Friday, November 7, 2014

Urban Riparian Symposium - Restoration, Collaboration, Innovation

Register Now - Early Registration is due by December 1 for $75 and after December 1 registration is $110.

The Urban Riparian Symposium in Austin February 11th – 13th  of 2015 and will provide an opportunity for natural resource professionals to share ideas, discuss management and policy issues, lessons learned in urban riparian and stream planning, assessment, design, construction, and evaluation. The symposium includes presentations, discussions, and workshops, and nighttime walks. A draft schedule has been developed. Wednesday will offer two workshops in the afternoon for those attendees that sign up for them.  Thursday and Friday’s events will run from 9am to 6pm and will include plenary speakers, concurrent topic sessions with moderated discussion, and a poster session. Snacks and drinks will be provided but meals will be on your own.  There a number of restaurants within walking distance to the event center where people can eat lunch and dinner.  On Thursday night a limited number of people will be able to sign up for one of two separate nighttime walks being hosted by the Austin Water Utility exclusively for the symposium.

Scientists and practitioners are encouraged to share experiences, network with colleagues, and become involved in shaping the future of urban riparian issues in Texas. You can begin by submitting your abstract for oral or poster presentation and registering for the conference.

Request for Abstracts

Abstracts are being sought for oral presentations and posters focused on Urban Riparian topics. Submit abstracts by email to .ABSTRACTS MUST BE RECEIVED VIA EMAIL ON OR BEFORE November 18, 2014.


Registration Fees can be paid by Credit Card, Check or Government Purchase Order. If paying by credit card please email, mail, or fax your completed credit card authorization form included on the registration form. The charge will state AgriLife Research Fisc. If paying by check please make check payable to Texas Water Resources Institute, Urban Riparian Symposium 06-215071-89538. If paying by purchase order please fax or email your registration form and submit a copy to your bookkeeper for payment processing. Please email, fax, or mail your registration form and payment to:

Nikki Dictson, TWRI

Urban Riparian Symposium

1500 Research Pkwy., Suite A110

College Station, TX 77843-2118

Fax: 979-845-0662

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Outfall Protection

What exactly is outfall protection?  Outfall protection is an essential element of proper culvert installation and can certainly extend the life of your culvert.  Outfall protection most often consists of rip rap or other large aggregate placed at the end of the culvert to intercept and absorb the energy produced by the water exiting the culvert. 
Rock Outfall Protection

As water flows down a ditch or stream, it is gaining speed or velocity.  This velocity increases once the flow of water is concentrated in a culvert.   Culverts also tend to have more smooth edges, or less roughness than the ditch or streambed to slow this water down.  Once this water exits the culvert, it is moving relatively fast with lots of power ready to move some soil and cause erosion.  In addition to scouring out the channel down from the culvert, this water tends to swirl around as it leaves the culvert and can eventually wash out the culvert, costing you money to come in and re-install your culvert. 

Outfall protection intercepts this flow and spreads it out, thus reducing the speed of the water and its erosive power.  Outfall protection can be as simple as some old bricks, busted up concrete, old tires, or large rock.  On cross-drain culverts, where you are transferring runoff from across the road, you may want to not only put outfall protection under the end of the culvert, but also on the bank adjacent to the culvert exit, to help preserve the bank and prevent excessive erosion.   On culverts used for creek crossings it is often important to not only have outfall protection on the culvert exit, but also on the sides of the banks on either side of the culvert exit.  This will prevent swirling water exiting the culvert from eroding the stream banks and eventually blowing out the sides of your culvert. 

Outfall protection can also be an important component of wing ditches on some of your woods roads that are generally only used during forest operations.  In these instances, you may not need to invest in large, rock aggregate, but instead can prevent excessive erosion by placing slash or brush at the outlet of the wing ditch.  Another method of providing outfall protection on wing ditches could be using vegetation.  If this is an area that doesn't receive a large amount of runoff, it is a good idea to use our seeding chart on page 67 of the blue book. 

