Webinar Recap: Land, Water, & Wildlife – Conservation in Action

Tag Archive: conservation

  1. Webinar Recap: Land, Water, & Wildlife – Conservation in Action

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    In 2021, Texan by Nature (TxN) and North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) 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 provided new data, ideas, actionable next steps, and resources for individuals and businesses to get involved. You can watch the first three webinars here or on the Texan by Nature YouTube Channel:

    The fourth and last webinar in the series, “Texas Land, Water, & Wildlife – Conservation in Action,” featured the following speakers:

    Watch the full recording of the webinar:

     

    During the presentations, the following questions were asked via chat. All of the questions and answers can be viewed here:

    Learn more:

  2. 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.

     

  3. Conservation Partner: Houston Wilderness

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    Texan by Nature (TxN) is proud to partner with 100+ conservation organizations working to positively benefit Texas’ natural resources and communities through innovative approaches. TxN accelerates conservation by bringing conservation organizations and business together through programs that connect and convene diverse stakeholders and catalyze science-based conservation efforts and projects to accelerate impact.

    Learn more about TxN Conservation Partner, Houston Wilderness and how they are protecting, promoting, and preserving wild spaces in the greater Houston area. 

    Q: Tell us about Houston Wilderness and its mission. 

    A: Houston Wilderness works with a broad-based alliance of business, environmental and government interests to protect and promote the 10 diverse ecoregions of the 13+ county area around Houston, Galveston Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico, including coastal prairies, forests, wetlands, and waterways. In serving these areas, our mission is to protect, preserve, and promote the nature of these ecoregions.

     

    Q: What is the history of Houston Wilderness? 

    A: Since 2003, Houston Wilderness has initiated several different projects and programs to protect, preserve and promote our Houston and surrounding areas ecoregions. We have grown to include programs for monarch butterflies and reforestation efforts through the Port of Houston TREEs program. We’re also working with partners in monitoring wildlife around Houston through our RAWARC program- Regional Assessments of Wildlife Along Riparian Corridors. This has allowed us to get a view of the wildlife that uses our beloved Bayous and trails around Houston and has made for some really fun photography. 

    Q: How do you work to achieve your mission and who is your audience? 

    A: Collaboration has been key in getting the work done- everything from the landowners implementing butterfly gardens all over the State to the volunteers that help us get trees in the ground in our Houston Ship Channel T.R.E.E.S. program, we wouldn’t be able to complete all of the great work that we do without our partners. 

    Since the work we do affects all of the ecoregions around the state – our audience includes anyone who uses these green spaces in the ecoregions we service.

    Houston Wilderness connects people to the 10 ecoregions in multiple counties around Greater Houston through large-scale environmental policy initiatives, including facilitation of key programs including: 

    • 8-county Regional Conservation Plan: A long-term collaborative of environmental, business, and governmental entities working together to implement resilience plan for the Gulf-Houston region
    • Texas Monarch Flyway Strategy: A statewide effort to restore, increase and enhance Monarch habitat across four major regions in the state
    • Port of Houston TREES Program: A multi-year collaborative project focused on large-scale tree plantings along Lower Buffalo Bayou, Lower Brays Bayou, and 25 miles of the Houston Ship Channel. Use of our targeted Super Trees allows this project to be successful in carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services.
    • Collaborative Grant Organizing Program: Houston Wilderness works with multiple stakeholders and federal/state agencies on collaborative grant proposals and funded projects, often in “pioneering” areas of environmental planning and resilience in the Greater Gulf-Houston Region

    All of these programs ensure that relevant stakeholders are at the table and collaborative solutions are supported and implemented. 

    “Houston Wilderness is doing the work to help link so many hardworking stakeholders in ensuring the ecological health of our city and surrounding areas,” – Ana Tapia, Sr. Director of Environmental Programs. 

    Monarch butterfly moments after Houston Wilderness revamped and cleaned up the butterfly garden at the Houston Health Department.

    Q: What are some examples of your projects or programs?

