Riparian and stream ecosystem workshop set for March 12 in Hamilton

HAMILTON–The Texas Water Resources Institute’s Texas Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education Program will host a workshop from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. March 12 in Hamilton for area residents interested in land and water stewardship in the Leon River watershed.

The free workshop will be co-hosted by the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.

A healthy riparian buffer zone on Buck Creek near U.S. Highway 83 works to protect water quality during runoff events. (Texas AgriLife Research photo)

The Texas Riparian and Stream Ecosystems Program will offer a free workshop on March 12 in Hamilton. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo)

The morning session will be at the First United Methodist Church, 215 W. Main St., and the afternoon session will include an outdoor walk along the river, plus presentations.

Mike Marshall, the Leon River watershed coordinator, said the entire Leon River below Lake Proctor was listed in 1998 as “impaired” on the Texas Clean Water Act list for having bacteria concentrations above the state’s water quality standards. He said water quality testing showed  sections of the river contained high enough levels of bacteria to make it unsuitable for contact recreation activities.

Marshall said the mission of the plan is to restore and maintain water quality of the Leon River to the maximum extent possible to meet water quality standards. The Leon River watershed encompasses approximately 2,600 square miles in Hamilton, Coryell, Comanche, Erath and Mills counties

A study by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality indicated bacteria loading needs to be reduced by 21 percent to meet current recreation and water quality standards.

“In 2006, local stakeholders expressed an interest in developing management strategies to reduce these bacteria loads by developing a watershed protection plan,” Marshall said.

“The vision of the coordinated effort for the Leon River Watershed Protection Plan is to have local stakeholders developing and implementing management strategies to reduce bacteria in the watershed resulting in an ecologically sound Leon River,” he said.

Nikki Dictson, Texas Water Resources Institute Extension program specialist and coordinator of the program, College Station, said trainings will focus on the nature and function of stream and riparian zones, plus the benefits and economic impacts from proper functioning riparian systems. A riparian zone is the land area adjacent to the bank of a stream, creek, bayou or 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, U.S.Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas A&M Forest Service, AgriLife Extension Service and the Leon River Watershed Protection Plan Program.

“The goal is for participants to better understand riparian and watershed processes, see the benefits of healthy riparian areas and know what resources are available to prevent degradation while improving water quality,” Dictson said.

A catered lunch will be provided for $10, and the program will include a lunchtime presentation. Attendees may bring their own lunch if they prefer. Attendees must RSVP by March 9 to Dictson at 979-458-5915 or n-dictson@tamu.edu, or online at http://texasriparian.org/trainings/.

The workshop offers over five types of continuing education units including one unit from the Texas Water Resources Institute, four and a half hours for Society of American Foresters, six hours for the Texas Forestry Association and six hours for Texas Nutrient Management Planning specialists. The program may also be used for continuing education units for professional engineers and the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners.

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 on the workshop, contact Dictson or visit texasriparian.org https://www.facebook.com/TexasRiparianAssociation. For more information on the Leon River Watershed Protection Plan Program, visit: http://leonriver.tamu.edu/.

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