Water in the Desert Conference Scheduled at Sul Ross State University

Registration is now open for Water in the Desert, a first-of-its-kind conference about water in the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas taking place at Sul Ross State University on Thursday, January 18, 2024.

The conference brings together experts, landowners, community members, scientists, and elected officials to discuss the future of water in West Texas. Everyone is welcome.

“This conference will help attendees better understand and appreciate the critically important water resources of the area and the complex water challenges facing our region. We look forward to learning from a diverse and talented group of individuals who will inform our program,” said Director of the Rio Grande Research Center and Geology Professor Kevin Urbanczyk.

On January 18, the conference begins at 8 am with registrant check-in, coffee and snacks at the Espino Conference Center on the Sul Ross campus, followed by a full-day program of speakers and panel discussions. Preconference activities on Wednesday afternoon, January 17, include an on-campus technical session and a downtown mural dedication for Alpine Runs on Water.

Attendees will receive a broad overview of hydrologic systems in the Chihuahuan Desert followed by a panel on Texas legislative policy with invited panelists Senator Charles Perry, Representative Tracy King, and Senator César Blanco. Groundwater science and management strategies will be discussed in a panel featuring groundwater conservation district leaders from across the region.

David Yoskowitz, Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will provide the lunchtime keynote address.

Afternoon panels include a landowner discussion moderated by James Oliver who serves as a director and chair of Natural Resources and Wildlife for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Panel members with diverse perspectives will share and discuss the challenges, responsibilities, opportunities, and solutions around the realities of water in the desert.

The Land and Water Stewardship panel will cover practices that enhance groundwater recharge and surface water ecosystems, mitigate flooding, and provide lasting benefits to both landowners and communities. Moderated by Dr. Bonnie J. Warnock, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Life, and Physical Sciences at Sul Ross State University, the panel features Jeff Bennett, Habitat Restoration Hydrologist with Rio Grande Joint Venture, Steve Nelle, retired NRCS and leading expert on riparian landscapes, Casey Wade, President/CEO of The Dixon Water Foundation, plus Alpine Mayor Catherine Eaves bringing a community perspective.

Attendees will learn about several on-the-ground projects in the West Texas region in a fast-paced final session moderated by Robert Potts of the Dixon Water Foundation. Segments will include Las Cienegas, Comanche Springs, San Solomon Springs, the Lower Pecos River, Presidio County Steering Committee, and cost share opportunities for landowners.

Dr. Brian McCall, Chancellor of the Texas State University System, will deliver closing remarks.

For full agenda, speaker details, and online registration, visit https://bri.sulross.edu/events/water-in-the-desert-2024/. Space is limited.

For information and to inquire about table exhibitor opportunities, please contact info@waterinthedeserttx.org.

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