Riparian, stream ecosystem workshop set for March 18 in Wharton

A Riparian workshop will be held n Wharton on March 18 (Texas Water Resources Institute photo)

A free Texas Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education Program will be held March 18 in Wharton. (Texas Water Resources Institute photo)

WHARTON–The Texas Water Resources Institute’s Texas Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education Program will host a workshop from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 18 in Wharton for area residents interested in land and water stewardship in the San Bernard River watershed.

The free workshop is co-hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in Wharton County and the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

Nikki Dictson, Texas Water Resources Institute AgriLife Extension program specialist and coordinator of the program, said the workshop will concentrate on the nature and function of stream and riparian zones, as well as the direct economic impact and benefit of having healthy zones.

A riparian zone is the land area adjacent to the bank of a stream, creek or river, Dictson explained.

“Proper management, protection and restoration of these vital areas directly influence water quality and quantity, stabilize stream banks and improve fish and aquatic habitats, communities and more,” she said.

The morning session will be at the Wharton Civic Center, 1924 N. Fulton. The afternoon session will include a tour of a field site along the river.

Dictson said workshop topics will include riparian and watershed management principles, water quality, riparian vegetation, hindrances to healthy riparian areas, stream processes, management practices and local resources.

Workshop presentations will be given by representatives of the Texas Water Resources Institute, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas A&M Forest Service and AgriLife Extension.

“Riparian education programs like this workshop lead to informed landowners and the public who are more inclined to use practices that improve the management of riparian and stream ecosystems,” Dictson said. “We hope that landowners and managers will incorporate riparian area management into their land stewardship activities and goals.”

“Along with stakeholders better understanding riparian and watershed processes and the benefits of healthy riparian areas, this workshop will give them tools that they can use to resolve degradation and improve water quality,” said Aubin Philips of the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

Philips said the council has worked with stakeholders to develop a draft watershed protection plan for the San Bernard River, which has high levels of bacteria and nutrients and low dissolved oxygen levels.

A catered lunch will be provided by Hinzes Catering for $10 cash at the door. RSVP is required or attendees may bring their own lunch. The program includes a lunchtime presentation.

Attendees must RSVP by March 13 to Dictson at 979-458-5915 or n-dictson@tamu.edu, or online at http://texasriparian.org/trainings/..

Corrie Bowen, AgriLife Extension agent for Wharton County, said participants will receive a certificate of completion and appropriate continuing education unit certificates at the conclusion of the training.

The workshop offers over seven types of continuing education units including three units— two general and one integrated pest management — for Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide license holders. It offers one unit from the Texas Water Resources Institute, six hours from the Texas Forestry Association, and 5.5 hours from the Society of American Foresters and six hours for Texas Nutrient Management Planning specialists. The program is acceptable for health, safety and welfare credit from the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners and may also be used for continuing education units for professional engineers.

The riparian education program is managed by the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research,  AgriLife Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University. It is funded through a Clean Water Act grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information, contact Dictson or visit texasriparian.org.

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