The Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA) of 1978 designated federal funding for natural resource Extension comprehensive programs to sustain and address emerging renewable resources on forest and rangelands and to develop innovative projects that can be replicated with other entities and institutions. Texas A&M University, the state’s land-grant university, typically receives a portion of this funding, which is routed through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to Texas A&M NRI, who administers the funds. The funding is used to support Extension Specialists and other personnel within both NRI and the University’s Department of Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management (RWFM) in implementing programs and creating educational resources that address priority areas identified by RREA.

While the current RREA National Strategic Plan identifies 9 priority areas, we are focusing our efforts on the 5 that most closely align with the mission and vision of NRI and RWFM. These are:

Fish and Wildlife Habitat: Because more than half of the nation’s forests and rangelands are in private ownership, the actions taken by private landowners have a critical bearing on the nature, type, and extent of fish and wildlife habitat.

Generational Succession: Uncertainty about the future transfer of family forest or rangeland enterprises is becoming more commonplace. Increasingly, family natural resource enterprises are struggling with plans for succession to the next generation – whether the next generation is within the family or simply the next owner.

Wildfire Prevention: Wildfires threaten lives, destroy property, and disrupt agricultural production. Wildfires also alter the ecological functioning of native forests and rangelands as they increasingly occur beyond the natural ranges of frequency, intensity, and size due to both historical land-use policies and novel climatic conditions.

Landowner Engagement: More than half of the forests and rangelands in the United States are under private ownership. Thus, engaging landowners with natural resource professionals in decisions about their land is essential for addressing resource management concerns from forest health to local economies.

Public Awareness/Youth Engagement: Forest and rangeland resources are important to the economic and environmental well-being of both urban and rural communities. However, the public’s knowledge and in-depth understanding regarding production, sustainability, and the links between ecosystem services and social well-being are limited.

 

Key Programs

Several high-profile conservation programs have had their start in RREA funding. These are projects which have endured for years, reached hundreds of people and had statewide (or in some cases, nationwide) impacts. Notable examples include:

  • Texas Master Naturalist Program: With 48 local chapters in 213 counties, TMN seeks to develop well-informed volunteers who bring natural resource education, outreach, and service to their communities in the state of Texas.
  • Generation Next: A curriculum targeting new landowners, those who are inheriting land, or those who are looking to start a new agricultural operation on an existing ranch.
  • Texas Land Trends: The Texas Land Trends project monitors the status and changes in land use, ownership size and land values of working lands.
  • Texas Brigades: The Texas Brigades—which began with the Bobwhite Brigades—are a series of summer camps connecting youth with land management and conservation.
  • Rx Fire Program: Educational programs and resources on the safe and effective use of prescribed fire as a rangeland management tool.

 

RWFM Cooperating Specialists

NRI is working with several Specialists within the Texas A&M Department of Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management:

  • Megan Clayton: Dr. Clayton is an Associate Professor and Extension Range Specialist for the Texas AgriLife Extension Center at Corpus Christi, TX. She is responsible for Generation Next, in addition to other landowner engagement programs.
  • Maureen Frank: Dr. Frank is an Assistant Professor & Extension Wildlife Specialist in Uvalde, TX. Her programming focus areas include fish and wildlife habitat, landowner engagement, and youth engagement.
  • Barron Rector: Dr. Rector is an Associate Professor & Extension Range Specialist in College Station, TX. His educational programming responsibilities focus on teaching rural and urban constituencies principals of ecology, range monitoring, how to evaluate biological interrelationships of ecosystems.
  • John Tomeček: Dr. Tomeček is an Assistant Professor & Extension Wildlife Specialist in Thrall, TX. His programming areas of interest include overabundant and nuisance animals, management of game animals, and wildlife management.
  • Morgan Treadwell: Dr. Treadwell is an Associate Professor & Extension Range Specialist in San Angelo, TX. Her current interests include prescribed burning, integrated approaches for brush management, livestock grazing management, population plant ecology, and youth natural resources education.

 

Roel Lopez
roel@tamu.edu

As director for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Dr. Roel Lopez provides leadership in the field of wildlife ecology and natural resource management. Roel works with internal and external stakeholders in develop…

Jim Cathey
jccathey@tamu.edu

Dr. Jim Cathey is an associate director for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute. Jim is a regional and national expert in wildlife management, Extension outreach and programming, feral hog management and conservatio…

Abigail Holmes
abigail.holmes@ag.tamu.edu

Abigail joined the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute in April 2017 as a student assistant. She currently works as a Project Coordinator for a variety of projects, but she was instrumental in creating resources for the…

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