    A: An example of our programs is our ongoing goal along with the City of Houston and multiple stakeholders to plant 4.6 millions trees by 2030! The Tree Strategy Implementation Group (TSIG) came together in early 2020 to create a strategy to accomplish the Resilient Houston

    Plan’s goal to plant 4.6 million new native trees by 2030. The 14 Native “Super Tree” species have been identified for their high levels of ecosystem services in air pollution and water absorption, carbon sequestration and tree canopy size. Those trees include: Live Oak, Boxelder, Laurel Oak, Red Maple, River Birch, American Elm, Slippery Elm, Tulip Tree, American Sycamore, Green Ash, Loblolly Pine, White Ash, Water Oak, Sweet Gum.

    The primary goal of large-scale native tree plantings, and reforestation is to create and/or restore multi-species forests at various sizes in areas that were traditionally forested in the region in order to provide critical ecosystem services to residents and wildlife. 

    The aforementioned RAWARC program has gained a lot of attention- especially through one of our partner’s Buffalo Bayou Partnership- their camera has caught a large variety of native Houston wildlife along the Bayou and made for some fun social media interactions. 

     

    Minyue Hu helps plant a rare Slippery Elm in Pasadena Memorial Park as part of an Eagle Scout project.

    Q: What are the ecological and economic benefits of your organization’s projects/programs?

    A:  Our Port of Houston TREES program tackles air pollution in Houston that’s known to pose an increased risk of asthma attacks and cardiac arrest according to researchers at the Houston Health Department, Houston Fire Department, Rice University, and Baylor College of Medicine. The planting of large-scale native trees provides high levels of air quality benefits, particularly when targeted in high health-risk areas such as the ones shown in the map below outlining our targeted areas. Our intention is always to put nature first as we help develop Best Management Practices to help increase ecological benefits of our programs. 

    Q: Tell us about the future of your organization. Do you have any upcoming initiatives, exciting events, or even challenges ahead? 

    A: Our Annual Luncheon celebrates the 10 ecoregions of Greater Gulf-Houston Region with area elected officials, stakeholders, interested parties and friends. Public officials from up to 15 different counties are invited to attend! 

    SHELL, Lionstone Investments, SMB Offshore, Bank of Texas along with other volunteers helped to plant 1,000 trees along Greens Bayou to help in mitigation of storm effects.

    Q: How can people get involved with and learn more about your organization? 

    A: Check out our website! We have all of our programs listed as well as ways you can contribute or volunteer. We also have an Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where we post about upcoming events and tree plantings! 

    Additionally, Houston Wilderness has created three specialized versions of its Wilderness Passport

    The Wilderness Passport provides an accessible guide to visiting the natural world in the Houston area in the context of our local ecoregions. The Wilderness Passport lists state parks, wildlife refuges, museums, arboretums, and nature centers in each of our 7 land-based and 3 water-based ecoregions.

    Texan by Nature is proud to partner with 100+ conservation organizations across Texas. Through our Conservation Partner network, we connect conservation organizations with the resources and relationships they need to extend their initiatives’ impact. Partner benefits include on-going features on social media, monthly media round-up, quarterly meetings, aggregated resources on fundraising, marketing/social media, and more.

     

  4. Conservation Partner: NRCS Texas Q&A

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    Texan by Nature (TxN) is proud to partner with 105+ conservation organizations working to positively benefit Texas’ natural resources and communities through innovative approaches. TxN accelerates conservation by bringing conservation organizations and business together through programs that connect and convene diverse stakeholders and catalyze science-based conservation efforts and projects to accelerate impact.

    Learn more about TxN Conservation Partner, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and how they are supporting resource management and conservation in agriculture. 

    Brittany Anderson, Soil Conservationist, Pampa field office providing technical assistance in the field with mobile technology.
    Brittany Anderson, Soil Conservationist, Pampa field office providing technical assistance in the field with mobile technology.

    Q: Tell us about NRCS and its mission.

    A: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides America’s farmers and ranchers with technical and financial assistance to voluntarily put conservation on the ground not only helping the environment but agricultural operations, too.

    Our Mission: We deliver conservation solutions so agricultural producers can protect natural resources and feed a growing world.

