Society for Ecological Restoration

Texas Chapter 


     Restoration Update                          February, 2017

In This Issue




Quick Links



Board of Directors 



Kelly Lyons


Vice President

Kate Crosthwaite



Matthew McCaw



Colin Shackelford


North Texas Rep.

Michelle Villafranca


East Texas Rep.

William Forbes


South Texas Rep.

Forrest Smith


West Texas Rep.

Charlotte Reemts


Central Texas Rep.

Ingrid Karklins


S. Coastal Texas Rep.

Alejandro Fierro Cabo


N. Coastal Texas Rep.

Bradley Hoge


Chapter Director

Gwen Thomas





(972) 768-8067 



Employment Opportunities 
& More
For up-to-date announcements of positions open in ecological restoration and environmental science,
visit our website at:
Job Postings

We also post a wide range of articles on ecological restoration issues as well as job and volunteer opportunities on our Facebook page at:
TXSER Facebook Page

South Rio Grande Valley
TXSER Newsflash
TXSER's New Year Resolutions  #2 & #3

As you may recall from our January Newsletter, TXSER's #1 New Year's Resolution was to start communicating on Twitter.  We are up and running and if you haven't connected with us there, you can find us at:  @SERTexas.

Resolution #2:  Develop a database of state-wide expertise in ecological restoration.  At our November 2016 Conference we started gathering information from those present who wished to be considered part of this database.  In the next two weeks we will be circulating a questionnaire requesting information on your expertise in the field.  Please be on the look-out for the questionnaire in your inbox.  If you wish to be included in this database, please complete it and hit return. The information will be made available to all and updated regularly.

Resolution #3:  TXSER seeks to infuse restoration science into policy decisions at the state and local levels.  We aim to inform our members, the public, and local and state officials on restoration policy issues ranging from invasive species to mine reclamation.  As such, we have started a Texas legislation section in our newsletter to highlight legislative issues that we feel are important for you to know about.  We hope you will take a few minutes to read our first piece below regarding H.B. 1009 and prescribed burns.
Member Spotlight
Jarratt Willis in his element.
Photo credit:  Casey Cutler, Trinity River Audubon Center

Name:  Jarratt Willis

City:  Dallas, TX

Affiliation:   The Great Seed Bomb

Briefly describe your ongoing efforts/interest in ecological restoration.  Ongoing, I'm an organizer for The Great Seed Bomb, a group dedicated to pollinator conservation. The organization is meant to serve as a fundraising and advocacy tool for frontline conservation groups that have a dedicated history of habitat restoration and public engagement. Benefactors of GSB programming are typically conservators of existing habitat, like DFW-area prairies and wetlands, and educators working with conservation narratives.

What is the biggest challenge to the success of your work?
The Metroplex has some pretty interesting geography and urban greenspaces, and its cities are increasing public access to the natural legacy of the region. Finding and complying with regulations that give people the opportunity to practice conservation with public lands, like parks and trails and urban preserves, is a challenge. Sometimes they don't even exist and dialogue on the issue is non-existent or very, very slow to get started. That is the biggest challenge. There are so few examples of sustainable infrastructure and ecological restoration for governments and NGO's in our region to examine. They usually postpone their own inquiry or find that they are unable to make habit sustainable and conservation-based practices, which sometimes sours their view on the benefits. On the flip side, many cities encourage community's to take ownership of their shared greenspaces, and they usually offer collaborative resources to support long-term success.

North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis).  Photo Credit:  TPWD.

Briefly describe if, and how, climate change has affected your work.  We deal with pollinator conservation. Most people think of bees and the agricultural service they provide. In terms of climate change for them, we're dealing with an animal that is already compromised by existing pesticide use, inadequate nutrition from mono-culture farming, and weather patterns that are shifting habitat boundaries. There are no known alternatives to the pollination services these animals provide and that message has to be interpreted for urban audiences, who usually have more contact with bee products than bees. 

