Get Paid to Recycle in El Paso!

Tag Archive: water

  1. Get Paid to Recycle in El Paso!

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    See a Need, Fill a Need: PET Recycling in El Paso

    Crinkle, crackle, crunch… The sounds of plastic are all around us in the modern world, from your supermarket container lunch to the tub of dog treats. Plastic products are widely recyclable, but 85% of all US plastics end up in a landfill or as litter on streets and in waterways, according to a recent study.

    Factors that contribute to low recycling rates include a lack of public awareness of the importance of recycling, limited materials sorting capabilities, and lack of access to recycling infrastructure. PET thermoforms – which are thermally molded sheets of PET plastics used in clamshell containers, tubs, and bottles –  are completely recyclable, but often end up discarded, where they pose a threat to wildlife and pollute Texas’ 190,000 miles of waterways.

    That’s why Texan by Nature and Texans for Clean Water teamed up with El Paso Sam’s Club to launch a 6-month PET thermoform recycling pilot project with the goal of incentivizing thermoform recycling at the community level. Learn more here about how #TxNsRecycle.

     

     

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    More Cash, Less Waste

    Pilot participants receive 10 cents for each item deposited for recycling at participating Sam’s Clubs locations. Since the PET Recycling Pilot launched in El Paso on July 6, 2022, over 5,500 PET #1 plastic items have been dropped off for recycling. Pilot participants also have the option to donate their incentives back to community partners in El Paso or claim their incentives through Venmo.

    The Pilot also generated interest from beverage bottler and retailer BlueTriton Brands, which manages well-known water bottle brands like Ozarka and PureLife. In late August, Blue Triton approached Texans for Clean Water with funding support to expand the Pilot to accept PET #1 plastic bottles, in addition to PET #1 thermoforms. Starting September 14, all PET Recycling Pilot locations will accept plastic water bottles for recycling!

    Community Driven

    El Paso community partners not only benefit from the PET Recycling Pilot in terms of reduced pollution and cash donations, but have also been instrumental in spreading the word on the ground about the pilot. Frontera Land Alliance, the Green Hope Project, the Paso del Norte Community Foundation, Better Business Bureau Paso del Norte, and the El Paso Community Foundation support the pilot through sharing information on social media and have helped us connect students to the pilot through the PET Pilot Video Contest. So far, over 20 students in El Paso County have submitted videos promoting awareness about the PET Recycling Pilot and the importance of recycling in general – stay-tuned for the winning videos in October!

    We are grateful for the enthusiasm of the El Paso community and look forward to seeing the impact of the pilot over the coming months.

    Get Involved

    How many pounds of plastic can we keep out of the Rio Grande, off El Paso streets, and out of landfills? How much money can you earn from recycling incentives? As much as you and your neighbors can carry! Get paid to recycle: https://texanbynature.org/projects/mecycle-el-paso-pet-recycling-pilot/ 

  2. TxWAC: Tackling Water Conservation in Texas

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    TxWAC: Increasing Investments in Water Conservation

    Spanning 5 of Texas’ 10 ecoregions and 7% of the state’s total land area, the Trinity River is a defining feature of the East Texas landscape. In addition to providing shade and wildlife habitat, including areas of urban forest in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, 5.5 million Texans depend on the Trinity as their primary water source, and 7.5 million people in the DFW area depend on the Trinity River water supply for domestic, industrial, and agricultural use. 

    Like many river systems across the state and country, water quality and quantity in the Trinity river system is under pressure from human activity such as population growth: Texas’ population of 29 million people is expected to double by 2050, further stretching water supplies that are already under pressure in some areas. Water conservation in Texas can be tough, as 95% of Texas lands are privately owned –– collaboration is needed to move the needle in the right direction. 

    We thank our lucky Lone Star there’s a collaborative solution laying the groundwork for water conservation in Texas: Texas Water Action Collaborative, or TxWAC. 

