In Texas, conservation organizations are doing important work to ensure that we live in a world with a vibrant wildlife population, water for a sustainable environment and economy, and wild and beautiful places that are essential to our collective identity.

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LEAD CONSERVATION PARTNER

Texan by Nature (TxN) advances conservation. TxN does this by bringing conservation and business together to accelerate conservation action in the Lone Star State. TxN activates new investments in Texan-led conservation, amplifies and accelerates conservation innovation, and connects 100+ TxN conservation partners and business members to the resources and partners they need to succeed. All TxN programs - Conservation Wrangler, TxN Certification, TxN 20, and Symposia series - act as means to connect resources, convene partners, and catalyze action to benefit Texas’ people, economic prosperity, and natural resources. Learn more about supporting TxN’s work and supporting organizations in TxN’s conservation partner network (many listed below!) to uplift the state’s collective conservation impact.

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BLACK BEARS

Early records by naturalists and accounts from hunting expeditions indicate that black bears were once abundant in west Texas. However, unregulated hunting, habitat loss, and predator control led to their disappearance by 1950. In the 1980s, black bear sightings resurfaced and increased in Big Bend National Park, and they were listed as threatened by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Black bears have since been naturally recolonizing west Texas, something that rarely occurs for extirpated populations.

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The mission of the Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management is to help conserve the natural resources of the Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands through research, education, and outreach. The Institute’s goal is to provide land managers with the most current scientific information on the management of natural resources of the area. To meet this goal, the Institute plans and conducts research investigations on various aspects of the natural world and provides the results to the land managers so that they may more effectively manage the resources with which they are entrusted.

 
 
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BISON & PRAIRIES

Bison are a keystone species within the prairie ecosystem. Bison grazing allows plants to flourish, reduces the amount of dead vegetation, and encourages new growth, which influences the variety of plants and animals of the prairie. Historically, bison were a valuable food source for predators, scavengers, and humans. In 1870, 4.5 million bison roamed most of Texas from the Gulf Coast Prairie to the High Plains and by 1878, due primarily to unregulated hunting, the herd had all but disappeared. Thanks to the efforts of Mary Ann (Molly) Goodnight, a handful of bison calves were saved and became the foundation of the bison herd that currently roams Caprock Canyons State Park.

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The Nature Conservancy (TNC) works collaboratively in Texas to protect our land, water, wildlife, and way of life while tackling a changing climate. Since 1964, TNC has protected nearly one million acres of Lone Star land, including the native grasslands that historically blanketed our state. Texans can thank prairies and grasslands for cleaning our water, helping to protect us from floods, mitigating air pollution and providing a home for biodiversity. Learn why native grasslands are living laboratories for harnessing the resources and knowledge of our land stewards to educate landowners, researchers, and everyday Texans about the importance and function of these grasslands—and how we can make them work for people and the planet.

Texas Tribal Buffalo Project is a non-profit dedicated to the developing relationship of our relatives the Iyanee’/ Buffalo and reconnection and healing of generational trauma of the Lipan Apache and other indigenous communities and tribes in Texas.

 
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WATER

The future of Texas’ cities, small towns, agricultural lands, rivers, and bays depends on the choices we make today about how we use and allocate fresh water. Much of the state’s supply of water lies beneath the surface in 9 major and 22 minor aquifers, while the state also boasts 191,000 miles of streams, 7,000 man-made reservoirs, and 3,000 springs. Texas’ future depends on sound water policy and sustainable solutions for people and the environment.

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Texas Water Trade is a nonprofit organization harnessing the power of markets and technological innovation to build a future of clean, flowing water for all Texans. Founded in 2019, Texas Water Trade’s vision is durable, long-lasting water supplies in Texas that ensure future economic growth, ecological resilience, and abundant water for present and future generations, no matter their income or zip code.

Texas Water Foundation is working to lead Texas into a sustainable water future by investing in the next generation of water leaders, equipping decision makers, and inviting every Texan to recognize that Texas Runs on Water.

Great Springs Project is working to create a greenway of contiguous protected lands between Austin and San Antonio over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. This green corridor will be connected by a network of spring-to-spring trails, linking four of Texas’ Great Springs: Barton Springs, San Marcos Springs, Comal Springs, and San Antonio Springs. Great Springs Project works to unify and connect existing local efforts and catalyze new efforts to address the most critical water, land, wildlife, and public health challenges facing the Central Texas region.

 
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GUADALUPE BASS

Guadalupe bass are native to streams originating on Texas’ Edwards Plateau that include the subbasins of the Brazos, Colorado, Guadalupe, and San Antonio Rivers. In 1989, the Texas Legislature designated the Guadalupe bass as the official state fish in the wake of two decades of decline in their native waters. Their decline is linked to the loss and degradation of habitat and reduced streamflows related to the demands of a growing human population and hybridization with smallmouth bass.