    Our Vision: A world of clean and abundant water, healthy soils, resilient landscapes and thriving agricultural communities through voluntary conservation.

    Q: What is the history of NRCS?

    A: On April 27, 1935, Congress passed Public Law 74-46, in which it recognized that “the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest lands . . . is a menace to the national welfare,” and it directed the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a permanent agency in the USDA. In 1994, Congress changed SCS’s name to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to better reflect the broadened scope of the agency’s concerns.

    Land must be nurtured; not plundered and wasted.” – Hugh Hammond Bennett, NRCS’ first chief. 

    Cattle and Emery Birdwell on the Birdwell Clark Ranch in Henrietta, Texas.

    Q: How do you work to achieve your mission and who is your audience?

    A: NRCS helps America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources with free technical assistance or advice for their land. Common technical assistance includes natural resource assessment, conservation practice design and natural resource monitoring. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment. NRCS offers financial and technical assistance to help agricultural producers make and maintain conservation improvements on their land.

    Soil Scientist Nathan Haile examines soil condition in soil samples taken in the pasture.
    Soil Scientist Nathan Haile examines soil condition in soil samples taken in the pasture.

    Q: What are some examples of your projects or programs? 

    A: Through NRCS’ financial assistance programs landowners and/or operators receive incentive payments to implement conservation practices on their land. Previously, an outside partner and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts provided additional incentive payments for conservation practice implementation to encourage greater participation and more conservation.

    NRCS provides financial assistance through Farm Bill Programs such as:

    NRCS uses Landscape Conservation Initiatives to accelerate the benefits of voluntary conservation programs, such as cleaner water and air, healthier soil and enhanced wildlife habitat. NRCS conservation programs help agricultural producers improve the environment while maintaining a vibrant agricultural sector.

    Programs like The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCCP) work with landowners and agricultural producers to meet conservation challenges collaboratively.

    Additionally, NRCS supports agriculturalists affected by natural phenomena with targeted funding. In response to recent wildfires in Texas, NRCS has made funding available through EQIP to assist with the cost of animal mortality and deferred grazing. Affected agriculturalists should apply by July 5. See counties eligible for assistance here.

    USDA Targets Funds in Texas to Help Landowners and Managers with Wildfire Recovery and Restoration
    USDA Targets Funds in Texas to Help Landowners and Managers with Wildfire Recovery and Restoration.

    Q: What are the ecological and economic benefits of your organization’s projects/programs?

    A: Benefits of NRCS programs include water quality improvement, nutrient runoff reduction, water quantity use/loss reduced, soil loss prevented, wildlife habitat creation and improvement, soil health improvement, and air quality improvement.

    Additionally, NRCS can partner with organizations to leverage financial assistance program funds and promote broader conservation practice implementation and natural resource improvements.

    Q: Tell us about the future of your organization. Do you have any upcoming initiatives, exciting events, or challenges ahead?

    Here’s a few of our exciting upcoming events in 2022:

    See a full list of upcoming NRCS events here.

    Farm Bill Program financial assistance is available yearly. Urban and small farm agriculture is a new opportunity for USDA. NRCS will be adapting conservation practices to provide valuable assistance in helping provide local health, food, and security.

    Cotton boll maturing on Bobby Byrd's cotton plant in Hale County near Plainview, Texas.
    Cotton boll maturing on Bobby Byrd’s cotton plant in Hale County near Plainview, Texas.

    Q: How can people get involved with and learn more about your organization?

    A: Follow and like NRCS on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

    Contact Rob Ziehr, Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships and Initiatives at Robert.Ziehr@usda.gov or 254-742-9888

    Texan by Nature is proud to partner with 105+ conservation organizations across Texas. Through our Conservation Partner network, we connect conservation organizations with the resources and relationships they need to extend their initiatives’ impact. Partner benefits include on-going features on social media, monthly media round-up, quarterly meetings, aggregated resources on fundraising, marketing/social media, and more.

    All photos and captions courtesy of NRCS Texas.

