Conservation Matters April 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Soil and Water Stewardship Week is April 27-May 4

The Texas Water Resources Institute has partnered with the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and 23 other organizations to highlight the important connection between voluntary land stewardship and sustaining water availability as part of Soil and Water Stewardship Week, April 27-May 4.

This year’s theme for the statewide campaign is “Land Stewardship: Providing Water for Texans.”

“With this campaign, the institute, along with the other groups, hopes to bring more awareness and support to voluntary land stewardship,” said Dr. Kevin Wagner, the institute’s associate director.

“How landowners manage their resources on private lands directly impacts the water resources available for public use,” Wagner said.

“Responsible and sustainable land stewardship increases the ability of open land to absorb rainfall, replenish aquifers and ensure that water drains slowly and steadily into springs, streams, rivers and lakes, reducing run-off and helping to prevent flooding,” Wagner said.

Wagner said effective stewardship practices include prescribed grazing management by ranchers, the use of cover crops by farmers, wildlife habitat enhancement and the targeted removal of invasive brush species, just to name a few.

“Voluntary land stewardship is an efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable way to ‘create’ more water for homes, businesses, recreation, agriculture and wildlife,” said Johnny Ussery, chair of the stewardship committee for the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Ussery said soil and water conservation performed in urban areas can also help supplement land stewardship efforts in rural ones.

“Urban Texans can become involved by practicing effective land stewardship at home, and in their neighborhoods, schools, and businesses,” Ussery said. “Small efforts, such as using plants in our home landscaping that require little water, can add up to major water conservation when practiced by millions of people across the state.”

Other partnering organizations in the public awareness campaign include Ducks Unlimited, Nature Conservancy of Texas, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Agricultural Land Trust, Texas Department of Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Coalition Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Texas Association of Dairymen, South Texans’ Property Rights Association, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas and South Texas Cotton and Grain Association. The Texas Forestry Association, Texas HORSE, Texas Deer Association, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Texas Poultry Federation, Texas Corn Producers, Texas Wheat Producers Board and Association, Taking Care of Texas, Trinity Waters, Texas Pork Producers and Quail Coalition are also partners in the campaign.

For more information on land stewardship, see this white paper.

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