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Pasture Walk Educates Participants

story by Terri Walker, Soil Conservationist

Neither rain, nor hail, nor even tornadoes could stop the Cross Timbers Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI), a partner with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), from hosting the first Pasture Walk on April 3, 2012 from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway.

As the weather changed from overcast to a very heavy downpour and intermittent rain, reports of 13 tornadoes in four counties were announced earlier in the day, and event plans were scrapped and altered to accommodate various scenarios, but in the end sunshine prevailed when the walk started.

GLCI Grazing Lands Specialist Kevin Derzapf welcomed the participants, stating that the purpose of the Pasture Walk was to get people together to talk about plants, problems, and issues with regard to grazing land and animals. He described the amount of feed an animal unit, such as a 1000-pound cow eats per day, and demonstrated not only the amount of hay, but also how much rangeland it requires.

Additionally, Derzapf illustrated how to clip and weigh grass to determine pounds of production per acre in order to calculate how many animal units can be grazed without damaging nutritious grass production.

Bill Donham, NRCS District Conservationist in Weatherford, added "grazing management is the only means many landowners have for improving their rangeland." According to Catherine Yeargan, a fish and wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the USFWS can also help financially with restoration of rangeland, similar to some NRCS conservation programs.

"The Pasture Walk is a good approach to get out and look at plants, and in an informal fashion, ask questions and learn," said Jon Green, Texas AgriLife Extension Service (TAES) Extension Agent in Parker County.

In addition to Derzapf and Donham, various speakers included David Owens with Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway, along with Myron Merz and Austin Shero with the NRCS in Mineral Wells. They pointed out important plants and explained plant identifying characteristics and values for livestock and wildlife.

GLCI and NRCS would like to thank TAES and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for co-hosting the event despite the weather-related circumstances.

This was the first of a series of Pasture Walks to be held the first Tuesday evening of each month at various locations. The next Pasture Walk will also be held at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway. The following monthly meeting locations will be announced.

For information about upcoming Pasture Walk locations, call the NRCS Field Office in Weatherford at (817) 594-4672 ext. 3, or the NRCS Field Office in Mineral Wells at (940) 325-4828 ext. 3.

Kevin Derzapf, Cross Timbers GLCI Grazing Lands Specialist, speaks to a group of participants during the first Pasture Walk held on April 3rd at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway. The event will be a monthly where participants can learn about plants and issues with regard to grazing lands and animals. With a group of visitors at the Pasture Walk held at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway, David Owens, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, discusses plant identification characteristics and points out important plants to the group.

Kevin Derzapf, Cross Timbers GLCI Grazing Lands Specialist, speaks to a group of participants during the first Pasture Walk held on April 3rd at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway. The event will be a monthly where participants can learn about plants and issues with regard to grazing lands and animals.

With a group of visitors at the Pasture Walk held at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway, David Owens, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, discusses plant identification characteristics and points out important plants to the group.

With Austin Shero (left), NRCS Soil Conservationist in Mineral Wells, Parker County TAES Agent Jon Green (center) talks with a group of attendees at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway during the Pasture Walk co-sponsored by NRCS, GLCI, TAES, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

With Austin Shero (left), NRCS Soil Conservationist in Mineral Wells, Parker County TAES Agent Jon Green (center) talks with a group of attendees at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway during the Pasture Walk co-sponsored by NRCS, GLCI, TAES, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.