Conservation Matters July 2013

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • Mussel identification and sampling workshop Aug. 20–23 in Junction
    Mussel identification and sampling workshop Aug. 20–23 in Junction

    Freshwater mussels in Texas face a variety of environmental issues and are increasingly at-risk, according to Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) experts. To help equip researchers, students and professionals involved with mussel work in the state, IRNR will host the Texas Freshwater Mussel Identification and Sampling Workshop Aug. 20–23 at the Llano River Field Station in Junction.

    Freshwater mussels are one of the most imperiled groups of animals in the world, said Dr. Charles Randklev, IRNR research scientist.

    “More than 50 mussel species have been documented here in Texas, and 15 species are listed as state-threatened, due to habitat loss,” Randklev said. “Five of those were recently added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service candidate species list, and six others are currently being reviewed for possible listing under the Endangered Species Act.”

  • Invasive aquatic species: a concern even abroad
    Invasive aquatic species: a concern even abroad

    Giant salvinia, water hyacinth and other invasive aquatic plants are a problem not only in some of Texas’ water bodies, such as Caddo Lake, but worldwide as well. 

    Elizabeth Edgerton, a master’s student in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University, said the native wetlands and freshwater ecosystems in Australia and New Zealand are also suffering from the growth of these invasive species. Edgerton saw the damage first-hand during her recent 5-week study abroad trip to Queensland and Sydney, Australia, and the north island of New Zealand.

  • Stakeholders eager to learn from new riparian education program
    Stakeholders eager to learn from new riparian education program

    With notebooks, water and cameras in hand, about 65 landowners and stakeholders explored a riparian floodplain near Plum Creek on a warm June day, all in the name of learning how to better manage land for riparian and stream ecosystem health.

    “I walked in knowing little, and now I understand wetlands, upland plants and how to look at my land differently,” said Caldwell County landowner Elizabeth Wymer.

    The first Texas Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education Program workshop was held in the Plum Creek watershed June 25 in Lockhart, said Nikki Dictson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist for Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and riparian program coordinator.

  • Learn prescribed fire from the experts with new online resource
    Learn prescribed fire from the experts with new online resource

    Prescribed fire, also known as controlled burning, is an effective way for land managers to maintain native landscapes, sustain rangeland production, enhance wildlife and reduce potential wildfire fuel loads, according to experts. Prescribed fire is the practice of planned burning that is done under specific guidelines and for the outcomes designed by plan. Experts from across the nation have partnered with eXtension.org to create a new online community on the beneficial use of prescribed fire.

    The Prescribed Fire Community of Practice (CoP) provides a variety of online resources including articles, an Ask the Expert tool, webinars, online training and social media resources from the nation’s top experts, according to CoP developers.

  • Save water and resources with summertime landscape tips
    Save water and resources with summertime landscape tips

    Dr. Calvin Finch, director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center and longtime water expert, answers questions about horticulture, water conservation and the environment in his weekly gardening and water conservation columns. The articles run in South Texas newspapers, including the San Antonio Express-News and Primetime newspapers, his question and answer columns are published in South Texas and Hill Country weeklies, and radio and television programs air in the San Antonio market.

    Recent articles have covered summertime issues, landscape tips and important water conservation questions:

    All of Finch’s columns are archived at wctc.tamu.edu/columns.

  • Watershed modeling workshop Aug. 13 in Austin

    The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) is presenting the Introduction to Watershed Modeling workshop on Aug. 13 at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) headquarters, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin.

    The workshop is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Building F, Room 3202A. Cost is $75 and includes course materials, a catered lunch and a certificate of completion. According to Nikki Dictson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist for TWRI, the workshop will provide watershed coordinators and water professionals with an introduction to watershed modeling.

  • Trinity River basin webinars focus on land and water management
    Trinity River basin webinars focus on land and water management

    The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Trinity Waters, a conservation organization based in the Trinity River basin, will conduct two webinars for landowners in the basin.

    The webinars center on the importance of proper land stewardship and water conservation to ensure future water for rural and urban areas that depend on the Trinity River. To view the webinars, visit forestrywebinar.net. Each scheduled from noon–1 p.m., the webinars are: Turning Your Land into a Sponge, Aug. 8, and Meeting the Water Needs for Texans and Wildlife, Sept. 12.