On the other end of the pollinator spectrum are the native, evolved animals that have always played vital roles in maintaining the diversity of our natural environment. Creatures like bumblebees and monarch butterfly's play critical roles in generating food supplies for other wild animals and creating the beautiful blooms we've mythologized as part of our spring. These animals have a diversity that is almost unimaginable when compared to agricultural bee's, but in many other respects they're even more at risk of climate change's ability to shift the distribution of habitats. Currently eight species of bumblebee across Hawaii and the continental U.S. face extinction. A big part of that is due to their absence in our national narratives about conservation. We know ways to avoid polluting our air and water, eroding our soils, clear-cutting our forests, and uprooting grassland. We still have lessons to learn about maintaining diversity in our environment by cultivating habitat for pollinating and migratory creatures.

Describe your favorite outdoor activity.  Eco-tourism, be it a city trail or a federal preserve.

What is your favorite Texas plant and/or animal?  I'm a fan of our native river otters.

Editors Note:  The next Great Seed Bomb Ride will take place on April 23rd in Dallas, along the Santa Fe Trail.  Check the GSB website for up-to-date information on the ride.
TXSER Weighs In:  Legislative Matters
Prescribed Burning in the Hot Seat!

Sponsor: Representative Roberto Alonzo

Critical bill language:
"An employee of a municipality*... may not perform a duty that is classified as a wildland firefighting duty, including conducting a prescribed burn, unless that person is a permanent, full-time fire department civil service employee..."

What this bill would do:
The most substantial action of H.B. 1009 is to classify prescribed burning as a firefighting duty which would prevent municipal (city) land managers throughout Texas from applying prescribed burns. Prescribed burning is currently regulated in Texas as a land management activity.
Prescribed burn.  Photo credit:  USFS

The back story:
This bill was authored by the Austin Firefighter's Association (AFA), the union for Austin Fire Department (AFD) firefighters. AFA contends that fire departments should be in charge of prescribed burns on municipal lands to ensure they are conducted safely. To our knowledge, only two cities in the state of Texas engage in prescribed burning: Fort Worth and Austin.

The Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge conducts prescribed burns for habitat management while the Austin Water Utility (AWU) regularly conducts prescribed burns on the City of Austin Water Quality Protection Lands and Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, both of which it manages. AWU follows the standards of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, which are widely accepted as the most rigorous standards for wildland fire operations.

Despite the union's contention that the fire department should be in charge of prescribed burns on City land, AWU prescribed burn managers have provided a substantial amount of wildland fire training for Austin firefighters. Since 2006, AWU has directly trained AFD firefighters on prescribed burns as well as at the AFD academy. Further, in 2011, AFD requested emergency assistance from AWU on multiple wildfires threatening neighborhoods. When AFD needed a burn boss in their fledgling Wildfire Division, they hired the individual who built AWU's prescribed burn program. Finally, these two agencies continue to collaborate on prescribed burns and engage in mutual cross-training.

H.B. 1009 was filed previously and failed during the 2013 and 2015 legislative sessions. Notably, the bill has not been supported by many entities that it would affect, such as the City of Austin, the Austin Fire Department, the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, and the Texas Association of Firefighters.

  • For those fearful that prescribed burns threaten public safety, this bill would restrict prescribed burning by municipal employees. It would not, however, explicitly restrict burning by county, state, or federal employees, private companies, organizations, or private landowners.


This bill would...

  • Prevent qualified municipal land managers from implementing an important management tool.
  • End collaborative partnerships such as between the Austin Water Utility and the Austin Fire Department as well as between the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge and the Fort Worth Fire Department.
  • Reclassify prescribed burning - currently regulated in Texas as a land management activity - as a firefighting activity. This would create confusion within the regulations pertaining to prescribed burning and could be problematic for counties, state agencies, organizations, and individuals who engage in prescribed burning in Texas. We fear that counties could in the future be subject to similar prescribed burning restrictions.
  • Prevent fire departments from using part-time or temporary employees in wildland firefighting activities.

The bottom line:

Fire is a natural process and is important for the proper functioning of most Texas ecosystems. Prescribed burning is a powerful tool used by land managers to mimic the effects of natural fires. While prescribed burning draws upon many of the skills used in firefighting, it is ultimately a land management practice and must be classified and regulated as such.

