The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) are partnering with the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts (ATSWCD), Texas Wildlife Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) to highlight the importance of voluntary land stewardship in Texas during the annual Soil and Water Stewardship Week, April 24-May 1.
“Land Stewardship Produces a Healthy Texas,” is the theme of this year’s statewide campaign.
“This campaign aims to bring more awareness and support to voluntary land stewardship, because the way we manage our resources on private lands directly impacts the water resources available for public consumption,” said Dr. John Tracy, TWRI director. “TWRI is proud to partner with these organizations to support voluntary land stewardship.”
Voluntary land stewardship is the careful and responsible management of land and its resources and is key for preserving Texas’ natural resources.
With approximately 95 percent of Texas land privately owned, voluntary land stewardship is vital to keeping these resources healthy, said Dr. Roel Lopez, IRNR director.
"Nothing is more critical to the future of agriculture and society than the stewardship of our land resources," Lopez said.
“It all starts with a conservation plan and the foundation to any conservation plan is focusing on soil health,” said Dr. Kevin Wagner, TWRI deputy director. “Farmers, ranchers, timber producers and other agricultural producers have been working with their local soil and water conservation districts for more than 75 years, receiving technical assistance to develop and implement conservation plans for their operations.”
Rickey James, ATSWCD president, said soil health is the long-term capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans.
“It is important to remember that soil contains living organisms that perform functions required to produce our food and fiber,” he said.
Soil and water conservation in urban areas can also help supplement land stewardship efforts in rural areas.
“Some cities have brought the land stewardship concept into their own backyards, as urban agriculture, community forests and native landscaping are becoming more popular,” James said. “This trend has positively impacted urban communities socially and economically, as well as educated and reconnected people to the land, if even on a small scale.”
Other organizations partnering in the public awareness campaign are the Earthmoving Contractors Association of Texas, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, Plains Cotton Growers, South Texans’ Property Rights Association, Texas Agricultural Land Trust, Texas Association of Dairymen, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Grazing Land Coalition, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Poultry Federation, Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, Texas Wheat Producers Board and Association, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
For more information, visit the TSSWCB website.
During Soil and Water Stewardship Week, April 24-May 1, follow TSSWCB, TWRI and IRNR on social media for additional facts and tips about land conservation: