World Environment Day: Water Resources for Texans

Category Archive: Culture of Conservation

  1. World Environment Day: Water Resources for Texans

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    As sure as the sun rises each morning, water flows through every part of our daily life. Without water, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the business operations, supply chains, and technologies that make Texas the 9th largest economy in the world would cease to exist. It may be the beauty of our land, the friendly individualism of our people, the pro-business, pro-innovation attitude of our state, but more people are moving to Texas than are leaving the state every single week. Now home to 30 million people, our population is expected to reach 54 million by 2050. While our ingenuity as Texans is infinite, our natural resources are finite. The Lonestar migration will inevitably add pressure to our state’s land, water, wildlife and infrastructure. The actions we take now have the power to shape our state’s future. 

    As we celebrate World Environment Day, we’d like to take a moment to consider the future of water. What stewardship knowledge, resources, or positive behaviors can we share? How can we engage more people to join the dialogue around water conservation? We believe it starts with awareness and education. Let’s dive in!

    Where’s all the water?

    Underneath ¾ of our state lie 23 aquifers. Think of aquifers as large underground storage tanks made of permeable rock and sediment. These natural reservoirs absorb and store water underground when rain falls or snow melts. This water is called groundwater and when extracted, it serves as drinking water for our communities, irrigation for crops and as a natural resource for industries. In fact, over 55% of the state’s water supply comes from groundwater according to the Texas Water Development Board.

    Having trouble visualizing what’s underground? This video from Environmental Defense Fund shows the interconnectedness of water and gives a tour of the water right beneath our feet.

    Bubbling up in the springs of the Hill Country or in the desert oasis of Balmorhea State Park, the health of Texas’ aquifers is critical to conserving one of our state’s most precious natural resources. 

    Are there different types of water?

    Surface water is water from rivers, lakes, reservoirs and other open bodies of water on Earth’s surface. Texas boasts 191,228 miles of river and streams, 10,196 reservoirs covering more than 3.5 million acres, and 6.3 million acres of wetlands. Surface water is replenished through rain or snow and plays a crucial role in the water cycle by evaporating and condensing returning to the Earth as precipitation.

    Drinking water is water that is safe for drinking and cooking and provided by water utilities.

    Stormwater is water from rain or snowmelt and it collects in rivers, lakes and aquifers.

    Wastewater is water drained from homes and businesses that includes human waste and pollutants. This water must go through a treatment process before returning to the environment.

    Recycled water is treated wastewater that has been filtered, disinfected and treated to be used again as for non-drinking purposes.

    Greywater is water drained from activities like taking showers, washing dishes, laundry etc. this water does not contain human waste or harmful chemicals.

    Strategies such as “One Water” have been developed to ask and guide communities to consider and manage all waters running through it holistically. These water management practices integrate drinking water, wastewater, and greywater as a single resource. Through this approach, communities can achieve long-term resiliency to benefit both the environment and the economy. 

    Henderson, Katie & Deines, Allison & Ozekin, Kenan & Moeller, Jeff & Fulmer, Alice & McGregor, Stefani. (2020). Talking to Customers and Communities About PFAS. Journal – American Water Works Association. 112. 24-33. 10.1002/awwa.1498. 

    Where’s the water going?

    From stormy cloud to raindrop, to lawns to puddles to streams and down the gutter, where’s all the water going? Take that journey on the next rainy day. With River Runner, you can watch the path of a raindrop from anywhere in the contiguous U.S. – start from a city near you:

    Whether you’re in Austin or El Paso, your raindrop journey will likely take you all the way across our state and ultimately lead you to our bays, estuaries, and the Gulf of Mexico. Why does this matter? As water flows through our daily lives, communities and businesses, it takes with it what we put in. Litter on our roadways, improperly disposed medications, and harmful chemicals like fertilizers can wreak havoc on diverse ecosystems and the plants and wildlife that call them home, locally and miles away.

    How can I help keep water clean?

    There are committed organizations all across Texas working to keep our communities and our water resources clean. Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) and programs like 2022 Conservation Wrangler Stopping Litter and Plastics Along Shorelines (SPLASh), are working to combat litter and even track it in the Texas Litter Database

    If you want to join the over 87,000 volunteers to keep our state litter free, consider contacting a local KTB affiliate near you or join SPLASh for a clean-up event.

    As we head out for summer hikes and outdoor recreation, a good rule of thumb is to always practice the 7 Leave No Trace principles:

    By practicing and sharing these 7 simple actions, we can help protect our natural world and our precious natural resources. 

    Texans can help reduce litter that ends up in waterways by taking simple actions like avoiding single-use items like plastic water bottles, coffee cups and utensils, carrying reusable bags, or even simply securing trash and recycling properly at the time of disposal. 

    In addition, using nature-friendly products in our homes and lawns can help us reduce our ecological footprint and reduce pollutants in our water sources. Nature-friendly products are designed to be less harmful to beneficial insects like bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. By using these products, you help protect these important organisms that play a crucial role in plant reproduction and biodiversity.

    This World Environment Day, we hope you will join us in being Texan by Nature. Here’s a few ways you can get involved:

    • Join one of our 140+ Conservation Partners at their events.
    • Financially support a Conservation organization whose mission resonates with you.
    • Advocate for and implement nature-based solutions 
    • Join the Texas Water Action Collaborative (TxWAC) if you have a water project that needs funding or want to fund a water projects to meet business water stewardship goals.


  2. 7 Questions for a Sustainability Professional: Sarah Ziomek, DFW Airport

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    Have you ever thought of an airport as an ecosystem? Sustainability professionals at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport look at operations with an ecosystem perspective to better understand how systems impact one another and maximize resource efficiency. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy is a priority at DFW; from becoming the first carbon-neutral airport in the Americas to training employees to spot and stop human trafficking, the airport makes the most of its position as a travel hub to achieve ESG goals. DFW Airport’s status as a global leader in sustainable transportation and ESG impact is thanks to the behind-the-scenes work of strategists like Sarah Ziomek, Enterprise Sustainability Programs Manager at DFW Airport.

    How would you explain the importance of ESG strategy to someone who wasn’t familiar with it?

    “In simple terms, an ESG strategy is a way for a company to proactively manage the environmental, social, and economic impacts of its activities as well as the impacts of environmental, social, and economic factors on business performance. In other words, it includes both an internal and an external focus on the environment, people, and economics – the ‘triple bottom line’ of sustainability. 

    Developing and implementing an ESG strategy enables a company to identify and manage risks, enhance its reputation, engage stakeholders, and drive business value.”

    Impact by the numbers: DFW Airport covers more than 17,000 acres, uses 100% renewable energy from Texas wind farms, and recycled, reused, or salvaged more than 57,000 tons of construction waste in 2022.

    When planning environmental sustainability targets, what do you use as a guide to set these goals and commitments? (i.e. successful industry models, stakeholder concern, natural resource use?)

    When updating our sustainability management plan and corresponding commitments, we looked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), a set of 17 global goals designed to address the world’s most pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges. Then, we mapped these global goals to our specific business objectives. As a result, we ultimately settled on six key focus areas for our strategy, effectively illustrating the connectivity between sustainability goals and business performance.

    One underlying theme across our strategy is to drive a net positive impact. In Net Positive, Paul Polman and Andrew Winston define a net positive business as one “that improves well-being for everyone it impacts and at all scales…and even future generations and the planet itself.”  This concept is echoed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in Cradle to Cradle as doing “more good” instead of “less bad.”

    DFW’s six “Sustainability North Stars”: Climate Action; Energy Performance; Circular Economy; Water & Biodiversity; Equity; and Health, Safety, and Wellness. These priorities align with elements of all 17 UN SDGs.

    What is the first step for implementing ESG strategy for a company looking to engage in environmental sustainability for the first time? 

    A good first step is to start with an analysis of macro trends – global issues that may impact your business today or in the future. Since sustainability involves future-proofing, it’s important to develop your strategy with a forward-looking mindset. This review will position you to conduct a materiality assessment – a process to identify the issues that are most relevant to your company’s operations and its stakeholders.

    Once you have prioritized key issues to address and determined your company’s baseline performance in these areas, you can develop an ESG strategy with specific, measurable, and time-bound targets. It’s critical to establish a system for monitoring and reporting on your progress toward these targets early on. This will help ensure that commitments are backed by action.

    In 2022, what was your most interesting lesson learned in your work as a sustainability professional?

    One lesson that I have learned is the importance of systems thinking. The challenges we face are complex and interconnected, and sustainability professionals must be able to analyze the interconnections and interdependencies between different systems (or disciplines within an organizational structure) to identify the root causes of issues and implement effective solutions.

    What component of working in environmental sustainability is your favorite and why? (ie. Water, wildlife, biodiversity, operational innovation, waste diversion, land, energy etc.)

    It’s hard to pick! I was drawn to the field of sustainability because of the interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving that it encourages. I’m an environmental scientist by training, and my background is in ecology, so I really enjoy working on biodiversity-related projects. More recently though, I’ve grown to love working on waste diversion initiatives. Waste is a problem that every individual has a personal connection to as well as an ability to positively influence

    From the eyes of an environmental sustainability professional, what makes a conservation project stand out? What can conservation projects do to make it easier to partner with them? 

    The landmark 1987 Brundtland Report, published by the World Commission on Environment and Development, defined sustainability as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The report emphasized that the concept of sustainability recognizes the limits imposed by finite natural resources and the planet’s ecological means. Conservation and environmental protection are inherent in the concept of sustainable development. 

    “We found everywhere deep public concern for the environment, concern that has led not just to protests but often to changed behavior. The challenge is to ensure that these new values are more adequately reflected in the principles and operations of political and economic structures.” – Our Common Future (aka the Brundtland Report)

    A project that stands out is one that generates not only environmental benefits but also social and economic benefits. This is known as the triple bottom line approach, and projects that apply this mindset make great partners. Such a holistic approach ensures that a project is not just good for the environment, but also good for people and businesses in the long run. 

    What sustainability goal are you most looking forward to working on in 2023? 

    I’m looking forward to making progress on our goal to improve our landfill diversion rate. At DFW, we’re implementing a circular economy approach to waste management, which aims to keep materials in use and design out waste and pollution. In 2023, we will expand our composting program, improve recycling collection processes, and increase education around waste management practices. 

    Fast-paced and dependent on resource-intensive infrastructure, an airport is emblematic of the challenges — and the opportunities — for industry to engage in sustainability. DFW Airport’s principled approach to ESG strategy provides an example to airports around the world of how to achieve environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. 

    Texan by Nature’s vision is for every business and every Texan to participate in conservation, and for Texas to be a model of collaborative conservation for the world. 

    We’re grateful to Sarah, DFW Airport, and the many sustainability professionals and companies who are future-proofing their businesses and our state with operational innovations and conservation investments that advance environmental sustainability in their sectors and provide successful models for the globe to follow. 

    Learn more about the annual TxN 20 program, which recognizes leadership in environmental sustainability in industry, by visiting the TxN 20 website, and keep an eye out for more insight from other sustainability professionals to come.

    More about Sarah Ziomek

    Sarah Ziomek is the Enterprise Sustainability Programs Manager at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW Airport) and is responsible for developing and advancing DFW’s sustainability strategy, implementing the Airport’s roadmap to achieve net zero by 2030, overseeing the environmental grants program, and managing the zero waste program. She supports the Airport’s strategic partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as the DFW lead on projects related to energy optimization and renewables integration for buildings and fleets. 

    Sarah received her B.S. and M.S. in Environmental Science from Texas Christian University. She is a Certified Ecologist and has served in the capacity of environmental scientist and wetland specialist. Her previous experience includes environmental consulting for multiple industries as well as work for the Botanical Research Institute of Texas and the National Park Service.  In her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time outdoors playing tennis, cycling, and backpacking.

  3. A Conservation Guide for Texas Landowners

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    New and experienced Texas landowners alike have a variety of tools at their disposal to become involved in the conservation of the state’s natural resources. Whether it’s land, water, or the wide array of flora and fauna that make their home in Texas, landowners can use the tools below that are featured in Texan by Nature’s Landowner Guide for Conservation and Land Management to engage in meaningful conservation efforts. With ~95% of land in Texas being privately owned, (Texas Land Trends) it is essential for landowners to participate in conservation stewardship and ensure our natural resources flourish for generations of Texans to come.


    With 10 distinct eco-regions, the 172 million acres of Texas terrain offer a wide range of landscapes, from mountains in West Texas to coastal plains in East Texas. To best understand the conditions that affect your land like annual precipitation and soil type, use this map to find out your land’s ecoregion. 

    Once landowners have determined the ecoregion their land is in, there are a variety of land management strategies that can be used to restore and maintain native ecosystems.  Landscaping with native plants is a simple solution that provides habitat and food for native species; find which plants are native to your region here. A hands-off approach can also be an effective land management strategy to establish plant biodiversity – landowners can consider not mowing or mowing a small portion of land to allow a biodiverse range of plants to take root. A variety of plants can support a variety of animals, promoting a healthy ecosystem on your land. 

    Habitat Restoration Resources:

    To protect these native ecosystems on your land, consider implementing a Conservation Easement. A Conservation Easement is a voluntary agreement between a private landowner and a government agency, land trust, or other conservation organization, to limit/restrict certain activities on private land in perpetuity. For example, there may be restrictions on subdividing or developing your property, while ensuring your right to continue ranching, farming, hunting, and otherwise maintaining the rural lifestyle. As a landowner, you can continue to live on the land, sell it or pass it on to future generations, but the conservation easement will remain intact. Other easement agreements may focus on timber management, energy development, or other natural resources. An easement holder, such as a land trust, ensures that the easement is maintained by periodically checking that the easement provisions are upheld. More information on conservation easements can be found here.

    Conservation Easement Resources:


    Of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the United States, 7 are in Texas. While this presents an opportunity for economic growth, it also presents a challenge as demand for water in the municipal, industrial, and agrarian sectors grows. Innovation that includes conservation, industry, landowners, and communities is a must to meet the challenge.

    According to the Texas Comptroller’s Office, irrigation and livestock combined uses about 78% of all groundwater, and agriculture uses about 33% of all surface water used in Texas. If you’re a landowner whose land is used for agriculture, one of the simplest conservation measures you can take is investing in water efficiency. Water conservation happens on a large and small scale, from fixing dripping faucets to innovations in reclaimed and recycled water. Landowners can efficiently irrigate crops and maintain soil moisture by installing low-pressure sprinklers (i.e. drip irrigation) and lining irrigation canals with pipelines to prevent leaks. Landowners and the general public alike can conserve water by repairing leaks and investing in water-saving technologies like low-flow toilets.

    Water Resources:


    Landowners can participate in various programs to promote and maintain plants and wildlife. Even small projects that focus on benefitting one plant or animal species can positively impact other plants and animals in the same ecosystem. These projects can actually save you money through tax exemption.

    Some landowners purchase land that is already under a tax exempt status, or you can apply for exemptions. With an agricultural or timber exemption certificate, landowners are exempt from tax on the purchase of items directly used to produce agricultural and timber products being grown commercially. Another type of agricultural exemption is a wildlife exemption, which lets you keep your property taxes low by performing activities aimed at helping native Texas wildlife rather than, or alongside, traditional agriculture uses.

    In regions where the landscape evolved with naturally occurring wildfires, prescribed burns may benefit the plant and animal life on your land. Prescribed Burns are controlled low-intensity fires that remove excess brush and clear space for seeds to take root. A prescribed burn should be performed only by trained professionals, such as Prescribed Burn Alliance of Texas or Texas A&M Forest Service. Read How Fire Makes a Forest to learn how the Texas Longleaf Team implements prescribed burns. Additionally, consult the NRCS Conservation Practice guide to learn about the uses and risks of prescribed burns.

    Plants and Wildlife Resources


    ​​As a Texas landowner, you can diversify your profit stream by claiming carbon credits through the conservation work you do on your land. When you claim these credits on a registry, private companies can purchase these credits from you through your registry to counterbalance their CO2 emissions from their operations. Your land can store carbon above ground as well as below ground through the root system and soil. Learn more about carbon credits and get involved in the right program for you through the resources below.

    Carbon Resources:

    As a Texas landowner, you have the opportunity to strengthen your connection to natural resources and continue the forward momentum of conservation in the Lonestar State. Being a steward of the native species and ecosystems that make their homes on privately owned land is one way to preserve Texas’ rich natural history and preserve it for the future.

    Additional Tools & Resources for Landowners:

    Examples of Texan-led Conservation Efforts on Private Lands:


    • Carbon credits – A tradable permit that achieves measurable reductions in greenhouse emissions.
    • Conservation – The act or process of conserving. The efficient management or restoration of wildlife and of natural resources such as forests, soil, and water.
    • Conservation Economics – The use of economics to understand the costs and benefits of sustaining natural ecosystems. Its purpose is to accomplish more widespread and lasting conservation by lowering its costs, revealing its benefits and fitting it within genuine economic development. NTE: This phrase is used in a variety of ways.
    • Ecoregion – An area where ecosystems are similar based on climate, landscapes, plants, and animals.
    • Environmentalist vs. Conservationist – Environmentalists believe the environment is to be saved, preserved, set aside, protected from human use vs. Conservationists who believe that natural resources are something we use for living and prospering, so we have to conserve and take care of these resources for the future.
    • Public-Private Partnership – In the conservation realm, this term typically refers to a government or non-profit entity such as Texas Parks and Wildlife or Texan by Nature partnering with private foundations, landowners, and/or businesses in pursuit of a conservation outcome.
    • Return on Conservation – The return realized by investing in conservation encompassing positive financial, people, and natural resource impact.
    • Sustainability – The process of maintaining change in a balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.

    Visit our Landowner Guide for Conservation and Land Management for the latest and email us at if you have additional resources to add to the guide.

  4. TenXTen: Hike Ten Texas Ecoregions

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    The Lonestar State is not only big, it’s diverse: Texas is made up of 10 ecoregions that range from the arid High Plains to the lush Gulf Coast. How many ecoregions of Texas have you explored? Whether you’re a seasoned Texas traveler or new to the state, TenXTen highlights hikes from each ecoregion of Texas for inspiration about where to explore. 

    Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Photo: Houston Zoo

    1. The Piney Woods – El Camino Real de los Tejas: Mission Tejas State Park near Grapeland displays the state’s natural and social history on the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail. Hike in the shade of towering longleaf and loblolly pine forests that provide habitat for endangered species like the Red Cockaded Woodpecker, and pay a visit to the site of the first Spanish mission in Texas, Mission San Francisco de los Tejas, established in 1690. To get involved with conservation in the Piney Woods region, follow @texaslongleaf

    Great Egret, Photo: Mark Doing

    2. Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes – Heron’s Walk Trail: Galveston Island State Park offers many different habitat types to explore, from dunes to grasslands and from freshwater to bayside habitats. The Heron’s Walk Trail goes through the bayous, marshes, and salt flats that make this region so unique, offering hikers the chance to see wading birds like herons, cranes, and egrets. At 1.4 miles round trip, the Heron’s Walk Trail leaves time and energy to explore the park’s freshwater ponds, a popular hangout for alligators.

    3. Post-Oak Savannah – Lake Fayette Trail: Historically dominated by oaks, the Post Oak Savannah ecoregion was shaped by wildfires and bison migration. As conditions changed, the ecoregion’s flora and fauna shifted to include cedar elm and sugarberry, which hikers can enjoy just outside of Fayetteville at the Lake Fayette Trail. This trail connects several parks along the lake shore, affording the opportunity to see wildlife like Armadillos and a variety of native Texas birds.

    Post Oak Savannah


    4. The Blackland Prairies- Connemara Meadow Nature Preserve: Texas is home to the endangered Blackland Prairie ecosystem, only 1% of which is intact globally. The Connemara Meadow Nature Preserve outside Allen is one place to see preserved and restored Blackland Prairie habitat and the wildlife that its rich variety of soils supports. 

    Check out Connemara’s network of trails to see flora and fauna like the Texas state bird the Northern Mockingbird, Blazing Star wildflowers, and raccoon relative the ringtail, and more which you can identify with this field guide from the North Texas Master Naturalists.

    Photo: LLELA


    5. The Cross Timbers- Bittern Marsh Trail: The Cross Timbers ecoregion contrasts the grassy expanse of nearby prairie habitat with its forests of blackjack and post oaks. The trail network at Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) is a great place to see the mixed wetland and forest habitat of the ecoregion. LLELA includes the Bittern Marsh Trail, which starts at the shore of Lewisville Lake and takes hikers through a hardwood forest to a marsh. Wetland animals hikers are likely to see include frogs, turtles, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, and ducks.

    6. The South Texas Plains – Estero Llano Grande Trail: Rare plants like the black lace cactus and regional species like the Rio Grande Frog can be found in the South Texas Plains ecoregion. 

    Rio Grande Frog, Photo: Don Champlin

    Scout for these natural beauties and more at Estero Llano State Park, where you can also visit a World Birding Center location for field guides and birding information. At certain times of the year, you can see colorful migratory birds like the Roseate Spoonbill alongside the thorny beauty of cactus and mesquite.

    7. The Edwards Plateau- Flint Rock Loop Trail : The Edwards Plateau region is famous for its rocky limestone terrain, creeks and rivers, and sweeping Hill Country views. These are prominent features of the Flint Rock Loop Trail at McKinney Falls State Park. This moderate trail takes hikers across Onion creek and into a forested area, and leaves time and energy to enjoy the park’s waterfalls, swimming, and fishing.


    McKinney Falls, Photo: Jim Nix, Nomadic Pursuits

    8. The Rolling Plains- River Bend Nature Center: The spacious geography of The Rolling Plains provides views of wide open spaces and a variety of habitats for native Texas species like the prairie dog and Bobwhite Quail.

    Prairie Dogs, Photo: River Bend Nature Center

    River Bend Nature Center in Wichita Falls offers trails through its 15 acres of preserved forest and wetland habitat, a live butterfly enclosure, and the Ruby N. Priddy Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, where visitors can see over 100 native species in recreated Rolling Plains ecosystems.

    9. The High Plains – Rock Gardens Trail: While Palo Duro Canyon is known for the iconic Lighthouse rock formation at the end of the Lighthouse Trail, the canyon has more than one rock worth seeing.

    The Rock Gardens Trail gets its name from the boulders scattered over nearby hillsides where lizards and snakes enjoy basking, and this trail takes hikers to the rim of the canyon for a spectacular overview of the country’s second-largest canyon.

    10. The Trans-Pecos- Paso del Norte Trail: As part of the Chihuahua Desert, the Trans-Pecos region is distinctive in its landscape and ecology. Spanning 68 miles, The Paso del Norte Trail puts the region’s desert landscape and wildlife like Burrowing Owls on display, and benefits the binational community of El Paso through access to biking and hiking trails as well as paved trails through urban sections.

    The ten Texas ecoregions support a biodiverse state flora and fauna population and offer something for everyone to connect with through exploration and conservation. Where will you start? 


  5. What Makes Me Texan by Nature – Ella Ip

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    By Ella Ip, Texan by Nature Intern 

    All my life, I’ve never had a place to solidly lay my roots down and call my singular “home.” My mom and dad left England for the United States so that my mom could pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor. After landing in California, my older brother and I began the arduous process of learning English and integrating with the children. This was only the beginning of my many journeys across America.

    In total, I’ve lived in five different places. I was too young to remember California but old enough to remember Pennsylvania. My earliest memory in Narberth, Pennsylvania, was eating onigiris at the local Japanese grocery store, squishing the roasted salmon and sticky rice between my small hands. For dessert, my grandmother and I would hurry to the French bakery across from my school and buy a packaged chocolate crepe to enjoy on the walk home. Then, I would watch as the sky turned from being completely clear and littered with clouds to being replaced with darkness and speckled with stars.

