State Prairie CONFERENCE
December 6-9, 2012
WANT WILDLIFE? BUILD A PRAIRIE Attend our workshops, lectures and field trips on how to restore and manage prairies for cattle, wildlife,
Photo by Carolyn Fannon
and people. These events are designed specifically for ranchers, restorationists, scientists, educators, and concerned Individuals alike. Photo by Greg Lavaty
Photo by Carolyn Fannon
Generously Sponsored by Generous Individual Contributors
Bluestem Environmental Consultants
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE Dear Prairie Supporter, The Coastal Prairie Partnership (CPP) and the Native Prairies Association of Texas (NPAT) are excited to announce the 4th annual State of the Prairie Conference, and we want you to be a part of our conference team. Each fall, the State of the Prairie Conference brings together the best minds in prairie conservation from throughout the state of Texas who provide practical methods to restore, conserve, manage, enjoy, and educate about our valuable and vulnerable prairies. The conference engages and inspires private landowners, natural resource professionals, governmental agencies, educators, landscape architects, naturalists, volunteers and others looking for real-world solutions. This year’s expanded conference, at Texas A&M-Kingsville and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Center, focuses on the economics of the prairie and prairie restoration. Our presenters will address recent interests in boosting wildlife habitats, understanding land-owner’s rights and the importance of the prairie as a watershed. This year we will have our first poster session. Please see the last page for details. Together we can protect and rebuild prairies for wildlife, for ourselves, and for our children. Please help us move toward this goal by supporting this year’s State of the Prairie Conference! Sincerely, Jaime González President Coastal Prairie Partnership 281.660.6683
Pat Merkord Board President Native Prairies Association of Texas 936.827.7973
PA RT I C I PAT I N G I N S T I T U T I O N S
DAY 1 - F I E L D E X P E R I E N C E S Thursday, December 6, 2012 Photo by Steve Upperman
• Option 1: Kika de la Garza Plant Materials Center, Free • Option 2: South Texas Natives, cost $30.00 • Option 3: King Ranch, cost $30.00
FIELD EXPERIENCE Option 1: Kika de la Garza Plant Materials Center | Half-Day 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm Description: Tour the NCRS’s south Texas Plant Material Center which has developed 14 grasses and forb plants species to assist in rangeland restoration and wildlife enhancement, coastal shoreline stabilization, coastal habitat restoration and erosion control/water quality improvement on agricultural land. Limit: 30 people Food and drinks: Please bring your own water. Meeting place: Parking lot of the Materials Center, 3409 N. FM 1355, Kingsville, TX 78363 Field Experience organizer: Pat Merkord, Native Prairies Association of Texas, cell (936) 827-7973 FIELD EXPERIENCE Option 2: South Texas Natives | Full Day 9:00 pm – 4:30 pm Description: Visit several restoration projects directed by South Texas Natives. Limit: 30 people Food and drinks: Lunch, drinks, snacks provided. You may still want to bring your own water. Meeting place: Texas A&M campus, exact location to be decided. Meeting place: Parking lot of Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Center, 1730 West Corral Avenue in Kingsville, Texas. Transportation: Vans will transport you to restoration projects. Field Experience organizer: Sonia Najera, Texas Nature Conservancy, cell (361) 815-3698 FIELD EXPERIENCE Option 3: - King Ranch | Full Day |10:00 am – 4:30 pm Description: Coming soon. Limit: 28 Food and drinks: Lunch provided Meeting place: King Ranch Visitor Center, 2205 Texas 141, Kingsville, TX 78363 Transportation: Ranch vehicles Field Experience organizer: Susie Doe, Texas Master Naturalist, cell (281) 239-9010
DAY 2 - CAESAR KLEBERG WILDLIFE CENTER Friday, December 7, 2012 | 8:30 am - 8:00 pm Registration fee includes lunch, dinner, snacks, and refreshments Photo by Steve Upperman
This day of the State of the Prairie Conference will be held in the auditorium of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Center, Kingsville. Presentations will focus on the importance of our native prairies within the context of watersheds and the bigger picture.
All sessions will be in the auditorium. Lunch and dinner will be served on the patio. Posters will be set-up in the auditorium, patio, and foyer. See last page for poster guide lines. 8:30 am - 9:30 am
Registration and poster set-up
9:30 am - 9:45 am
Welcome and Speaker Introduction Jaime GonzĂĄlez, President, Coastal Prairie Partnership
9:45 am - 10:45 am
Keynote Address Dr. Fred Bryant, Texas A&M - Kingsville, Title: The Last Great Habitatâ€”Revisited
10:45 am - 11:00 am
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Dr. John Jacob, Texas A&M and Texas Sea Grant Topic: Geology, Watersheds and Prairies
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Lunch on the patio
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Bill Bartush, Gulf Coast Prairies LCC Title: Cooperative Strategy for Connecting Prairie Landscapes
2:30 pm - 2:45 pm
2:45 pm - 3:45 pm
Joseph Fitzsimons, Uhl, Fitzsimons & Jewett, PLLC, Topic: Landowners rights
3:45 pm - 6:00 pm
Poster Session, Social, and Cash bar
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Dinner on the patio
6:45 pm - 8:00 pm
Forrest Smith Title: South Texas Natives & Texas Native Seeds
DAY 3 - TEXAS A&M KINGSVILLE CAMPUS Photo by Carolyn Fannon
Saturday, December 8, 2012 | 8:30 am - 8:00 pm Registration fee includes lunch, dinner, snacks, and refreshments Photo by Steve Upperman
This day of the State of the Prairie Conference will be held at Texas A&M, Kingsville, in the Memorial Student Union building, rooms 219A, 219B and 219C. Dinner will be held in Ballroom A.
Photo by Carolyn Fannon
Sessions will be in rooms 219a-c. Lunch and dinner will be served in Ballroom A. Posters will be set-up through-out the area. TIME
EDUCATION - ROOM 219 C
8:30 am - 9:00 am
RESTORATION - ROOM 219 B
MANAGEMENT - ROOM 219 A
Registration and poster set-up
9:30 am - 9:45 am
Title: Farm Bill Programs for Land Managers Speaker: Chuck Kowaleski Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
9:45 am - 10:00 am
10:00 am - 10:45 am
Title: Environmental Protection, Safety, and Correlative Mineral Rights in Energy Resource Development Speaker: Gaye McElwain Texas Railroad Commission
10:45 am - 11:00 am
11:00 am - 11:45 am
Topic: Restoring your land after energy production Speaker: Paula Maywald Restoration ecologist, manager Land Steward Consultants, Ltd.
