Conservation Matters December 2013

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • Youth field day at Temple Ranch covers wildlife and conservation basics
    Youth field day at Temple Ranch covers wildlife and conservation basics

    More than 200 seventh grade students gathered at the Temple Ranch near Freer, Texas, for the third annual Notice Nature Field Day Nov. 20. Hosted by Temple Ranch, the event brings together students from across Duval County for a day outside the classroom, filled with  presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities about the environment, wildlife, wetlands, land stewardship and how research helps Texans manage wildlife and habitats.

    “The first year, the event was just a field trip for one class as a supplement to its science curriculum that year, which was conducted in partnership with the Texas Wildlife Association’s LANDS (Learning Across New Dimensions in Science) program,” said Jenny Sanders, education and outreach coordinator for the Temple Ranch. “The field trip was such a hit that we wanted to figure out how to get more students involved. One phone call led to another, and now all the seventh graders from all three Duval County schools participate.”

  • Weevils successfully damaging giant salvinia at Caddo Lake
    Weevils successfully damaging giant salvinia at Caddo Lake

    Texas A&M AgriLife scientists are seeing significant areas of giant salvinia destroyed by salvinia-eating weevils at Caddo Lake on the Texas-Louisiana border as part of the Caddo Lake Giant Salvinia Eradication project, according to scientists.

    After releasing approximately 100,000 weevils at two research sites in the last two years, Dr. Allen Knutson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist, and Lee Eisenberg, AgriLife Extension assistant with the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), recently found large mats of salvinia destroyed by the weevils at the sites, Knutson said. Areas adjacent to the release sites show vigorous growth of salvinia, he said.

    “I believe we are finally making some progress with the weevils at Caddo, and if these populations overwinter well, we should see an even greater impact next year,” Knutson said of their continuing battle to manage giant salvinia at Caddo.

  • GIS training course set for Jan. 15-16 in College Station

    The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) will conduct an “Introduction to ArcGIS 10,” training course Jan. 15-16 in College Station.

    The two-day course will be 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 200 of the Centeq Building, 1500 Research Parkway, in Texas A&M University’s Research Park. 

    The course teaches the range of functionality of the software and the essential tools for visualizing, creating, managing and analyzing geographic data, according to Amy Snelgrove, IRNR program manager and instructor for the course. Snelgrove has her GISP and CTT+ certifications. 

  • Southwest Stream Restoration Conference coming to San Antonio in May

    The Southwest Stream Restoration Conference will be held May 28–30, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk in San Antonio. The conference theme is “Streams in a Dynamic World: Managing Today for Resiliency Tomorrow,” and the event will include presentations, panel discussions, exhibits  and professional networking focused on ecosystem restoration, according to organizers. Practitioners, managers, scientists and regulators are encouraged to attend. Abstract, poster and workshop proposal submissions are due Dec. 31. Sponsorship/exhibitor opportunities are also available.

  • Texas Water Star Program workshop for urban water users set for Feb. 14
    Texas Water Star Program workshop for urban water users set for Feb. 14

    The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Texas Water Star Program will hold an Earth-Kind landscaping workshop Feb. 14, 2014, at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, 3310 N. New Braunfels, in San Antonio.

    The workshop will focus on the primary fundamentals of Earth-Kind landscaping, said Jared Beaver, AgriLife Extension program coordinator for water and natural resources with the Texas Water Resources Institute and Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.  The program will include landscape water conservation through efficient irrigation systems, irrigation evaluations and auditing, using best management practices to improve plant selection and conserve water use reduction of landscape waste entering landfills, and landscaping for energy and water conservation.

  • Watch video recap of the Texas Water Journal Forum for free
    Watch video recap of the Texas Water Journal Forum for free

    The Texas Water Journal, an online, peer-reviewed journal about Texas water issues, recently held its inaugural Texas Water Journal Forum, “Water, Politics and Drought,” Nov. 21 in Austin. Fifty people attended with another 20 watching the live stream of the forum.

    The free forum provided perspectives from policymakers, scientists, water resource experts and regional leaders on current water issues, according to Dr. Todd Votteler, editor-in-chief of the journal.

    “Much of the discussion among the panel revolved around House Bill 4 and the Proposition 6 vote that funded the SWIFT (State Water Implementation Fund for Texas),” Votteler said. ”In particular there was much discussion about how the SWIFT money will be spent.”

  • New method of restoring wetlands successful along Gulf Coast
    New method of restoring wetlands successful along Gulf Coast

    More than 135 acres of prairie wetland habitat have been restored near Houston with a new method that may help additional acreages be recovered, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts.

    The prairie wetlands at Sheldon Lake State Park have been restored over a 10-year period using a novel approach of re-excavating soil covered up by other land-use situations, particularly agriculture, said Marissa Sipocz, AgriLife Extension wetland program manager in Houston.

    “The method we have used has changed how freshwater prairie wetland restoration and creation will take place along the Gulf Coast,” Sipocz said. “The genius of this method relies on its simplicity: re-excavation of the original soils.”

  • New papers in the Texas Water Journal

    The Texas Water Journal recently published an article in its Volume 4, Number 2 issue and a commentary in its Volume 4, Number 1: Special Issue: Groundwater.

    Freshwater inflow requirements for the Nueces Delta, Texas: Spartina alterniflora as an indicator of ecosystem condition by Dr. Joseph Stachelek and Dr. Kenneth H. Dunton examines fluctuations in the abundance of selected salt marsh plants and uses this information to develop estimates of freshwater inflow needs.

    The legacy of Charlie Flagg: narratives of drought and overcoming the monster in West Texas water policy debates by Dr. Ken Baake presents Texas water law history, the Ogallala Aquifer and its users as a continuing story in which producers and government policymakers are actors. The author uses Kelton’s drought novel and scholarly insights into how narrative works as a means of interpreting and contextualizing comments made at several West Texas agricultural water policy hearings.

  • Colorado River Alliance and Austin Water launch mobile river experience
    Colorado River Alliance and Austin Water launch mobile river experience

    In partnership with Austin Water, the Colorado River Alliance (CRA) has expanded its youth education programs to include the Texas Colorado River Mobile Learning Experience, according to CRA.

    With plans to launch in the 2014–2015 school year, the Colorado River Alliance will work directly with Austin Water and Austin Independent School District (AISD) to bring the field trip experience to more than 5,000 seventh grade students in AISD. In addition, CRA and Austin Water plan to reach an additional 3,000 to 5,000 sixth thru eighth grade students at surrounding area schools.

  • New water recycling video from the Texas Conservation Alliance

    The Texas Conservation Alliance has produced a 5-minute video, Water Recycling: The Wave of the Future. The video features recycling through wetlands at the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in North Texas and membrane filtration and shows how water recycling is safe and cost-effective. The video is available to view on YouTube and hard copies are available at no charge by emailing

    The alliance is the Texas affiliate of the National Wildlife Foundation.

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