April 1, 2021 – TEXAS – Texan by Nature (TxN), a Texas-led conservation non-profit today announces the selection of the 2021 Conservation Wranglers. Conservation Wrangler is an accelerator program that catalyzes the very best Texan-led conservation projects occurring in the state. Selected projects are science-based and demonstrate a positive Return on Conservation for people, prosperity, and natural resources.
The 2021 Conservation Wranglers will work with the Texan by Nature team, receiving 12-18 months of dedicated support with program management, strategic planning, marketing strategy, metrics capture and analysis, professional content production, and partnership development – whatever is needed to accelerate the project.
“Each year, Texan by Nature selects innovative projects that demonstrate replicable conservation efforts in our state,” shared the former First Lady and Founder of Texan by Nature, Mrs. Laura Bush. “The Conservation Wrangler program proves that conservation is essential for the health of our natural resources, our people, and our economy. Congratulations to the 2021 Conservation Wranglers, and thank you for the terrific example you’ve set for all Texans.”
“This year’s Conservation Wrangler applications were incredibly impressive and represented a wide range of focus areas and geographies,” said Joni Carswell, President and CEO of TxN. “In addition to natural resource benefits, the projects represented collaborative, wide-ranging partnerships and new opportunities for delivering and measuring impact. Our work with the selected projects will expand conservation efforts and results across Texas. We look forward to sharing Conservation Wrangler learnings, best practices, and opportunities to participate in and scale conservation efforts and returns.”
Texan by Nature will recognize the 2021 Conservation Wranglers on November 3, 2021, in Dallas, TX at the George W. Bush Presidential Center at the annual Conservation Summit. This diverse set of projects impacts land, water, habitat, and more, representing the vast ecological diversity of the Lone Star State.
The selected 2021 Conservation Wranglers include:
Texas Water Trade (TWT) was founded with the mission to harness the power of markets and technological innovation to build a future of clean, flowing water for all Texans. TWT has initiated a collaborative effort to restore Comanche Springs, located in the historic City of Fort Stockton, TX. Once known as the Spring City of Texas, Fort Stockton’s 30-million-gallon-a-day spring has not flowed reliably since groundwater pumping accelerated in the 1950s. The local groundwater regulator, the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District (MPGCD), recently developed a model indicating a realistic reduction in annual groundwater pumping could allow Comanche Springs to return to year-round flow. Texas Water Trade, partnering with The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, has completed a feasibility study of a market-based restoration of Comanche Springs. Informed by this analysis, TWT is now embarking on an initiative in collaboration with local landowners to reduce groundwater pumping to a level conducive to perennial spring flow. TWT and partners are creating a pilot market for the world’s first spring restoration and are investing in recreational infrastructure to facilitate access to Comanche Creek for community members and tourists. With perennial flow, the historic bathhouse at Comanche Springs may return to the natural, spring swimming environment it once was, creating a tourist destination and restoring a cultural and ecological jewel.
The Texas Longleaf Implementation Team was created to establish and restore upland and wetland longleaf pine savannas. This occurs through work with public and private forest landowners across the historic range of the longleaf pine in East Texas. The longleaf pine ecosystem is one of the scarcest plant communities in the Southeastern United States. Of former longleaf pine landscapes, less than 3 percent remains of the Southeastern landscape and only 2 percent of the original 3 million acres remains in East Texas. Longleaf pine communities are essential for migratory birds, resident wildlife, and a host of rare and endemic plants and animals. A well-managed longleaf pine savanna that includes frequent prescribed fire has the potential to produce and sustain habitat for rare species such as the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman’s Sparrow, Henslow’s Sparrow, and the Louisiana Pine Snake. Game species such as the Eastern Wild Turkey, Northern Bobwhite, and American Woodcock take advantage of these open forest conditions as well. Additionally, fire-maintained longleaf pine forests use 15 percent less water than fire-excluded systems due to their drought resilience and severe weather adaptations and sequester carbon longer than other southern pine species due to their long life span. Sound stewardship of longleaf pine forests can create diverse sources of income for forest landowners through forestry products, hunting and recreational leases, carbon trading, and other mitigation programs. Through broader messaging to foster awareness, the implementation team will expand their work with industrial and family forestland owners and managers.
