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Mr. Smarty Plants - Help for restoring landscape to indigenous native plants

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Monday - November 05, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Help for restoring landscape to indigenous native plants
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have inherited some acres in Robertson County (Texas) which is about 40 miles north of Bryan/College Station. I would like to restore the landscape to the indigenous native plants without just letting the greenbriar, poison ivy, and yaupon take it over. Are there any government agencies that help with this? Also, can you recommend books or other resources that would be useful? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Here are several resources for technical and informational aid for your project, and, perhaps for costsharing and property tax exemption as well.

1. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has several Land-Related Publications that could help with your project (e.g., "Natural Resource Conservation Programs and Services for Texas Landowners" which lists state and federal programs that offer technical aid).

2. You can get informational help from the Texas Cooperative Extension Service in the form of booklets about control of brush and other unwanted plants. You might also make contact with the Robertson County Extension Office and talk with them about what you want to do with your property. They might know of people in the area who have done similar things and have practical suggestions for you.

3. Your proposal to restore your property to indigenous native plants might qualify it for wildlife management tax exemption. Native plants supply food and shelter for wildlife and should qualify as at least two of the activities required to obtain wildlife management tax exemption for your property. In the Tax Code (Section 23.51 (7)), you can pick "(E) providing supplemental supplies of food", "(F) providing shelters" and possibly "(A) habitat control" as the three ways, of the seven listed, to qualify for Property Tax Exemption for Wildlife Management. The hitch in this, though, is that "the property must have been qualified and appraised as agricultural land during the year before the year the owner changes to Wildlife Management Use." If you do qualify for applying for wildlife management exemption, you can contact the wildlife biologists in Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Post Oak Wildlife District, which includes Robertson County, for possible assistance in preparing your wildlife management plan.

4. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has an Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that "offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land" for conservation projects. You can check on available projects for Texas that offer cost sharing in Robertson County.

5. Steve Whisenant's "Repairing Damaged Wildlands: a Process-Oriented, Landscape-Scale Approach". 1999. Cambridge University Press, is recommended. It is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon and other bookstores. It should also be available in larger city or university libraries.

 

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