Texas is losing its open lands faster than any other state in the nation. At the same time, our water resources are dwindling due to drought and unsustainable consumption by a growing population. How can the Texas Land Conservancy make a difference?
One of the most successful methods for conserving water is by protecting land within watersheds from fragmentation and development. In 2011, we began a conservation planning initiative to help us protect water by strategically protecting critical landscapes. With the help of respected scientists in the conservation field, we have created the “Land for Water” Initiative, a framework focused on the protection of six key watersheds: Llano, Pedernales, Medina, Lower Brazos, Lower Trinity, and Neches.
What do these watersheds have in common? These watersheds are under high threat* of fragmentation, but also have optimal opportunities** for significant conservation impact (Step 1 below). We analyzed a number of factors in order to hone in on these watersheds. Strategically protecting land in these areas will make a significant impact on the future landscape of Texas.
Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), TLC analyzed conservation variables like water resources, soil types, scenic viewsheds, plant communities and many others. Using a layering analysis (step 2, below left), we identified our conservation priority areas. This process identified areas where we can make the most siginficant conservation impact. The red and orange hot spots, as seen in step 3, (below), will be the jumping off points for TLC’s future efforts. Each watershed has a map like this one.
We will host educational workshops and outreach events in the highest priority areas starting in 2012. We’ve committed to conserving, through partnerships with private landowners, the highest priority 1% of these critical watersheds: 270,000 acres. That’s 270,000 ways to stop the loss of critical land and water.