    A Collaborative Solution

    Facilitated by Texan by Nature in collaboration with businesses, nonprofits, and governmental organizations, TxWAC launched the upper Trinity River Basin on World Water Day 2021. The collaborative began with a pilot program focused on Trinity River as a river system that is representative of both the threats facing water supplies and the opportunities for uniting conservation and industry across Texas. 

    55% of the Trinity River Basin is made up of agricultural lands used for crop cultivation or cattle ranching, both important economic activities in Texas. These water-intensive activities, along with population growth, groundwater depletion, and drought in the state, mean that Texas needs to take action now, with our water supplies being under greater pressure than ever. 

    Expanding Business Support for Conservation

    The TxWAC works by matching project funders from the business and philanthropic sectors to water conservation projects that need funding. One or more business partners may fund projects at any given time to meet their environmental, social, and goverance goals. In 2021, TxWAC members PepsiCo, Meta, and Bonneville Environmental Foundation funded Ducks Unlimited’s restoration of 206 acres of wetland at the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area along the Trinity. The project creates wetland habitat for wildlife, including migratory birds, and improves overall water quality in the Trinity by reconditioning 200 million gallons of water each year. Lean more about this investment.

    Through piloting TxWAC in the Trinity River Basin, Texan by Nature is developing a roadmap to effect positive change in river systems by accelerating the rate of funding for water conservation projects, which are an important piece to protecting water supplies across the state. With investment from the energy corporation Hess Corporation, TxWAC expanded to the lower Trinity River Basin in March 2022. Through the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023, Texan by Nature is scoping the expansion of TxWAC to an additional river basin in Texas. 

    “Clean, healthy waterways are important to the state of Texas, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. This partnership with Texan by Nature on the TxWAC project is a great addition to the other water programs Hess is involved in and aligns with the commitment Hess has to clean water and addressing marine debris. We are excited to see the opportunities this brings forward.” – Brock Hajdik, Vice President for Gulf of Mexico at Hess Corporation.

    The TxWAC Planning Team includes representatives from the following businesses and organizations:

    For a complete list of TxWAC business and conservation members, see the TxWAC page.

    Get Involved 

    TxWAC’s mission is simple: benefit water resources in Texas through collaboration between conservation and business. Interested businesses and organizations may become TxWAC members at no cost. By becoming a member, you’re expressing interest in achieving TxWAC’s collaboration goals of improved water quality and quantity and joining the conversation about how to achieve those goals. 

    If you are interested in learning more about TxWAC, please contact Taylor Keys at taylor@texanbynature.org

    You can also get involved with TxWAC by attending the next bimonthly meeting this September 27, 2022 at 10 AM CT.  REGISTER HERE or email taylor@texanbynature.org for the calendar invite.

    Come on in, the water’s fine!

    Visit https://texanbynature.org/projects/texas-water-action-collaborative/ for the latest!

  3. 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:

  4. H20, SDG, ESG, NBS…How Many Letters Does it Take to Impact Water?

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    “Water is the driving force of all nature.” — Leonardo da Vinci 

    Even in the 1400s without the access and knowledge we have today, the importance of water was clear, the relationship to life apparent. Water is the most abundant molecule found in living organisms. About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water. Given the abundance of water on earth, some wonder about the growing focus on water conservation and availability across Texas and globally.

    Melissa Alderson, Conservation Education Manager at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department broke it down well in a podcast given in December 2020: “Of all the water found on earth, ninety-seven percent is saltwater. If you’re doing the math, that means just three percent of all water is freshwater. But, eighty percent of that water is frozen in the Polar Ice Caps and unavailable for our use; so what we’re left with, then, is just one half of one percent for our use. And let’s not forget that we have to share that tiny amount of fresh water with nearly eight billion human beings and nearly nine million animal species – how many individual creatures that actually represents is anyone’s guess.”  

    Fresh water is critical AND if we do not adopt a regenerative approach, fresh water will become more scarce as our population continues to grow. 81 million people were added to the planet in 2020. As global, national, state, and local leaders address population growth and resource needs, it’s imperative that we bring corporate, conservation, and community efforts together to adopt proven practices in water management.

