Another year of conservation impacts: new IRNR and TWRI annual reportsBy Leslie Lee
From longleaf pine forest management to big-city water conservation technologies, and from tracking Louisiana pine snakes to helping water well owners, the Texas A&M Institute for Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) and the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) spent 2015 improving water and natural resources conservation and management all over Texas and the country.
IRNR continued to lead private land stewardship efforts in 2015, including being a founding member of the Center for Private Land Stewardship, a partnership with the East Foundation and Noble Foundation.
“Private land stewardship is integral to all of IRNR’s work,” said Dr. Roel Lopez, IRNR director. “Without landowners’ invaluable input and engagement, much of our conservation and management work would never get off the ground. We will continue educating folks about the value of private lands and empowering landowners to manage their resources for both profit and stewardship.”
IRNR also coordinated numerous efforts in status assessments for species being reviewed in Texas under the Endangered Species Act. The institute helped develop Species Status Assessment frameworks, which are analytical, scientific assessments of a species’ viability, for various candidate species, including the Texas hornshell, Sprague’s pipit, Louisiana pine snake and many others.
TWRI’s projects produced numerous accomplishments in 2015, and new leadership and opportunities arrived with the announcement of Dr. John C. Tracy as institute director in December.
The institute continued to be a statewide leader in watershed planning and implementation. Engaging with local stakeholders to improve water quality, TWRI worked in watersheds around the state, including the Arroyo Colorado in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. After a decade of successful watershed protection plan implementation, the Arroyo Colorado Partnership is updating the plan to help enhance its impact.
TWRI also helped equip and educate landowners, professionals and stakeholders through various Extension programs. Partnering with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, TWRI helped the Texas Well Owner Network and the Texas Riparian and Ecosystem Education Program provide trainings and workshops all over Texas in 2015.
“In 2015 we worked on everything from solving local watershed-scale problems to coordinating statewide efforts,” Tracy said. “Engaging with both the water resources community and local stakeholders was integral to our successes last year, and we will continue building on that in 2016.”