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Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute

by Layne Mustian, Texas A&M NRI Student Technician

April showers bring May flowers, which may be the better part of spring for Texans-a charismatic display to distract us from the inevitable heat ahead. Alas, they are more than their displays: with over 2,500 species, native Texas wildflowers provide critical habitats for an array of pollinators, help protect the soil from erosion and create the best views for lone star road trips. Their beauty is showcased along winding highways, sprinkled through the piney woods, blanketed throughout the hill country and stretching into the plains.

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush: Castilleja coccinea (L.) Spreng.

by Shelby McCay, Texas A&M NRI Project Coordinator and Brittany Wegner, Texas A&M NRI Project Specialist

We’ve officially kicked off filming for Leopold Live!: Chapter 2 with our incredible partners at Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve, and we’re excited to give you a behind-the-scenes peek at what’s coming up in the next few months from new stewardship practices and practical knowledge to keep in your back pocket. In the queue this spring from the team: Wildlife Valuation 101, Supplemental Shelter & Food and Habitat Control through Brush Clearing.

by Brittany Wegner, Texas A&M NRI Project Specialist

Each spring, NRI releases an Annual Report highlighting our mission, our programs, and the impactful projects defining the last year. We are continually grateful for the opportunities to pursue natural resource conservation solutions across the nation, but especially during a year when most aspects of our work, communities and lives were changed.

We invite you to dive in and learn about the conservation projects we were able to lead and support over the last year.

Originally published at

by Amanda Gobeli, Texas A&M NRI Project Coordinator

When it comes to land stewardship, plants are a critically important but often overlooked part of the equation. They can be difficult to identify-much less manage-and they don’t often elicit the same level of enthusiasm as charismatic wildlife species. Nevertheless, any experienced land steward will tell you that wildlife management is habitat management, and it begins and ends with plants.

Dr. Megan Clayton, Associate Professor and Extension Range Specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and one of NRI’s partners in support of RREA, is seeking to address the widespread lack…

by Jared Schlottman, Texas A&M University WFSC ‘20

First introduced from Europe as a reliable food source in the 16th century, free-ranging and escaped domestic swine established initial populations of feral swine in the United States. Eurasian boar (Sus scrofa) brought to North America in the early 1900s for hunting purposes soon interbred with feral swine creating the hybrids we see today (Larson et al. 2005). These invaders now occur in three varieties across North America: feral swine, Eurasian boar and their hybrids. As growing populations of feral swine encroach upon an expanding human-wildland interface, there is increased potential for…

by Alison Lund, Texas A&M NRI Program Coordinator and Garrett Powers, Texas A&M NRI Research Assistant

Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone and the Dreamcatcher Ranch

In areas with dense impervious surface, such as the city of San Marcos, conserved open-space like the Dreamcatcher Ranch (outlined in maroon), play an important role in the quantity of water recharged into the Edwards Aquifer, along with contributing to higher water quality and species habitat.

Water is a cornerstone in supporting Texas’ rich array of landscapes, burgeoning populations and prosperous economy. Managing and regulating this valuable resource to ensure long-term, sustainable use is a top priority for state and local planners-however, it quickly becomes a delicate balance with consideration to ecological processes, natural disasters and general land/water ownership rights.

Former President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “Saving the water and the soil must start where the first raindrop falls.” In Texas, 82% of the state’s landmass is classified as…

by Shelby McCay, Texas A&M NRI Project Coordinator

Behind the scenes of filming the Gun

As Dr. Lopez explains, “Adjusting to social distancing measures has allowed us to think creatively in how we approach our engagement work.”

When meeting folks face-to-face with a handshake is out of the question, remaining vigilant in our efforts to support landowners and students in their management efforts has never looked so different. So, we embraced the routines that kept us moving forward and true to our spirit here at NRI through nimble creativity.

In September 2020 we launched Leopold Live, a 5-week series conducted in partnership with the Selah, Bamberger Ranch…

by Layne Mustian, Texas A&M NRI Student Technician

The meaning of Community transformed with the introduction and expansion of social media. The digital age now allows people to experience community beyond physical location and provides a virtual space to connect and share beliefs or interests with the tap of a finger. The social media giant Facebook helped pioneer this new interconnected age with special features specifically designed for community, and in this case, ultimately provided opportunities for an imperative kind of citizen science.

by Layne Mustian, Texas A&M NRI Student Technician, Stephanie Hertz, Texas A&M NRI Project Manager, and Hannah Sodolak, Texas A&M NRI Administrative Associate

In the heart of East Texas stands the remaining acres of the longleaf pine forest. With tall, stately trees, lush grasses, forbs and wildflowers this iconic forest was historically and still is a wonderful part of our state’s natural heritage. Native Americans and European settlers derived food, medicine and fiber products for their lives. Deer, turkey, quail and other wildlife used the forest as habitat. Today we use the forests for many of the same benefits, including…

by Alison Lund, Texas A&M NRI Program Coordinator and Garrett Powers, Texas A&M NRI Research Assistant

Military presence across Texas is easily noted, often due to major installations, such as Naval Air Station Corpus Christi or those part of Joint Base San Antonio, being situated in the heart of populated areas. Historically, however, many installations were established in rural areas to allow a buffer between communities and for expansive training spaces needed by military forces to conduct large-scale, realistic exercises. Over time, populations arose across the state and installations have attracted businesses and residential development to accommodate military personnel. This…

Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute

At the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, our work improves the conservation and management of natural resources through applied research.

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