    Fortunately, we have many resources available and efforts focused on sustainable water management. The broadest in scope is The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. The Agenda lays out 17 sustainable development goals known as the UN SDGs. These focus on a global plan for ending poverty and improving health, education, prosperity, and the planet. Water is specifically called out in multiple goals and a critical component to others. These guiding goals can act as a framework for the growing corporate focus on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). It’s a blueprint for strategists and a common language for leaders across sectors.

    The increased corporate focus on ESG, ushered in by brands like Patagonia, vocal investors, and a changing workforce is changing the sustainability conversation in all industries. Announcements are in the press daily with a wide array of targets, viewpoints, and claims. According to investment-management firm Pimco, “Environmental, social, and governance issues were discussed on about a fifth of earnings calls across the world” in 2021. This is up from ESG mentions on 5% of calls in 2019. Every industry is entering into the conversation from energy to capital markets to agriculture to tourism.  

    With an increased focus on ESG and specifically, corporate water goals, the opportunity for corporate + conservation + community collaboration is growing daily. Conservation groups can provide the expertise and communities the land to develop and implement Nature Based Solutions (NBS) to achieve a sustainable state of water use / regeneration. Nature Based Solutions are broadly defined as sustainable solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience. Specifically they are actions that involve the protection, restoration or management of natural and semi-natural ecosystems; the sustainable management of aquatic systems and working lands such as croplands or timberlands; or the creation of novel ecosystems in and around cities. These solutions provide improved water flow, water quality, air quality, biodiversity, tourism and sporting benefits, and more for growing communities. As industry and communities set higher goals for water sustainability, local conservation and nature based solutions should be a key piece within ESG strategy. There’s a growing list of replicable examples including constructed wetlands, prairie wetlands, restored playas, and reforestation.

    Constructed wetlands:

    • A constructed wetland is a wastewater treatment system that mimics and improves the effectiveness of the processes that help to purify water similar to naturally occurring wetlands. Constructed wetlands can be used for either secondary or tertiary wastewater treatment.
    • Key benefits: 
      • Provide raw water and improve water quality through natural treatment mechanisms powered by sunlight, wind, plants, and microbes 
      • Remove sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus from the water, provide wildlife habitat, and create areas for education and recreation
      • If location and planning permits, a constructed wetland is a cost-effective alternative to building a new reservoir and pushes back the need to construct additional water supply projects

     

    Constructed Wetlands Graph

    Prairie Wetlands:

    • Of the 254 counties in Texas, 28 along the Texas coast contain hundreds of thousands of acres of crucial natural infrastructure. Often called “Kidneys of the landscape,” Texas’s coastal wetlands take the form of potholes, ponds, swamps, ephemeral lakes, and marshes – some permanent, some seasonal – and they provide crucial habitat to millions of migrating and resident birds each year. Although heavily impacted by development and agriculture, landowners are working with biologists to restore wetlands along the coast, reaping the benefits of stormwater storage, greater water quality, reduced sedimentation, and improved economic outcomes for both agricultural and recreational land uses. Corporate funders and land increase the restoration rate of these wetlands and achieve multiple ESG goals including water impact, biodiversity, and local economic development.
    • Key benefits:
      • Provide critical staging and wintering habitat for thousands of waterfowl and migrating birds
      • Reduce and mitigate the effects of stormwaters, especially during large weather events such as hurricanes
      • Naturally filter water, removing harmful runoff, improving water quality, and reducing sedimentation
      • Support the $4.2B hunting and fishing industry


    A graph depicts how Wetlands Work

     

    Playa Restoration:

