Story by Cresencio (Cris) Perez, District Conservationist, San Marcos
The Wimberley Community Center recently hosted the 1st Annual Hays County Conservation Expo. The expo was organized under the direction of the Central Conservation Partnership, made up of agencies such as Texas Forest Service (TFS), USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Hays County AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife (TP&W).
A total of 180 landowners and other producers registered for the event. The free program was a success as 10 presenters from the partnership kept the attention of the audience throughout the day. Topics presented at the expo included brush management, native grass management, prescribed burning, Oak wilt prevention and management, pond/tank construction and management, mature tree care, wildlife and habitat management, predator control and rainwater collection for household use.
The planning process of the event developed into a unique opportunity for producers as the partnership made the decision to ask for input from Hays County landowners to see what topics they were interested in hearing about at the expo. A questionnaire was developed by organizers and sent out to landowners by TFS.
By late spring, landowners had returned their questionnaires and voiced their opinions on what they wanted presented at the event. The planning committee reviewed the surveys and used the landownersï¿½ ideas to determine the topics for the program.
Ten topics were decided on based on the information sent in by landowners. An agenda was developed by the planning committee to reflect the ideas and needs of landowners in the area. Industry leaders and experts presented informative programs to help educate and provide outreach to all county and area landowners and producers.
USDA-NRCS was one of several exhibitors at the expo presenting informational handouts. Some of the displays included brush clearing machines and various predator traps. Attendees took the opportunity to visit the booths during program breaks.
Plans are already being discussed for the 2nd Annual Hays County Expo. In a collaborative effort, the Central Conservation Partnership looks forward to organizing a similar event again with help from area landowners.
County Judge Bert Cobb gave the welcome to the 180 attendees to the Hays County Conservation Expo. He stressed the importance of working to protect our natural resources and the removal of Ash juniper from the Texas Hill Country to improve water infiltration in to our aquifers.
Vivian Garcia, Corpus Christi zone range specialist gave a presentation on brush management, range seeding, planting and prescribed burning. The audience questioned Garcia about the need for prescribed burns, especially for juniper species in the Wimberley area.
Bill Finch, NRCS resource team leader in Seguin provided assistance at the NRCS exhibit and display, answering questions and handing out literature during breaks.
Cresencio (Cris) Perez, district conservationist in San Marcos Field Office gave a presentation about ponds and pond management. The topic covered site selection, drainage area, site/soil sampling, layout and design, as well as pond sealing techniques.