The San Antonio Zoo, a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Zoological Association of America, and Humane Certified by American Humane, is committed to securing a future for wildlife. Through their passion and expertise in animal care, conservation, and education, the zoo's mission is to inspire its community to love, engage with, act for, and protect animals and the places they live. SA Zoo's unwavering dedication to the conservation of wildlife has led them to establish their Texas Horned Lizard Reintroduction Project. The Texas horned lizard was once abundant across the western two-thirds of Texas. Since the late 1960s, horned lizard populations have declined or disappeared in many areas due to multiple factors, including fragmentation and loss of habitat, the introduction of exotic grasses and red imported fire ants, and pesticide use. This species was added to the state list of threatened species in 1977 and was adopted as the Texas state reptile in 1993. Many Texans have fond memories of the Texas horned lizard from their childhoods and wish to see the species return to its former abundance. SA Zoo identified that suitable habitat exists across the state where zoo-hatched lizards could be reintroduced to establish wild populations. Many private landowners, working alongside SA Zoo biologists, are implementing landscape management practices that benefit the Texas horned lizard, native plant communities, and wildlife, improving Texas's overall biodiversity and resilience. By re-establishing lizard populations as part of a healthy native ecosystem, the San Antonio Zoo plans to promote awareness, appreciation, and support for native biodiversity for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Audubon Texas, a state program of the National Audubon Society, has been active across Texas and on the coast protecting wildlife, conserving habitat, and inspiring environmental stewardship through outreach and education since 1923. Today, Audubon, along with the support of valued partners, manages 177 islands along the Texas coast, including twelve islands within Matagorda and San Antonio Bays. Matagorda Bay is a priority location for Audubon’s conservation efforts due to the bay’s iconic bird species, such as the Roseate Spoonbill and the Brown Pelican. Constructed from dredge spoils in 1962, Chester Island, a 73-acre rookery island in Matagorda Bay, is actively stewarded by Audubon and hosts around 20,000 breeding pairs of at least 18 species every year. In addition to habitat, rookery islands improve coastal resiliency during major storm events and drive ecotourism income from birders. Audubon Texas plans to partner with local communities, businesses, and industry partners in Matagorda Bay, as well as upstream urban populations, to expand constructed habitat and awareness of critical bird conservation efforts in the Bay.
The Texan by Nature 2021 Conservation Wranglers were selected, in part, based on the following criteria:
- Texan-led conservation initiative
- Benefits community by providing tangible returns for people, prosperity, and natural resources
- Reaches new and diverse audiences
- Measurable process and conservation outcomes
- Partnership between community, business, individuals, and conservation organizations
All will receive 12-18 months of tailored support and resources including:
- Promotion via social media, newsletters, blogs, website, etc.
- Professional content production in the form of videos, collateral, and messaging
- Program management and impact reporting
- Connections to technical, expert, and industry support
- Recognition and participation in the annual Conservation Summit & Celebration
These projects and organizations represent significant impact for Texas:
- People: 7.98 million Texans in counties across the entire Lone Star State
- Prosperity: $2.03 Billion in economic benefit
- Natural Resources (Acreage): 20.37 million acres = 11.8% of Texas’s 171.9 million acres, 2,000 plant species, 500 bird species, 170 reptile and amphibian species, 120 mammal species, 150,000 wetland plants, 5,000 native trees, 500 million gallons of stormwater detention and rainwater filtration, conservation camps conserving bobwhite quail, fresh and saltwater fisheries, waterfowl, and white-tailed deer, 23 schoolyard habitats for education
- Increasing conservation investment across Texas and working to drive and replicate innovation, Texan by Nature connects conservation partners to the resources they need to achieve greater impact. For more information on TxN partnerships and programs, or to learn how to get involved, please visit www.texanbynature.org.
ABOUT Texan by Nature:
Texan by Nature (TxN), founded by former First Lady Laura Bush, partners deeply with conservation groups and business, acting as an accelerator for conservation groups and a strategic partner for business. Their projects and programs (TxN Conservation Wrangler, TxN Certification, Symposia Series, and TxN 20) have impacted 7 million plus people, 20 million acres, and all of Texas’ 254 counties over the last two years. Get involved and learn more at www.texanbynature.org. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram @TexanbyNature.