Working lands, whether private or publicly owned, provide substantial economic, ecological, and recreational resources across the U.S. Here in Texas, we often boast of being a “private land state”, meaning the majority of the land (~95%) is held in private ownership. Many may wonder how this came to be and if other states fall under similar ownership patterns. For this new Featured Map, we briefly explore the history of land settlement across the nation and demonstrate the unique ownership landscape that exists today.
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How we, as collective stakeholders in the state, balance our needs and the challenges from land-use changes will influence future outcomes for Texas’ open spaces. Where do we start?
Our latest Texas Land Trends report examines conservation easements, an important tool that can complement both landowner and public needs by supporting rural economies, creating recreational opportunities. and providing intrinsic benefits.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has developed a variety of resources, including a phone application to assist those with an interest in prescribed burning.
Given the preponderance of livestock and growing interest in wildlife management, it’s easy to understand why helping landowners and naturalists better identify and manage plants and animals on their property is essential for raising awareness of and improving open land in Texas. Find our growing list of recommended mobile apps here.
Texas has over 142M acres of open lands (i.e., working lands) with the majority designated as grazing lands for various livestock. Texas leads the nation in sheep, goat and cattle production with over 94M head of cattle alone. Even with this strong representation, landowners often mix livestock production and wildlife management on the same property. Other landowners now primarily manage for wildlife on an additional 3.3M acres which helps maintain ecological functions of the state’s grasslands and forests. Given the preponderance of livestock and growing interest in wildlife management, it’s easy to understand why grazing management is essential for sustaining and improving open lands in Texas.
From scattered rural settlements to big cities, the density and distribution of people in Texas has changed dramatically over time. As "urban sprawl" continues to increase development in the outlying areas around cities, it will affect the resources, amenities, and job opportunities for the people who live there.
Our latest Texas Land Trends report examines Texas’ changing and aging landowners and potentially the largest intergenerational land transfer in its history.
To highlight the importance of voluntary land stewardship in Texas, the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute (NRI) are partnering with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Texas Agricultural Land Trust, Texas Wildlife Association, and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. The statewide campaign, “No Land No Water ™,” is the theme of this year’s Soil and Water Stewardship Week, April 30 through May 7.
Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) military land sustainability (MLS) program is playing an integral role in the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership, an initiative between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of the Interior, according to Bruce Beard, associate director for IRNR’s MLS program.
To help bring more than 14,300 acres of the state’s high-value working farm and ranch lands under long-term protection, the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council has approved land trust funding totaling $1.4 million for a wide array of conservation easements, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).