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One week ago Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, in Austwell, TX, on Friday, December 16, 2011 used prescribed burns on this portion of the refuge. Typical of a coastal prairie shoreline, natural occurrences of fire are part of a healthy ecosystem. Phragmites reed grass and other plant roots stabilize the ground and were unharmed by the fire. Healthy growth is already seen from the charred grass and ashes on the ground. A refuge road also serves as an effective firebreak.

State Conservationist Salvador Salinas commented on the USDA-NRCS Gulf of Mexico Initiative (GoMI) during a press conference, about improving water quality, habitat, and the health of the Gulf ecosystem. “Launching this initiative is a top priority for NRCS in Texas because the Gulf of Mexico is one of our state’s premier natural resources. It provides vital habitat for wildlife, and creates jobs in industries that depend upon them. The health of this resource is essential to Texas as well as to the nation,” said Salvador Salinas. The Texas initiative focuses on three watersheds in Refugio, Calhoun, Victoria and Aransas counties and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

“What is really compelling about GoMI and other similar conservation efforts is that they prove that Texas farmers and ranchers not only feed and clothe us and power our vehicles, but they can also help protect and restore our rivers and provide more habitat for wildlife,” stated Salinas. “That’s why it is important that this conservation project is not about taking productive farm land out of production. This is a working lands initiative, so that not only are we helping to restore the health of the Gulf, but we’re also helping to sustain and enhance the productivity of the Gulf’s farms and ranches.”

Nationally, USDA-NRCS is dedicating up to $50 million over three years to this effort.

NRCS will continue to provide proven technical expertise and that of their partners. The anticipated result is improved water quality, stream flows and wildlife habitat. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.


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Taken on December 16, 2011