    Most recently, I moved to Austin as a sophomore in high school. At first, I was skeptical. I had lived in the Northeast for almost all of my foundational years, and I wasn’t used to the intense heat of the Texas sun. Although, once I saw Lady Bird Lake and the dozens of paddle boarders openly gliding across the glimmering water, I was mesmerized. My dad loved the beach, so our vacations usually entailed living in a cottage near the water and waking up every day to the sounds of the deep blue sea. I loved how the coolness of the water protected me from feeling the scorching heat and that I could float effortlessly on the top. Simply put, I fell in love with the water. 

    I spent my high school years traveling between Austin and New Haven, Connecticut. Both places were vastly different, but their common thread was the lovely bodies of water each city offered me. I could walk around the many rock pools in Connecticut, finding small crabs and starfish nestled within. In Austin, I could splash around in the vast lakes with my friends and feel the mossy rocks beneath our feet as we sat down to rest from swimming. I knew my attachment to water and what lives within it would push me towards a specific trajectory in my future professional career. 

    Now, another place I call home is Waterville, Maine. Although extremely small and isolated, Maine also has scenic sites and relaxing streams of water. At Colby College, I hope to weave my interest in conservation with business to figure out how companies can move their operations to support and foster sustainable growth. Even though I am often far removed from Texas, what makes me Texan by Nature is my ability to create a piece of home in every place I settle. From California to Maine, I’ve created meaningful memories with each home and carried them with me to the present day. So no matter where I go, Texas will always be a piece of the puzzle I fondly call home.


  6. PET Recycling in Texas

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    Don’t Throw Away That Strawberry Container — Here’s Why!

    Fresh strawberries, star-spangled cookies, and everyone’s favorite drinks. Summer is full of occasions that call for get-togethers and treats, and plastic is part of the package, literally – we purchase fresh produce and baked goods that come in PET thermoforms and are discarded after a single use. This plastic adds up; how can we move toward circularity by putting plastic packaging back into use?

    Circularity: the creation and use of products with the product’s end-of-life (what happens to the product after use) taken into account. In a circular economy, once the user is finished with the product, it goes back into the supply chain instead of the landfill. 

    PET Plastics can be found in your household and are marked with the PET 1 identification code

    What are PET thermoforms?

    PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is a type of clear plastic that is strong, lightweight, and typically used for food packaging.PET thermoforms are sheets of PET plastic that have been molded by heat into packaging such as:

    • Clamshells to package produce
    • Trays
    • Tubs
    • Clear egg cartons
    • Lids
    • Cups

    According to Green Impact plastics, 1.6 billion lbs of PET are discarded each year in North America alone – but PET is completely recyclable! Despite its widespread use and recyclability, lagging PET recycling infrastructure means that some material recovery facilities (MRFs) send PET thermoforms to landfills. 

    Why should I recycle PET thermoforms?

    PET thermoforms that aren’t recycled become part of the 400,000 tons of trash and litter that are produced annually in Texas. Litter like PET threatens wildlife and the more than 190,000 miles of waterways that provide habitat, drinking water, and keep Texas industries running. 

    As Texas’ population continues to grow, responsible disposal practices are an essential part of preparing for the future. According to Texans for Clean Water, Texas’ four largest population centers will start to run out of landfill space in 2030. Unmanaged litter and trash harm the health of communities and are burdens to city infrastructure. Each year, 10 Texas cities spend more than $75M on mitigating the impact of litter and illegal dumping, including $6M per year in costs to the City of El Paso.


    Moving toward a more circular disposal economy – one in which waste materials are recycled and re-enter the economy as new packaging or products –  would allow that funding to be spent elsewhere. Recycling when possible puts less pressure on landfill capacity and protects Texas wildlife, natural resources, and communities from the negative impacts of litter on health and the environment.

    You can get cash back for recycling PET in El Paso this summer!

    As part of the effort to keep our roadways and waterways clean, a Texan-led and science-based conservation project has emerged. Studies show that there was 50% less litter on roadways and 30% less litter in waterways in 10 U.S. states with deposit/return policies that provide 5-10 cents for containers returned for recycling.

    Texan by Nature and Texans for Clean Water have partnered with Sam’s Club for a proof of concept, 6-month PET thermoform recycling pilot that is expected to launch at  four locations in El Paso, Texas starting July 2022.

    The pilot will provide 670,000 El Paso residents and the binational community of people who commute from Juarez, Mexico, with monetary incentives to recycle PET thermoforms.Together, with the community of El Paso, the pilot is expected to recycle 110,000 lbs of PET Thermoforms in 6 months! 

    For packaging other than PET thermoforms, The City of El Paso offers both curbside recycling and recycling drop-off locations. Access information about curbside recycling, recycling drop-off locations, and search for where to recycle particular materials here. See the complete list of recyclable materials that the City of El Paso accepts.