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Lunch in the ballroom
Title: Maintaining the Integrity of Native Prairies Through Grazing Management Speaker: Dr. J. Alphonso Ortega, Texas A&M - Kingsville
Title: Management and Control of Buffelgrass and Kleberg Bluestem to Promote Native Plant Communities Speaker: Eric Grahmann Texas A&M - Kingsville
Topic: Prescribed burn associations and their influence on the landscape. Speaker: Kirk Feuerbacher The Nature Conservancy - Texas
Title: The Real Cost of Converting Non-native Pasture to Native Prairie Speaker: Mike Hehman Range Manager Hixon Ranch, Cotulla, Texas
Title: Restoring Prairie Habitat- One HAT at a Time Speaker: Jim Willis Wildlife Habitat Federation
Title: Invasive Plants and Their Ecological Consequences Speaker: Dr. Timothy Fulbright Texas A&M Kingsville
DAY 3 - TEXAS A&M KINGSVILLE CAMPUS Saturday, December 8, 2012 | Continued Photo by Greg Lavaty
EDUCATION - ROOM 219 C
RESTORATION - ROOM 219 B
MANAGEMENT - ROOM 219 A
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Title: Prairie Education Boot Camp: Sure-fire prairie lessons that anyone can teach Speaker: Jaime Gonzalez Community Education Manager Katy Prairie Conservancy
Title: The Benefit of Commercially Produced Ecotypic Native Seed Material Speaker: Tony Falk Manager of Seed collection and evaluation South Texas Natives
Title: Are Plants Alone Enough? Relative importance of plant communities and nutrient concentrations in regulating prairie herbivore communities Speaker: Chelsea Prather University of Houston - Main Campus
2:30 pm - 2:45 pm
2:45 pm - 3:45 pm
Title: Application of Floristic Quality Index to Determine Trend in Tallgrass Prairie Speaker: Jim Eidson Nature Conservancy of Texas
Title: Factors Influencing Native Seed Cost Speaker: Keith Pawelek Assistant Director South Texas Natives
Title: Northern Bobwhite and Grassland Bird Habitat Management Speaker: Jon Hayes Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture
3:45 pm - 4:00 pm
4:00 pm - 4:45 pm
Open discussion to follow ‘What makes a good prairie’. Moderator: Tim Anderson
Topic: Texas Prairie Wetlands Project Speaker: Todd Merendino - Ducks Unlimited
Title: Long-term Vegetation Changes on the Welder Wildlife Foundation Speaker: Dr. Tim Blankenship Director Welder Wildlife Foundation
4:45 pm - 6:00 pm
Social time, poster session, cash bar
6:00 pm - 6:45 pm
Dinner in the ballroom
6:45 pm - 8:00 pm
Awards Ceremony and Social Hour - CPP and NPAT to present awards to members of prairie community Speakers: Jaime Gonzalez [CPP] and Pat Merkord [NPAT]
DAY 4 - F I E L D E X P E R I E N C E S Welder Wildlife Foundation Sunday, December 9, 2012 | 10:00 am -12:30 pm Photo by Steve Upperman
â€˘ Cost $30 â€˘ 1/3 of proceeds will go to the Welder Wildlife Foundation
Photo by Carolyn Fannon
FIELD EXPERIENCE Welder Wildlife Foundation | Half-Day | 10:00AM-12:30 Description: Details pending Restrictions: Minimum registration 10 PEOPLE, 10 people must register for this field trip to take place by NOV 16TH. Maximum 25 people. Food and drinks: Lunch and drinks provided. You may still want to bring your own water. Meeting place: Parking lot at Welder Wildlife Foundation. Click here for directions. Transportation: Vans while in the park. Field Experience Organizer: Jaime Gonzalez, Community Education Manager, Katy Prairie Conservancy
REGIS TRATION FEES + OVERVIEW
Photo by Carolyn Fannon
Field Experiences Thursday Dec. 6th
Kika de la Garza Plant Materials Center
South Texas Natives
King Ranch Tour
Welder Wildlife Foundation
Two Day - General Admission Friday Dec. 7th and Saturday Dec. 8th
Kleberg Wildlife Center, Dec. 7th
Cost: $125.00, includes lunch, dinner and snacks for both days. After Nov. 16th, late registration begins. Cost changes to $150.00
Two Day - Student Admission Friday Dec. 7th and Saturday Dec. 8th
Kleberg Wildlife Center, Dec. 7th
One Day - General Admission Either Friday, Dec. 6th or Saturday, Dec. 7th
Kleberg Wildlife Center, Dec. 7th OR Texas A&M Kingsville Dec. 8th
Cost: $75.00 includes lunch, dinner and snacks for one day. After Nov. 16th, late registration begins. Cost changes to $100.00
One Day - Student Admission Either Friday, Dec. 6th or Saturday, Dec. 7th
Kleberg Wildlife Center, Dec. 7th OR Texas A&M Kingsville Dec. 8th
$40.00 includes lunch, dinner and snacks for one day.
Sunday Dec. 9th
Sessions and Talks Texas A&M Kingsville Dec. 8th
Texas A&M Kingsville Dec. 8th
Cost: $60.00 includes lunch, dinner and snacks for both days.
PRESENTERS + PRESENTATIONS Timothy R. Anderson, Field Coordinator – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners for Fish Wildlife and Coastal Programs Biography: Tim Anderson was raised in coastal Texas and has been actively engaged in coastal prairie conservation since 2000. Since graduating from Texas A&M in 1995, Mr. Anderson has worked to integrate wildlife conservation with a variety of land uses including mechanized infantry training in longleaf pine savannahs, farming in oak savannahs, and livestock production in the coastal prairie. Presentation Title: Do you want fries with that? Presentation Description: Efforts to conserve coastal prairie should be implemented at a scale capable of conserving all of the elements and processes that characterize coastal prairie. When prioritizing prairie tracts for conservation, priority should be given to those tracts most capable of supporting those elements. Those elements include viable prairie species populations and the abiotic elements and processes that sustain them. The species that seem to be most conservative are spatially sensitive prairie obligates. If we can conserve prairie at a scale and quality that sustains these species, that prairie should also be capable of supporting relatively cosmopolitan and less spatially sensitive species.
