The Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) along with its partner organizations announced today a $7 million pledge from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). This award will support the Texas Coastal Prairie Initiative, which aims to conserve large contiguous areas of coastal prairie through the work of KPC and its 21 project partners.
“We are so grateful for this award that will allow KPC and its partners to work with private landowners to permanently protect and enhance coastal prairie, including working cattle ranches, farmland, and natural areas,” said Mary Anne Piacentini, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Katy Prairie Conservancy. “This initiative will sustain the coastal prairie ecosystem, preserve wildlife corridors, and help improve water quality in multiple watersheds. The threat of fragmentation and development pressure in the Texas Upper Coast makes this work especially timely, and we can’t wait to get started.”
The RCPP is an important NRCS program that adddresses regional natural resource concerns and enables partners to implement solutions to conservation challenges. The Texas Upper Coast has experienced rapid growth, resulting in the conversion of farms, fields, and prairies into strip malls, offices, parking lots, and proliferating suburbs – consuming thousands of acres of the coastal prairie, one of the most important and threatened ecosystems in North America. “This initiative will help KPC and its partners address one of our region’s greatest natural resource concerns – the disappearance of coastal prairie,” explains Elisa Donovan, Vice President and Legal Counsel for the Katy Prairie Conservancy. “After identifying critical coastal prairie habitat zones that are under threat of development or fragmentation, voluntary conservation easements with local landowners will be used to permanently protect these key conservation lands. The Texas Coastal Prairie Initiative will also develop a recommended suite of native coastal prairie management practices to assist area landowners.”
The collaboration of many partner organizations is an aspect of this project that will ensure its success. “By working together with all these partners on the Texas Coastal Prairie Initiative, we will be keeping land in agriculture for local farmers and ranchers, providing new opportunities for people to enjoy nature, and conserving essential wildlife habitat corridors. I am thrilled to be a part of this well-timed work aimed to safeguard a diminishing resource that provides our community with so many benefits,” said Tim Pylate, Executive Director for the Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Natural areas like coastal prairie play an important role in regional flood control by absorbing and holding floodwaters from downstream and providing a local means to sequester carbon and slow climate change, while also providing surrounding communities with recreational opportunities, water quality enhancement, health benefits, and improved quality of life.