Through the Gulf of Mexico Clean Waters Initiative, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas will provide technical and financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and other private landowners along the San Antonio River in Wilson, Karnes, Refugio, Goliad, Refugio, Victoria, Calhoun and Aransas counties.
This assistance will help private landowners in the designated watersheds to develop a conservation plan and receive voluntary recommendations such as rotational grazing, and brush management to help improve the natural resources, including water quality and quantity that ultimately flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The voluntary conservation efforts by landowners will protect and restore these private agricultural lands for maximum environmental benefits.
The Coastal Prairie Region of South Texas is an important area for recreational opportunities, critical wildlife habitat, commercial seafood harvest, and agriculture. The area encompasses private lands that provide vital resting, feeding, wintering, and nesting grounds for migratory and aquatic birds and native Texas wildlife. These farm and ranchlands provide winter habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the whooping crane, peregrine falcon, and piping plover among many others. Resident wildlife species such as dove, deer, turkey, quail and various songbirds are afforded suitable habitat here as well. The warm shallow waters of San Antonio Bay provide shrimp, oysters, and crabs for commercial harvest, and excellent fishing for redfish, speckled trout, black drum, and flounder.
“The technical and financial assistance will help producers apply sustainable agricultural and wildlife habitat management systems that will maintain and/or improve agricultural productivity; reducing nutrient runoff sediment transport, thus helping freshwater inflows,” said Salvador Salinas, NRCS state conservationist.
The NRCS will provide technical assistance to develop a conservation plan aimed at conserving, protecting and improving their land and natural resources. The conservation plan is developed with a landowner free of charge. A conservation plan is the basis for developing Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract applications. Applications are taken year round, with ranking and funding deadlines throughout the year. The next ranking period will be June 19, 2015.
Conservation plan can include:
- Aerial photo, map or diagram of the property.
- Soil map and soil descriptions that are site specific to the property.
- Resource inventory data of the property, which include forage or crop production estimates, livestock carrying capacity estimates, plant identification, and recommended seeding rates.
- Recorded list of landowner objectives and a schedule for achieving those objectives.
All plans are site specific, developed with the land user, and are confidential. Their purpose is to provide a roadmap to help landowners and land users achieve their conservation goals. Conservation plans, properly implemented, benefit the environment with cleaner air, water, improved water quantity and quality, enhanced wildlife habitats and populations, and an overall a healthier place to live.
For assistance on developing a conservation plan or information, visit the USDA-NRCS office or visit www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.