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The Impact of Implementing a Conservation Plan

TEMPLE - Natural resources are typically organized into two categories: renewable and non-renewable. While most resources have a clear placement in either category, land is a bit ambiguous. Land is not capable of naturally reoccurring. Land is finite, what currently exists is all that will be. However, with proper management and wise stewardship, our precious land is able to regenerate and renew. 

Why is it important to safeguard the land and its vast array of soil? The nutrients that nourish our bodies, the clothes on our backs, the foundation of our homes, and the air that we breathe are all tied to the wellness of our soil. Aside from providing the basic necessities we need to survive, land plays a vital economic role in Texas. According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the food and fiber sector contributes over $180 billion annually to the Texas economy. Texas leads the nation in cattle, cotton, hay, sheep, goats, and mohair production- all of which rely on healthy land and soil for success.  

Texas also leads the nation in land area devoted to privately owned working lands. Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute states that private farms, ranches, and forests account for 142 million acres, which is nearly 85% of Texas’ total acreage. This means that private landowners hold a tremendous responsibility in managing the land wisely and ensuring the availability of its resources for generations to come. 

How can a landowner fulfill the task of properly caring for the land? By instilling a sound conservation plan. A Landowner interested in developing a conservation plan would start by contacting their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). The SWCD will send a trained conservation technician out to assess the property with the landowner. The technician will discuss ways the landowner can increase productivity through soil conservation practices in addition to looking at ways to reduce the impact their operation may have on natural resource quality and quantity.

During the assessment, a comprehensive inventory of the soils, water, plants, and animals found on the property will be taken. The technician will then develop a written conservation plan and present the document for the landowner’s review. The plan will typically include an aerial map of the property, with a delineation of field boundaries, a soils map, and a schedule indicating when, where, and how to apply and maintain various conservation practices.

Once the landowner is in agreement with the plan, the landowner and the SWCD will formalize an official agreement. With a conservation plan in place, the landowner may then begin implementing the plan, and in some instances, may be eligible for various state or federal financial assistance programs.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” Our soil is the cornerstone of our health and longevity, and it must be treated as so. By practicing effective conservation techniques, we are ensuring that all Texans' present and future needs can be met in a manner that promotes a clean, healthy environment and strong economic growth.      

"Protecting and Enhancing Natural Resources since 1939."

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