Conservation Vision

The goal of the Land And Nature Decision Support System is to provide information and resources to help minimize developmental impacts to locally significant ecological and social-cultural assets in Far West Texas.

The Origin

The Land And Nature Decision Support System, hereafter referred to as LANDSS, was born out of the Respect Big Bend effort. Respect Big Bend convened experts and stakeholders from the Tri-County Big Bend region including Brewster, Jeff Davis, and Presidio counties to serve on a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) to identify priorities in the region. Members of the SAG included local landowners, energy industry and service providers, community members, government officials, and conservation partners. This group identified seven values that are the foundation of a shared conservation vision for the Tri-County region:

1. Ranching heritage and private property rights
2. Sky islands, water resources, and grasslands
3. Wildlife and migratory corridors
4. Tourism and hunting
5. Viewsheds and vistas, dark skies, remoteness and quietude
6. Community, safety, quality of life
7. Culture, music, and the arts

The Data

Respect Big Bend translated those ecological and social values into spatial data proxies. For example, water resources are represented by known riparian areas, wetlands, and springs. The spatial data were compiled from ongoing research projects at the Bureau of Economic Geology, The Nature Conservancy, and the Borderlands Research Institute and then mapped across an 18-county study area. All input values were equally weighted and summed together into a single metric representing a surface of cumulative values across the entire landscape.

The goal in estimating future energy development patterns is to determine the likelihood that oil, gas, solar, or wind development may occur at a particular location over the next 30 years, circa 2050. More information about the design process and methods for collecting and mapping data can be found in the 2021 Technical Report.

Intended Use

LANDSS focuses on 18 counties in West Texas. It offers the ability to toggle on and off layers showing the Cumulative Values Map, individual ecological and social layers, existing oil and gas pads, existing renewables sites, different scenarios forecasting the impact of oil/gas development, and potential for renewables site development.

LANDSS can also be used to analyze an area of interest (AOI) and determine what percentage of the value classes exist in the AOI. This can be done by selecting a county, uploading a shapefile (saved as a zipped file), or drawing a polygon directly on the map. The results of the AOI analysis can be viewed in the Results tab and saved to an HTML page, if desired.

Use of LANDSS can be considered the first step in making a siting decision, but it should not be considered a substitute for on-the-ground knowledge and validation. We strongly recommend working with conservation agencies/organizations (TPWD, NRCS, BRI, etc.) on any significant land management decision involving siting of energy development. We hope that energy development companies, conservation organizations, and private landowners will consult LANDSS as they move forward with siting decisions.

LANDSS currently reflects datasets from 2020.
The projections for energy sites may change as technology improves and new sites are developed.
LANDSS does not include any historical resources or archaeological sites.

Access LANDSS by clicking on this link:

For more information about LANDSS or the value layers, please contact:
Alex Hettena, GIS Specialist

For more information on Respect Big Bend, energy siting, or land management decisions, please contact:
Billy Tarrant, Associate Director of Stewardship Service