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TCA's Spring 2024 Newsletter

Updated: Mar 14

Remembering Richard Donovan

By: Justin Lannen, Chairman of the Board

Richard Donovan canoeing the Neches River, taken by Robert Sloan.

Pictured Left and Below: Richard Donovan canoeing the Neches River, taken by Robert Sloan

On February 19, the Texas conservation community lost one of its greatest advocates. Richard Donovan’s contributions to TCA and to environmental conservation were deep and lasting.

I first met Richard not long after I was hired as TCA’s office manager in 1999, which was not long before Richard launched the first of two epic paddling trips down the Neches River. Through these canoeing expeditions, Richard successfully brought attention to the important benefits the river provides to wildlife and humans. Richard, along with his wife Bonnie and daughter Gina, helped lead the fights against the construction of unnecessary reservoirs that would have flooded thousands of acres of prime wildlife habitat and taken away property owned by families for generations.

Richard published the book Paddling the Wild Neches, based on his diary chronicling his river adventures. The book provides an insightful snapshot into the beauty and biodiversity of one the last wild rivers of its kind in the U.S. South.

Richard Donovan canoeing the Neches River, taken by Robert Sloan

His efforts in promoting the river and its bottomland hardwood forests ultimately helped lead to the creation of the amazing Neches River National Wildlife Refuge, which opened to the public in 2018 and now encompasses 10,000 acres.

Richard was one of conservation’s most passionate supporters and a warm and caring friend. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from, and work alongside, Richard at Texas Conservation Alliance. He will be greatly missed.

If you would like to get a copy of Paddling the Wild Neches, please click here to visit TCA's gift shop.

Read more about the life of Richard Donovan in the Lufkin Daily Herald.


Reflections from John

By: John DeFillipo, Executive Director

Pictured Right: John DeFillipo and Jim Shouse

We are poised for impact as we learn, share, and advocate alongside community members, landowners and conservationists and further expand our sphere of influence to protect wildlife in Texas. This year we champion recommendations to deny the permit for Lake Ringgold reservoir to protect tall grass prairie and private property rights along the Little Wichita River. The narrative is finally changing to consider investments in new water resources and replace plans that rely on reservoirs vulnerable to climate change. In early January, we stood alongside a new coalition of conservationists to champion wildlife corridors and wildlife protection plans for new developments in Galveston, Texas. Our focus is to protect habitat and the free movement of Ghost Wolves, genetically significant coyotes that carry red wolf DNA and can only be found along the islands and shores of Louisiana and Texas.

Our TXCAT (Texas Conservation Action Team) program continues to expand with our on-the-ground community efforts. Thanks to our steadfast donors and supporters we have increased our conservation team, interns, and impact throughout Texas. In conjunction with multiple partners, we recently planted thousands of Piney Woods Blue Stem at the Big Thicket National Preserve and are expanding the efforts of our Native Plant Propagation Program in partnership with the Dallas Zoo.

Check out all the articles in our Spring newsletter, join a conservation event, and make sure to save the dates of September 27th and 28th for our TCA Annual Meeting at Armand Bayou Nature Center in Houston. Thank you for being part of our conservation voice!

Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) wants input from the public on the new Texas Water Fund - keep scrolling for more info!


Administrative Judge Recommends Denial of Lake Ringgold Permit

Exciting news! The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) conducting the contested case hearing on the proposed Lake Ringgold has recommended that the permit for the reservoir be denied

The property owners in the Lake Ringgold footprint, TCA, and other protestants presented strong evidence of ways the applicant for the permit, the City of Wichita Falls, had not adequately met its burden of proof to appropriate water under state law. 

The ALJ found that Wichita Falls

  • failed to establish a need for the requested amount of water;

  • failed to show how the water would be distributed among various potential users;

  • had not adequately assessed wildlife habitats;

  • failed to establish that there is suitable habitat available to mitigate for lost habitat;

  • and that Lake Ringgold is oversized to meet any future need that Wichita Falls might have.

The next step, expected in a few months, is for the Commissioners of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to review the ALJ’s recommendation and make a decision concerning the permit.


Invest in our water future.

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) invites you to a meeting to discuss implementation of the Texas Water Fund, including requests for feedback on future water uses. Provide public comments here or attend the meeting.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 1:30-3:30 pm.


TCA Welcomes Two New Employees

Anne Beckmann, TCA’s Community Conservation and Communications Coordinator in North Texas. A native Texan, her love for nature began as a kid exploring Denton’s Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, fishing and kayaking down the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. She studied Wildlife Biology and worked in Aquatic Science in college where she spent many days and nights along rivers throughout Texas. Following college, Anne explored other landscapes and cultures in Latin American countries, eventually ending up in Mexico where she educated children in arts and on the environment.

Upon returning to North Texas, she joined the grassroots organization, Friends of Northeast Denton, and has been dedicated to advocating for wildlife and natural habitats through organizing community events and encouraging city and state leaders to prioritize and protect natural environments in Northeast Denton.