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In the heart of Texas, the population of 18 Hill Country counties is growing exponentially, resulting in increased demands on nearby rivers. Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF), the official nonprofit partner of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), is raising funds to ensure the long-term health of these critical water sources.

 

Funds raised by TPWF are supporting the work of TPWD and its partners to facilitate improvements along the rivers to reduce erosion, improve water quality, restore and preserve native plant communities, and support healthy in-stream habitats for fish and other aquatic resources in the Blanco, Pedernales, Devils and Llano River watersheds. Since the effort began, biologists have worked to restore over 8,500 acres of habitat and improve management of over 100,000 acres of ranch land.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) mission is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Threats to Guadalupe bass are enormously challenging to address, but since concerted efforts were launched in 1991, TPWD and partners have restored or conserved fishable populations of Guadalupe bass in 14 central Texas rivers. This was supported through actions such as conservation stocking of over 2.4 million Guadalupe bass fingerlings, implementation of nearly 50 habitat restoration or preservation projects, and watershed-scale management of riparian invasive plants in eight watersheds. Efforts to assess, monitor, or restore additional populations of Guadalupe bass are currently planned or underway in another 13 rivers throughout central Texas.

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BATS

Texas is home to 32 of the 47 species of bats found in the United States. Not only does it hold the distinction of having the most kinds of bats, it also boasts the largest known bat colony in the world, Bracken Cave Preserve near San Antonio, and the largest urban bat colony, Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin.

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Founded in 1982, Bat Conservation International has grown into a globally recognized conservation organization dedicated to ending bat extinctions. The organization’s goal is to redefine what is possible in global conservation, through the utilization of cutting-edge tools, technology, and training to create a real, measurable impact.

 
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WHITE-TAILED DEER

White-tailed deer are one of Texas’ greatest conservation success stories. Deer populations have rebounded from an estimated 232,000 in 1938 to nearly 4.5 million animals statewide today. The species was nearly lost from its historic range across much of the United States due to the westward expansion of roads, communities, and farms and the unrestricted hunting of deer and other animals during the 1800s and early 1900s. In Texas today, hunters, wildlife enthusiasts, private landowners, researchers, and state agencies work together to ensure that white-tailed deer remain healthy and plentiful across every one of the state’s 254 counties.

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The Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville is the leading wildlife research organization in Texas and one of the finest in the nation. Established in 1981 by a grant from the Caesar Kleberg Foundation for Wildlife Conservation, the Institute operates as a nonprofit organization and depends financially upon private contributions and faculty grantsmanship. Their mission is to provide science-based information for enhancing the conservation and management of Texas wildlife.

The Institute's Deer Research Program is committed to conducting research relevant to free-ranging white-tailed deer in Texas and northern Mexico. This research seeks to increase understanding of white-tailed deer ecology and thereby increase the effectiveness of deer management. Scientists at the Institute are committed to promoting habitat management and conservation because of its importance to deer and all other wildlife.

Texas Wildlife Association focuses its efforts on advocating for the rights of private landowners and hunters while working to create public awareness through natural resources education for all Texans about the important role that each plays in land and wildlife management. The future well-being of wildlife, game, nongame, and rare species depends upon private landowners’ commitment to habitat. They are the real stewards of the land in their care. Motivated by what Aldo Leopold called a land ethic, enabled by sustainable markets and incentives, and nurtured by their association with the entire land, hunting and conservation communities…private landowners in Texas are achieving real conservation results.

 
 
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OCELOTS

Fewer than 80 ocelots are known to exist in the United States today. While a few male individuals have been spotted in Arizona, the only known breeding populations in the US live in South Texas, distantly isolated from larger populations across the border in Mexico. In order for an ocelot population to thrive, they must have a large enough area of contiguous habitat with dense cover and prey. Approximately 80% of the known ocelots in Texas live on private lands. Together with research partners, landowners are collecting data to help design recovery strategies. The recovery of the ocelot largely depends on private land stewardship and collaboration with state and federal wildlife agencies to expand the home range and breeding population of this secretive and beautiful wild cat.

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East Foundation promotes the advancement of land stewardship through ranching, science, and education. The Foundation manages over 217,000 acres of native South Texas rangeland, operated as six separate ranches in Jim Hogg, Kenedy, Starr, and Willacy counties. Their land is a working laboratory where scientists and managers work together to address issues important to wildlife management, rangeland health, and ranch productivity.