Bill Bartush, Coordinator – Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative Biography: A native of Muenster, Texas, Bill is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with BS/MS in Wildlife Ecology, and has been in the wildlife profession as a government or NGO employee for more than 30 years. Bill is a Certified Wildlife Biologist®, and is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist and Coordinator for the Gulf Coast Prairie LCC. Throughout this time, Bill has remained active in private lands management, providing technical advice for agricultural, forestry, and wildlife operations in Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma. He has had many opportunities to work with, and learn from, exceptional natural resources managers, research scientists, ecologists, and biologists. Bill’s professional career has focused on wildlife populations and habitat management, and he is now concentrating on the evolving concept of strategic habitat conservation. In recent years, Bill believes ecosystem and landscape level planning has grown towards a more functional delivery of conservation by bringing together partners – agency, NGO's, and private landowners – who have common landscape goals. He looks forward with enthusiasm to the challenge of coordinating the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Cooperative in Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. Bill has been married for 38 years to his wife Darlene; they have 4 children living in New York, Texas, and Louisiana. They enjoy the outdoors, gardening, and cooking – especially Cajun cuisine, as taught by one of his mentors from Ville Platte many years ago. through Strategic Habitat Conservation, providing shared access by our growing partnership to sound science – data, expertise, and resources. Presentation Title: Cooperative Strategy for Connecting Prairie Landscapes Presentation Description: The Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCP LCC) was established in 2011 as a forum for 17 governmental and non-governmental conservation agencies and organizations to collaborate on efforts requiring their collective abilities to cross traditional boundaries and jurisdictions. The geographical footprint is huge, including portions of 5 states and northern Mexico and spanning over
18 million acres. The GCP LCC, with a growing human population of over 25 million, faces many challenges that threaten both nature and wildlife within this diverse landscape. The once extensive grassland ecosystem (southern and coastal plains) has been impacted by development, dissecting the landscape and reducing green space. Large river systems struggle to maintain watershed integrity and base flows. Coastal systems fight the effects of reduced freshwater inputs. Unprecedented drought, catastrophic wildfires, and climate-related impacts are obvious natural threats; human-induced threats of pollution, invasive species, and disease also strain our landscape, native species, and habitats. To manage these many threats and stressors, our partnership is rooted in sound science and brings information to our conservation partners for better on-the-ground strategic conservation efforts. The GCP LCC offers leadership to strengthen the effectiveness of wildlife conservation throughout the region, for both populations and their habitats, by providing the best available scientific information to inform management decisions. It will achieve this collaborative vision through Strategic Habitat Conservation, providing shared access by our growing partnership to sound science – data, expertise, and resources. The conservation future will be dependent on our ability to connect our landscapes and promote the natural functions, dispersal, and genetic flow required for species to survive and adapt to stressors and threats. Native prairie and grasslands in the southern plains are keystone habitats in our landscape puzzle. The GCP LCC is promoting sound scientific efforts to identify, document, and identify strategies to connect these rare prairie landscapes for future generations. The decline of native prairie in the southern Great Plains is dramatic; less than 1% of the original “Blackland Prairie” and the Louisiana “Cajun Prairie” of the GCP LCC persist, and then only in scattered parcels. Documenting these remaining tracts in a consistent manner, determining relative value of their protection, management and restoration, and identifying potential linkages of quality prairie remnants could have an extremely positive impact on prairie diversity in this landscape. Many resident and migratory species could benefit from identification of priority landscapes; this effort could expand into the planning of significant habitat corridors. Technology and increased conservation interest has allowed development of better landcover data available for the southern plains, to (1) assess habitat conditions for many priority species, (2) allow further refinement and documentation of remnant native prairies, and (3) determine existing habitat for many species of concern. The GCP LCC goal will include these steps to establish a baseline for future restoration priorities and landscape linkages. We envision this Strategic Habitat Conservation outcome as a compendium of existing work, identification of landscape stressors and issues, recommended actions (e.g., coordinated research and monitoring, land management and acquisition), and a fully integrated management strategy (conservation framework) of prairie lands within the GCP LCC geography.
Terry Blankenship, Director, Welder Wildlife Federation Biography: Dr. Blankenship has worked for the Welder Wildlife Foundation since 1990. He started as a wildlife biologist and he became Director in 2009. He administers the fiscal, physical, personnel, programs, and policy matters of the Foundation and its 7800-acre wildlife Refuge near Sinton, Texas. He received his Ph.D. in 2000 from the joint program between Texas A&M-College Station and Texas A&M-Kingsville in Wildlife Ecology. His dissertation title was “Ecological response of bobcats to fluctuating prey populations on the Welder Wildlife Foundation Refuge”. He is interested in education programs related to wildlife ecology and conservation. His research interests are in wildlife and habitat management, invasive species, and predator prey relationships. Presentation Title: Long-term Vegetation Changes on the Welder Wildlife Foundation Presentation Description: A historical account from McClintock in 1846 describes San Patricio County as “dull and wearisom, no timber except a few solitary and forlorn musquet trees or here and there a motte of thorns and brambles…”. How would we describe the vegetation now? The Welder Wildlife Foundation began monitoring vegetation in 1975 by establishing 150 transects to measure herbaceous and brush cover. The WWF had conducted research on vegetation response to grazing, mechanical, chemical, and fire treatments. We will explore the long-term changes that have occurred since 1975 and consider which management techniques provide opportunities to maintain or restore prairie habitats.
Fred Bryant, Ph.D., Leroy G. Denman, Jr. Endowed Director of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute Biography: Dr. Bryant is a 4th generation Texan, and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management from Texas Tech University in 1970. Fred obtained his Masters of Science degree in Wildlife Biology in 1974 from Utah State University, and his Ph.D. in Range Science from Texas A&M University in 1977. Fred has been Director of the Institute since 1996. The mission of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute is to provide science-based information for enhancing the conservation and management of wildlife in South Texas, Northern Mexico and related environments. From 1977 to 1996, Fred was Professor of Range Management in the Department of Range and Wildlife Management at Texas Tech University. Fred’s international experiences include research activities in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Morocco. In addition, he embarked upon short-term assignments in Venezuela, Indonesia, Australia, Ecuador, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. The principal focus of his international research was on the pastures and rangelands of these countries, with specific emphasis on grazing animals. Fred has co-authored 3 books, Wildlife Habitat Management of Forestlands, Rangelands, and Farmlands (Krieger Publications, 1998), Range Management: Integrating Cattle, Wildlife and Range, published by King Ranch, Inc. 2003 and Texas Bobwhites: A Guide to Their Foods and Habitat Management (UT Press 2010). He is also the author of several book chapters and numerous journal articles, bulletins and symposia reports, popular articles and abstracts. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University in 2002 and received the Professional Achievement Award from the College of Natural Resources at Utah State University in 1996. Fred was a member of the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation from 1996 to 2002, where he chaired the Lands and Conservation Committee for five years. He was re-appointed to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Board in 2008. He is also a Professional Member of the Boone and Crockett Club, (1997 to present). He has served as President of the state professional societies for both the Society for Range Management and The Wildlife Society. He served as President of the International Society for Range Management in 1995. In 2011, he was selected as one of four finalists for the Budweiser Conservationist of the Year. Fred and his lovely wife Janis have 3 grown children and 9 grandchildren. Presentation Title: The Last Great Habitat—Revisited Presentation Description: Several years ago, we at the Institute coined the term “Last Great Habitat” to describe South Texas. What has transpired since then will change it forever. The speaker will discuss these changes and their potential affects on coastal prairies, the Sand Sheet, and South Texas in general.
