Borderlands Bulletin features Texas Land Trends report on fragmentation risk

Respect Big Bend Named Texan by Nature
2020 Conservation Wrangler
Texan by Nature (TxN), a Texas-led conservation nonprofit, recently announced that the Respect Big Bend Coalition has been named a 2020 Conservation Wrangler. Texan by Nature’s Conservation Wrangler program is recognizing six innovative conservation projects across the state of Texas for their science-based and results-driven approach to conservation along with their ability to positively impact people, prosperity and natural resources. 
The mission of Respect Big Bend is to inspire and empower stakeholders to conserve the unique resources and protect the iconic communities of the greater Big Bend region of Texas while developing energy responsibly. Respect Big Bend pursues its mission by employing rigorous science, community outreach and education, landscape-scale planning and economic development. 
“Every year, Texan by Nature shines a light on conservation stewards and their efforts to take care of the state I’m proud to call home,” said former First Lady and founder of Texan by Nature, Laura Bush. “The Conservation Wrangler program proves that collaborative partnerships in conservation yield great benefits for Texas and its people. Congratulations to the six 2020 Conservation Wranglers, and thank you for the terrific example you’ve set for the rest of us.”
Along with Respect Big Bend, five other projects were honored with the Conservation Wrangler designation. They include the Paso del Norte Trail in El Paso, the Trinity Park Conservancy’s Trinity River Conservation Corps, the Texas BrigadesExploration Green Conservancy and Texas Children in Nature. Texan by Nature will recognize Respect Big Bend and the 2020 Conservation Wranglers on October 27, 2020 in Dallas at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Respect Big Bend Seminar Series—Looking Forward to Fall 2020 
Approximately 90 community members in the Trans-Pecos area attended the Respect Big Bend Seminar Series on Energy Development at the Espino Conference Center in mid- January. The seminar was sponsored by The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation, Borderlands Research Institute, Respect Big Bend, Still Water Foundation, Permian Basin Area Foundation and The Meadows Foundation.
Attendees listened to two presentations, “Origins of the Effort” presented by Marilu Hastings, Vice President, Sustainability Programs for the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation; and “The What, Where and When of Energy Development” presented by Dr. Michael Young, Associate Director, Environmental Research, Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas. Both presentations provided information regarding the vision for the Respect Big Bend effort and what the current outlook is for energy development.
The remainder of the spring 2020 seminar series has been postponed in keeping with COVID-19 social distancing precautions. There are plans to renew the seminar series in the fall. For more information please visit and
 Trans-Pecos Wildlife Conference Postponed
BRI Professor Pivots to Cope with COVID-19
When you are a professor who teaches wildlife management courses to undergraduate and graduate students, you get used to things not always going as planned. Wildlife doesn’t always cooperate. A field research day might get rained out. A hypothesis might not pan out as a student expected. So, when the world turned upside down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Borderlands Research Institute’s Dr. Ryan Luna took it all in stride.
“Up until Spring Break, we were operating as normal,” said Dr. Luna, who is the Kelly R. Thompson Professor of Quail Research at BRI, Chair of the Department of Natural Resource Management and Associate Professor of Wildlife Management at Sul Ross State University. “Then, as a result of COVID-19, Spring Break was extended. Then we were notified that we’d be online for the duration of the semester. Additionally, all summer classes will now be conducted remotely as well, with no prospect of face-to-face classes until the fall.”
Face-to-face quality interaction and an open-door policy are hallmarks of the student experience at the Department of Natural Resource Management at Sul Ross State University. Because of a relatively small student-to-professor ratio, interaction with professors happens whenever a student needs it. Dr. Luna is doing his best to replicate that online.
“We’re using the university’s online Blackboard system to upload lectures, PowerPoints and videos. Blackboard also keeps track of assignments and grades,” he said. “We’re also doing some classes on Zoom for some virtual face-to-face interaction. And we’re all making ourselves available to our students through email and calls.”
Did You Know?
“Texas Land Trends data suggest that farm and ranch operation profitability and parcel size are related, where operations may be increasingly less profitable as they get smaller (i.e., <150 acres). As a result, when rural land is no longer profitable, future traditional agricultural uses are threatened, and degradation of 'ecosystem services' and other public benefits provided by these private lands can be expected, [such as the] recharge of groundwater resources due to increasing impermeable surfaces.” In many Texas Borderland counties, the size of rural working lands operations has decreased by more than 30% since 1997.
The map below shows projected trends for future fragmentation and conversion of working lands (e.g., farm-to-residential development).
Lopez, A., A.A. Lund, M.A. Crawford, L.A. Smith, K.L. Skow, J.G. Cross, L.A. Harveson and R.R. Lopez. 2019. Trends in Land Ownership Along Texas Borderlands. Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute. College Station, TX, USA.
Please share this enewsletter with others who may be interested in the work of the Borderlands Research Institute. SUBSCRIBE HERE so it comes straight to your inbox.
Borderlands Research Institute | 432.837.8225 | bri@sulross.edu
P.O. Box C-21, SRSU, Alpine, Texas 79832

Share this article