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Partnership calls attention to private landowner role in water conservation

AUSTIN, Texas – April 24, 2014 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) joined other groups in applauding private landowners who conserve natural resources on their property for the benefit of all Texans during the Soil & Water Stewardship Week. This year's theme was "Land Stewardship: Providing Water for Texans."

"Texas farmers and ranchers have a long history of voluntarily conserving the natural resources entrusted to them," said Kirby Brown, DU conservation outreach biologist. "Today, they produce more food, fuel and fiber on fewer acres using no more water than was used in the 1950s."

Ducks Unlimited has partnered with the Association of Texas Soil & Water Conservation Districts (ATSWCD), Texas Wildlife Association and Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board to highlight the important connection between voluntary land stewardship and sustaining water availability. Effective land stewardship increases the ability of open land to absorb rainfall, replenish aquifers and ensure that water drains slowly and steadily into streams, rivers and lakes. 

"This campaign aims to bring more awareness and support to voluntary land stewardship, because the way resources are managed on private lands directly impacts the water resources available for public consumption," Brown said. "Land stewardship on millions of privately owned acres – combined with community conservation efforts – translates into what may be the most significant contribution to water conservation today."

Due to the prolonged drought in Texas, many of the state's farmers and ranchers have sought to aggressively adopt innovative technologies and on-farm conservation practices to combat the impacts of drought and improve profitability. Some of these conservation practices, like those put into place through the Texas Prairie Wetlands Project, provide a great benefit to Texas' water resources, but can be very costly to landowners. DU, along with its partners, assists landowners with conservation improvements to provide wetland habitat and improve water management across the Texas Chenier Plain. 

Voluntary land stewardship allows Texans to consider water at its origins, not just at its destination. Practices include things such as prescribed grazing management by ranchers, the use of cover crops by farmers, wildlife habitat enhancement and the targeted removal of invasive brush species. 

"Voluntary land stewardship is an efficient, cost-effective and sustainable way to 'create' more water for homes, businesses, recreation, agriculture, and wildlife," said Johnny Ussery, chair of the stewardship committee for the ATSWCD.

Soil and water conservation performed in urban areas can also help supplement land stewardship efforts in rural ones.

"Urban Texans can become involved by practicing effective land stewardship at home and in their neighborhoods, schools and businesses," Ussery said. "Small efforts, such as using plants in our home landscaping that require little water, can add up to major water conservation when practiced by millions of people across the state."

For more information, and to view a complete list of project partners, visit www.tsswcb.texas.gov

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.

Media Contact:
Andi Cooper

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