Jim Eidson, Manager, Preserve Manager, The Nature Conservancy of Texas Biography: Jim Eidson is a Range Ecologist; Preserve Manager for The Nature Conservancy; and Adjunct Professor in Ecological Restoration at Texas A&M University Commerce. He holds an M.S. in Rangeland Ecology and Management from Texas A&M University-College Station. Jim has worked for The Nature Conservancy of Texas in grassland conservation for 18 years. Focus of activity has been tallgrass prairie ecology and restoration in North Central Texas. Presentation Title: Application of Floristic Quality Index to Determine Trend in Tallgrass Prairie Presentation Description: The Nature Conservancy’s Clymer Meadow Preserve has been subject to a program of quantitative monitoring since 1992. Relative cover, relative frequency and importance values have been used to measure trend. Recently, Coefficients of Conservatism were developed for 500 northern Texas Blackland Prairie species. Data
spanning ten years have recently been examined using a Floristic Quality Index as an adjunct measure of trend.
Anthony Falk, Manager, Seed Collection & Evaluation, South Texas Natives, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute Biography: Tony grew up in north west Illinois and attended college in Ripon, Wisconsin where he received a bachelor of arts in Biology and Environmental studies. Following his undergraduate work he was employed by EnCAP Inc. an environmental restoration firm located just outside of Chicago, Illinois. He moved to south Texas in January of 2006 to pursue a master’s degree in range and wildlife management. As part of his master’s project he worked with South Texas Natives to restore retired crop land in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Upon completion of his master’s degree in 2009 he transitioned into a full time position with South Texas Natives where he is employed as the Evaluations and Collections Coordinator. Presentation Title: The Benefit of Commercially Produced Ecotypic Native Seed Material Presentation Description: Native plants are not native everywhere. There is much debate on how “local” restoration material needs to be. In research conducted by South Texas Natives we have found that from a performance standpoint in restoration, adapted material can describe a fairly wide region of origin for some species, while in other species a very narrow region of adaptation exists. In selecting material to be used in restoration projects one needs to select appropriate material. Appropriateness can often be determined by soil characteristics and climate, defined commonly by ecoregion. Plant material from the same ecoregion as the planting site is typically called “ecotypic” plant material. Along with selecting ecotypic material, high quality seed material produced in an agronomic environment generally provides better quality results in our experience. Although commercially produced materials have often been chosen because of outstanding traits, most have not been bred or genetically altered in any way. Research indicates commercial material often contains the same genetic diversity of wild stands, and many available seed sources may actually have greater genetic diversity than wild harvests from a single source. Another benefit of these commercial products is production oversight by regulatory authorities insuring a better product to consumers, one of known quality and origin, and one that is free of weed seed or seeds of other crops such as exotic grasses. Cost for commercially produced seed are generally cheaper on a per acre planting basis than alternative sources.
Kirk Feuerbacher, Coastal Prairies Project Director, Nature Conservancy of Texas Biography: Kirk is The Nature Conservancy Texas chapter Coastal Prairies Project Director. Kirk is a South Texas native. He received his degrees from TAMU in Wildlife Ecology and worked as a Ranch biologist in Refugio, Bee and Victoria counties. He is past president of the Coastal Bend Prescribed Burn Association and currently serves as the Secretary. Presentation Title: Prescribed burn associations and their influence on the landscape. Presentation Description: Prescribed burn associations are excellent ways of influencing landscape scale management through political influence, education, training, and resource sharing. Management/disturbance on the landscape has been greatly altered over the last 60 years. While a landscape can never be manipulated in complete fashion, we can influence the use of natural tools to have an impact on the landscape at an appropriate scale by working cooperatively with individual landowners.
Joseph B.C. Fitzsimmons, Attorney, Uhl, Fitzsimons & Jewett, PLLC Biography: Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons is a natural resources, oil and gas and water law attorney and third-generation South Texas rancher. He and his sister, Pamela Fitzsimons Howard, operate the San Pedro Ranch in Dimmit and Maverick Counties, Texas, raising registered Beefmaster cattle. He and his wife, Blair, have three children, Fay, Jonny and Kate. He has served as Vice-President of the Texas Wildlife Association and is a Director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He is a former Chairman of the Parks and Wildlife Department’s Private Lands Advisory Board and, in 1999, was named by then Governor George W. Bush to serve on the Governor’s Task Force on Conservation. In May of 2001, Governor Rick Perry appointed Mr. Fitzsimons to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission for a six year term, and Mr. Fitzsimons is now a Past Chairman of that agency. In January of 2002, he was named to represent the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission on the Texas Water Advisory Council, which has the statutory responsibility to advise the Office of the Governor, Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor on issues affecting Texas water policy. In October 2003, Governor Perry appointed him as Chairman. Recently, Governor Perry appointed Mr. Fitzsimons to represent the interest of fish and wildlife on the Environmental Flows Advisory Committee. Chairman Fitzsimons identified environmental flow as a priority for his term on the Committee, and continues to work to ensure water for wildlife. Presentation Title: Landowners rights Presentation Description: Coming soon.
Dr. Tim Fulbright, Professor, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute Biography: Timothy E. Fulbright is the endowed Meadow’s Professor in Semiarid Land Ecology at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute in Kingsville, Texas. He is also a Regent’s Professor in the Texas A&M University System. His primary research interest is ecology and management of wildlife habitat on rangelands. Presentation Title: Invasive Plants and Their Ecological Consequences Presentation Description: Plant invasions alter plant, animal, and microbial communities. Humans may perceive these changes as positive or negative depending on their values and needs. Invasive plants are those that encroach into a plant community and become dominant; once dominant, they may strongly influence or control ecosystem structure and function. Invasive plants include native and non-native species. Honey mesquite and tanglehead are examples of native plants that are viewed as invasive. Non-native plants that are well adapted to the soils and precipitation regimes in areas where they have been introduced may become invasive and spread from areas where they have been planted. Among the major invasive non-native plants are Chinese tallow, Brazilian pepper tree, buffelgrass, Old World bluestems, and African lovegrasses. Eradication of most invasive plants is impossible; however, land managers can do things to inhibit their spread and manage them for various purposes.