    • Across the Texas panhandle, thousands of recharge points for the Ogallala aquifer dot the landscape. Called playas, they are shallow, ephemera pools with clay soil basins that crack as evaporation dries them out. When it rains, these pools fill and water seeps through the clay to recharge the aquifer, until the clay fully saturates, sealing the bottom and filling the pool. When playas are full, they provide water and habitat to wildlife, including millions of migrating birds each year. Playas are critical to maintaining enough aquifer recharge to sustain human life and activity in the Texas Panhandle. Simple restoration techniques – often filling pits or removing built up sediments – allow playas to return to their natural function. Landowners are incentivized by programs such as the Texas Playa Conservation Initiative to restore these playas, generating valuable income and maintaining life-sustaining natural resources. Corporate partners are funding or performing restoration to achieve water reduction goals.   
    • Key playa benefits:
      • Playas provide recharge to the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in the United States and the largest water source to residents in the Texas Panhandle
      • Functioning playas natural filter water, ensuring higher quality and quantity in the recharge
      • Whether wet or dry, playas provide thousands of acres of habitat for birds and other wildlife year-round

    A graph depicting how playas work to conserve water in Texas

    Reforestation:

    • Forest land is known to cover 62.42 million acres in Texas, totaling 36 percent of our state’s area. Watersheds are known to be regulated by nearby forests through various hydrological processes such as water infiltration, runoff and erosion reduction, water filtration, and flood control and storm protection through water regulation and disturbance prevention. Due to trees’ large, woody roots and their ability to absorb water in various ways, they are nature’s sponges and help maintain releases of water into streams and rivers, effectively maintaining water quality and quantity. Reforestation globally is a known option for carbon sequestration. Pairing the carbon benefit with water outcomes is an opportunity for many communities and industries to surpass goals.  
    • Key Benefits: 
      • Enhanced water filtration in key riparian buffer zones thus decreasing water treatment costs and enhancing the quality of drinking water 
      • Increased water infiltration and runoff reduction due to afforestation and strategic forest management techniques 
      • Creation of areas for education, wildlife habitat, recreation, and carbon capture through a nature-based solution
      • If location and planning permits, afforestation surrounding riparian buffers can be a cost-effective strategy for water quality management and reduces the need for water treatment

    A graph depicts how Healthy Forests support clean water

    While sustainability and conservation can seem like a confusing alphabet soup of competing frameworks and options, there are many examples of collaborative efforts that address long term goals in water and additional focus areas like carbon and biodiversity. Learning from, replicating, and funding these solutions will increase the trajectory of progress for industry and communities alike. Creating strategies that include this type of  industry, conservation, and community collaboration will lead to truly regenerative practices and address broader ESG and UN SDG frameworks. There’s no better time to start than today. After all, water is the driving force of all nature – our future depends on its care.  

     

  5. Seven Weeks with the Trinity River Crew

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    2020 Conservation Wrangler, Trinity River Crew is a seven-week joint Conservation Corps program of Greenspace Dallas and Trinity Park Conservancy that launched in summer of 2021.

    The Trinity River Crew provides meaningful, paid conservation work experience, education, leadership skills, and professional development training to high-potential youth from historically marginalized areas along the Trinity River. The primary purpose of this program is to encourage and empower local youth through cultivating their leadership skills and providing educational and professional development opportunities as they complete meaningful conservation projects. This program is a collaborative youth employment framework that can act as a model throughout the entire Trinity River Corridor and in other geographies. This crew creates a pipeline of conservation leaders that will continue to advocate for the Trinity River within their communities.

    In its first year, the Trinity River Crew had 13 crew members join for the seven week summer program, follow-along their journey in this week by week recap:

    Week 1:

    Crew members received on-boarding training and an overview of Trinity River, including information on the watershed, river geomorphology, pollution/pollutants, and more. The Crew also learned how to conduct macroinvertebrate assessments at Frasier Dam, learned how to conduct water quality with Dallas City Hall, and learned about best practices for managing money from Bank of America.

    Learn more about the Trinity River in this educational guide that was developed through the Conservation Wrangler program.