In conclusion, outfall protection is essential in protecting your culvert, ditch, stream, wallet, and water quality in general.  Outfall protection will save you money by not having to re-install culverts and reduce the frequency that you have to come and pull your ditches.  Outfall protection protects streams health and preserves water quality by reducing the amount of sediment traveling downstream that result from stream bed and stream bank scour.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bell County Conservation Expo - June 12, 2014

To RSVP, contact: 
Bell Co. AgriLife Extension Services
(Checks payable to: Bell Crops Committee)
1605 N Main St., 102
Belton, TX 76513

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 2014 BMP Q&A

By: Todd Thomas, Water Resources Forester, Texas A&M Forest Service

Q: As a result of some of these spring time rains we have been experiencing, several of the permanent roads we use have stayed wet and become a major headache.  For future reference, what do you recommend to help decrease the amount of time it takes to dry these roads out?

A: After some of the dry weather we’ve had the last couple of years, there’s no doubt that the rain is welcome, but with it comes issues like the one you’ve brought up.  As they say, “the wetter the road, the weaker the road.”  One method that comes to mind for decreasing the amount of time it takes for a road to dry out is called “daylighting.”

Sun and wind are the primary agents needed to dry out a road.  Daylighting is a method that that entails clearing trees along the edge of the road in order to increase air circulation and allow more sunlight to hit the road surface.  The forest canopy intercepts quite a bit of wind and sunlight.  The more sun and wind that reach the road, the faster it will dry out, allowing you to work more efficiently, reducing erosion potential, and increasing the life span of your road.  How far you decide to remove these trees on the sides is up to your discretion, really just enough to get that sunlight and wind onto the road surface.  
This road is receiving optimum sunlight and air circulation now,
but later on these trees along the side may need to be removed.

Due to our location on the Earth’s surface, the southern side of east-west running roads should receive the most attention in order to maximize the amount of afternoon sun that hits the road.  Generally speaking, afternoon sun has a greater intensity than morning sun and a southern exposure will receive more direct sunlight than a northern exposure.  On a north-south running road, the west side should have more trees removed than the east side, to maximize the afternoon sun.  In areas with substantial curves in the road, go ahead and take several trees out of the inside of the curve to enhance the daylighting process and to increase visibility down the road as a safety precaution. 

In addition to allowing the road to dry faster, daylighting also helps to increase vegetative cover.  Increased grasses on the road surface when the road is not under heavy traffic loads will do two things.  The root structure of the grasses will do an excellent job of holding soil in place while the grasses themselves intercept rainfall and reduce soil particle displacement from raindrop impact.  The second benefit to the road is that the grasses will also aid in removing moisture.  As these grasses grow and conduct photosynthesis, they will remove moisture from the soil comprising the road bed and then transpire it into the atmosphere.  The increased number of grasses and forbs growing in the road and on the sides of the road will be of great benefit to wildlife as a food source.  So you are not only helping the road system but you are helping to feed our furry friends.  Who knows, maybe they’ll grow some bigger antlers and be more convenient to load into the back of the pickup since they are hanging out on the road! 

In conclusion, if your primary access roads are staying too wet, you may want to consider removing some trees along the side of the road in a process known as “daylighting.”  Remember, forest roads have the potential to severely degrade water quality and by keeping them in good shape, you are helping to keep our waters clean as well.  If you have any questions, feel free to call me at 936-639-8180, you can reach me by email at, or just swing by our office in Lufkin. 

*This article was published in the May 2014 edition of the Texas Logger

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 2014 BMP Q&A

By: Todd Thomas, Water Resources Forester, Texas A&M Forest Service

Q: Recently I was considering various revegetation options so I decided to consult the trusty old blue book.  On page 68, in the chart that has different types of grasses and planting rates, etc., I noticed under plating rate that most everything is listed as lbs/acre.  However, there were some that instead of “lbs”, the unit was “bu”.  What does “bu” stand for? 

A: First and foremost, I commend you on exploring other revegetation options and taking advantage of our seeding chart.  To answer your question, “bu” stands for “bushels”.  Species listed in bushels per acre are to be sprigged instead of seeded.  Species that require sprigging are generally hybrids such as Coastal Bermuda grass.  Since they are hybrids, they do not reproduce from seeds, but from roots or runners. 

Bermuda Grass Sprig

Now you are probably asking yourself, “How much exactly is a bushel?”  Do not worry, you are not alone, this is not a common unit of measurement these days to say the least.  A bushel is defined as a volume measurement that contains 32 quarts, 8 gallons, or 1.25 cubic feet.  Length times width times depth in feet divided by 1.25 or multiplied times 0.8 will give the number of measured bushels a truck or trailer can hold.

