Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Program Accomplishment

The Water for Texans program has been funded by Soil and Water Conservation Funds from the Texas Water Resources Institute and Senate Bill 1. This support allowed the continuation of previously installed and operational watershed demonstrations in 15 counties. Additional requests by county Extension agents for similar watershed demonstrations resulted in paired catchments being established or planned in Menard and Webb Counties. This funding was essential for establishment, collection of data, updating all of the data files and calculations for each demonstration and writing demonstration reports.

The Water for Texans College Station faculty program also includes demonstrations to determine water use by saltcedar on the Pecos, Colorado and Canadian Rivers. Two graduate students began working on different aspects of these programs: development of a salt cedar growth model funded by ARS at Temple by Kurtiss Schmidt (thesis.pdf) and a watershed risk analysis that utilizes the Brazos watersheds plus rainfall simulators by Tracy Gwaltney (thesis.pdf and defense.ppt).
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Purpose and Objectives

These result demonstrations are designed to provide educational opportunities for landowners concerning land management practices and their effects on water quantity and quality. Objectives are to determine effects of current and Best Management Practices (BMP) on runoff quality and quantity and vegetation/habitat characteristics for meeting landowner objectives and improve/sustain rangeland health. Also, watershed characteristics such as vegetation, soils, slope, and rainfall will be determined to help interpret causal relationships. Results from paired watershed demonstrations will be utilized to develop threshold residue recommendations for preventing accelerated erosion and loss of soil/vegetation productivity. The demonstrations will serve as a focal point to educate clientele on rangeland BMPs and management needed to achieve a healthy system. Thresholds for runoff and sediment yield versus infiltration will be developed to serve as a management tool for landowners. A photoguide of watershed health will be used to depict "best" management practices and resource condition effects on potential water yield and quality for effective application by clientele. Landowner objectives include proper grazing and watershed/resource management for beef cattle and wildlife production, water resources, and aesthetic value.

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Methods/Demonstration Protocol

A paired watershed approach is being used for each demonstration site. Procedures follow EPA Paired Watershed Study Design (1993, US EPA, Office of Water, Washington, D. C. 841-F-93-009). The first year of collection, all plots will receive the same treatment (current management by the landowner). The second year, one catchment will receive a BMP for that situation based on resource needs and landowner objectives. The other catchment will continue with the landowner management practices. The demonstrations will continue for a minimum of five years. This length of time is necessary for normal successional change to occur following treatment and allow "stabilization" before concluding effects.

Each site has been set up with automated recording devices on both the runoff tipping buckets and rain gauges. Cooperators at each site are asked to collect appropriate water/sediment samples, drain and clean catchments containers, maintain records of land management activities and practices and provide samples and information to TCE. Reports and information developed from each site will be prepared by TCE for review by the landowner before use in educational programs and handbooks. Also, the County Extension agent uses these sites in educational programs and tours.

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Contacts with Clientele

From January 2001 to December 2001 a great number of individuals have toured the watershed demonstrations at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Mason Mountain WMA, Freeman Ranch, and Bamberger Ranch. Several county programs are planned for next spring that will utilize the watershed demonstrations as a focal point during field days. Results are increasingly being used in statewide programs for clientele and TCE personnel. Over 2000 clientele and county extension agents were provided education through the "Water for Texans" program at numerous presentations across the state. Program accomplishments and activities for the campus based "Water for Texans" team members are outlined below:

Society for Range Management Annual Meeting, Kona, Hawaii, February 2001

Presentation on saltcedar management with aerial herbicides effects on water quality and quantity of the Pecos River, 40 attended.

Texas Master Naturalist Training, Brownwood 4-H Center, March 2001

Presentation on how land management affects watershed health and water quality, 17 attended.

Multi-County Forage Management Program, Washington, Fayette, and Austin Counties, March 2001

Presentation of the ecology and management related to the water cycle and watershed management, 53 attended.

Drought Recovery Program, Haskell and Throckmorton Counties, March 2001

Presentation on rangeland watershed health and the effects of drought on watershed health, 31 attended.

Master Gardener Training, Brazoria and Galveston Counties, March 2001

Presentation on rangeland watershed health and management influences on rangeland watershed health, 58 attended.

RLEM Watershed Management Class, Brazos County, April 2001

Presentation on the impacts saltcedar has    on watersheds of the Western US and how saltcedar management with aerial herbicides effects the water quality and quantity of the Pecos River, 60 attended.

Jack County SWCD Sixth Grade Field Day, Jack County, May 2001

Demonstration of soil and water relationships using rainfall/runoff boxes with different amounts of vegetation.  Helped to demonstrate to the youth the value of managing rangelands and other natural resources, 85 youth and 18 adults.

TSSRM Youth Range Workshop, Kimble County, June 2001

Field day on how to see the rangeland landscape from a water point of view and how rangeland watersheds can be affected by rangeland management, 35 youth and 15 adults attended.

Milam County 4-H Ecology Day Camp, Milam County, July 2001

"Presentation on rainfall impacts on rangeland and the role different levels of grazing utilization can have on rainfall impact, 61 youth and 10 adults attended. "Presentation on rainfall impacts on rangeland and the role different levels of grazing utilization can have on rainfall impact, 61 youth and 10 adults attended.

Val Verde County Watershed Management Field Day, Val Verde County, August 2001

Presentation on the effects of different management practices on watershed health.  Demonstrations on how different grazing management effects runoff on watersheds, 22 attended.

TSSRM Saltcedar Field Day, Loving and Reeves Counties, October 2001

Presentation on saltcedar water use study being conducted on the Pecos River, 155 attended.

Texas Riparian Association Board Meeting, Travis County, October 2001 

Presentation on saltcedar water use studies being conducted in Borden, Loving, and Hemphill Counties, 35 attended.

 

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