Jaime González, Community Education Director, Katy Prairie Conservancy Biography: Jaime González serves as Community Education Director and Volunteer Manager for the Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) located just west of Houston, TX. He is responsible for developing and delivering an annual schedule of activities and outreach programs to augment public access and awareness of the prairie. Jaime’s work also involves expanding collaborative efforts with other organizations and agencies, including local universities and the environmental education community. He is also responsible for coordination and training of volunteers and for managing KPC's online presence (website, social media, etc.). Jaime earned a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction-Science Education (2007) and a B.S. in Biology (1996) both from the University of Houston. He is co-founder and President of the Coastal Prairie Partnership and is a member of the Texas Children in Nature Coalition Steering Committee. Mr. Gonzalez has been awarded the Alban-Heiser Award from the Houston Zoo (2011) in recognition of preserving Texas' heritage of living creatures and their environment, the Elizabeth Hull Abernathy Award (2011) from the Garden Club of America for outstanding contribution to environmental education of youth and the Army & Sarah Emmott Conservation Award (2009) from the Citizens' Environmental Coalition for his conservation efforts. Areas of focus: environmental education, children in nature initiatives, prairie restoration, urban ecology, amphibian biodiversity and conservation, new media and its relationship to conservation. Presentation Title: Prairie Education Boot Camp: Sure-fire Prairie Lessons That Anyone Can Teach Presentation Description: Prairies are well regarded for their biodiversity and cultural importance yet their subtle beauty, lack of public awareness, and sometimes-remote locations can make teaching about prairies a big challenge. This situation becomes doubly difficult because of a lack of off-the-shelf teaching materials about prairies and the fact that many resource professionals don’t have the time and/or training to develop their own materials. Fortunately new educational tools are emerging that can help transform even novice prairie educators into empowered teachers. We will present several sure-fire prairie lessons sample lessons, which link science, technology, language arts, history, and culture. The goal is to get you materials (called a Prairie Tool Box) that you can use right away. We will finish this session with a prairie lesson swap, so bring your best prairie lesson if you have one (please provide 30 copies).
Eric Grahmann, Doctoral Candidate, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute Biography: Eric Grahmann is a doctoral candidate at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute investigating methods for managing and controlling invasive exotic grasses to promote native vegetation. His hometown is Victoria, Texas where he was born to a family of cattle raisers. Eric developed his love for agriculture, wildlife, and native plants while spending much time on his families’ properties helping his father with the family cattle business. He went to earn a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Sam Houston State University and master’s degree in range and wildlife management from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Eric’s dissertation research has focused on using patch-burning and grazing to manage vegetational structure and composition to improve habitat for northern bobwhites. In addition, he is investigating the impacts of exotic grass invasions on scaled quail and focusing on other methods to mitigate their impact on native plant communities and wildlife. Presentation Title: Management and Control of Buffelgrass and Kleberg Bluestem to Promote Native Plant Communities Co-authors: Blake A. Martin, Michael W. Hehman, Forrest S. Smith, and Timothy E. Fulbright Presentation Description: Buffelgrass and Kleberg bluestem are grasses that were introduced from Africa and Asia in the early 1900’s to provide forage for cattle and to prevent soil erosion. Today, these aggressive grasses have spread over millions of acres of rangeland, threatening the biological integrity of remaining wild lands. To date, little research has been focused on restoring native plants in areas dominated by these plants.
In 2008, we began a study on the Hixon Ranch in La Salle County, Texas to test and replicate treatments on relatively large areas (>164 ft2 plots) and temporal scale. Treatments include combinations of soil disturbance, fire, grazing, mowing, herbicide application, and planting native species. Preliminary results suggest that prolonged soil disturbance (repeated disking or plowing when exotic grasses return), repeated herbicide application, burning and grazing, and reintroducing native species can be viable methods for managing and diversifying areas previously dominated by exotic grass monocultures. Areas consisting of 99% buffelgrass canopy cover have been replaced with >80% native plant cover. Determining treatment longevity and economic viability are important goals within our research.
Jon Hayes, Conservation Delivery Specialist for the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture Biography: Jon is the Conservation Delivery Specialist for the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture where he works with private landowners and various partner agency staff to deliver grassland bird conservation under an adaptive management framework. Previously Jon worked as a wildlife biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He earned his B.S. in biology from the University of Colorado, and his M.S. from the University of Montana. He is stationed in La Grange, TX. Presentation Title: Northern Bobwhite and Grassland Bird Habitat Management Presentation Description: This presentation will describe the current declines in priority grassland bird populations in the United States with a particular emphasis on the areas encompassed by the Oaks and Prairies and Gulf Coast Joint Ventures. Recognizing that the key driver of this decline is the loss of suitable habitat for these birds, land management techniques will be discussed in terms of how they can contribute suitable habitat to these declining grassland bird species.
Mike Hehman, Range Manager, Hixon Ranch, Cotulla, Texas Biography: Mike Hehman is ranch manager and wildlife biologist for Rocky Comfort Partnership, Ltd, Dba, Hixon Land and Cattle, Cotulla, Texas. His hometown is Georgetown, Texas and he earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife management from Texas Tech University and his master’s degree from Texas A&M University – Kingsville. He has spent the last 18 years managing private lands and consulting in LaSalle, Frio, Dimmit, Maverick, Duval, and Starr counties. Presentation Title: The Cost of Converting Non-native Pasture to Native Prairie Co-authors: Michael W. Hehman, Eric D. Grahmann, Blake A. Martin, Forrest S. Smith, and Timothy E. Fulbright Presentation Description: Buffelgrass and Kleberg bluestem are grasses that were introduced from Africa and Asia in the early 1900’s to provide forage for cattle and to prevent soil erosion. Today, these aggressive grasses have spread over millions of acres of rangeland, threatening the biological integrity of remaining wild lands. To date, little research has been focused on restoring native plants in areas dominated by these plants. In 2008, we began a study on the Hixon Ranch in La Salle County, Texas to test and replicate treatments on relatively large areas (>164 ft2 plots) and temporal scale. Treatments include combinations of soil disturbance, fire, grazing, mowing, herbicide application, and planting native species. Preliminary results suggest that prolonged soil disturbance (repeated disking or plowing when exotic grasses return), repeated herbicide application, burning and grazing, and reintroducing native species can be viable methods for managing and diversifying areas previously dominated by exotic grass monocultures. Determining treatment longevity and economic viability are important goals within our research. Treatments including long-term site
preparation and native seeding exceeded $300/acre. Treatments managing exotic grass including fire and cattle grazing averaged less. Native community restoration can be expensive so managers should focus on the conservation of remnant native plant communities.
