By Ben Jones, Executive Director
Summer swept in with a bang, but the resilience of wildlife never ceases to amaze. Don't you wonder, "how do they survive out there?" Saw a big flock of northbound wood storks soaring over I-45. They wander from the coast this time of year knowing the ponds are shallow and the fishing is easy pickins. I'm hearing purple martins warbling in the air; they could be on their third brood by now. Green treefrogs chirp and coyotes chorus-yip at night, big cicada-killer wasps buzz around looking for a cicada or tarantula to paralyze for food. Beautiful cottonwood borer beetles putter around the base of my cottonwood tree. Bagworm larva have taken over the arbor vita in my front yard, they should pupate soon with little white moths emerging from their cocoons. Cicadas have been busy humming, but I haven't heard the loud evening buzzing yet...should be any day now.
TCA's summer has been busy, too. Janice Bezanson and I pulled a few quick updates together here. Enjoy the news this weekend under AC or a shade tree with a big glass of iced tea and be proud of all you make possible. Thank you!
TCA Protecting National Forest Biodiversity
TCA’s National Forest Policy Coordinator, Larry Shelton, has had considerable success in negotiating formal objection to many aspects of a huge timber sale in the Angelina National Forest, with the US Forest Service agreeing to the majority of his suggestions. A few points of contention remain, which will likely be elevated to the regional office. We’re very fortunate to have someone with such a depth of knowledge as Larry has – and with the diplomacy to get collaborative resolutions to most of our concerns.
Protecting Native Prairies
The organizational meeting for the Lake Ringgold contested case hearing was July 19. Happily, a landowner and another organization have each engaged legal counsel, so TCA can focus its resources on expert witnesses. At the same time, opponents of the reservoir have contacted the Texas Sunset Commission and key state legislators who are showing interest in requiring a local referendum before the project could be approved. Stopping this reservoir will protect thousands of acres of native prairie, our most endangered Texas ecosystem.
Restoring Prairie Habitat for Wildlife & Engaging New Communities in Conservation
Since January, TCA has planted 5304 native prairie plants for Monarch butterflies and other imperiled pollinators across Texas. We have welcomed 635 Texans into wildlife conservation through this work. Thanks to Mei Ling's leadership, support from community volunteers, and youth conservation corps like Greenspace Dallas featured here, TCA's prairie propagation program already has another 5000 plants in the greenhouse and ready to go for fall. We've brought in some revenue for this initiative through plant sales, but we're still working toward a self-sustaining operation. It's been a business and conservation experiment since January, and we're excited by the progress. 10,000 prairie plants planted in 2022 or bust!
Protecting Rivers, Prairies, and Bottomland Forests
TCA has expanded its social media information campaign on Marvin Nichols Reservoir to include cities in the DFW area served by Tarrant Regional Water District and North Texas Municipal Water District, the primary promoters of the reservoir. We also continue to communicate with residents of northeast Texas to engage their opposition.
Restoring the Night sky from Light Pollution for Hundreds of Millions of Migrating Birds
It was another productive spring on the Lights Out front. Texas Parks & Wildlife TV filmed a segment on TCA's work which will air on PBS stations statewide this October and will replay in April 2023. TCA's Lights Out Coordinator, Tim Brys was thrilled by the community response - some 64 unduplicated volunteers joined the early morning surveys, doubling participation from any previous season. Lights Out momentum is building fast. David Todd sent this article from The Atlantic (it's on newsstands now). It's a fascinating read on animal perceptions, particularly within the context of light and sound pollution.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act passed the US House of Representatives last week!
This is a HUGE step forward, but there is still much to be done to get it through the US Senate. We have an amazing team funded by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, who has stepped up with extra funding for the “big push”. If passed, it would deliver some $50 million/year to Texas to recover species of greatest conservation need (1292 state species identified so far). The Recovering America's Wildlife Act has been described as the most significant wildlife legislation since the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Let's get this one across the finish line! Here's the NPR story.
Thank you for being conservation champions and for making everything possible!