Perhaps the most important factor affecting the future of fish and wildlife conservation in Texas is the role of the private landowner.
Carter Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, says, "Make no mistake, the future of fish and wildlife in Texas is absolutely, inextricably linked to the future of private lands, and we depend on our private landowners for their stewardship and their management and their conservation. And if we are going to make sure that fish and wildlife populations persist it is going to be through those partnerships with private landowners."
The ranching families in deep South Texas have been in the forefront of wildlife conservation for generations.
Smith says, "Ninety five percent of our lands in Texas are owned and stewarded by private landowners. We have such a strong multi-generational commitment to that in South Texas where these ranching families were really at the forefront of conservation. They were the first families to step out front and to invest in protecting fish and game|There is a deep commitment, the Yturrias, the McAllen's, the Butlers, the Armstrong the King Ranch and on and on. There is a very, very strong interest in working collaboratively with partners to make sure these wildlife populations persist."
And nowhere is that commitment more profoundly placed than in the renowned landowner-funded Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University Kingsville.
"I think it is a bright future for private landowners in Texas. I really do. We are just seeing that conservation grow and grow and grow. I think Aldo Leopold and Caesar Kleberg would be awfully proud of what they see now in Texas", Smith says.
With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.