John Jacob, Ph.D., Director, Texas Coastal Watershed Program Biography: Dr. John Jacob is the director of the Texas Coastal Watershed Program, and Professor and Extension Specialist with a joint appointment with the Texas A&M Sea Grant Program and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service through the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Science. His current project, Coastal CHARM (Community Health and Resource Management), focuses on enabling coastal communities in Texas to improve quality of life in cities and towns while preserving and enhancing the natural coastal environment. Jacob holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Texas Tech University, and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, all in soils and natural resources. He is registered as a Professional Geoscientist with the State of Texas and is a Professional Wetland Scientist. Jacob is a recognized expert on Texas wetlands, having been active in consulting and research aspects of wetlands for more than 20 years. Jacob is co-author of the Texas Coastal Wetland guidebook, as well as the Texas Sea Grant Resilient Coast series on the built environment and wetlands. The Texas Coastal Watershed Program provides education and outreach to local governments and citizens about the impact of land use on watershed health and water quality. The TCWP currently has 7 staff members with programs in sustainable urban planning, watershed management, habitat restoration, sustainable landscapes, and water quality issues. Past projects include the development of the “Eco-Logic” Habitat map of the 8-county Houston region. Jacob was a lead participant in one of the first published research projects following the Supreme Court Rapanos decision addressing the issue of the hydrologic (and therefore regulatory) significance of a large class of wetlands on the Upper Gulf Coast of Texas. Most recently, he and his staff developed the CHARM model, a GIS-based user-friendly model that enables users to develop growth scenarios and to see in real time the effects of their choices in terms of ecosystem services, for example. Part of this project involved perfecting the “weTable”, an innovative high-tech, low-cost participatory GIS platform. Presentation Title: The Geoecology of the Texas Gulf Coast Presentation Description: I examine the geoecological framework of the Texas Gulf Coast. Where did the sediments come from and how did they get here? How does our sedimentary framework determine the kind of ecology we see on the ground? What kind of gradients are there up and down the coast, and how does that affect different environments. Finally, what is the prognosis for remaining habitat patches?
Chuck Kowaleski, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Farm Bill Coordinator Biography: As a military brat I got a chance to see quite a bit of the United States growing up, landing in Texas when my dad was stationed at and later retired from Fort Hood in the 1960’s. I received my B.S. in Wildlife Biology/Ecology with a Range Science Minor at Texas A&M University – College Station in 1977 and my Masters in Biology from Sul Ross State University in Alpine in 1979. Since graduation I’ve worked on endangered species and natural area surveys in West Texas, fisheries work in the Peace Corps in West Africa, did a little construction plumbing, taught High School Biology, and joined TPWD in 1990 as a coastal fisheries technician, later becoming one of the urban fish and wildlife biologists for Houston, the state Project WILD Coordinator and finally the Department’s Farm Bill Coordinator in 2001. I also ran our Landowner Incentive Program for a couple of years. Currently I’m also the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies EQIP Working Group Chair and the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiatives Ag Policy Chair. Presentation Title: Farm Bill Programs for Land Managers Presentation Description: National farm bill conservation programs dwarf all other sources of land management funding in Texas. Each of these programs have different rules and confusing names like EQIP and CRP and to make matters worse the names and rules change every 5 or 6 years. I’ll attempt to reduce this confusion and provide you with useful information on the rules, benefits and restrictions of each of the current major programs. In doing so I hope you will be able to select the ones best able to provide the technical assistance and cost share you are seeking to accomplish your restoration goals.
Paula Maywald, Restoration Ecologist, Land Steward Consultants, Ltd. Biography: Paula D. Maywald is the Restoration Ecologist for Land Steward Consultants, Ltd. The company’s primary focus is to help landowners, land managers, and mineral companies with their restoration needs and to assist them in wise decision making processes to minimize damage before construction. Previously Paula was the coordinator for South Texas Natives at Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville. While there she oversaw the development and promotion of native plants for the restoration and reclamation of habitats on private and public lands. Partnering with state, federal, and private entities, she worked to develop commercially viable sources of native seed and conducted research to discover effective restoration strategies that can be used to restore damaged or degraded rangelands while minimizing the effects of exotic introduced plants. Paula grew up in Fayette County near Weimar, Texas where she spent much of her childhood exploring the land, and helping with her family’s small commercial cattle operation. Paula received her B.S. in Range Science from Texas A&M University-College Station in 1983. Land Steward Consultants, Ltd. was formed with the primary focus of preventing damage to private lands from construction activities such as those related to oil and gas activities and to restore native vegetation. The company focuses predominately in south Texas with offices in San Antonio. Before working at CKWRI, Paula was employed by El Coyote Ranches as the Rangeland Manager. While there, she supervised vegetation restoration, mechanical and chemical weed and brush control, road, bridge, and lake construction and maintenance, water well drilling, prescribed burning, and other rangeland activities. Paula served as the ranch liaison with oil and gas lease holders and right of way companies. Paula serves on the Board of Directors for The Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council. She has been actively involved in the Texas Section Society for Range Management, Texas Wildlife Association, and Texas Land & Mineral Owners Association. Paula enjoys traveling, spending time with her family and friends, hunting, fishing, landscaping, and working on home projects. Presentation Title: Restoring your land after energy production Presentation Description: Coming soon.
Gaye Greever McElwain, Public Outreach Information Officer at the Railroad Commission of Texas Biography: Gaye Greever McElwain serves as Public Outreach Information Officer at the Railroad Commission of Texas. She is responsible for the implementation of communication programs aimed at disseminating information to the public, industry representatives and local government regarding the Commission. She serves as public information consultant to Commission divisions and district offices in such areas as media relations, publications development and business communications. Ms. McElwain is also responsible for coordinating town hall meetings and educational outreach events, especially related to oil and gas issues. Prior to joining the Railroad Commission in August 2011, Ms. McElwain served as Director of Communications for the Texas Commission on the Arts. She is an alumni of the 2002 Class of Leadership Texas, holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Tech University. Presentation Title: Environmental Protection, Safety, and Correlative Mineral Rights in Energy Resource Development Presentation Description: This presentation will provide information on the role of the Railroad Commission of Texas in protecting the environment, preventing waste of natural resources, and correlative rights of mineral interest owners. The Railroad Commission is the state agency with primary regulatory jurisdiction over the oil and natural gas industry, and has statutory responsibilities under state and federal law for regulation and enforcement of the state’s energy industries. This presentation will provide an overview of oil and gas exploration and production in Texas, as well as rules and regulations enforced by the Commission. Activity in the Eagle Ford Shale will be highlighted along with information on RRC’s jurisdiction, resources available to landowners, and opportunities for public participation.