  • Builders and professionals invited to Dallas WaterSense home event Oct. 16
    Builders and professionals invited to Dallas WaterSense home event Oct. 16

    The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas is inviting home builders, landscape architects and municipalities staff to learn how to lead communities in promoting and building water-efficient homes at the Understanding the WaterSense Labeled Home symposium Oct. 16.

    Admission to the program is free, and it will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the center’s Building E Auditorium, 17360 Coit Road.

  • Water quality training Aug. 21 in Hamilton to focus on Leon River
    Water quality training Aug. 21 in Hamilton to focus on Leon River

    A Texas Watershed Stewards Workshop on water quality and availability issues related to the Leon River will be held from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 21 in Hamilton.

    The no-cost workshop is open to anyone interested in improving water quality in the Leon River and surrounding area. It will be held at the First United Methodist Church, 215 W. Main St. Participants are encouraged to preregister at tws.tamu.edu.

  • FWS report: fish passage program improves U.S. rivers’ flows

    More than 200 blockages in the nation’s major natural resource “arteries” were removed last year thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) National Fish Passage Program, according to the service. Working with numerous partners, the program improves fish passage, local economies and public safety by removing derelict dams that no longer serve a purpose.
     
    “Free-flowing, healthy rivers and streams are vital to our nation. Many species of fish, wildlife and plants depend on the natural ebb and flow of rivers at critical stages of their lives,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “I’m pleased to report last year the service and its partners reconnected more than 2,500 miles of streams and 36,000 associated wetland acres, providing opportunities for aquatic populations to increase and become more resilient in the face of greater environmental pressures.”

  • Save the date: Protect Your Groundwater Day is Sept. 10
    Save the date: Protect Your Groundwater Day is Sept. 10

    The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and the Texas Well Owners Network (TWON) are joining with the National Ground Water Association to promote Protect Your Groundwater Day on Sept. 10.

    The day is used to bring awareness and education to the public about what they can do to preserve and protect groundwater to meet human and environmental needs. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 99 percent of available freshwater comes from aquifers underground. According to the association, protecting groundwater is important not just for household well owners who rely on privately owned and managed water wells for drinking water, but also for people on public water systems whose daily habits have an impact on groundwater quality.

  • Winter pastures training for Central and East Texas Aug. 23
    Winter pastures training for Central and East Texas Aug. 23

    Many producers contact her too late for advice in establishing winter pastures, said Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service forage specialist, in Overton.

    “And when it comes to winter pastures, there’s nothing worse than too late,” Corriher-Olson said.

    To help producers do the best possible job of planning winter pastures, Corriher-Olson and Dr. Jason Banta, AgriLife Extension beef specialist, will be conducting the Winter Pastures for Central and East Texas short course from 9:30 a.m–5 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton.

  • Celebration to recognize 75 years of agricultural research in the High Plains set Aug. 29

    Agricultural research entities in the High Plains will celebrate “75 Years of Southern High Plains Agricultural Advancements” on Aug. 29 at the joint U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Texas A&M AgriLife Research facility, one-half mile west of Bushland.

    The Conservation and Production Research Laboratory will celebrate 75 years of scientific advancements with field and building tours, posters and speakers. Speaking throughout the day, they will outline what agriculture issues have been addressed over the years and the science-based solutions found.

  • Water, wastewater and desalination short course Oct. 27–29

    Texas A&M University’s Food Protein R&D Center is sponsoring the 9th annual Water Issues and Technologies: Process Water, Wastewater, and Desalination practical short course Oct. 27–29 in College Station. The course will cover pretreatment equipment, processing, systems, field testing, case studies and post-treatment technologies for membrane technology. The registration fee is $895 if paid by Sept. 30 and $995 thereafter.

  • Well owner program in Llano successful
    Well owner program in Llano successful

    Thirty-nine participants brought well-water samples to be screened at the recent Texas Well Owner Network (TWON) Well Educated training at the Texas Tech Llano River Field Station in Junction.

    The event was conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Drew Gholson, AgriLife Extension  program specialist and network coordinator, said attendees at the training were provided information and instruction on household wells, how to improve and protect water resources, groundwater resources, septic system maintenance, well maintenance and construction, and water quality and treatment.

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