Riparian, stream ecosystem training set for April 7 in Bellville

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The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) will host a free Texas Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education Program training from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 7 in Bellville for area residents interested in land and water stewardship in the Mill Creek watershed.

The morning session will be at Concordia Hall, 952 South Tesch St. The afternoon session will include a walk and presentations along the creek.

Clare Escamilla, research associate at the institute’s San Antonio office, said the training is co-hosted locally by the Mill Creek Watershed Partnership and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Austin County.

Attendees must RSVP by April 3 online at Texas A&M Marketplace, to Escamilla at 210-277-0292 ext.205, or clare.entwistle@ag.tamu.edu.

The program will include a lunchtime presentation. A catered lunch will be provided for $10 or participants may bring their own lunch.

Ward Ling, watershed coordinator for the Mill Creek Watershed Partnership said Mill Creek is impaired for not meeting the recreational standard for E. coli. The 256,000-acre watershed flows through parts of Washington and Austin counties and contains cropland, rangeland, forest and developed land.

“A local stakeholder group has been working on implementing the watershed protection plan to introduce voluntary practices that benefit instream water quality,” Ling said. “This training is a good opportunity for those interested to learn more about best management practices beneficial to water quality.” Ling will provide an update on the Mill Creek Watershed project during the lunch hour of the program.

Escamilla said proper management, protection and restoration of these areas directly influences water quality and quantity, plus stabilizes stream banks and improves fish and aquatic habitats and communities.

“The goal of the workshop is for participants to better understand riparian and watershed processes, the benefits of healthy riparian areas and what resources are available to prevent degradation while improving water quality,” she said.

Escamilla said the institute is able to offer the training without cost thanks to program funding provided through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Participants will receive a certificate of completion and appropriate continuing education unit certificates at the conclusion of the training.

The training offers many types of continuing education units, including three units — two general and one integrated pest management — for Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide license holders. It offers one unit from the Texas Water Resources Institute, seven credits from Texas Floodplain Management Association, seven hours for Certified Crop Advisors, and six hours for Texas Nutrient Management Planning specialists.

The program may also be used for continuing education units for professional engineers. The riparian education program is managed by the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.

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