Rolling Plains Ecological Region
A portion of the Rolling Plains Ecological Region of Texas extends into the northwestern, western, and southwestern counties of Northcentral Texas including portions of Clay, Wichita, Wilbarger, Baylor, Archer, Throckmorton, Shackelford, Callahan, Taylor, Nolan, Mitchell, Howard, Coke, Sterling, Tom Green, Irion, Concho, and Runnels counties.
This is a gently rolling region containing rangelands broken with streams and rivers running from west to east, draining toward the Cross Timbers and Prairies Region to the east and southeast. The Rolling Plains Ecological Region is bordered on the south by the Edwards Plateau Ecological Region and on the west by the High Plains Ecological Region. Soils vary from fine sand to clays and clay loams. Native grasses include little bluestem, blue grama, sideoats grama, Indiangrass, and sand bluestem. Many rangelands in this region have been invaded by annual and perennial forbs, legumes, and woody species due to historic livestock grazing practices and lack of naturally occurring fire on the landscape. Dominant woody species include redberry juniper, yucca, mesquite, lotebush, hackberry, bumelia, pricklypear, skunkbush sumac, ephedra, plum, western soapberry, little leaf sumac, shin oak, tasajillo, agarito, catclaw acacia, lime pricklyash, sand sage, and others. Mesquite grasslands dominate vast areas of this ecological region. Bottomlands along larger streams contain American elm, button willow, pecan, and cottonwood. Limestone ridges and steep terrains offer greater woody plant diversity and habitat for a diversity of wildlife species.
Approximately one-third of the Rolling Plains Ecological Region of Northcentral Texas is used for intensive agriculture with a variety of different crops such as wheat, cotton, and milo. Large acreages of wheat are grown annually for harvest and winter/spring livestock grazing. The remaining two-thirds of the region is rangeland devoted to cattle ranching. Ranches in this region are relatively large and in some area support isolated populations of pronghorn antelope.
Watersheds of the Colorado, Brazos, Red, and Trinity rivers bisect this region of Northcentral Texas. Riparian zones along these streams and their tributaries contain important wildlife habitat for the region and support good populations of white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkeys. Bobwhites, scaled quail, mourning doves, collared peccary, and a variety of song birds, small mammals, waterfowl, shorebirds, reptiles, and amphibians are found in this region.