    Week 2:

    Crew members learned about soils, conducted macroinvertebrate assessments, took a nature walk with Urban Biologist Sam Keischnick from Texas Parks and Wildlife, and listened to a presentation about water conservation from the City of Dallas and Dallas County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

    Week 3:

    Crew members constructed monofilament (fishing line) recycling bins, learned about the Blackland Prairie Ecoregion, removed invasive plants at, and transplanted native plants from Twelve Hills Nature Preserve, learned how to conduct vegetation and bird surveys, and had discussions about sustainability and consumption.

    Week 4:

    Crew members visited the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center where they removed invasive species, conducted water quality and macroinvertebrate assessments, as well as bird and plant surveys. The Crew also visited the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Farm in Garland and learned about the sustainable farming practices and constructed bee hotels.

    Week 5:

    Crew members visited the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center again to collect aquatic vegetation for the Trinity River Audubon Center, installed bee hotels at Hines Park, conducted water quality testing, macroinvertebrate surveys, plant surveys, bird surveys, and invasive species removal at the Trinity River Audubon Center, virtually connected with the Dallas Sierra Club, and finalized their ideas for a concept garden.

    Week 6:

    In Texas: The group of students that stayed in Texas this week stayed busy by continuing to visit other nature centers in North Texas such as Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA), and a Blackland Prairie Reserve in Ferris, Texas. These locations provided new insight in conservation work, such as meeting a University of North Texas research team and learning about the painted bunting study they were conducting during the summer. The students also learned about the positive effects controlled burns have on an ecosystem’s biodiversity at these sites. The end of the week was spent learning how to interpret all of the data that had been collected throughout the program.

    In Montana: The students spent the week at Glacier National Park and had a chance to explore the trails and lakes in the area. During their time there they worked with other Groundwork USA members and helped reconstruct roofs of buildings used by the national park.

    Week 7:

    The final week of the program was spent indoors finalizing presentations, and learning professional skills such as resume building and interview advice with Bank of Texas.

    “This program taught me so much about nature. I had little to no previous knowledge about any of the things I learned this summer. I would go home and talk about everything I learned to my friends because I thought it was so interesting.” – Denise

    “Being a part of the Trinity River Crew has increased my knowledge of environmental science and conservation. It has also helped me consider environmental science and conservation as a career path. It has also helped me build friendships and connections with a variety of people.” – Samantha P.

    “Throughout these past 7 weeks I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people all while having fun doing it. The experience alone has helped me in so many ways in regards to my future after high school. Before I was very lost in how I wanted to go about higher education and a career as a whole, but thanks to River Crew, I have a much clearer vision in mind.” – Adrian

    Learn more about the Trinity River Crew here and follow along on Trinity Park Conservancy’s and Greenspace Dallas’s social media channels for on-going updates.

  6. Ten Texas Swimming Holes You Can’t Miss This Summer

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    By Texan by Nature Staff

    There’s just over a month of summer left, but the weather forecast still shows highs near the triple digits for the foreseeable future in Texas. Staying indoors all summer is one way to keep cool, but an even better way is to dive into one of the many beautiful state parks in Texas. Despite popular images of cacti and grassy prairies, Texas offers a variety of swimming spots from rivers and lakes to beaches – all of them unique Texas treasures that remind us how critical water conservation is in this state. Before the summer closes out, be sure to take advantage of Texas’ top 10 state parks for water recreation as recommended by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

    Inks Lake State Park

    Inks Lake State Park Swimming
    Inks Lake State Park – Kairos14 / Wikimedia Commons

    Located just an hour northwest of Austin in the Hill Country, Inks Lake is full of water all year round. There are family friendly hiking trails, campsites, a canoe/kayak rental, and various types of fish to catch. Learn more…

    Possum Kingdom State Park

    Hells Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake State Park Swimming
    Hell’s Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake / TexasExplorer98 / Flickr

    Possum Kingdom Lake has over 300 miles of shoreline and is located only an hour west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. You can swim, boat, fish, snorkel, and scuba dive or even cool off in an air-conditioned cabin. Despite its name, the park is also home to various types of wildlife such as deer, raccoon, wild turkey, and bobcat. Learn more…