Species of Bermudagrass are excellent options for erosion control.  These species are perennials, so under the right circumstances, they will return year in and year out, making them ideal for areas that will not be placed into timber production.  Bermuda also has an extensive root structure that does a superb job of holding the soil in place.  The fine blades of Bermudagrass above the soil surface were almost designed to intercept overland flow. 

I hope I was able to clear up some of the confusion out there concerning our revegetation chart.  If anyone out there has any BMP related questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office in Lufkin.  The phone number is 936-639-8180, you can also send them to me via email, my email address is

*This article was published in the March 2014 edition of the Texas Logger

Monday, March 3, 2014

Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop - San Bernard River Basin

March 18, 2014 - Tuesday 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

City of Wharton Civic Center
1407 N Richmond Rd.,
Wharton, TX 77488  (map)
This workshop will focus on the nature and function of stream and riparian zones and the benefits and direct economic impacts from healthy riparian zones. The riparian education programs will cover an introduction to riparian principles, watershed processes, basic hydrology, erosion/deposition principles, and riparian vegetation, as well as potential causes of degradation and possible resulting impairment(s), and available local resources including technical assistance and tools that can be employed to prevent and/or resolve degradation. The Texas A&M Forest Service's Water Resources Department will be presenting on Protecting Water Resources while Conducting Management Operations.
This is a one day indoor class with an outdoor field tour that same afternoon.
At the conclusion of the training, participants will receive a certificate of completion.
Continuing Education Units Available:
  • Texas Department of Agriculture Pesticide Applicators License – 3 CEUs
  • Texas Water Resources Institute  – 1 CEU
  • Texas Nutrient Management Planning Specialists – 6 hours
  • Texas Forestry Association – 6 hours
  • Society of American Foresters – 4. 5 hours
  • Texas Board of Architectural Examiners “Acceptable for HSW credit”
  • The program may also be used for CEUs for Professional Engineers.
RSVP is required by March 13, 2014. Online RSVP and Agenda:
A catered lunch will be provided for $10 cash at the door. Please feel free to bring your own lunch as we will have a lunchtime presentation before heading to the river site. Please select if you would like the catered lunch or if you will bring your own on your RSVP. Thank you. 
For more information or questions please contact Nikki Dictson at 979-458-5915 or

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Texas Wildlife & Woodland Expo 2014 – Lone Star College – Montgomery Campus

Bring your family to an educational and fun event this spring! Learn about the land you live on in Texas, while having a great time outside on Lone Star College’s beautiful Montgomery Campus.

Five zones exist throughout the event; each with several hands on activities for adults and young ones. Topic specific demonstrations will occur throughout the day in the five exciting zones. These zones include: Trees, Community, Water, Wildlife, Heritage, and Adventure. The Texas A&M Forest Service will have booths in the Heritage, Trees, Community, and, of course, Water zones.  Please come by and meet Donna Work and myself with any BMP or water quality questions you may have. Donna and I will be explaining the importance of forests to improve water quality in Texas. Our groundwater recharge model and SMZ Model bring The Texas A&M Forest Service’s Best Management Practices Handbook to life. We will also have fun games where your family can learn about water related soils and critters that live in the water.Hope to see you there!

This is a FREE event. No registration required. This event is put on by Lone Star College Montgomery, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, Montgomery County Beautification Association, and the Texas A&M Forest Service. For more information about the expo please visit

March 22, 2014 – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Lone Star College Montgomery Campus

3200 College Park Dr, Conroe, TX 77384

If you have any questions about this event please contact me: Kristen Wickert at 713-688-1248 or by email at

Monday, February 3, 2014

Field Day for land owners of small acreage tracts

Peach Creek Plantation, located inside the Sam Houston National Forest, is hosting a field day for landowners of small tracts. Thirteen experts on managing land in Texas will ride along with landowners on a hay ride around the Peach Creek property. There will be several stops along the ride where the experts will address their respective topics at corresponding locations on the property. After the tour, landowners will able to meet and greet with the experts one on one; where the experts can share more insight, materials, and handouts.

