Conservation Matters August 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • Celebrate Protect Your Groundwater Day Sept. 9
    Celebrate Protect Your Groundwater Day Sept. 9

    Join the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) Sept. 9 in recognizing the importance of groundwater as part of Protect Your Groundwater Day.

    Protecting groundwater consists of protecting it from contamination and using the resource wisely, and citizens’ actions directly impact groundwater quality and quantity, according to NGWA.

  • Meet a Scientist: Kirk Winemiller
    Meet a Scientist: Kirk Winemiller

    Dr. Kirk Winemiller became fascinated by natural science at an early age. “As a child, I liked the outdoors, and I liked animals,” he said. “I grew up in a rural area playing outside in the woods and meadows, especially streams.”

    Today, Winemiller is an ecologist and Regents Professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University. “It’s a privilege to get to do science and explore nature as a profession,” he said. He received a masters in zoology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, then a doctorate in zoology from the University of Texas at Austin, studying aquatic ecology at both.

  • Bryan, College Station citizen scientists help map local water impairment issues

    The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) created the Carters Creek Stream Team in late 2012 to expand the local water quality monitoring work force and collect water samples across the Carters Creek watershed, which encompasses much of the Bryan and College Station area. The team provides water quality data from across the watershed that will aid in identifying potential sources areas for local bacteria impairments, said Lucas Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) project specialist. The team is comprised mostly of Texas A&M University students and members of the local Texas Master Naturalist chapter along with a few other watershed stakeholders. 

  • Texas A&M research shows getting energy from oil and gas doesn’t require using fresh groundwater
    Texas A&M research shows getting energy from oil and gas doesn’t require using fresh groundwater

    Oil and gas exploration operations can and must operate under environmentally sound practices and according to a research study at Texas A&M University, hydraulic fracturing in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas can lessen its environmental impact by switching from fresh groundwater to abundant supplies of brackish groundwater.

    Graduate students at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, under the leadership of Dr. James M. Griffin, professor and Bob Bullock Chair in Public Policy and Finance, studied water consumption from oil and gas exploration in the Eagle Ford Shale for Commissioner Christi Craddick of the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) and published their findings.

  • Drought-stricken trees offer study platform
    Drought-stricken trees offer study platform

    Severe drought across Texas since 2011 has produced a unique opportunity for Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists to gain a greater understanding of the decaying process of trees and the effects on the surrounding ecosystem.

    Three AgriLife Research scientists in the Texas A&M University Department of Ecosystem Science and Management have been approved for a three-year, $347,426 grant under the Rapid Response and Novel Research in Earth Science program operated by NASA.

    Dr. Sorin Popescu will lead the project, titled Using LiDAR to develop a climate-driven model of the disintegration and decay of trees killed during a severe drought. He will be joined by Dr. Georgianne Moore and Dr. Jason Vogel.  

  • ‘Riparian Restoration on Farms and Ranches in Texas’ is now available
    ‘Riparian Restoration on Farms and Ranches in Texas’ is now available

    The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has published a new resource for landowners and managers, “Riparian Restoration on Farms and Ranches in Texas.”

    The new publication, which has been given the identification number WF-010, can be downloaded for free or purchased at $3 per hard copy through the AgriLife Bookstore, said Blake Alldredge, AgriLife Extension wildlife associate at College Station.

    “This publication was developed for landowners in the Blackland Prairie and Post Oak Savannah ecoregions of Central and East Texas seeking information on how to properly manage their riparian areas. It’s important to note though, that many of the principles and practices discussed are applicable to other parts of the state as well,” he said.

  • Social media training for natural resource professionals Sept. 10-11 in Austin
    Social media training for natural resource professionals Sept. 10-11 in Austin

    The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) will hold a social media training for natural resources professionals Sept. 10-11 at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Airport Commerce Park, 1340 Airport Commerce Drive in Austin.

    “Content, Conversations and Discoverability – Quality Social Media Outreach for Natural Resource Professionals” will be held from 1-4 p.m. Sept. 10 and from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sept. 11 in Building 6, Suite 600A.

  • Two Texas Parks and Wildlife Department properties achieve international ‘dark sky’ status
    Two Texas Parks and Wildlife Department properties achieve international ‘dark sky’ status

    Texas state parks remain among the few public places in one of the nation’s most populous and increasingly urbanized states where the starry heavens can be viewed in all their celestial glory with the minimal intrusion of artificial light. Copper Breaks State Park in the Panhandle Plains and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in the Hill Country are the first Texas state parks to be designated International Dark Sky Parks by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).

    Copper Breaks and Enchanted Rock, which were awarded the highest “Gold-tier” night skies status by IDA, join Big Bend National Park and the city of Dripping Springs as the only locations in Texas to have earned the coveted Dark Sky Places recognition. 

  • Range and Wildlife Management Field Day set for Sept. 19 in Brown County

    The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are hosting a multi-county Range and Wildlife Management Field Day Sept. 19 in Brown County for landowners interested in managing both wildlife and livestock on their ranches.

    The program will run from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the McGillivray and Leona McKie Muse Wildlife Management Area, 15 miles northeast of Brownwood off County Road 478. The morning talks will be followed by lunch, then a tour of the wildlife management area. Individual registration is $15 and includes lunch. RSVP by Sept. 14 by contacting the AgriLife Extension office in Brown County at 325-646-0386. 

  • AgriLife Research study: Center pivot does not always mean efficiency
    AgriLife Research study: Center pivot does not always mean efficiency

    Identifying, but more importantly gaining adoption, of the most efficient irrigation systems is an important step in water conservation within agriculture, according to a recent study conducted by Texas A&M AgriLife Research. 

    Dr. Nithya Rajan, AgriLife Research agronomist in Vernon, helped complete the study by looking at different types of irrigation systems for their application efficiency. A more efficient irrigation system allows a larger percentage of the applied water to reach the root zone and not be lost to soil evaporation or evaporation from plant surfaces. The study is a part of the project An Integrated Approach to Water Conservation for Agriculture in the Texas Southern High Plains, initiated through funding from the Texas Water Development Board in 2005.

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