    Pedernales Fall State Park

    Pedernales Falls Top Swimming State Parks
    Pedernales Falls State Park

    Pedernales Falls is a great place to spend the day or weekend. In addition to swimming in the river, visitors can hike, ride horses, fish, and bird watch from the park’s excellent bird blind. Learn more…

    Colorado Bend State Park

    Gorman Falls Colorado Bend State Park Swimming
    Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park

    With 5,328 acres of caves and trails, Colorado Bend State Park has something for every outdoor enthusiast. An extensive trail system can take you to the water to cool off, or to a network of underground caves where you can escape the sun. Learn more…

    Balmorhea State Park

    Balmorhea State Park Swimming Holes
    Balmorhea Pool – Princess Stand in the Rain / Flickr

    Deep in West Texas, just off of Interstate 10, is the world’s largest spring fed swimming pool. At Balmorhea State Park you can swim, scuba dive, and take in the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. Nearby are the Fort Davis Mountains, where you can hike the trails by day or visit the McDonald Observatory at night. Learn more…

     

    BlancoBlanco State Park

    Blanco State Park is located between San Antonio and Austin, roughly an hour from each city. The park is great for children and adults alike, with a shallow area for younger ones, and a deeper area with a rope swing for the more adventurous.  It’s a popular fishing spot as well. Learn more…

     

    TawakoniLake Tawakoni State Park

    Lake Tawakoni, just outside of Dallas, is 376 acres and has over 5 miles of shoreline for swimming access. Additionally, the park has an outdoor amphitheater and hosts many events throughout the summer. Visit this link for the event calendar. Learn more…

     

    GalvestonGalveston Island State Park

    Only an hour away from Houston, escape the heat and head to the beach at Galveston Island State Park. In addition to swimming and other outdoor recreation, the island is also great for bird watching! Learn more…

     

     

    DevilsDevils River State Natural Area

    The Devils River is the most pristine river in Texas due to its remote location in West Texas, about 4 hours from San Antonio.  The natural area is primitive, with few amenities, but the beautiful blue water is worth the trek. If you’re interested in canoeing or kayaking the 47 mile stretch of the river, be sure to read all of the rules and safety tips here. Learn more…

    McKinneyMcKinney Falls State Park

    McKinney Falls State Park is located in Southeast Austin and has nine miles of trails and two swimming spots—a deeper one at the Upper Falls and one more shallow at the Lower Falls. The park also hosts family-friendly events throughout the summer. Learn more…

     

    Help Keep These Beautiful Places Clean and Healthy by Doing Your Part

    Top Texas Swimming Holes State ParksWhen visiting these or other state parks with swimming options this summer, please remember to be safe as well as mindful of the environment while you enjoy it. Pick up all trash and dispose of it properly or take it with you if there are no receptacles provided. Be sure to bring food and drinks with you, as long as they are not stored in glass or styrofoam containers. Visit the TPWD park rules page for the full list of general rules for all Texas state parks. It is our responsibility as Texans to take care of our wildlife, natural habitats, and natural resources so that people (and animals) can continue to enjoy them long into our future!

    Did You Know? Private Land Stewardship Protects Precious Water Supplies for All Texans

    Top Texas State Park Swimming Holes Hand IconLand stewardship means caring for the land responsibly in order to protect our natural heritage and resources. With about 95% of Texas land being privately owned, the way our landowners manage water on their properties is critical to the water quality and quantity our state enjoys as a whole. Former President Johnson once said, “saving the water and the soil must start where the first raindrop falls.”

    Properly managed land allows for the recharge of Texas’s aquifers, springs, rivers, and lakes, which provides Texans and our wildlife with water, habitat for aquatic life, and all of these amazing places to swim each summer.

    Check out this article by the Texas Wildlife Association to learn more about how land stewardship benefits water conservation as well as this article by TPWD that highlights useful practices and other water management projects around the state.


     

    Texan by Nature

    Texan by Nature brings conservation and business together. We amplify projects and activate new investment in conservation which returns real benefits for people, prosperity and natural resources. Learn more…

     

     

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