LLFoR Pushes Outreach and Science Beyond the Lake
If we've learned anything in the past several years it's that the ecology effort of our project is bigger than just Lake Livingston. In 2017 we partnered with Texan by Nature to join the state-wide conversation on ecology and conservation. That partnership, initially, brought us high levels of visibility and a kind of cache with Mrs. Laura Bush's visit. We stay in touch with them, exploring other mutually beneficial opportunities. Project Director Scott Ball is attending the Feb. 24 annual luncheon for Houston Wilderness as an invited guest. Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy helped facilitate the introduction that we hope will lead to potential donors and partnerships. Our approach with Houston Wilderness is to describe how our work to increase aquatic habitat will improve the quality of Houston's water. Improving the science behind LLFoR's project is the subject of several upcoming meetings. We recently met with Texas University (San Marcos) Meadows Aquatic Ecology Research Center. Another meeting is scheduled with AgriLife's Dr. Todd Sink in College Station where he leads the Master Naturalists aquatic biology research effort. Additional contacts have been made to meet with Dr. Gary Dick with Lewisville Aquatic Research Facility on new planting methods, and with Dr. Jeff Wozniak at Sam Houston State University to learn about his regional ecology research. Additionally, the team is exploring new planting approaches, such as implementing the founder colony approach used in the early 1990s on Lake Conroe. Our goal is to implement planting procedures (once approved by Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) and Trinity River Authority (TRA) to better protect new plants from the elements and herbivores. These ideas, include using coconut shell logs (COIR) as frontage along erosion-prone shorelines and adding new plant species to fill in behind the shore creating new habitat. These have all proven successful in other lakes in Texas. We finally received the link to a great video created by Texan by Nature, documenting our partnership kick-off last September, with our honored guest Former First Lady Laura Bush. It was well worth the wait. Watch Here.
TDC Ellis/Lee College Partnership Flourishes
Our partnership with Lee College and the TDC Ellis Unit Horticultural program has flourished and expanded into the major source of LLFoR plant propagation. The inmate growers are now Master Naturalists and enthusiastic ecology champions, with the Heartwood chapter teaching new classes each year. You can learn more about the impact LLFoR had on them indirectly through master naturalist instruction in the video they produced which won first place at the 2017 Master Naturalist conference in Corpus Christi.
New Planting Sites Being Identified
Last year Steve Barr and Dan Ashe conducted a site survey that showed only a 50% success rate in our plantings. To ensure more protected sites, we are working with TRA and TPWD to identify sheltered creeks and coves, many on the northern end of the lake. These should allow better progression of American Water-willow by shielding them from the semi-tropical breezes that can become less than gentle. Steve Barr is also working with the Ag and Horticulture teaches at our 8 schools to begin a series of smaller plantings. They will also participate in growing the new plants under review. LLFoR's next major planting is scheduled for May 4, site to be determined. The smaller creeks and coves are better suited to small planting teams.