Conservation Matters September 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • Wednesday in Austin: ‘No land, no water’ event
    Wednesday in Austin: ‘No land, no water’ event

    The Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TALT) is presenting a forum, “No Land, No Water: Tools and Strategies for Conserving Land to Protect Water Resources,” Oct. 1 in Austin.

    The free, one-day event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Texas State Capitol Extension Auditorium. Blair Fitzsimons, TALT’s chief executive officer, will speak on land loss and fragmentation and how those problems affect water resources. Dr. Roel Lopez, Texas A&M Institute of Renewal Natural Resources director, will present findings from a new Texas Land Trends study. Texas Land Trends is an interactive website and database detailing current land use trends within the state and the impacts of rural land loss and fragmentation on water, agriculture and other natural resources. 

  • BST team wins interdisciplinary research award
    BST team wins interdisciplinary research award

    Texas A&M University’s bacterial source tracking (BST) team received the 2014 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Interdisciplinary Research at the college’s awards ceremony Sept. 10 in the AgriLife Center. 

    The Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Awards are the highest awards in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences presented to faculty, staff and students, according to Dr. William Dugas, acting vice chancellor and dean.

  • Meet a scientist: Cristine Morgan
    Meet a scientist: Cristine Morgan

    Although she began as a pre-law student at Texas A&M University, Dr. Cristine Morgan quickly realized her passion for soil science and made a career out of it. “When I had to sit down and make a choice about what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life, I decided on soil science,” she said.

    Morgan’s interest in law fostered a curiosity in how water was filtered by soil and if it was being cleaned. “Going back to my interest in law, I was originally really interested in how water did or did not get cleaned up by the soil,” she said.

  • Quail decline webinars to discuss restoration and monitoring
    Quail decline webinars to discuss restoration and monitoring

    Texans concerned with the widespread decline of wild quail across the state can learn about measures to stop the loss by tuning in to a series of fall webinars.

    The next webinars are set for Oct. 9 and Nov. 13 and are a collaborative effort of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The series is part of the Reversing the Quail Decline in Texas Initiative, coordinated by Dr. Jim Cathey, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist at College Station, and Dr. Dale Rollins, retired AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist, San Angelo. The webinars, all slated from noon to 1 p.m., can be found at www.forestrywebinars.net.

  • 20-year USGS pesticides study shows aquatic life threats, some improvements
    20-year USGS pesticides study shows aquatic life threats, some improvements

    Levels of pesticides continue to be a concern for aquatic life in many of the nation’s rivers and streams in agricultural and urban areas, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study spanning and comparing two decades (1992–2001 and 2002–2011). However, the pesticide levels seldom exceeded human health benchmarks.

    Over half a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States to increase crop production and reduce insect-borne disease, according to USGS, but some of these pesticides are occurring in water at concentrations that pose a concern for aquatic life.

    In streams and rivers draining agricultural and mixed land-use areas, the number of streams with one or more pesticides that exceeded an aquatic-life benchmark was fairly similar between the two decades, but in streams draining urban areas that number was much higher in 2002–2011.

  • New editor joins Texas Water Journal editorial board

    Dr. Ken Rainwater has been named to the Texas Water Journal Editorial Board. He joins Drs. Kathy Alexander, Robert Gulley, Robert Mace, Todd Votteler and Ralph Wurbs as an editor for the journal. The journal is an online, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the timely consideration of water resources management and policy issues in Texas from a multidisciplinary perspective that integrates science, engineering, law, planning and other disciplines. 

    Dr. Rainwater is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas Tech University and served as the director of the Texas Tech University Water Resources Center from 2002 to 2012. 

  • Private water well screenings coming to Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto and Parker counties
    Private water well screenings coming to Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto and Parker counties

    The Texas Well Owner Network will present water well screenings in October for Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto and Parker counties to give residents the opportunity to have their well water tested.

    The screenings are presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offices in these counties in conjunction with the Texas Water Resources Institute.

    The dates, times and locations for the screenings will be:

    • Oct. 20, 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office for Jack County, 100 N. Main St., Jacksboro. A follow-up meeting to explain screening results will be held at 7 p.m. at the Jack County Fair-barn, 1072 Highway 59.
    • Oct. 21, 8–9 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office in Montague County, 266 Franklin St., Montague. A follow-up meeting to explain screening results will be held at 7 p.m. at the Montague County Annex, 11339 State Highway 59 North. At this meeting, the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District will also discuss its ongoing programs regarding local groundwater issues.
    • Oct. 22, 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office in Palo Pinto County, 221 South 5th St., Palo Pinto.
    • Oct. 22, 8:30–10 a.m. at the AgriLife Extension office in Parker County, 604 N. Main St., Suite 200, Weatherford.
  • Riparian and stream ecosystem workshop set for Oct. 8 in Corpus Christi
    Riparian and stream ecosystem workshop set for Oct. 8 in Corpus Christi

    The Texas Water Resources Institute’s (TWRI) Texas Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education Program will host a workshop 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Oct. 8 in Corpus Christi for residents interested in land and water stewardship in the Lower Nueces River, Petronila Creek and Oso Creek watersheds.

    The free one-day workshop is being co-hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in Nueces County, Nueces River Authority and Coastal Bend Bays Foundation.

  • Drought loans available to South Texas agricultural producers

    Agricultural producers who suffered drought losses in 2013 are urged to apply for disaster emergency loans as soon as possible, said a Prairie View A&M University-Extension agent and farm adviser for Hidalgo County.

    “Producers who have lost at least 30 percent of their production or suffered production losses caused by drought between April 1, 2013, and Oct. 31, 2013, are eligible for emergency loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency,” said Vidal Saenz, who manages the Small Farm Outreach Training and Technical Assistance Program, administered by the Cooperative Extension Program at Prairie View A&M University.

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