Respect Big Bend Coalition Launches
T he Greater Big Bend Region is world-renowned for its expansive landscapes, ranching heritage, dark skies, wildlife diversity, and iconic communities. Currently the region is experiencing unprecedented pressures, as it has been discovered as prime real estate for energy development.

Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) recently joined the Respect Big Bend Coalition, which is composed of land managers, conservationists, energy leaders, and community members. The coalition is not an anti-energy effort, but rather an effort to help foster thoughtful energy development that minimizes impacts to the fragile environment, communities, and culture of the Big Bend Region. 

Respect Big Bend Coalition was organized and is supported financially by the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation—a Texas foundation that seeks innovative, sustainable solutions for human and environmental problems. A comprehensive communications effort is spreading the word about the Respect Big Bend Coalition, including a recent opinion-editorial which has been published in numerous Texas newspapers.

As part of this effort, BRI will host a series of landowner workshops and seminars over the next two to three years. For additional information go to
Billy Tarrant Joins BRI to Support
Respect Big Bend Coalition
T he Borderlands Research Institute is strengthening its commitment to stakeholder relations with a new stewardship services program that will support the recently announced Respect Big Bend Coalition. Veteran West Texas conservation biologist Billy Tarrant, a former Regional Director for the Wildlife Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will lead the effort in his new role at BRI.

As Associate Director of Stewardship Services, Tarrant will develop and implement outreach activities including landowner workshops, stakeholder meetings, and research symposia. His primary responsibilities will focus on coordinating the engagement activities associated with the Respect Big Bend Coalition. 

Tarrant will be working with the energy sector, landowners, mineral owners, civic groups, communities, and conservation partners to help formulate a blueprint for energy development for the Big Bend. He will also expand current stewardship services offered by BRI to help landowners manage their properties through ranch mapping, wildlife management consulting and wildlife surveys.

“I am gratified that the next phase of my career will keep me in West Texas working on a critical conservation effort that will shape how we leave the landscape we love to future generations,” said Tarrant. “After a fulfilling career with TPWD, it is an incredible opportunity to be given the chance to work with good friends and colleagues on this landmark effort. I have always taken pride in working with diverse partners along a common conservation thread, and this initiative falls directly in line with the professional values I hold dear.”

Project Spotlight: Mule Deer Diet
in the Texas Panhandle
Mule deer foraging and loafing in a winter wheat field near Turkey, Texas.
I n the Texas Panhandle, it is not uncommon to see 50 to 100 mule deer at a time on a wheat field during winter. While most landowners enjoy seeing these deer, concerns about crop damage have increased, raising many questions about the relationship between mule deer and agriculture.
Beginning in autumn of 2015, researchers from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and Texas Tech University came together to better understand how agriculture influences mule deer in the Texas Panhandle. The collaborative study is looking at various aspects of mule deer ecology: movement, survival, antler size, body condition, fawn recruitment, diet, and nutrition. With the Borderlands Research Institute, graduate student Jacob Lampman is focusing on the latter of these—how agriculture influences mule deer diets and nutrition.
Student Spotlight: Jacob Lampman
J acob Lampman learned to love wildlife and nature at his grandfather’s knee.
“My grandma’s family has had a family ranch in Central Texas for generations,” said Jacob. “Some of my fondest childhood memories are of sitting in a deer blind with my grandpa. We hunted some, but I was fascinated to just sit there with him and watch the wild animals and birds go by. My grandpa really opened my eyes to the natural world and how everything in nature is connected.”
That love of wildlife and nature led him to Texas A&M and a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries.
One of his professors introduced him to Dr. Louis Harveson at Borderlands Research Institute, and a few conversations later, Jacob made the decision to pursue a master’s degree at Sul Ross State University.
Jacob expects to graduate in August 2019.
“I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to focus my education on what I am passionate about,” he said. “I hope to spend my career helping to manage and conserve the natural resources that I love.”
Fun Fact: Where Do Mule Deer Live?
M ule deer ( Odocoileus hemionus ) are distributed throughout western North America—from Alaska down through the western U.S. coast to Baja, Mexico, and from the Mexican state of Zacatecas through the Great Plains to the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the southern Yukon Territory.

--from the Mule Deer Foundation
This map shows the current mule deer range distribution and corresponding ecoregions. (Courtesy of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies)
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Borderlands Research Institute | 432.837.8225 | bri@sulross.edu
P.O. Box C-21, SRSU, Alpine, Texas 79832