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Cooperative Stewardship Is Focus of TOWMA Conference Feb. 1-2
KYLE, Texas — Across Texas, a seismic shift in land ownership is transforming the landscape. Bigger ranches are giving way to ranchettes, resulting in loss of open range and fragmentation of wildlife habitat. One solution is landowners banding together for common benefits, which is the focus of the Texas Organization of Wildlife Management Associations (TOWMA) annual conference Feb. 1-2 in Kyle south of Austin.
The theme of the conference is "Cooperative Stewardship: What’s in it for YOU, What’s in it for Texas?" and organizers have worked to provide something for everyone. That includes entertaining side trips for family members near the conference headquarters at Texas Old Town, a private meeting and special events facility.
The meeting offers an assortment of presentations about land management practices and tools to help attendees become better stewards of natural resources. A common theme is the advantages of managing resources cooperatively and what landowners can accomplish by working together. A diverse group of respected professionals will present information.
Carter Smith, newly appointed executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will lead off Saturday’s program. Keynote speaker state Sen. Glenn Hegar, a member of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, will discuss legislation affecting water and wildlife management on private lands. Other speakers include Matt Wagner, Ph.D., TPWD Wildlife Diversity program director; Doug Mason, Oakridge Ranch Wildlife Management Association predator control manager and co-founder of TEAM HOGS hunger relief program; and Jenny Sanders, Texas Wildlife Association conservation programs coordinator.
Linda McMurry of TPWD will moderate a panel of experts discussing cooperative management tools and success stories, including landowners, scientists, and land policy experts such as former state Rep. Bob Turner.
Successful land managers and representatives from other professional organizations and state agencies have also been invited to participate, including: Texas Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Hunters Harvest, Texas Farm and Ranch Conservation Council and others.
On Friday evening, Texas Old Town will cook a Texas-style BBQ Cowboy supper with live traditional country and western music from the Texas Old Town Wranglers. Those who come early can browse items to be auctioned off after dinner. Guest speakers begin after breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Admission to the TOWMA 2008 Spring Meeting is $60 per adult with one child under age 13 free with each paid admission. This includes the meeting program both days, Friday evening dinner and dance (cash bar), plus Saturday morning pre-meeting refreshments, fajita lunch, and afternoon break refreshments. ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED. THE DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS JAN. 28. Anyone can register on the TOWMA Web site. For more information, phone Larry Jones at (361) 362-0430.
TOWMA is a statewide organization that brings together regional wildlife management associations throughout Texas to achieve common goals and objectives. TOWMA facilitates the formation of new wildlife management associations by sharing "Best Practices" and re-usable templates to help organizations avoid "re-inventing the wheel."
TOWMA monitors legislation affecting landowners, communicates issues to members, and provides input to legislators who pass laws affecting wildlife and land use. The group does not lobby, but instead acts as an informational resource. The organization also provides educational opportunities to its members and the public through meetings, newsletters and other means.
The group’s Web site offers a clickable map to find wildlife management associations across Texas, a technical library of articles on wildlife conservation topics, and many other resources.
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