Conservation Matters October 2013

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • From the director: What we’re all about
    From the director: What we’re all about

    At the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) and the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), we share a complementary mission: land and water conservation. We also share resources, multiple locations and the expertise of more than 50 full-time professionals and support staff.

    We believe that the role of institutes in the Texas A&M University System is to advance the interdisciplinary approaches required to effectively address the complex natural resource challenges facing the world today. We bring together faculty, research scientists, county agents, agency partners and students, and we work holistically, combining sound and timely research, effective policies and appropriate outreach. Working together, we are able to accomplish what a single researcher or department could not do alone.

    As we continue forward with these missions, we appreciate your support and are happy to share with you our 2012–2013 Annual Reports for both TWRI and IRNR. These materials are available at and

  • Watershed planning short course Nov. 4-8 in Bandera
    Watershed planning short course Nov. 4-8 in Bandera

    The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) is presenting this year’s Texas Watershed Planning Short Course Nov. 4-8 in Bandera.

    The five-day course will be held at the Mayan Dude Ranch, 350 Mayan Ranch Road, about 47 miles northwest of San Antonio.

    “Watershed protection plans and the stakeholder-driven watershed planning process instilled through the course have become the foundation for water quality improvement efforts in Texas,” said Dr. Kevin Wagner, TWRI associate director and course leader.

    Course registration is $375 and is open until Oct. 30.

  • Get the latest information on Proposition 6
    Get the latest information on Proposition 6

    Texans will soon vote on nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. Proposition 6 would establish a water implementation fund and if approved, the legislature has also authorized a one-time, $2 billion appropriation from the economic stabilization fund into the new fund to support the water supply projects detailed in the state water plan.

    The Texas Water Development Board is the state agency tasked with developing the state water plan, and it has provided voters with FAQs on Proposition 6.

  • Learn social media basics at November training in San Angelo

    How can natural resources professionals use social media to provide education? Find out at “Social Media 101 — Raising Stakeholder Awareness in an Information Age” training Nov. 6 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 7887 U.S. Highway 87 North, in San Angelo.

    Hosted by the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR), the training will be 9 a.m–3 p.m., with registration at 8:30 a.m. It will cover the basics of social media and its effective use in online communications.

    “If you are in the role of outreach and information dissemination, you have a challenging mediascape to conquer,” said Amy Hays, IRNR program specialist and workshop trainer. “That challenge is finding a way to be heard against a tide of competing voices.”

  • Gardens and Greenway project set for West campus is accepting donations
    Gardens and Greenway project set for West campus is accepting donations

    A portion of Texas A&M University’s West campus is being transformed into a garden and greenway for students, faculty and visitors and will serve as an outdoor classroom for many academic disciplines.

    The vision of Vice Chancellor and Dean Dr. Mark Hussey, the “Gardens and Greenway” project encompasses approximately 45 acres north of Kimbrough Boulevard behind the Texas A&M AgriLife Complex.

    Private donors will fund 100 percent of its construction and maintenance, organizers said, and donations can be made online.

  • South Texas soil testing campaign to run through February
    South Texas soil testing campaign to run through February

    For the next four months, growers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley can save money while helping the environment by taking advantage of a free soil testing campaign. 

    “Agricultural producers from Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties are encouraged to submit soil samples for a free analysis to help them determine the amount of nutrients in their soils,” said Ashley Gregory, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service assistant for water programs in Weslaco.

  • Free recap of Trinity Summit available
    Free recap of Trinity Summit available

    If you missed the Trinity River Land and Water Summit on Oct. 2 in Athens, it’s not too late to catch a summary of the speakers, summit officials say. Blake Alldredge, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service associate in College Station, said a complete summary of the summit along with the day’s presentations are posted at

    The summit was conducted by AgriLife Extension and Trinity Waters with the goal of working with landowners and other stakeholders in the middle Trinity River basin to prioritize watersheds for future planning efforts and to develop monitoring strategies in those watersheds, Alldredge said.

  • Have a pond? Try these new apps from AgriLife Extension

    The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Wildlife and Fisheries unit recently received a grant from the Renewable Resources Extension Act to produce several mobile phone and device applications (apps) for pond and fish management. Landowners can have instant access to valuable management tools, with the unit’s first five apps now available for download: AquaPlant, AquaRef, PondCalc, AquaCide and AmmoniaCalc.

  • Texas A&M creates Texas-size genomic grant program

    Intending to empower the next generation of cutting-edge genomics research, members of The Texas A&M University System have contributed monies to create the largest internally funded genomics research grant program of its kind, officials said.

    The funds, totaling $1.26 million, come from Texas A&M University and its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Dwight Look College of Engineering, Division of Research, Whole Systems Genomics Initiative and Texas A&M Health Science Center, along with the A&M System’s Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station.

  • Free Texas Watershed Steward workshops coming to the Houston area
    Free Texas Watershed Steward workshops coming to the Houston area

    Two free Texas Watershed Steward (TWS) workshops on water quality and availability issues in the Greater Houston Area will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 5–6.

    The Nov. 5 workshop will be at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, 13016 University Blvd., Sugar Land. The Nov. 6 workshop will be at the Spring Creek Greenway Nature Center, 1300 Riley Fuzzell Road, Spring.

  • Whooping cranes beginning fall journey to Texas
    Whooping cranes beginning fall journey to Texas

    Endangered whooping cranes have begun their annual 2,400-mile fall migration from Canada to Texas. As the rare birds approach the Lone State, a citizen science initiative is inviting Texas residents and visitors to report “whooper” sightings.

    Texas Whooper Watch is a volunteer monitoring program that is a part of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Texas Nature Trackers program. The program was developed to help the agency learn more about whooping cranes and their winter habitats in Texas.

  • Study evaluates exposure, adaptation to how climate change affects North American rangelands

    A group of eight U.S. scientists, including Texas A&M University’s Dr. David Briske and Dr. Bruce McCarl, recently published two assessments that identify trends and projections for climate change effects on rangeland and evaluate adaptation strategies.

    “These papers offer an objective, comprehensive assessment of climate trends and contingency planning as it relates to North American rangelands,” said Briske, a professor in the Department of Ecosystem and Science Management at Texas A&M.

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