  5. NRG Dewey Prairie Garden Ribbon Cutting

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    Located on 10 acres of a reclaimed lignite mine near Jewett, Texas, the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden will provide 10,000 pounds of fresh produce annually to help alleviate food insecurity in Leon, Freestone, and Limestone Counties. NRG, Texan by Nature (TxN), and community partners officially unveiled the garden with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 2, 2022, where 80+ individuals gathered to celebrate the opening.

    The garden, which includes a wetland area, pollinator habitat, and a future orchard is an initiative of positiveNRG, NRG Energy’s philanthropic arm, and is managed by Texan by Nature. Additional garden partners include Texas Master Gardeners, Texas A&M Agriculture Extension, and the local food pantry coalition. 

    Leon County 4-H students presented the flags and lead attendees in the US and Texas pledges.

    According to the USDA, the tri-county area surrounding the garden is considered a food desert. Many residents live over ten miles from the nearest grocery store. Food insecurity rates in the region are 51% higher than the national average. The garden will provide produce to local food pantries, supplying healthy food for up to an estimated 3,000 people every year. Garden managers surveyed and collaborated with local food pantry leaders to determine foods of highest need, including potatoes, beans, green leafy vegetables, carrots, peppers, peaches, plums, pears, strawberries, and blueberries.  

    “Most of our clients are unable to regularly buy fresh fruits and vegetables, due to the cost. Thanks to the support of NRG and Texan by Nature, the garden will be a true blessing for all of us,”

    -Kathleen Buchanan of Lord’s Pantry of Leon County

    The project’s roots go back to 2019 when NRG approached Texan by Nature to collaborate on ways to enhance the conservation mission of its lignite mine reclamation project for the benefit of the communities around Jewett, Texas. This conversation resulted in extensive research by the TxN team and ultimately a recommendation to use the land to alleviate food insecurity in the area.

    Cilantro is one of the many fresh food items the garden provides.

    “Beyond our standard reclamation practices, we wanted to find a way to benefit the community over the long term. We’re excited to partner with Texan by Nature to realize this vision in a special community that’s been part of the NRG family for 40 years,”

    -Chris Moser, executive vice president of operations of NRG Energy

    Although the ground was first broken on the NRG garden in May of 2021, the land has been at work through the reclamation process for over a decade. In 2013, the Jewett Mine site was awarded the coveted Texas Lone Star Land Steward Award for reclamation activities at the site before being purchased by NRG in 2020. Reclamation accomplishments at the mine include planting 3,500 acres of native bunch-grasses and constructing 700 acres of wetlands, which provide habitat and water to native wildlife and pollinators. The garden’s design also incorporates native pollinator plants to attract bees, butterflies, and support a healthy ecosystem for the garden and surrounding areas. The NRG mine staff also used their ingenuity to reuse materials no longer in use at the mine, such as PVC pipes, tanks, and a solar array that were repurposed for use in the garden. 

    The garden team manages crops in orderly rows with labels at each end.

    In addition to the benefits for people and natural resources, the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden will be an educational field trip and project site for local K-12 schools, 4-H, and FFA programs. Students will learn about agriculture, ecosystems, and nutrition through hands-on opportunities at the garden. 

    “The NRG Dewey Prairie Garden is an excellent – and replicable – example of a diverse set of partners coming together for big impact. This project creates an immense, multi-community impact for years to come, and we’re proud to act as the central connector to achieve the vision of this garden.”

    – Amy Snelgrove of Texan by Nature

    Fresh vegetables like broccoli are a priority item for local food pantries.

    TxN is proud to be working with NRG, the Dewey Prairie Garden partners, and members of the community who made this project possible. Rooted in purpose, we wait for the first harvest and look forward to seeing the positive impact the garden will have on people, prosperity, and natural resources in the community for years to come. 

    Learn more about the NRG Dewey Prairie Garden here: https://texanbynature.org/projects/nrg-dewey-prairie-garden/ 

     

  6. HEB Funds Texas Longleaf Team’s Longleaf Pine Conservation

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    February 2022. HEB generously supported the mission of the Texas Longleaf Team (TLT), a 2021 Texan by Nature (TxN) Conservation Wrangler, to restore the longleaf pine ecosystem in East Texas. HEB’s continued support of science-based, local conservation efforts drives the implementation and success of many conservation organizations and their missions across the state. HEB’s support of TLT will be deployed directly to private landowners who are working to restore, enhance, and maintain the environmentally and economically beneficial longleaf pine ecosystem on their land. Learn more about this unique and historic ecosystem in the TxN blog, How Fire Makes a Forest.

