Respect Big Bend Wrapped Up 2020 Seminar Series
The Respect Big Bend (RBB) coalition wrapped up their fall 2020 seminar series hosted by the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) via webinar. Despite the pivot to online events due to COVID-19, participants remained engaged in the process.
“We were able to involve a great lineup of speakers, and that really helped attract participants to the webinars,” said Billy Tarrant, BRI Associate Director of Stewardship Services, who led the effort to organize the seminar series. “Despite the change from in-person seminars to an online format, the public was still eager to listen, learn, and engage with a terrific group of speakers”.
The webinars kicked off on Sept. 16, with speakers Dr. Joe Kiesecker and Melinda Taylor. Kiesecker and Taylor spoke about the Development by Design process and how the values of local landowners, community members, conservation groups, and industry representatives relate spatially to potential energy development. There was high engagement with webinar attendees during the question and answer session. Discussion topics included solar versus wind development, reputable exploration and production companies, and the Respect Big Bend Stakeholder Advisory Group.
The second webinar was held on Oct. 8, with speakers David Yeates, Chris West, and Dr. Chase Currie. The panel discussed conservation opportunities for landowners, positive environmental outcomes from energy partnerships, and how such partnerships can make a positive environmental impact on area ranches. Webinar attendees engaged in discussion topics including land restoration, wildlife impacts from energy development, eminent domain reform, and surface use agreements.
The third and final seminar was held on Oct. 22, featuring BRI’s Dr. Louis Harveson and Billy Tarrant. They discussed the conservation values of the region, the RBB efforts to visually display those values along with potential energy projections, and potential recommendations that could be used to minimize the impact of development. During the discussion session, attendees were curious about how community members can contribute to the coalition efforts, diverse landowner partnerships, and incentive-based cost share opportunities.
“We were gratified to get positive feedback from webinar participants,” said Tarrant. “We received constructive responses from community members, describing how critical and timely the webinar discussion sessions were. Our goal with these seminars is to educate, inform, and prepare this region with the tools they need to make energy development decisions if and when the time comes, and it feels good to know we’re accomplishing that.”
For more than a decade, the Borderlands Research Institute has encouraged effective land stewardship of the Chihuahuan Desert. Housed at Sul Ross State University, the Borderlands Research Institute builds on a long-lasting partnership with private landowners, the university’s Range and Wildlife Program, and cooperating state, federal, and non-governmental organizations. Through research, education, and outreach, the Borderlands Research Institute is helping to conserve the last frontier of Texas and the Southwest.