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News Release
Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov Local Interview Contact: Jesús Franco, (956) 571-5359, jesus.franco@tpwd.texas.gov

Oct. 17, 2005

Workshop Offers Tips for Valley Landowners

MCALLEN, Texas — A workshop to be held Nov. 5 will educate Rio Grande Valley landowners about available land management tools. The workshop is part of a statewide series designed to address the growing problem of Texas rural land being fragmented into smaller tracts, often involving urban-based owners who are interested in wildlife conservation but lack experience in wildlife or land management.

For more than a century, rural Texas land has been owned mainly by farm and ranch families who lived on it. In recent decades, the countryside has been fragmented into smaller tracts owned increasingly by urban, absentee owners looking for a weekend retreat or retirement home. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report showing that Texas led the nation in the loss of undeveloped land from 1992-97.

Land fragmentation is one of the main threats to wildlife in Texas. It crowds wildlife into smaller spaces, blocks travel corridors and disrupts access to feeding areas.

The McAllen workshop will discuss the tools, people and funding programs available to help landowners achieve individual goals when managing property for wildlife. Local wildlife professionals will give presentations regarding habitat management techniques, funding sources, species management, wildlife tax valuation, etc. throughout the workshop. Farmers and ranchers will also share their experience regarding what works.

"The importance of working toward habitat restoration is crucial in the most biodiverse area in the U.S. where 97 percent of the native habitat has been lost to urban development, agriculture, etc," said Jesús Franco, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department urban wildlife biologist and the workshop's organizer. "Local farmers will talk about their conservation partnership with a national nonprofit organization; a local landscaper will talk about techniques and strategies to provide for wildlife; and a local land trust will explain how conservation easements can protect land in ways that benefit landowners and wildlife."

TPWD, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, and the Rio Grande Valley chapter Texas Master Naturalists are sponsoring the event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5 at McAllen Chamber of Commerce, 1200 Ash Avenue in McAllen.

The cost for the workshop is $25 per person or $40 per couple, which covers lunch, refreshments and materials. Registration is required by Nov. 2 to ensure that organizers have sufficient workshop materials for attendees. For more information and reservations, go to http://www.rgvctmn.org or contact Franco at (956) 571-5359 or jesus.franco@tpwd.texas.gov.

KL 2005-10-17


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