    This collaboration seeks to build a community movement around recycling and conservation and is exploring ways to integrate the PET thermoforms recycled through the pilot back into the supply chains of Sam’s Club. Additionally, all data, best practices, and lessons learned will be captured and reported to share with other retailers as a model for replication.

    If You Live in Other Parts of Texas…

    Not in the El Paso area? You can still be part of moving Texas toward a circular economy by recycling PET thermoforms and other household materials. Here are some options for recycling near you:




    Central Texas:



    East Texas:



    Additional Resources


  7. Webinar: Spring Into Conservation

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    Texan by Nature (TxN) and North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) have launched a complimentary, four-part webinar series to increase education and awareness of the top natural resource conservation practices in the Lone Star State. The series will provide new data, ideas, actionable next steps and resources for individuals and businesses to get involved. You can watch the first webinar, “Conserve Today, Water Tomorrow” here and the second webinar, “State of Texas’ Natural Resources” here.

    The third webinar in the series, “Spring Into Conservation,” featured the following speakers:

    • Randall Rush, Senior Policy Advisor – Agriculture, EPA
    • Dr. Chrissie Segars, Assistant Professor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist, Texas A&M University
    • Linda Dunn, Education Manager, John Bunker Sands Wetland Center
    • Kim Conrow, Past President, Native Plant Society of Texas

    Watch the full webinar recording here:

    During the presentations, the following questions were asked via chat. All of the questions and answers can be viewed below, along with additional resources:

    NTMWD Webinar Q&A

  8. 2021 Conservation Holiday Events and Activities

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    Happy Holidays from Texan by Nature! While critters across Texas settle in for a long Winter’s nap, there are still plenty of events and activities in the great outdoors and in conservation to participate in.  

    In the spirit of gratitude and conservation, here are a few ways to take part in, learn about, and enjoy conservation and the wild spaces it protects this holiday season. TxN is grateful for all the conservation community does and we hope you enjoy these opportunities to stay engaged.

    • From morning bird walks along the Trinity River to Luminations, a light show highlighting the beauty of the winter landscape at Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, there are a variety of TxN Conservation Partner events across the state. Find an opportunity to engage with or volunteer in conservation near you!
    • Learn new skills or sharpen your knowledge with Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center How-Tos like how to make a seed ball for our feathered friends and how to cultivate native plants with limited space in a container garden.

    Relax and rejuvenate in the outdoors: 

    • Each spring and fall, nearly 2 billion birds migrate through Texas. Enjoy watching them with these observation tips from 2021 Conservation Wrangler and conservation partner Audubon Texas and track your observations with their eBird log, which helps scientists increase their understanding of bird distributions.
    • Our stars at night are truly big and bright — Enjoy stargazing this holiday season.

    Completed your outdoor activities and want to learn more about conservation? Take in a film about nature on your favorite streaming service or check out our virtual series and summit presentations.

    Finally, plan to follow or support best practices where you can in the coming year so natural resources can be the gift that keeps on giving.

    We hope these events and activities not only keep you entertained this holiday season, but are also opportunities to deepen your appreciation for and engagement with conservation. Happy holidays! 

  9. 2021 Sustainable Gifting Guide

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    Generosity comes in all shapes and sizes — from material gifts to experiences with friends and family, there are so many ways to give during the holiday season. Giving sustainably is a great way to add extra meaning to a gift while protecting the natural resources and outdoor spaces that give us so much. 

    We’ve put together this sustainable gifting guide with some ways that you can give meaningfully and sustainably this holiday season by balancing consumer spending with DIY gifts and unforgettable experiences. 

    • Gift a Donation: We’re proud to partner with 105+ conservation organizations that are innovating new approaches in every corner of our great state to take care of the land, water, wildlife, and dark skies. Considering making a donation to support Texas natural resources and the organizations that steward them. You can also gift a Texan by Nature membership!
    • Gift an Experience: Give the gift of a plan by organizing a hike, camping trip, or a movie night for friends and family. This gift replaces the material with the experiential, and in doing so replaces the energy and transportation costs associated with material gifts with memories and a chance to appreciate the outdoors. Check out the best hiking trails in Texas.
    • DIY: One of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact as a consumer is to consume less and make more. Gifting a drawing, painting, a kind note, or coupon for a home cooked dinner all help reduce the emissions from product manufacturing and transportation, and make gifting more personalized.
    • Reuse: Cut back not holiday waste by reusing gift bags, boxes, wrapping paper, or even use some scrap fabric or some maps you have lying around.
    • Shop local: Whether it’s the food items for holiday dinners or a gift to put under the tree, buying from locally-owned small businesses is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. Small businesses make more local and nearby purchases than big retailers, meaning their products take less fuel to transport. Buying locally is also an investment in community prosperity: $68 of every $100 spent at a small business stays in the community compared to $43 of every $100 spent at national chains.
    • Shop second hand: According to the United Nations, the fashion industry dumps about a half a million tons of microfibre into the ocean each year. Shopping at second-hand retailers and thrift stores limits the demand of the water-intensive fashion industry, which makes up 10% of global carbon emissions and helps limit pollution associated with clothing and textiles manufacturing.
    • Repair: The average Texan throws away 5 pounds of trash each day. Keep last year’s Christmas present out of the landfill by investing in the repair or refurbishment of items like appliances, furniture, and even shoes and clothes. Combine this sustainable gift with supporting local businesses by choosing local repair services to make a further positive impact.

