Excessive indicator bacteria (E. coli or Enterococcus) remains the most frequent impairment issue for Texas water bodies. In rural and agriculturally-dominated watersheds, watershed protection plans frequently identify the improvement of grazing practices through implementation of NRCS Conservation Plans or TSSWCB certified WQMPs as a management measure to reduce bacteria loads. Landowners typically work with local SWCDs and NRCS to develop and implement these operation-specific plans that protect and improve water quality; however, making landowners aware of the programs available to them is a challenge. A traditional educational approach is for watershed managers to deliver in-person education programs, but these programs only reach 15 – 75 landowners and each program can be relatively expensive. Additionally, a major limitation of in-person education programs is that program attendees are only those who have time to attend, so the reach of the education programs is often limited.
Resources to implement watershed protection plans are becoming increasingly limited and competitive, so watershed managers must be innovative in their approaches to educating and encouraging landowners to adopt best management practices. Also, many landowners do not live in the same county as the property they own and lease it to someone else; however, it is often still the responsibility of the landowner to make decisions about certain practices and work with the local producer to ensure practices are implemented. To have a broader reach of both resident and absentee landowners in a cost-effective manner, new educational campaigns should be attempted.
The primary goal of the proposed project is to increase landowner adoption of best management practices through a more cost-effective approach than traditional education programs. To achieve this goal, TWRI will develop and deliver educational materials directly to landowners through mail. The targeted educational material will include concise and relevant information for landowners explaining why program participation is important and how to participate. We estimate that this project will repeatedly put best practice information directly in the hands of high priority landowners that may otherwise not attend existing workshops, meetings or information sessions.
Project Costs: $71,904
Final Report: (Under Construction)