&M Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering are jointly hosting the seminar.

  • Invasive plant and pest workshop to be held June 9 in Junction

    The Invaders of Texas program is conducting an invasive plant and pest workshop in the Texas Hill Country to train citizen scientists to identify and report invasive pests of regulatory concern, such as the cactus moth and onionweed. Free and open to the public, the workshop is scheduled for June 9, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Texas Tech University Llano River Field Station (TTU-LRFS) in Junction.

    According to organizers, this workshop supplements the Invaders of Texas program by training participants to identify and report invasive pests while looking for invasive plants. The workshop includes a half-day refresher course of the Invaders of Texas program, with sessions on identification of regional invasive plants, website navigation, and data reporting. Participants are asked to provide their own transportation and bring a camera and GPS (if available).

  • AgriLife researchers working to pinpoint wheat drought-tolerance mechanisms

    Drought-tolerant WheatTexas AgriLife Research scientists are on a quest to find where different wheat varieties popular in the High Plains get their drought tolerance.

    Dr. Shuyu Liu, AgriLife Research small grains geneticist in Amarillo, is working with a group of scientists on an Ogallala Aquifer Program-funded project to identify key genetic regulators of drought tolerance.

    "We are trying to understand the drought-tolerant mechanisms in wheat varieties," Liu said. "In this study, we are looking at three widely planted varieties in the High Plains, TAM 111, TAM 112 and TAM 304.

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