Texas Wetlands Conservation Plan



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Texas Parks and Wildlife Department


Texas’ wetlands are among its most valuable natural resources. These lands provide many economic and ecological benefits, including flood control, improved water quality, harvestable products, and habitat for our abundant fish, shellfish and wildlife resources. But Texas’ wetlands are disappearing. About half of Texas’ historic wetlands acreage has been converted in response to society’s demand for food, fiber, housing and industrial development. If future generations of Texans are to enjoy the same economic vitality and quality of life as past and present generations, we must implement effective strategies for wetlands conservation. Although wetlands issues are at times controversial, broad support exists among diverse interests on many aspects of wetlands conservation and public responsibility. Ninety-seven percent of Texas’ land is privately owned and managed, and as such, management decisions on these lands are made by private landholders. Economics often dictate what these management strategies will be. Therefore, the Texas Wetlands Conservation Plan follows the philosophy of Aldo Leopold, who states, “When a farmer owns a rarity, he should feel some obligation as its custodian, and a community should feel some obligation to help him carry the economic cost of custodianship” (Leopold, 1947). The Texas Wetlands Conservation Plan, initiated in April, 1994, focuses on nonregulatory, voluntary approaches to conserving Texas’ wetlands. Although development of the Texas Wetlands Conservation Plan (“the Plan”) has been coordinated by Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Plan is intended as a guide for wetlands conservation efforts throughout the state. The Plan focuses on: • Enhancing the landowner’s ability to use existing incentive programs and other land use options through outreach and technical assistance; • Developing and encouraging land management options that provide an economic incentive for conserving existing wetlands or restoring former ones; and, • Coordinating regional wetlands conservation efforts. Due to the extensive size and physiography of Texas, a “regional” approach was used to best characterize the diverse wetlands needs and resources of Texas. Three Regional Advisory Groups – one each in East Texas, the Panhandle and the Gulf Coast – identified sixteen regional or statewide issues associated with conserving Texas wetlands, and developed recommendations and proposals for action to address those issues. The Statewide Coordination Group provided additional support during the Plan’s development. Recommended actions will be implemented in phases by federal, state and local agencies and private groups. Wetland issues addressed in the Plan fall into five general categories: education; economic incentives; statewide and regional conservation; assessment and evaluation; and coordination and funding. Chapters I through IV address the Plan’s goal, its development, wetlands status and trends in Texas, and specific wetland topics. Chapters V through X contain the regional and statewide wetland issues and actions that form the core of the Texas Wetlands Conservation Plan.


66 pages; available for download at the link below.


Texas Wetlands Conservation Plan, wetlands conservation -- Texas, wetlands protection