Society for Ecological Restoration

Texas Chapter 


     Restoration Update                          May, 2017

In This Issue




Quick Links



Board of Directors 



Kelly Lyons


Vice President

Katherine 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 

2017 Conference
Nov. 10-12, 2017
Univ. of North Texas
Denton, TX

Visit: for conference details.

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

After lengthy consideration, debate, and hard work by our Board of Directors, we have reframed TXSER's mission to better reflect our role in the 21st century and the challenges that our Texas restoration community faces. TXSER's new mission statement reads:

"TXSER connects scientists, practitioners, and policy-makers to restore Texas ecosystems and the vital services they provide."

With this mission come a variety of goals to facilitate communication and networking; to share science-based information and knowledge; and, to inform policy.

We hope you agree that our new mission better reflects our role in supporting and promoting ecological restoration in Texas and beyond.

Together, we make restoration work!
Conference Update

TXSER 2017 Annual Conference:
Resilience & Connectivity at Our Roots
University of North Texas, Denton
November 10-12, 2017

Friday Field Trips:  Our Friday, November 10th field trips are falling into place.  To date we have three trips planned:

1.  Dixon Water Foundation - Visit to the DWF's Leo and Pittman Units in Cooke County to learn about their grassland restoration projects returning farmland to prairie. The trip includes a special visit to their Josey Paviliion, the first Living Building in Texas.

2.  Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) - This two-tiered trip will offer a look at LLELA's p rairie, forest and wildlife restoration efforts and provide an opportunity to get your hands dirty with on-the-ground field work.  

3.  Trinity River, Elm Fork Branch, Kayak Paddle - Get a red-eared slider's perspective from mid-stream on restoration efforts and needs along a 6+ mile stretch of the Elm Fork Branch of the Trinity River.

More Friday Field Trip information to come. 

Join us in Denton November 10-12, 2017!
NERDs Group Discusses ER
The Notorious Ecological Restoration Discussion (NERD) Group is Taking Off!

A monthly ecological restoration journal review discussion group is blossoming.  Formed by Kevin Thuesen with the City of Austin's Water Quality Protection Lands, the group holds a monthly meeting at Reicher Ranch to discuss 2-3 pre-selected journal articles on a variety of restoration-related topics. Recent articles and discussions have focused on "novel" ecosystems, Humboldt, geology, invasives, anthropogenic transformations, feral cats and more.   Meetings always conclude with social time at a favorite nearby Tex-Mex establishment.  For more information on the NERDs Group send an email to and we will put you in touch.

NERDs deep in discussion.  L-R - Angela England, David Mahler, Chris Enders, Winfred Mudong, Kristen Meisner, Amy Concilio, Leslie Robertson, Kelly Lyons, Ingrid Karklins, Matt McCaw, Devin Grobert, Cair, McCann, Helen Ivor-Smith and Kevin Thuesen (not pictured, behind the camera)
Texas A&M SER Student Association

The TAMU SER Student Association has had a  busy spring with presentations from Jan Daniel, Park Director of Memorial Park Conservancy in Houston and Kent Evans, Coordinator of the Texas Longleaf Pine Implementation Team.  

One of several major efforts for the year has been a Greenhouse Restoration Project which involved removing vegetation, pvc pipes, wiring, wooden boxes, cement blocks and other large objects left behind in the greenhouse.  The goal is to get it ready to use as a native plant nursery. Check out their greenhouse project video.  

TXSER Action Items
H.B. 1009 - Legislation to Reclassify Prescribed Burning

HB 1009 was significantly amended by Rep. Paul Workman and voted out of the House on 5-11-17.  It has been received by the Senate and referred to the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations.  

The amended bill no longer explicitly classifies prescribed burning as a firefighting duty.  It allows municipal land managers to conduct a prescribed burn if:   (a) the burn is monitored by a fire department; (b) a fire department has reviewed the burn plan and collaborated with the burn manager to ensure the burn is conducted safely; and, (c) a fire department has the authority to stop the burn or assume command due to unsafe practices or extreme fire behavior.
Most municipal fire departments do not have the expertise to assess burn plans or determine what constitutes an unsafe prescribed burn practice or extreme wildland fire behavior.  In fact, the few departments in Texas with knowledge of prescribed burning have been trained by the very land managers this bill seeks to regulate.  We are concerned that this legislation can easily be amended, bringing us one step closer to potentially expanding fire department control of prescribed burns conducted by counties, state agencies, and even by individual landowners.

Cities, fire departments, ranchers, biologists, and landowners all have opposed this bill to prevent unnecessary regulation and keep prescribed burning decisions with professional land managers.  

Please call and write members of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations as well as your own state senator and ask them to vote no on HB 1009. 