    However you celebrate the holidays, remember to give back to the environment by choosing to gift sustainably. It won’t just save you money, it can also save the world! Happy holidays from the Texan by Nature team.

  10. 5 Ways to Help Bats

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    Written by Abbey Mesler, Programs Intern, Texan by Nature

    If we didn’t have bats, the world would be a different place. There are more than 1,390 species of bats around the world that fill important roles in their ecosystems. They eat insects, and control pests, their guano makes a great fertilizer, they disperse seeds, and they are pollinators. In fact, more than 500 species of plants rely on bats for pollination. Some of these include bananas, mangoes, guavas, and agave (where we get tequila from!)

    Unfortunately, many bats are threatened due many factors including habitat loss, bushmeat trade, guano mining, White-nose Syndrome, and wind farms. This is why bat conservation is so important. The good news is there are several things individuals can do to help. At Texan by Nature, we recognize the impact that every single person can make. That’s why we’re kicking off our #TxN5WayFriday series, providing weekly insight on being Texan by Nature. Here are 5 ways to help bats.

    1. Spread Awareness

    Bats get a bad rap. They are seen as spooky and are a symbol of Halloween. In reality, bats are no spookier than any other animal and they are extremely important to the ecosystem and to humans. Bats are also thought to be dirty and rabid. However, only about 6% of bats have rabies. A lot of people also believe that all bats are blood-sucking creatures. Of the 1,390 species, only 3 feed on blood and they are all in Latin America. There are no species that feed on human blood. Another myth is that bats are blind and likely to dive-bomb people. Bats can actually see just as well as people can, and they have no reason to dive-bomb humans. There are a lot of harmful myths about bats out there and you can help by debunking these and spreading the truth.

    2. Put Up a Bat House

    One of the biggest threats to bats is habitat destruction. In areas without many trees or other good roosting sites, bat houses can help. You can build your own or buy one from a certified vendor. In order for these bat houses to work, they should be painted the right color based on climate and they should be placed in a suitable location. Paint bat boxes darker colors in colder places and lighter colors in warmer places. They should be 12 to 20 feet high, with 15-20 feet being ideal. Houses mounted on buildings are the best to avoid predators; however, they can be mounted on poles as well. Bat houses are most likely to be occupied if they are mounted before bats return in the springtime. Not only are you helping bats by doing this, but you are also bringing in natural pest control – bats eat mosquitoes!

    3. Reduce Pesticide Use

    Many species of bats eat insects that are considered pests such as mosquitoes, moths, beetles, flies, and crickets. In fact, one bat can eat thousands of insects in a single night. By reducing your pesticide use you are increasing the food source for bats and allowing bats to become a source of pest control. Not only that, but there is evidence to support that pesticides themselves are directly harmful to bats. Bats are especially susceptible to pesticides for a few reasons. One is that they are small. It does not take large amounts of pesticide to affect small animals. They can also live for up to 30 years. This means there is a long period of time for these bats to accumulate toxins. While it is not proven that pesticides are contributing to bat decline, there is an increasing amount of evidence to suggest so. For that reason, reducing pesticide use is a great way to help bats.

    4. Leave dead trees

    Dead and dying trees provide the perfect habitat for many bat species. They like to roost in the space between the bark and the tree. In fact, one dead tree can support a colony of up to 500 bats. Most bats prefer to roost in trees that are in earlier stages of decay. Therefore, trees that have died fairly recently are especially beneficial. If you have a dead or dying tree in your yard that is not hazardous, consider leaving it up to provide habitat for bats.

    5. Get Involved

    big brown bat texas

    There are many bat organizations around the world. Find a local organization to donate to or volunteer your time. A perfect example of one here in Austin is the Austin Bat Refuge. There are refuges like this all over the country that rescue orphaned and injured bats with the goal of rehabilitation and release. There are many volunteer positions at a place like this to be filled such as feeding and watering bats, orphan care, fundraising, horticulture, data entry, and social media management.

    Bats are essential to their ecosystems and are extremely beneficial for humans. The declining number of bats is concerning and it is important to do what we can to turn that around. These 5 things are just a few easy things you can do to make a difference.

    For more information on bats, visit Texan by Nature Conservation Partner, Bat Conservation International.


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