Todd Merendio, Manager of Conservation Programs - Ducks Unlimited (Texas) Biography: Since 2008, Todd Merendino has served as the manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited in Texas, and coordinates DU’s conservation efforts with a diverse group of partners, funding agencies, contractors, and project personnel. He has over 20 years experience with a broad range of wetland management practices and principles, and previously worked with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a project leader of the Central Coast Wetlands Ecosystem Project, where he oversaw habitat management, research, and public hunting activities on state-owned Wildlife Management Areas along middle Texas Coast. Todd has a B.S. in Wildlife Management and an M.S. in Wildlife Science from Texas Tech University, and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Western Ontario. In pursuit of his formal education and during his employment, Todd has been able to work in the waterfowl wintering grounds of Texas, the breeding grounds of Canada's prairie pothole region, and the farmlands and boreal forest areas of Central Ontario. Todd grew up in the rice fields and marshes of southeast Texas near Beaumont. Todd is a 20 year resident of Bay City in Matagorda County, where he lives with his wife, Terry, their son Jake, a Junior at Bay City High School, and a daughter Jordan, who attends Texas Tech University. Presentation Title: Texas Prairie Wetlands Project Presentation Description: In 1991, Ducks Unlimited, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service partnered to create the Texas Prairie Wetlands Project (TPWP). TPWP is a cost-share program for private landowners and is designed to conserve, restore, and enhance shallow water wetlands throughout a 28-county focus area along the Texas Gulf Coast. Over the past 20+ years, TPWP has enrolled over 62,500 acres and was established to help deliver the habitat objectives of the Laguna Madre, Texas Mid-Coast, and Texas Chenier Plain Initiative Areas within the Gulf Coast Joint Venture (GCJV). Initially, many of the first projects were simply installing levees and water control structures in rice fields and moist-soil units, but as the program and interest grew, the program has expanded to coastal marsh restoration, land-leveling, and drilling of water wells. The program has grown from 8 projects encompassing ~700 acres with a budget of $72,000 to averaging 30 projects, 3000 acres, and $750,000 per year. TPWP is the number one program delivering waterfowl habitat objectives of the GCJV.
Some of the challenges facing TPWP heading into the future are 4 fold—uncertain long-term financial support, decline of rice, water availability, and development. TPWP funding has primarily been funded through North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants, partners, and private landowners. Recent budget cuts to NAWCA grants by Congress and relatively flat funding by partners have illustrated the need to diversify and strengthen long-term financial support for the program. The recent droughts in Texas have demonstrated how vital supplemental water is to rice agriculture, wintering waterfowl habitat, but also to TPWP. Over the past 2 years, habitat projects in the Texas Mid-Coast have retracted from landowners tied to rice agriculture and/or ties to only supplemental irrigation water. Despite these factors, interest in the program is at all-time high as landowner interest is outpacing program funding.
J. Alfonso Ortega, Manager of Conservation Programs - Ducks Unlimited (Texas) Biography: Poncho Ortega obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Florida. He was Researcher and National Leader of the Range and Forage Program at the National Research Institute of Forestry, Crops and Livestock in Mexico. In 2001 he joined Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. Most of his research experience has been on grazing management and cattle wildlife interactions. Among other honors he received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Texas Section of the Society for Range Management in October 2008, and the similar in 2010 by the Society for Range Management. He is coauthor of the book "White-tailed Deer Habitat: Ecology and Management on Rangelands" published in English and Spanish, which obtained the Special Publication Award by the Texas Section of the Society of Range Management in 2008 and the Outstanding Publication Award by the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society in 2006. Presentation Title: Maintaining The Integrity of Native Prairies Through Grazing Management Presentation Description: The role of cattle grazing management on vegetation communities can be negative, positive, or negative. In general cattle grazing has been associated with overgrazing, which is for sure a negative effect on native plant communities. However, when objectives of cattle grazing are clearly defined, it is possible to use grazing as a tool to manipulate vegetation. Successful grazing management programs have three common characteristics, clear objectives, a proper monitoring program, and enough flexibility to adjust cattle stocking rates.
Keith Pawelek, Assistant Director, South Texas Natives, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute Biography: I was born and raised in Jourdanton, Texas, where I grew up on a working farm and ranch. I received my B.S. in Range and Wildlife Management from Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 2005. As an undergraduate, I was active on the Plant Identification Team, President of the Student Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, a member of the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society, and a student work at South Texas Natives. Upon graduation, I became a permanent member of South Texas Natives as a Research Associate, and now serve as the Assistant Director. Presentation Title: Factors Influencing Native Seed Cost Presentation Description: There are many factors that influence the cost of native seed. I will outline many of these factors and explain how and why they relate to the price of native seed. Consumers often only see the retail price of native seed, and never think about what it actually takes to produce it. The first step is commercial seed production; this entails many costs that influence consumer price, from land rent to irrigation, planting, and many items in between. After establishment, reputable seed companies are required to have the seed fields certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture, to ensure production conditions meet the requirements of existing seed laws. There are fees and added cost to the consumer for this certification. After fields are certified and seed is produced, harvesting begins; many native seeds require special harvesters which must be purchased specifically for certain species, again an added cost component. Once seed is produced and harvested it must then be processed and cleaned, adding cost of cleaning machines (if there is a machine that can be purchased), and labor to operate, maintain, and clean them. After native seed is cleaned it must be stored until sold, which requires bagging, warehouse space, and occasionally cold storage rental units. After all of these costs are added up, seed companies
often have to sit on their products and wait for the market to emerge or appropriate weather for planting to occur before sales are realized. Given the inputs required, market uncertainty, and acceptable margins for growers, seed cost to the consumer is a complex equation.
