NRCS Partners with the TPWD to Complete the McMullen County Soil Survey
Story by Joseph Neal, James Akin and Clark Harshbarger
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Survey Team, Jim Akins, Gary Harris, Clark Harshbarger, Cody Langston, and Joe Neal, partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) employees, John Huff and Chris Mostyn, in the completion of the initial soil survey for McMullen County.
The TPWD assisted the survey team with introductions to many landowners in the area, which allowed the survey to be completed in a timely manner.
Huff and Mostyn, managers of the The James E. Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area (WMA), supervise the 4,400 acre low-fenced multiple-use recreational area surrounding Choke Canyon Reservoir, located in Live Oak and McMullen counties. The WMA handles wildlife and wildlife habitat and serves as the premier demonstration area to ranchers, land managers, biologists, universities, and outdoor enthusiasts, teaching modern, proven, and practical habitat management practices and techniques.
"Understanding the type, constituents, and characteristics of soil is the foundation for making sound range and wildlife habitat management decisions," Mostyn said.
Clark Harshbarger, NRCS project leader of the Soil Survey Team in Robstown said, "Mostyn and Huff have worked hard at developing an excellent reputation by establishing sound conservation and wildlife management practices with many of the McMullen County landowners."
NRCS began work on the soil survey in McMullen County in 2008. The soil survey emphasized rangeland, which makes up almost 90 percent of the land use, according to the USDA Census of Agriculture report of 2007. The land is remote and sparsely populated, and in some cases difficult to gain access.
The partnership was formed when NRCS soil scientists saw a need to acquire access to private lands and the TPWD division sought out the opportunity to gain valuable science-based information to assist them in their wildlife management efforts. The collaboration seemed to be a natural fit.
"Neal was instrumental in developing the partnership with TPWD and worked along with other team members to continue building and fostering good relationships with the producers, land managers, and other private land owners in the project area," said Harshbarger. "NRCS District Conservationist Robert Gibbens also provided assistance to the survey team and worked week in and week out until the project was completed."
As a result, McMullen County soil survey will be used in conservation planning by the NRCS to assist in brush management practices and wildlife habitat management. The soil survey provides landowners information on ecological site data, which can assist land managers with decisions on areas for wildlife habitat and stocking rates for livestock. As a large producer of fossil fuels, the county will be able to use the data to find potential gravel and road base materials as well as potential borrow sites used to reclaim land. Additionally, the soil survey includes information on soils with flooding potential.
The soil survey is now complete and free access to the information is online at http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app and at http://soildatamart.nrcs.usda.gov. These sites will provide the general soils map, detailed soils maps, description of the soils, ecological site descriptions, use and management of the soils, formation and classification of the soils, and additional facts about the county. The soil survey information and how to use it will be presented at the McMullen County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) annual banquet to be held on June 7, in Tilden.
For more information regarding the soil survey in McMullen County, contact the NRCS Office in Tilden 204 Elm St., in the old Jailhouse, Courthouse Square, (361) 274-3221 or the MLRA Soil Survey Office in Robstown, 548 South Highway 77 Suite B, Robstown, (361) 387-2533 x 4. This information is provided free of charge.
(Left to Right) Gary Harris, Jim Akin, Chris Mostyn, John Huff, Joe Neal.
Photo was taken by Clark Harshbarger.
NRCS soil scientists recently sampled two representative sites on The James E. Daughtrey WMA. The sites were sampled to characterize the Czar/Clareville series complex map unit, which is found mainly in low water receiving drainageways. The samples will be sent to National Soil Survey Laboratory in Lincoln, Nebraska for full soil characterization analysis.