Exploring Conservation Triumphs: Highlights from the South Central Region Meeting

By Wesley Gibson, NACD South Central Region Representative

In the heart of the South Central Region, soil and water conservation district officials gathered for a highly anticipated annual event that epitomizes the spirit of collaboration and sustainable land management. On August 13-15, 2023, the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts (ATSWCD) hosted the NACD South Central Region Meeting, an insightful and inspiring event that showcased the ongoing projects, achievements, and partnerships that are driving positive change in conservation.

This year’s meeting, which brought together district officials from various soil and water conservation districts across the region, was characterized by a palpable sense of shared purpose and enthusiasm. The meeting provided a platform for participants to delve into the latest advancements in conservation practices, share success stories, and gain valuable insights into tackling the challenges that arise in this critical field.

One of the most captivating aspects of the event was the tour (pictured) of the renowned 77 Ranch, a shining example of sustainable land management and conservation efforts. Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Navarro County, the 77 Ranch has become a beacon of hope for those striving to balance agricultural productivity with environmental stewardship.

During the tour, guided by the 77 Ranch owners and operators Gary and Sue Price, attendees witnessed firsthand the transformative effects of native range restoration, innovative soil health management strategies, and water quality enhancements. The success of these initiatives was made possible through the efforts and effective collaborations between local conservation districts, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Miller-Coors, Ducks Unlimited, McDonald’s, Tarrant Regional Water District, and the Navarro County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The partnership-driven approach showcased by this meeting serves as a testament to the power of collective action in driving meaningful change. Collaboration between public and private stakeholders has proved to be a formidable force in creating a sustainable future, where the needs of the environment, agriculture, and community intersect harmoniously.

The involvement of various organizations, each with their unique expertise and resources, underscores the multi-faceted nature of conservation efforts. The NRCS, with its technical know-how, plays a pivotal role in guiding conservation practices that maximize efficiency while minimizing environmental impact. Miller-Coors and McDonald’s demonstrate how corporate entities can align their business goals with sustainability, contributing to conservation projects that benefit both nature and their bottom line.

Ducks Unlimited, a champion of wetland conservation, contributes to the preservation of critical habitats, safeguarding not only diverse ecosystems but also the countless species that depend on them. The Tarrant Regional Water District’s participation highlights the essential role of water resource management in sustainable land practices, ensuring that this precious resource is utilized judiciously for generations to come.

The NACD South Central Region Meeting, masterfully orchestrated by ATSWCD, encapsulated the essence of collaborative conservation efforts through the lens of the 77 Ranch tour and an uplifting presentation on communicating between generations by Aaron Alejandro, Executive Director of the Texas FFA Foundation, and Karen Brazzeal, Marketing Director for Sebastian County Conservation District in Arkansas.

Attendees were privileged to witness a harmonious blend of native range preservation, urban agriculture, valuable insights on communication and motivation differences between generations, innovative soil health management, and water quality protection strategies. This annual meeting not only serves as a beacon of inspiration for soil and water conservation district officials but also reinforces the significance of partnerships among local and national entities in achieving sustainable environmental outcomes. As the South Central Region continues to flourish through such collective endeavors, the legacy of stewardship and preservation remains an enduring testament to the power of collaboration.

A special thanks goes out to Gary and Sue Price of the 77 Ranch, ATSWCD, Tarrant County Regional Water District, Tarrant Regional Water District, NRCS, Navarro County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.

Photos by Elizabeth Daniel

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