A View from the Field
Hill Country Land Owner Sets His Sights on Exotics
I'm Roy Leslie, and my perspective might be of interest.  I'm not a botanist or a biologist, or a scientist at all.
I am a Hill Country land owner, a Master Naturalist, co-winner of the 2014 Lone Star Land Steward Award, Realtor, hunting guide and guide trainer, member of the Trinity University Biology Department's Animal Resource Committee, and sworn enemy of exotics and invasives.  I've spent over 60 years outdoors.
Axis deer  (Axis axis).  Credit:  All About Exotics
Our place is part of the original Hillingdon Ranch in NW Kendall County, TX.  It's been in the family since 1887.  You might say we're in it for the long haul.  The ranch has continually been grazed since then.  It's "A" class habitat.  Not by accident.
Obviously, livestock management and grazing flexibility is critical.  But there are pieces of the puzzle that some plant people and managers overlook; deer, native and exotic.
Deer presented no problems for us, or anyone in Texas before the early 1960's. Market and railroad hunters out for meat, hide, and feathers all but eradicated deer, turkeys, game birds, and many non-game species by the 1920's.  Until funded by a group of landowners and hunters, before 1919 there were no game wardens to enforce what laws and hunting restrictions were on the books.  Exotics were introduced to Texas in the late 20's and early 30's by Hill Country landowners.  They were contained behind high fences, until the first high water event.  Escape was inevitable, but expansion in numbers and acreage was slow.  Mainly because of the screwworm.
Before the late 1950's, the southern part of the U.S, Mexico, and points south suffered from a most grotesque predator.  A grisly creature, the screwworm is a maggot that feeds on live, not dead flesh.  
It is a deadly and unselective killer that coldly and efficiently kept wildlife numbers in check while causing hundreds of millions in losses for agricultural industries. Screwworms were a fact of life, and death.  Through the efforts of Drs. Edward Knipling and Raymond Bushland at the USDA laboratory in Menard and later in Kerrville, experiments in sterilization of screwworm flies led to their successful control by the early '60's, just after the record drought of the '50's broke.
Native whitetail deer populations skyrocketed.  Habitat, suffering a seven year drought, had barely recovered.  Deer populations quintupled.  We were not ready, as range managers and hunters, to assume the role of this most efficient predator when populations of the natural native predators were highly depressed.  It was ten years before state and private biologists and landowners ramped up to the deer management levels required to protect our native habitat.
It took a sea change in attitude and "hunter ethics" for us to assume the primary predator role.  No one would think of taking a female deer.  It wasn't legal before, and generations that grew up trying to increase deer numbers could not bring themselves to wade in and kill significant numbers of their "fawn factories".  Yes, it takes killing.
Axis deer out-competing white-tailed deer at feeder on Hill Country property. Credit: Roy Leslie, Stealthcam
My great grandfather's generation never adapted.  Only after deer numbers increased to the point of major habitat destruction did the next generation truly adapt.  It's still not easy for most of us.  
Today, another critical threat is largely ignored.  Exotic wildlife.  Specifically, the axis deer.  Many landowners are tolerant of axis numbers that are visibly destroying their little piece of heaven.  It is The Bambi Syndrome.  The axis deer's Disney spots and long lashes turn hard-nosed habitat managers to mush.  As a result, we have passed the bottom curve of the hockey stick, and populations are on a steep upward curve.
Beyond their obvious good looks, there are physiological factors behind the rapid expansion of axis deer.  Their digestive system is not the same as that of the whitetail deer.  Whitetails simply cannot digest grass.  Axis can.  As a result, an axis never has a bad year, and never suffers a low fawn survival rate.  Years when whitetail deer struggle, axis thrive.  When mast, forbes, and browse are depleted, our whitetail deer relocate or die.  Axis do fine on last season's dried patches of little bluestem.  With the range expansion of axis, your restoration efforts can be upended.  Grade A habitat cannot withstand the pressure.  All wildlife suffers.
Damage from Axis Deer in background.  Green area fenced off.  Credit: Roy Leslie
It's my job to counter this trend. And yours too.  If not, most of south Texas will suffer, as does the Guadalupe River watershed from Hunt to Highway 281.    Hard won habitat improvements are degraded, and then disappear when axis numbers reach an unsustainable level.  You are left with a universal browse line, and a pasture that more closely resembles a rocky parking lot.
What to do?  Convince all whose land you care about that exotics are a threat that will only get worse, and buy a hunting license, a rifle, and call me.
Roy Leslie

News You Can Use

1.  Nature Knows No Borders   - PBS News Hour interview with Sergio Avila-Villagas with Arizona's Sonora Desert Museum.

2.  Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management - New from the Food and Agricultural Organization.  Downloadable.

3.  Living Planet Report 2016 - WWW documents the effects of human activity on our planet.  Downloadable.

4.  Texas Land Trends Data Tool - Explore fundamental changes due to fragmentation and conversion.  From from Texas A&M IRNR.

5.  Reforestation Tool to Determine Where to Plant Tree Seedlings - From the USDA Forest Service 

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





Charlotte Reemts & Katherine Crosthwaite

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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!