J. David Bamberger on fifty years of coaxing his Blanco county ranch back to life

J. David Bamberger on fifty years of coaxing his Blanco county ranch back to life

On an overcast day in early February, J. David Bamberger charged down a trail at his ranch near Blanco, pointing out maples he’d planted more than a decade ago. The ninety-year-old land conservationist wanted to determine why the leaves of some of the trees turned orange last fall, while those on others became deep red or golden yellow. To collect the data he sought, he needed to clear the brush from around each maple. The former door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman…

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New report by the Texas Land Trust Council highlights over $1 billion in annual economic benefits of conserved lands to flood mitigation, agriculture, water resources

New report by the Texas Land Trust Council highlights over $1 billion in annual economic benefits of conserved lands to flood mitigation, agriculture, water resources

The new study, produced by Siglo Group in partnership with the Texas Land Trust Council, quantifies the value of lands and conservation easements that have been conserved by or with assistance from the Texas land trust community. Values for benefits provided by these conserved lands were calculated using an ecosystem services approach. Specifically, the study assessed the more than 1.6 million acres of open space lands that have been compiled into a statewide conserved lands database by TLTC members, and evaluated those acres for the services they offer Texas in terms water quality, water quantity, flood prevention, and…

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Landowners work to “heal” Sandy Creek after flood

Landowners work to “heal” Sandy Creek after flood

An effort to restore Sandy Creek has taken root in Llano County. About 25 landowners, conservationists and other volunteers attended the Sandy Creek Riparian Restoration Field Day March 2 on private property (County Road 316) adjacent to Sandy Creek to assess land and put so-called revegetation efforts into practice. “People like myself and other professionals, we really didn’t think about rivers. They were just part of the landscape,” said Steve Nelle, a Natural Resource Conservation Service retiree. “We didn’t know…

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Commentary: We must act now to save our state parks

Commentary: We must act now to save our state parks

More than 30 million visitors have taken in the majesty of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Last year alone, more than 10 million visited the Louvre in Paris with such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa. Imagine for a moment the absurdity of locking these treasures away from public view because their buildings fell into disrepair. Yet that is exactly what’s happening to many of our state parks because funds intended for their upkeep have been diverted elsewhere,…

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Why native plants matter

Why native plants matter

Restoring native plant habitat is vital to preserving biodiversity. By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals. Over the past century, urbanization has taken intact, ecologically productive land and fragmented and transformed it with lawns and exotic ornamental plants. The continental U.S. lost a staggering 150 million acres of habitat and farmland to urban sprawl, and that trend isn’t slowing.…

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Conservation easement program preserves ranches for local water quality and nature benefits

Conservation easement program preserves ranches for local water quality and nature benefits

Gary Puryear said he did not know much about nature conservation when he inherited his father’s 423-acre ranch near Hamilton Pool Road in Western Travis County. Members of his family had owned and lived on the working ranch since 1880, and Puryear said the emotion of losing his father made it difficult to decide whether to keep the land or sell it to a developer. However, when he learned of the vast environmental benefits maintaining the land would bring to…

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Senate passes a sweeping land conservation bill

Senate passes a sweeping land conservation bill

The Senate on Tuesday passed a sweeping public lands conservation bill, designating more than one million acres of wilderness for environmental protection and permanently reauthorizing a federal program to pay for conservation measures. The Senate voted 92 to 8 in favor of the bill, offering a rare moment of bipartisanship in a divided chamber and a rare victory for environmentalists at a time when the Trump administration is working aggressively to strip away protections on public lands and open them…

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‘Impressive’ wildflower season forecasted after rainy fall and winter

‘Impressive’ wildflower season forecasted after rainy fall and winter

Don’t mind the cold. Spring has sprung in Texas, with wildflower season getting an early pop this year following months of wet and dreary weather. The above average rainfall Texas got in the fall and winter months, coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures, will translate to a rather impressive wildflower season, said Andrea DeLong-Amaya, director of horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Centerin Austin. The state’s iconic bluebonnets were already seen sprouting in Austin as early as three weeks ago,…

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Judge rules Golden-cheeked Warbler should stay on endangered species list

Judge rules Golden-cheeked Warbler should stay on endangered species list

A bright-faced songbird of the Texas Hill Country still faces enough threat from population growth and land development in the San Antonio-Austin region to need shelter under the Endangered Species Act, a federal judge in Austin has ruled. Senior U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks sided with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week in a case centered on the golden-cheeked warbler, a 3- to 5-inch migratory songbird that only nests in around 39 counties in Central Texas. The Texas General…

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Texas Land Trends report shows value of conservation easements to ag, water, wildlife

Texas Land Trends report shows value of conservation easements to ag, water, wildlife

The Texas Land Trends project of Texas A&M’s Natural Resources Institute, or NRI, has published a special series report describing Texas landowner participation in land conservation easements and their value to agricultural production, water and wildlife. About 83 percent of lands in Texas are classified as privately-owned working lands, signifying the critical role private landowners play in protecting the state’s valuable resources. Land-use conversion, including fragmentation, accounted for the loss of approximately 1.1 million acres of working lands in Texas…

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