Conservation Matters October 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • New Texas Land Trends report shows decline in rural working land acreage
    New Texas Land Trends report shows decline in rural working land acreage

    Texas experienced a net loss of nearly 1.1 million acres of privately owned farms, ranches and forests from 1997 to 2012, continuing the trend of rural land conversion and fragmentation in Texas, according to a new Texas Land Trends report released by the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR).

    “More than 54 percent of this land conversion was related to development associated with population expansion in the state’s 25 fastest growing counties,” said Dr. Roel Lopez, IRNR’s director and a co-author of the report. “From 1997 to 2012, approximately 590,000 acres were lost from the agricultural land base in these counties.”

  • Thursday in San Antonio: Lost Water Conference for water suppliers
    Thursday in San Antonio: Lost Water Conference for water suppliers

    The Edwards Aquifer Regional Water Conservation Program is sponsoring the Lost Water Conference Oct. 30 in San Antonio for staff of municipal water utilities and other water suppliers in the Edwards Aquifer region. The conference will be from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) offices, 900 E. Quincy St. in San Antonio.

    Dr. Calvin Finch, of the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and an organizer of the conference, said speakers will discuss lost, or non-revenue, water and identify lost water issues within the Edwards Aquifer. One of the institute’s urban water initiatives is to help manage the water conservation program for EAA.

  • Meet a Scientist: Rusty Feagin
    Meet a Scientist: Rusty Feagin

    When he was 12 years old, Dr. Rusty Feagin moved to Seabrook, a city along the Texas coast surrounded by industrial development. It was then that Feagin began to consider the importance of coastal health. “Living there brought environmental issues to the forefront of my mind,” Feagin said.

    Feagin’s interest in the environment persisted throughout his teenage years, and in college he earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

    After graduating, Feagin returned to the Texas coast to work on public policy related to coastal restoration and management. Although he enjoyed aspects of this work, Feagin said he wasn’t happy working in politics. So, he turned to science.

  • Experts release recommendations on water sustainability in Texas
    Experts release recommendations on water sustainability in Texas

    A diverse group of water and energy experts, known as the Texas Roundtable on Water, has published a set of recommendations “to ensure the security and sustainability of water resources for the long-term economic and social viability of Texas,” according to the group’s news release.

    “These leaders have worked to find consensus solutions that they can advance in order to spur legislative leadership, state agency, water stakeholders and the general public to make sorely needed changes in our state’s public policy and regulatory practices,” the release stated.

  • Land conservation easement workshop Nov. 3 in Floresville

    The Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TALT), in cooperation with Green Spaces Alliance, San Antonio River Authority and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in Wilson County, will present a conservation easement workshop Nov. 3 in Floresville. 

    The workshop, “Protect, Conserve, Pass Down: A Strategy for Saving Family Lands,” will be held from 9 am.–1:30 p.m. at the Floresville Event Center at 600 Highway 97 West.

  • TWRI awards three Mills Scholarships

    The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) has awarded Mills Scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year to three graduate students conducting water-related research at Texas A&M University.

    The scholarship winners are:

    • Charles Fontanier, Water Management and Hydrological Sciences graduate program. Advisor: Dr. Richard White. Research: Improving professional and consumer lawn water management.
    • Hyun Woo Kim, Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning. Advisor: Dr. Ming-Han Li. Research: The role of low impact development practices in mitigating stormwater runoffs in urbanized watershed landscapes: SWAT simulation approach.
    • Anthony (Tony) Rodger, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Advisor: Dr. Kirk Winemiller. Research: Flow dependent species: Life history and habitat associations in Texas Gulf Coast Rivers.
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Dallas center wins 2014 WaterSense Excellence Award
    Texas A&M AgriLife Dallas center wins 2014 WaterSense Excellence Award

    The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a 2014 WaterSense Excellence Award for Outreach and Education.

    Clint Wolfe, the Dallas center’s Urban Water Program manager, said the center has a long history of providing research-based educational programs on water use efficiency in the region.

  • Abstracts invited for 2015 UCOWR/NIWR/CUASHI annual conference

    The annual joint conference of the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR), National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) and the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrological Science, Inc. (CUASHI) will be June 16-18, 2015, at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Las Vegas. The event’s theme is “Water is Not for Gambling: Utilizing Science to Reduce Uncertainty.”

  • Mohanty appointed hydrologic engineering and sciences chair

    Dr. Binayak Mohanty, professor in the departments of biological and agricultural engineering and ecosystem science and management, was recently appointed the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Chair in Hydrologic Engineering and Sciences. This position recognizes Mohanty’s role as a distinguished scholar in hydrologic engineering and sciences, according to the college.

  • New study: Forest sector contributes $30.3 billion to Texas economy
    New study: Forest sector contributes $30.3 billion to Texas economy

    The Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) has completed a new study of the economic contribution provided by forestry-driven, wood-based industries in Texas. The report shows that the Texas forest sector continues to be one of the top ten manufacturing sectors in the state and contributed $30.3 billion in industry output, supporting more than 130,600 jobs, in 2012.  

    TFS periodically produces the report, Economic Impact of the Texas Forest Sector, to give citizens an idea of how the forest sector fits into the Texas economy. The latest report analyzes data collected from 2012, the most current available.

  • New IRNR and TWRI projects: July - October 2014

    New and recently awarded Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and Texas Water Resources Institute projects. 

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