Tag Archive: water

  1. March 2024 Rain Barrel Workshop

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    Join us on Wednesday, March 27th from 5 pm to 6:30 pm at the Nature Discovery Center. The workshop will consist of a supply pickup, hands-on presentation, and Q&A session with Galveston Bay Foundation staff. The presentation will discuss water conservation tools like Water My Yard, the environmental benefits of reducing freshwater usage and collecting rainwater, as well as proper rain barrel preparation, installation instructions and tips. Show up early or stick around after the event to enjoy walking through the beautiful botanic gardens and trails.

  2. How Texas Runs on Water Engages the Community around Water

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    Have you ever thought about why Texas has such an iconic shape? It’s because of water! Not one, but three of our state’s boundaries are shaped by bodies of water- the Rio Grande, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Red River. Texans have water to thank for more than just our unique shape, however. Water is at the heart of everything we love about Texas, and it’s our most valuable natural resource. We rely on water for agriculture, technology, recreation, energy, manufacturing, and much more.

    Image Credit: Texas Water Foundation

    Texas’ population is expected to increase by more than 70% between 2020 and 2070. Because of that, we can expect demand for water to increase as our existing water supply continues to decline. Fortunately, Texas has a State Water Plan that identifies thousands of water management strategies to address these water budget needs. The plan also identifies that almost 45% of all future water will need to come from conservation and reuse. For this reason, water leaders have called for a statewide water campaign to address the behavioral and cultural changes needed to achieve our growing water supply needs.

    Background on TROW

    Texas Runs on Water® (TROW) is a first-of-its-kind statewide water campaign built on Texas’ strong sense of local pride. Led by the Texas Water Foundation, TROW is working to lead Texas into a sustainable water future by inspiring all Texans to reconsider how we use water, and how we value it. TROW encourages all Texans to participate in a viral cultural movement that spurs action and conversation around water. 

    A Regional Approach

    Texas is uniquely diverse, and so are our relationships with water across the state. The TROW campaign is intentionally designed as an umbrella concept that can be localized by region, audience, or water use, with the potential to link water entities, brands, industries, cultural ambassadors, and Texan iconography to water. The state’s thriving economy, wild landscapes, and beloved Texas products and pastimes all exist because of water – denim jeans, tacos, barbecue, and even college football games all Run on Water. Texas Water Foundation hopes that through this campaign, all Texans fully internalize that everything they love about Texas is rooted in water.

    Launched in 2021, TROW was piloted in three locations, gaining millions of views in Houston, the Texas Hill Country, and the Panhandle. In the pilot phase, Texas Runs on Water partnered with Houston Public Works to manage and support a “Houston Runs on Water” campaign. The campaign included paid social media, live ads in the Houston Hobby Airport, bilingual ads in grocery stores, a Houstonia magazine partnership, radio, and additional grassroots efforts to reach the entire Houston community. The regional earned nearly 9 million impressions generating increased awareness of the Texas Runs on Water message.

    Image credit: Texas Water Foundation

    Murals as a Message

    Public art can enhance communities by fostering a sense of identity, provoking dialogue, attracting visitors and investment, and improving overall well-being. Murals can reflect the unique character of a place, instilling pride and a deeper connection among residents. Through diverse artistic expressions in public spaces, murals and other art forms challenge norms, broaden perspectives and stimulate the imagination. Public art also contributes to the economic vitality of an area by drawing tourists, supporting local businesses, and creating job opportunities. By embracing public art, communities can cultivate a vibrant, inclusive environment that celebrates creativity and enhances the cultural, social, and economic fabric of the community.

    Texas Runs on Water has partnered with like-minded conservation organizations to complete three public art installations in Amarillo, San Antonio, and Junction, that tell the unique story of each region’s relationship with water. These murals have helped TROW engage with the local communities in their pilot markets through planning, painting, and unveiling of the artwork. TROW and partners are working on expanding this program, creating unique public art pieces in additional cities all across Texas. Learn more about each completed mural below:

    Image credit: Texas Water Foundation

    Amarillo Mural 

    Where to see it: 800 S Johnson St, Amarillo, TX 79101

    What does it mean? This mural represents Amarillo’s positive connections to water- past, present, and future. On one side, it celebrates a region that bloomed because of water. A cowboy tips his hat in the clouds, a cow grazes on a a field of wheat, a windmill is off in the distance.As you move to the right side of the painting, your brought to a more future-focused image. A young girl swims in a playa laketo symbolize the importance of protecting water for future generations.