Anne is devoted to expanding her knowledge on nature and complex societal issues in order to engage communities in conservation efforts, encourage responsible use of natural resources, and advocate for human and environmental rights. She believes that education is key and is elated for the opportunity to work with TCA and local communities in protecting and nurturing natural environments in Texas.

John Morrow, TCA's Lights Out Fort Worth Assistant Coordinator is a senior at the University of North Texas (UNT). He is graduating in May pursuing a B.S. in Ecology for Environmental Science with a Minor in Chemistry.

John has been working with birds and avian biology since Fall 2022. Some of his work has included bird banding at the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, working on UNT's American Kestrel Project, working a summer field position at UNT partnered with Audubon's Conservation Ranching Project, and serving as the chair for UNT's Bird Campus Committee, a committee focused on bird health on campus. John says he is excited to be working with TCA and the Lights Out for Wildlife project in Fort Worth Texas!


Find your next outdoor adventure with the help of

TCA's East Texas Outdoors website. provides information on over 70 hiking, biking, and paddling trails, to help you explore the wild and scenic outdoors of East Texas!


Fostering Climate Resilience

Embracing Native Plants for Resilient Communities

Often emphasized for their benefits to pollinators, native plants extend their functions beyond providing food and shelter for wildlife and also providing invaluable ecological services to humans. With extreme weather becoming more common, join us to build resilience in your community this spring by incorporating native plants into your yard.

Local plant sales are the best way to discover the uncommon natives.

DFW area

Occupied with thousands of native plant seedlings, TCA staff and volunteers have diligently processed and sown locally harvested seeds at the Native Plant Propagation Center inside the Dallas Zoo. This unique partnership fulfills its mission by making native plants accessible to the local community and partners striving to restoring degraded prairies in North Texas.

Beyond pop-up plant sales, TCA is initiating a new partnership with Redenta's garden shop (in Dallas), providing locals access to native plants grown in the area. Passionate about native plants? Come meet the team at the Plant Sales to share your dedication for native plants with us!

  • April 5-6: TCA’s Native Plant Sale at Wild Birds Unlimited in Dallas

  • May 4: Joined by other vendors, TCA will participate in the “Native Plants and Prairies Day” hosted by various organizations

Outside of DFW area: Several ways to find high quality native plants in your region.

Garden for Wildlife (GFW) by National Wildlife Federation: Through a newly developed program, it is now easier than ever to find native plants. Purchase online here and the plants will be delivered right to your front door.

Plant Sales hosted by local groups: Local chapters of Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) usually hosts local plant sales. Additionally, refer to NPSOT’s NICE! Native Plant Partners program, featuring local nurseries around the state offering native plants.

 Ensuring Safe Skies: Lights Out Texas for Migratory Birds

Spring Migration March 1 – June 15, 2024

As plants awaken from dormancy, migratory birds embark on their journey back to their summer breeding grounds. Join us in taking action to provide a safer passage for these birds during spring migration. Every individual can play a crucial role in making a difference.

Take Action:

  1. Dim the night sky: Artificial lights not only impact wildlife but also affect human health by disrupting circadian rhythms, affecting sleep patterns and leading health problems. Learn more at DarkSky International (

  2. Participate in citizen science: Join the Lights Out Texas team to document window collisions and recover injured birds. This community science effort takes place in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and College Station

  3. Advocate for the birds: Contact your city representatives to encourage the city’s participation in the Lights Out campaign. Find more details at

Lights Out Dallas - Spring 2024 Announcement

Lights Out Forth Worth - Spring 2024 Announcement


Spring 2024 Careers in Conservation Internship

Six young professionals engage in hands-on conservation

The internship program, designed to cultivate future conservation leaders, involves hands-on learning about habitat protection and the Lights Out Texas initiatives. The spring interns commence on February 26 and conclude on May 4. During this period, they will take charge of organizing events in North Texas and College Station and conduct bird window collision surveys for Lights Out DFW and College Station. Join us at one of the events to meet the interns.

Upcoming Events

Take Action. Protect Wildlife and Habitats

Register online at


  • 3/9 Restoring Trinity River Audubon Center (Dallas)

  • 3/23 Cowtown Great American Cleanup (Fort Worth)


  • 4/5-4/6 Spring Plant Sale at Wild Birds Unlimited (Dallas)

  • 4/13 Cedar Hill Planting native plants event (Cedar Hill)

  • 4/13 Removing invading species at Ray Roberts Lake State Park (Pilot Point)

  • 4/20 Planting native plants at Neches River National Wildlife Refuge Field Day (Jacksonville)


  • 5/4 Spring Plant Sale at Native Plants and Prairies Day (Dallas)

  • 5/11 Remove Invasives at Lakewood Trails (Dallas)

  • 5/17-5/19 Brazos River Clean-up (Glen Rose)

  • 5/17 Kayaking Clean-up at Ray Roberts Lake State Park (Pilot Point)


Become a supporting member of Texas Conservation Alliance!

Your gift makes a difference for wildlife and wildlife habitat in Texas. Every contribution counts! Donations stay in Texas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.


Plan now to attend TCA's Annual Meeting, September 27th and 28th at Armand Bayou Nature Center in Houston.


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