Advancing Texas Land & Water Conservation

The Texas Land Trust Council (TLTC) engages in a variety of programmatic efforts that benefit the land conservation community in Texas. And land and water conservation are essential to a healthy Texas. The protection and enhancement of water resources and the preservation of our natural heritage are of the utmost importance to our economy and our quality of life.

In Texas, open lands help preserve important natural functions, like buffering our communities from flood damage and providing drinking water and areas for food production. Iconic expanses of grasslands and forests, marshes and desert, farms and ranches have defined our state’s history and culture and continue to sustain our economy. In fact, these open landscapes support our rapidly growing urban communities in many ways.

The loss of working lands and open spaces, which help retain water by letting rain infiltrate into the ground and circulate into streams and aquifers, means that these water resources are less able to replenish and recharge. Additionally, the land fragmentation that results from development can often be detrimental to agricultural sustainability and profitability (www.texaslandtrends.org).

Droughts have also become an ever-present factor in our state and nothing is more important for our lives—and livelihoods—than having clean water to drink. Conserving open lands has been shown to be a cost-effective strategy for capturing, cleaning, and protecting our water resources.

Conservation is also an essential tool to improving our flood resilience in communities across Texas. Land conservation of floodways, floodplains and flood recharge areas has been shown to be a cost-effective solution for flood damage reduction.  And land trusts stand as ready partners to help conserve lands that will shield our communities from the most damaging aspects of flood events.

Living with water shortages or damaging floods brings to light how connected we all are to the natural world around us. Our health suffers without clean water and fresh air. Our families suffer without safe places to spend time together outdoors. Our economies suffer when Texas’ quintessential birds, fish and wildlife disappear. Land conservation has a positive impact on many issues effecting water supply, flood mitigation, agriculture and wildlife resources, among many others, and brings substantial value to the Texas economy.

• Protecting sensitive wetlands, rivers and streams from development protects floodplains and keeps polluted runoff out of drinking water.

• Preventing more land from being covered in concrete ensures that more rainwater can soak into the ground, replenish our water supply and reduce flood risk.

• Conserving land in floodplains and coastal areas helps to slow water movement, reduce erosion, and decrease overall storm damage.

• Preserving important farm and ranch lands helps provide our food, fuel and fiber.

• Conserving native habitat protects our iconic Texas fish and wildlife.

Thankfully, there are charitable organizations devoted solely to conserving land. Land trusts work with agency partners and land owners throughout the state to conserve Texas’ special lands and waters. By protecting these lands, land trusts help ensure that every Texan has access to clean water and the opportunity to connect with our natural and cultural heritage.

Land conservation by private, non-profit land trusts is a cost-effective and efficient way to protect water quality and quantity, mitigate and prevent flood damage, and support the rural economies that provide Texans food, water, and wildlife resources. The Texas Land Trust Council focuses on advancing Texas land trusts by providing technical resources like our Conservation Easement Guidebook and Texas Conservation Lands Inventory database, as well as first-rate training opportunities via annual Texas Land Conservation Conference.

To date Texas’ land trusts have protected over 1.7 million acres of farms, ranches, wetlands, urban gardens, forests, watersheds, coastlines and river corridors. TLTC is proud to support this effort.

TLTC also provides resources for private landowners who are interested in protecting their land. These include our free, online Land Trust Directory, which lists all TLTC member land trusts by county.  Landowners can search for land trusts working in their area of the state. Our Conservation Easement Guidebook, also available online, provides landowners with useful information about conservation easements particular to the state of Texas, contains a list of commonly-asked questions, and profiles landowners around the state who have used conservation easements to protect their land.

For more information contact us at info@texaslandtrustcouncil.org.