Topics covered will include:
·         Wildlife habitat
·         Nuisance animals
·         Reforestation and planting
·         Water quality and erosion
·         Pond construction
·         Implementing your forest/wildlife management plans
·         Managing for aesthetics – Native plants
·         Tax valuation
·         Timber theft prevention and contracts

Please pack a picnic lunch.  Some refreshments provided by POA.

Please register for free for this event with Penny Whisenant at  or call 936-273-2261

The event starts at 10:00 AM on Saturday February 15th and ends around 1:00 PM.
Peach Creek Plantation – Big Buck Pavilion
3615 N. Duck Creek Road, Cleveland, TX 77328
Event signs with directions will be present along adjacent roads.
Big Buck Pavilion Coordinates:   30°19’35.42”N     95°13’30.82”W

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Management Practices to Decrease Runoff in Urban Environments

By: Kristen Wickert, Water Resources Staff Forester, Texas A&M Forest Service - Houston
Figure 1: The Preserve on North Loop, Houston

Many posts throughout this blog emphasize the importance of the forest-water relationship in the rural forests of Texas. However, that does not mean that the forest-water relationship does not exist in the urban environment. Managing urban forests can be just as complex as managing rural forests. Specialized factors such as: increased population, impervious surfaces, and more elaborate pollution contributors, make managing urban forests a difficult task.
This is why the Texas A&M Forest Service is studying the effects of vegetation cover in urban environments on water quality and quantity. Our urban foresters in the Houston office performed a survey of an office complex that is known in the area for incorporating vegetation and larger developed trees in their building plan. This complex is called The Preserve. Built in 1971, The Preserve is located directly in the highly developed concrete jungle of Houston, on the 610 North Loop. Buildings were constructed around already established trees and replanting occurred in the open spaces between. Most of the trees are now well established and are larger than six inches in diameter.
Using a public domain software created by the Northern Research Station of the USDA, called i-tree Eco, the Texas A&M Forest Service was able to input sampled data from The Preserve property and generate economic values of the many benefits of the urban forest. A summary report of the benefits provided by the vegetation include: pollution removal, carbon storage, oxygen production, runoff reduction, building energy savings, avoided carbon emissions, and structural values.

Since this is a water resources blog, we will focus on the reduced runoff from having an urban forest incorporated in a building plan. There are three main factors that contribute to runoff reduction from vegetation: Canopy interception of rainfall, water infiltration promotion to the soil by the root system, and duff accumulation. The portion of the precipitation that reaches the ground and does not infiltrate into the soil becomes surface runoff, which costs tax money to clean in waste water treatment plants.

The i-tree Eco software calculates annual reduced surface runoff based on rainfall interception by vegetation, specifically focusing on the difference between annual runoff with or without vegetation. Although tree leaves, branches, and bark may intercept precipitation and thus mitigate surface runoff, only the precipitation intercepted by leaves is accounted for in the i-tree Eco analysis. The software bases the value of reduced runoff on the U.S. Forest Service's Community Tree Guide Series.

An excerpt from the report describes the amount of runoff reduced due to the projected 1,350 trees in the 12 acres of The Preserve at an estimated 47,200 cubic feet a year with an associated value of $3.14 thousand.” In actuality, this number is higher due to the fact that only leaf interception is considered, root infiltration is not considered, and the duff accumulation is absent from the report.

Figure 2: Protective duff covering the soil
The Preserve is a special office complex, because it is managed mainly without the use of lawn mowers once or twice a week; unlike most office complexes in urban environments. This enables the office complex grounds to actually mimic a functioning forest floor by accumulating duff. Duff is leaf litter and course woody debris that accumulates on the ground to form a protective shield against rain events and temperature changes. The duff layer of pine needles, leaves, and small course woody debris slows the infiltration rate of water into the soil, while still catching and holding the water, increasing absorption, and keeping moisture in the soil longer. This reduces the amount of water that passes over the saturated bare soils.  Therefore, avoiding runoff into the streets that could cause erosion and flooding.

The lessons we learn from our Forest-Water Best Management Practices have more applications than meets the eye. These valuable lessons are transferable to the urban environment in scales from small to large. The Texas A&M Forest Service is working hard to better the lives of rural and urban Texans by sharing this knowledge.

If you are interested in learning about more ways in which you can do your part in urban areas, please feel free to email me at or to call me at 832-530-6468