    Texas Longleaf Implementation Team
    Forest managers conducting a prescribed burn

    “The Texas Longleaf Team is excited to partner with HEB to promote restoration of the longleaf ecosystem in support of private landowners and rural communities in East Texas. Their support will promote carbon sequestration, water infiltration, biodiversity, recreation, and rural economies.  Their investment is an investment in a sustainable East Texas and we are so proud to work with them!” -Jenny Sanders, Coordinator, Texas Longleaf Team.

    HEB and TLT connected in 2021 at TxN’s Conservation Summit, where TLT presented their work and its importance for the “business of conservation.” As a 2021 Conservation Wrangler, TLT received 18-months of tailored support in strategy, marketing, partnerships, outreach, and more. Watch their Conservation Wrangler video here to learn more.

    “Texan by Nature’s mission is to unite business and conservation, and we are thrilled to see the results of that work playing out in real-time. Our Conservation Wranglers represent the best in science-based, impactful conservation, and those projects are often the perfect opportunity for businesses to add to their ESG, community, and philanthropic portfolios as we all work together to improve outcomes for our natural resources.” -Jenny Burden, Director of Development, Texan by Nature.

     


    The Texas Longleaf Team invites all companies operating within East Texas to consider their footprint on the longleaf pine ecosystem and their potential to positively impact this beloved and environmentally beneficial ecosystem. Longleaf pine restoration contributes to water and air quality, wildlife habitat, and carbon benefits, making it ideal for meeting ESG goals.  Not only is an investment in this work good for Texans, but it is good for a businesses’ bottom line. 

    If you are a landowner or consultant who has land that could be converted to longleaf, the Texas Longleaf Conservation Assistance Program will be accepting applications for cost-share assistance until April 15.  Visit our website for more information or reach out to us at 936-225-2175 to learn about technical assistance and training opportunities.

    For more information on how to get involved with the Texas Longleaf Team as a supporter, please reach out to Jenny Sanders. For more information about TxN Conservation Wrangler Program and how to support it, please reach out to info@texanbynature.org

    H-E-B LogoAbout HEB:
    H-E-B, with sales of $32 billion, operates more than 420 stores in Texas and Mexico. Known for its innovation and community service, H-E-B celebrates its 116th anniversary this year. Recognized for its fresh food, quality products, convenient services, and a commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, H-E-B strives to provide the best customer experience and lowest prices. Based in San Antonio, H-E-B employs over 137,000 Partners in Texas and Mexico and serves millions of customers in more than 300 communities. For more information, visit HEB.com and HEB.com/Newsroom.

    Texas Longleaf Team

    About Texas Longleaf Team (TLT):
    Texas Longleaf Team shares their passion for restoration of the longleaf ecosystem in Texas through landowner and industry outreach and education, technical support, and cost-share programs that assist landowners in implementation of prescribed fire, planting and other beneficial management practices. The mission of TLT is to promote the maintenance and restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem on private and public forestlands, including its cultural and economic values, through a collaborative network of diverse stakeholders and working groups. Learn more about the longleaf pine on the Texas Longleaf Landscapes Story Map and Texas Longleaf Team website.

    About Texan by Nature:
    Texan by Nature (TxN) unites conservation and business leaders who believe Texas’ prosperity is dependent on the conservation of its natural resources. TxN amplifies projects and activates new investment in conservation which returns real benefits for people, prosperity, and natural resources. Texan by Nature achieves mission goals through the Texan by Nature Certification program, Conservation Wrangler program, Symposia series, and the Texan by Nature 20. Get involved and learn more at www.texanbynature.org and follow us on Facebook @TexanbyNature, Twitter @TexanbyNature, and Instagram @texanbynature for the latest.



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