OOS 1-7 - Texas Hill Country land and water stewardship: Multiple approachesĀ and stakeholders at Llano River Field Station

Monday, August 8, 2011: 3:40 PM
16B, Austin Convention Center
Thomas L. Arsuffi1, Megan Dominguez2, Zachary Thomas3 and Jenny Strovas3, (1)Llano River Field Station, Texas Tech University, Junction, TX, (2)Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Corpus Christi, TX, (3)Llano River Field Station, Texas Tech University, Junction

Water, the environment and natural resources are critical issues for present and future generations of Texans, especially with a projected doubling in population in 50 years.  An ecologically literate public with knowledge and a water and land ethic will be needed to make informed decisions as resources become limited.  Yet, 85% of Texans live in urban areas, > 97% of Texas is private property, our state park system ranks 49th in the U.S and access to state parks is increasing limited by infrastructure and capacity. The disconnect between urban and population with rural and nature has important quality of life and public policy ramifications. The Texas Tech University Llano River Field Station (LRFS) is located in the vast (30+counties) biologically diverse Central Texas Hill Country region lacking a major academic presence. LRFS was opened in 2003 with multipurpose, multidisciplinary research, education and engagement programs directed toward:  1) Watershed and Range Science – BMPs for brush control, wildlife, biodiversity, restoration and conservation, 2) Freshwater Systems – basic/applied/integrated studies of groundwater, springs, rivers and lakes, and 3) Environmental Education/Engagement – studies, programs & workshops on natural resources and STEM school content for students, teachers, parents and public. 

Results/Conclusions LRFS stewardship initiatives involve: 1) local, state and national grants (Foundations, TPW, DOE, NSF), 2) hosting and networking through professional scientific/educational conferences (OBFS, TAS, TAEE, SWAN) to showcase the station, educational programs, facilities and natural resource research opportunities, 3) organizing research and educational symposia (ESA, TAS, OBFS), 4) developing innovative partnerships, community engagement, water and watershed educational and research efforts (Texas Water Symposium with Texas Public Radio, land and watershed stewardship workshops, LRFS Outdoor School partnerships with parks, ISDs, legislation), 5) scientific, educational, NGO professional organizations and 5) serving on scientific & advisory committees. Outdoor School is a STEM transdisciplinary, inquiry-based, innovative curriculum that incorporates multiple best learning practices to improve instruction for at-risk students with remarkable success as recognized by student performance, awards, publications, research and educational symposia - since 2003 over 45 Independent School Districts, 11,000 students and hundreds of teachers.  A new project is Llano Watershed Planning and Education to prevent impacts from land use changes and other perturbations through: stakeholder coordination, watershed assessment, a protection plan with nine key elements of EPA’s Healthy Watersheds framework and public outreach and education. Clearly, field stations have great capacity to play important roles in ecological and science literacy.

Copyright © . All rights reserved.
Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.