H.B. 1009 is one union's attempt to secure more money, resources, and jobs for its members by restricting the activities of municipal employees. It would hinder natural resource management by restricting and bureaucratizing prescribed burning and could ultimately be detrimental for public safety by ending collaborative relationships that facilitate wildland fire training for fire departments.

How to take action: 

  • Call, e-mail, or visit members of the committee to which H.B. 1009 is assigned. A bill alert will notify you when it is assigned. (As of this writing, H.B. 1009 had not yet been assigned to committee.)
  • Travel to the capitol and voice your concerns when the bill comes before committee.
  • E-mail Gwen Thomas, TXSER's Chapter Director, at, if you would like e-mail updates about this bill or wish to participate in TXSER action related to this issue.


Only municipalities that have adopted Local Government Code Chapter 143 are covered by H.B. 1009.


Prescribed burn.  Photo credit:  TXSER Archives.


Field Day in West Texas & Restoration Webinar

Davis Mountain Preserve Field Tour & Volunteer Days  
March 24-25, 2017   

Note:  10 spots are reserved for TXSER members each day!

The Nature Conservancy has recently completed an ambitious tree thinning project at the Davis Mountains Preserve. The thinning treatments focused on canyons and riparian areas, because those sites had the highest tree density and were the most vulnerable to drought, insect outbreaks, and wildfire. Each day of the event will include hikes through treated areas to examine the results of the project, as well as tree planting conducted by the TAMU Forest Service. Attendees will also help to cut firewood for local food pantries, using trees cut down as part of the thinning program. The Friday and Saturday programs will be the same; you are welcome to attend one or both days. To attend, please respond to Charlotte Reemts ( by March 1, 2017.

What to bring: water, long pants and closed-toes shoes, work gloves, lunch.

Conditions: Hiking will be over rough, uneven terrain with some slopes. The volunteer project will require lifting and bending, but work will be structured to accommodate all experience levels. All equipment (other than work gloves) will be provided.

Cost: Free (but donations are always appreciated).

Tentative schedule:  (note that attendees will be divided into two groups)

9 am: Meet at McIvor Center. Introduction to the project and travel to field sites.

10 am - noon: Group 1-volunteer time; Group 2-hiking

Noon - 1 pm: Lunch (in the field)

1 pm - 3 pm: Group 1-hiking; Group 2-volunteer time

3 pm: Travel back to McIvor Center

4 pm: Depart

Restoration Webinar - February 16th
How Much is Enough?  Setting Restoration Goals for Ecosystem Services of Oysters and Shellfish.   Click here for more information - Restoration Webinar

A Heartfelt Thanks to the Following Organizations & Individuals for their Generous Support  of our fall
2016 Annual Conference - Linking Science & Practice!!





Charlotte Reemts & Katherine Crosthwaite

Please Take a Moment to Click on the Above Logos
& Check Out Our Sponsors' Websites.


The Society for Ecological Restoration, Texas Chapter promotes ecological restoration as a means of sustaining the diversity of life on Earth and

re-establishing an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture. 



 Become a member today!                            Click Here to Join Us! 


Join the Texas Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration.  Chapter members receive valuable benefits including:

  • the opportunity to network with restoration practitioners and enthusiasts;
  • discounts to our Annual Conference, an opportunity to share and learn;
  • invitations to attend talks, ER Discussion Groups, and volunteer workdays around the state; and,
  • monthly updates and quarterly newsletters with articles and notices about regional events that allow you to connect to the local restoration community.

Chapter membership fees of $15 support chapter administration.  The TXSER Board of Directors consists of volunteers who share a passion for furthering ecological restoration in Texas.


Joining SER links you with a global restoration network.  SER member benefits include:

  • SERNews bi-monthly newsletter;
  • discounts on journal publications;
  • discounts to SER World Conferences;
  • discounts on SER Career Center;
  • access to a searchable, online member directory;
  • access to SER's Global Restoration Network; and,
  • promotional opportunities through the SER Calendar of Events and Restoration Project Showcase.

To become a member visit:


Be sure to click the Texas Chapter as your Chapter Affiliate.  We look forward to having you join us!