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NRCS part of Successful Farm and Ranch Forum in Fredericksburg, TX

NRCS part of Successful Farm and Ranch Forum in Fredericksburg, TX

By Jaime Tankersley

The Fredericksburg Inn and Suites was home to the 7th Texas Wildlife Association Farm and Ranch Forum on Feb. 26-27, 2010. More than 135 participants took part in the two-day workshop and had the opportunity to learn from agency officials and organization representatives. The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was one of several groups present that discussed topics pertaining to this year�s theme �Sustaining the Hill Country: Now and for Future Generations�.

Also on the agenda were speakers from the Dixon Water Foundation, San Antonio Parks and Recreation Nature Areas, Texas Water Development Board, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program, X Bar Ranch, Green Spaces Alliance, Plateau Management and Braun & Associates.

The event began Friday with a tour of Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas, and a reception followed in order to honor David K. Langford. In recognition of his lifetime of service protecting our agricultural heritage and conserving native wildlife, wildlife habitat, and natural lands in Texas, Langford received the inaugural Keystone Award.
Steve Nelle, NRCS wildlife biologist, was part of the �State of the Hill Country Today� panel that consisted of four individuals. He discussed the riparian systems in and around the Hill Country.

�We (NRCS) represent from where the first raindrop falls to the Gulf of Mexico,� Nelle opened.

�Producing riparian value goes back to the basics,� Nelle said. �Rejuvenation with vegetation is the first step, but all steps are part of the healing process. If you give them the opportunity, these areas will heal themselves.�

Part of the next panel of speakers included Phillip Wright, NRCS range management specialist. Wright explained the benefits available to landowners and lessees with the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill). Conservation Technical Assistance, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the overall goal of the NRCS were covered during Wright�s presentation.

The weekend wrapped up with two panels of speakers which covered the topics �It�s Your Home, Stewardship for Living� and �Broadening Options and Securing Goals.� Mark Moseley, NRCS rangeland management specialist, was part of this group and discussed brush management practices and benefits.

Event sponsors included the NRCS, Bexar Audubon Society, Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, Hill Country Alliance, TWA, Natural Awakenings, Edwards Aquifer Authority, Edwards Region Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Lower Colorado River Authority, Becker Vineyards and the Texas Wildlife Association Foundation.

The Farm and Ranch Forum has been held in San Antonio, Guadalupe and Kimble counties.

Steve Nelle, NRCS wildlife biologist, discussed the benefits of a healthy riparian area during the 7th Texas Wildlife Association Farm and Ranch Forum.

Phillip Wright, NRCS range management specialist, was on hand at the Texas Wildlife Association Farm and Ranch Forum to discuss the 2008 Farm Bill.