Chelse Prather, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Houston Biography: Chelse grew up in Northern Kentucky, and was always interested in animals and the way nature worked. While at the University of Kentucky, she decided to pursue ecology training. She received her BS in ecology in 2003, and went on to receive graduate training at the University of Notre Dame. While there, her dissertation work focused on how rainforest invertebrates affect the way a Puerto Rican rainforest functions. She completed her PhD in 2011, and completed a year of postdoctoral training at Florida State University afterwards. She is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Houston working on coastal tallgrass prairieÂ invertebrate communities at the University of Houstonâ€™s Coastal Center. Presentation Title: Are Plants Alone Enough? Relative Importance of Plant Communities and Nutrient Concentrations in Regulating Prairie Herbivore Communities Presentation Description: Efforts to manage grasslands in general, and coastal tallgrass prairie in particular, often focus on managing for native plant diversity, assuming that a diverse plant community will support higher trophic levels that are often conservation targets. This assumption is based upon a prevailing hypothesis in ecology that suggests herbivores should be more diverse and abundant where plants are more diverse and abundant; however, this prevailing hypothesis has led ecologists to overlook other factors that are potentially important to herbivore communities, such as micronutrient concentrations. We used a natural experiment to examine the relative importance of factors affecting herbivore community structure by measuring plant and herbivore biomass and diversity and plant, litter and soil macroand micro-nutrients across a range of human influence in a coastal tallgrass prairie south of Houston. These data show that plant community attributes alone do not adequately predict density or richness of herbivores, but that plant micro-nutrients (specifically calcium) are important in mediating herbivore community structure. Most strikingly, areas with low plant richness and biomass due to high amounts of calcium in soil have grasshopper diversity equal to areas with high plant species richness and biomass. Surprisingly, these areas with low plant richness and biomass had higher grasshopper abundance than areas with high plant richness and biomass. These results suggest that herbivore communities are not regulated solely by plant diversity and abundance, and therefore, managing for grassland plant diversity may not be sufficient to achieve high diversity and density of higher prairie trophic levels.
Forrest Smith, Director, South Texas Natives and Texas Native Seeds Projects, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute Biography: Forrest Smith is the Director of the South Texas Natives and Texas Native Seeds Projects at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. Forrest is a native of Texas, and grew up near the small ranching community of Mullin. He attended Texas A&M University-Kingsville, earning a degree in Range and Wildlife Management. He has worked for STN since 2001, and has held most every position within the organization, from student technician to director. His work with STN has included the collection, evaluation, and increase of thousands of native plant populations resulting in the release of 20 native plant restoration seed sources. He and his staff have led >50 on-theground restoration seeding projects across south Texas and adjacent regions over the past few years, in addition to consulting with projects on thousands of acres of public and private lands. Forrestâ€™s duties include overseeing the staff of STN and TNS, development work in support of these projects, and frequent presentations about the need for restoration, threats of invasive exotic grasses to wildlife and biodiversity, and importance of native plants. Forrest has authored or co-authored 15 peer-reviewed scientific publications, more than 50 popular articles, and gives on average 20 presentations per year native plants and restoration in Texas to various audiences. Forrest is a native plant enthusiast, and a passionate hunter, fisherman, and conservationist. He lives in Kingsville with his wife Patricia and 3 children, Mary Anna (6), Grant (4), and Lila (2). seed sources. He and his staff have led >50 on-the-ground restoration seeding projects across south Texas and adjacent regions over the past few years, in addition to consulting with projects on thousands of acres of public and private lands. Forrest duties include overseeing the staff of STN and TNS, development work in support of these projects, and frequent presentations about the need for restoration, threats of invasive exotic grasses to wildlife and biodiversity, and importance of native plants. Forrest has authored or co-authored 15 peer-reviewed scientific publications, more than 50 popular articles, and gives an average of 20 presentations per year native plants and restoration in Texas to various audiences. Forrest is a native plant enthusiast, and a passionate hunter, fisherman, and conservationist. He lives in Kingsville with his wife Patricia and 3 children, Mary Anna (6), Grant (4), and Lila (2). Presentation Title: South Texas Natives & Texas Native Seeds Presentation Description: An overview of the goals, beginnings, and accomplishments of the South Texas Natives Project (STN) of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute will be given. STN is a private landowner driven initiative which began in 2001, and is funded by private, state, and corporate contributions. Goals of the project are to develop native seed sources for South Texas, conduct research to discover practical and effective native plant restoration techniques, and to disseminate project results, educate constituents, and promote the use of native plants in land management activities. Major accomplishments of the project have been the development and release of 20+ ecotypic native plant seed sources with the help of a number of collaborators. Many of these seed sources have been successfully commercialized and are mass produced by the commercial seed industry. As a result, these seeds are now used in restoration projects on thousands of acres in southern Texas each year. Through the work of STN, restoration and reclamation practices of state and federal agencies, the oil and gas industry, and numerous private landowners have been positively influenced and improved. In 2010, a new project with a state-wide emphasis, called Texas Native Seeds (TNS) was begun under the leadership of CKWRI. TNS is modeled after STN, and is currently working throughout south, central, and west Texas, with a goal of one day serving native plant restoration needs in the entire state.
Jim Willis, Co-founder Wildlife Habitat Federation Biography: Jim Willis, President and co-founder of the Wildlife Habitat Federation (WHF), co-owner of two farm equipment dealerships and WW Ranch, has received numerous awards and commendations for his work encouraging wildlife and habitat preservation and restoration. Between 2002 and 2011, he received the District & Regional Wildlife Conservationist Award for Soil & Water conservation, the Lone Star Steward award for his ranch and for the WHF. He also was awarded the TWAF Quail Habitat Restoration Award and a Coastal Prairie Partnerships’ Dick Benoit Upper Texas Coast Prairie award. Jim has a BS in Agri-Business from Louisiana Tech University and an MS in Agri-Economics from Mississippi State University. His forty years of work experience includes being a Rice Analyst/Agricultual Economist at USDA in Washington DC and serving as a Foreign Service Officer (Agricultural Attache) at three American Embassies. He has served as Vice-President of the USA Rice Council and Rice Federation and as President of the International Programs of the USA’s Rice Producers Association. Presentation Title: Restoring Native Habitat—One HAT at a Time Presentation Description: A growing number (especially new-to-the-land types) of landowners are emerging who have the right resources (e.g. remnants of native grasses and forbs) and passion for restoring wildlife or native prairie lands; but, most are not sure how to proceed. The Wildlife Habitat Federation has been able to get more channeled in restoring wildlife habitat by providing the equipment, know-how and personnel through Habitat Action Teams (HAT’s). This ability to meet landowner needs coupled with a desire to plant drought-tolerant, wildlife-friendly and non-fertilizer dependent native grass has resulted in an expansion of WHF’s wildlife corridor over the last year or so from 12,000 to more than 36,000 acres covering six counties. Participation is still based on getting landowners convinced and this usually takes multiple trips. Once an agreement is reached, WHF no longer waits for the landowner to initiate something or for funding from government sources to be finalized. A HAT (a two or more man team that runs or manages the equipment) becomes the de facto initiator of the wildlife management plan. Nothing convinces a landowner better than showing up at the front gate with a big tractor or dozer and the personnel to get the job done. This also makes sure it’s done at the right time and the right way. HAT personnel are better able to make follow-up visits, which has been sorely lacking and greatly welcomed by not only landowners but also by those biologist and botanists participating in these and similar programs
Published on Dec 3, 2012