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Junction’s Llano River Field Station looks to the future

James Murr
The Junction Eagle
March 28, 2012

A planning workshop, funded with a grant from the National Science Foundation, was held at the Texas Tech University (TTU) Llano River Field Station (the Station) in Junction on March 23. The workshop was conducted by a team of field station personnel from throughout the United States and was led by Susan Lohr from Colorado. Lohr has worked as a consultant for field stations and marine laboratories for the past 16 years.

The workshop was kicked off with a welcome by TTU’s Dr. Valerie Paton, Vice Provost for Planning and Assessment. Over 40 people, including residents of Kimble County, were in attendance. The attendees participated in a day of brainstorming on how to help the Station to achieve its long-term objective: to be a nationally recognized center of excellence engaged in multi-purpose and multi-disciplinary research. In undertaking this research, the Station seeks to establish a significant academic presence in the Texas Hill Country.

The Station’s work will involve wide-ranging research projects, offering educational opportunities, and providing assistance in addressing natural resources issues, as described more fully below. It is the largest (around 400 acres) of the inland field stations in Texas. Its location in the very biologically diverse Llano River watershed in the Texas Hill Country offers highly unique research and educational opportunities. Work at the Station is currently focused on the following areas.

First, in the watershed and range science area, best management practices will be pursued for brush control, wildlife, biodiversity preservation, and restoration and conservation. Second, as regards freshwater systems, studies will be undertaken to address issues related to groundwater, springs, rivers, and lakes. Third, there will be studies, programs, and workshops on natural resources education for students, teachers, parents, and the general public.

The goal of the workshop is to provide the Station with an integrated master plan that will help: 1) support and attract excellent basic and applied research by local, regional, national, and international scientific communities; 2) provide educational opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, K-12 students, and the general public; and 3) develop partnerships with the state and federal agencies dealing with natural resources and educational policies. There will also be a focus on how to obtain and maintain the long term staffing and funding needed to accomplish these objectives. The master plan is expected to be available by the end of April.

In addition to these “big picture” goals, Dr. Tom Arsuffi, the director of the Station, with responsibility for development, research, education, and outreach programs, pointed out the economic benefits brought by the Station’s presence in Junction. For example, when the Station hosts annual meetings of major organizations, local motels and businesses benefit from the presence of many new visitors. He thanked the Junction Texas Economic Development Corporation for its funding of a laboratory at the Station, and described how the existence of the laboratory has been instrumental in helping the Station to obtain grant funding. Arsuffi completed undergraduate and graduate work at Kent State University and earned his PhD. in biology from New Mexico State University.

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October

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