    Partners: Blank Spaces Murals, Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, City of Amarillo

    Image credit: San Antonio Water Systems

    San Antonio Mural 

    Where to see it: 1419 Roosevelt Ave, San Antonio, TX 78210

    What does it mean? This mural, titled “Yanaguana Rain Dream” pays homage to San Antonio’s water history and the area’s indigenous roots. Inspired by the rock art style found in West Texas, the piece features a depiction of the San Antonio River – known to early indigenous people as Yanaguana – and the inhabitants who relied on that water as they shaped and settled the land. Today, the river continues to shape the city. The artwork is a celebration of San Antonio’s unique ties to water. 

    Partners: Cruz Ortiz, Burnt Nopal Creative Studio, San Antonio Water System

    Junction Mural 

    Where to see it: 656 Main St, Junction, TX 76849

    What does it mean? Junction gets its name because it sits at the confluence of the North and South Llano River. These rivers are the lifeblood of Junction’s community – providing drinking water and outdoor recreation, supporting healthy wildlife and fishing, and sustaining residents’ quality of life. Created by local aspiring artists, the mural depicts the iconic Llano river and celebrates one of the town’s greatest pastimes – fishing. For community members and out-of-towners, it serves as a reminder to protect the beauty of the Hil Country. 

    Partners: Hill Country Alliance, Llano River Watershed Alliance, Junction Texas Tourism Board, Big Seed

    Going Social

    Texas Runs on Water leverages the power of social media to educate the community about the importance of water and engage their audience in the promotion of their message: everything we love about Texas runs on water. Social media trends are constantly evolving, and TROW strives to be at the forefront to engage with and reach Texans of diverse backgrounds. As social media platforms have embraced the growing popularity of original video content, TROW has been successful in engaging social media users in Texas and beyond through curated Instagram Reels and TikTok videos. 

    Giveaways and Campaigns are another popular trend on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. To further engage their audience, TROW partnered with the Texas Water Development Board to launch the My Texas Water Photo Campaign to inspire Texans to draw a connection to the water that keeps our state running. The campaign invites all Texans to share photos, reels, stories, or videos on Instagram from past or present experiences that represent their unique ties to Texas water, using the hashtag #MyTexasWater. The annual campaign launched on June 1, 2023 and runs through June 30, 2023. 

    Texas Runs on Water has also appeared in the immensely popular Texas magazine, Texas Monthly, where they emphasized the future water challenges that Texas faces, and the need for a statewide water conservation campaign to inspire change.

    Water is for ALL Texans

    Texas Runs on Water is an invitation to all Texans to take pride in the places they live, and in the water that keeps it running. In order to reach all Texans, it’s important to recognize and appreciate the unique connections that each region has with water and engage with each community on a personal and local level. Texas Runs on Water utilizes participation in community events, custom public art installations, social media engagement, and local advertisements to make the connection with local communities and inspire all Texans to reconsider how we use water, how we value it, and how we can ensure that future generations value it, too.

  3. 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.

     

  4. 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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    A post shared by Texan by Nature (@texanbynature)

    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/ 

  5. 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!

  6. 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:

  7. 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.  

     

  8. 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.

  9. Beauty of the Wetland Guided Boardwalk Tour

    Comments Off on Beauty of the Wetland Guided Boardwalk Tour

    What better way to enjoy the wetland than by getting into the wetland via our boardwalk. Join a Wetland team member for a guided walk and learn about the many cool things happening in the wetland. Learn about the mammals, birds, amphibian ands plants that call the wetland their home.

    Wear a hat, bring some insect repellent and a water bottle, and you will be off for an adventure. No reservations required!

  10. Austin’s Environmental Leaders

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    Austin Youth River Watch is a mentoring and environmental education program for high school students and young adults. This multi-year after school and summer program engages historically underrepresented youth in water quality testing, community focused restoration projects, and outdoor adventure. The goal is to foster a love of nature, build meaningful relationships, and support our students in any way we can.

    Join this session to hear directly from River Watch youth and staff about their experiences guiding young adults and being a young adult of color outdoors.

    Registration Required. Optional Donation.

  11. Conservation – The Texas Way Webinar

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    Join NTMWD & Texan by Nature for the first installment of its four-part webinar series: “Conservation – The Texas Way”
    Texan by Nature (TxN) and North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) are launching a free webinar series entitled “Conservation – The Texas Way.”

    This four-part webinar series is intended to help increase education and awareness of the best 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.

    Our first webinar in the series is called “Conserve Today. Water Tomorrow.” It will feature a panel discussion with leaders from TxN, NTMWD, The Texas Water Foundation and Texas A&M AgriLife to discuss the following topics:

    • Water rights
    • Texas’ water resources
    • Water’s journey from lake to tap
    • Water conservation best practices

    Registration is required for this free webinar!

  12. 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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