The foundation’s El Sauz ranch near Port Mansfield, Texas, is home to the largest known population of ocelots in Texas, and the organization contributes to ocelot recovery by collecting data on ocelot population size, survival and mortality, movements and activity, prey abundance and food habits, habitat use, and competition with other carnivores in order to solidify science-based recovery strategies.

The mission of the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is to educate the public regarding the flora, fauna, and natural environment of the Refuge. We accomplish this through functions and educational events, promoting public support for the Refuge by encouraging and organizing volunteer services, and soliciting public donations for use in supporting, assisting, and enhancing ongoing conservation projects on the Refuge.

The Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute​'s Feline Research Program, under the direction of Dr. Michael Tewes, began a long-term project focusing on the ocelot in 1981 and represented the first research on this feline anywhere within the Western Hemisphere. The achievements and recognition of this study provided the basis for research expansion into many areas, including cat ecology, behavior, social organization, molecular genetics, diseases, parasites, biogeography, human dimensions, techniques, satellite and remote sensing, population estimation, and population modeling. These research projects are continuing today and of the 36 species of wild cats existing today, this program has studied 12 different cat species, including the ocelot, jaguarundi, margay, bobcat, and cougar in Texas and Mexico, the clouded leopard, golden cat, marbled cat and leopard cat in Southeast Asia, and the leopard in Africa.

 
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BIG THICKET & EAST TEXAS

Renowned as the “biological crossroads of North America,” Big Thicket in East Texas is a remarkable mix of southeastern swamps, eastern deciduous forest, central plains, pine savannas, and dry sandhills. There are 10 distinct ecosystems within the nearly 106,000-acre Big Thicket National Preserve that are home to a variety of unique plants and animals. Four of the five carnivorous plants in North America can be found here, as can more than 20 types of orchids.

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Texas Land Conservancy (TLC) is a statewide conservation organization dedicated to protecting the land, water, and wildlife of Texas from the negative effects of land fragmentation and poorly-planned development. Since 1982, TLC has worked with communities, private landowners, and other partners to preserve land, restore native habitats, and connect people to nature. Many of the properties protected by TLC are working farms and ranches, while others contain important habitat for wildlife and native plant communities. All of these lands are beautiful examples of Texas’ natural heritage and, through TLC, are permanently protected. In particular, the Pineywoods of East Texas has been one of TLC’s primary focuses over the last 40 years, including the first protected property which is an inholding in the Angelina National Forest. TLC now protects over 53,000 acres of land in East Texas and over 121,000 acres statewide.

Established in 1964, the Big Thicket Association (BTA) was a grassroots effort to advocate for protecting the natural and cultural heritage of Southeast Texas with the establishment of the Big Thicket National Preserve. With the Preserve created in 1974, BTA expanded its mission to advocate for protection of other key ecological sites. Today BTA is providing outdoor educational learning with a floating classroom on the Ivory Bill vessel and supporting science, field research and new species discovery with the Thicket of Diversity project.

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is the voice of America’s national parks, working to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for present and future generations. For more than a decade, NPCA has served as a leader in building a more resilient Big Thicket, investing time and resources alongside local organizations and community stakeholders to restore, revive and renew this unique region. In support of the Big Thicket National Preserve, recognized as the biological crossroads of North America, NPCA is growing a local coalition around the national park to advance native longleaf pine restoration, recover the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, increase resiliency of the region to flooding and other storm damage, and enhance recreational resources as a growing economic asset for local communities.

The Texas Longleaf Team was formed in 2014 by more than 200 diverse and conservation-minded stakeholders to accelerate the restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem on both private and public forestlands in Texas. By 2025, the TLT seeks to establish 15,000 acres of longleaf pine, enhance and/or maintain 110,000 acres, primarily through prescribed fire, and conserve 30,000 acres of longleaf pine on private lands through long-term agreements or easements to preserve our longleaf forests as “working forest lands.” Accomplishing these goals would more than double the area of Texas longleaf documented in the 1990’s. In order to accelerate restoration on private lands, the TLT currently works to connect landowners with funding, education and technical assistance for planting and management practices that benefit the longleaf ecosystem.

 

COASTAL BIRDS

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Texas is home to approximately 139 species of waterbirds, which includes waterfowl like ducks, geese, and rails; colonial waterbirds like herons, egrets, gulls, and terns; and shorebirds such as sandpipers, plovers, curlews, and three species of seabirds such as the magnificent frigatebird and the brown booby.

In the spring and fall, hundreds of species of birds stop all along Texas’ coastal marshlands to rest before continuing their cross-continental journeys and some to mate and nest. In fact, due in large part to its position at the midpoint between two continents and two oceans and to its assemblage of coastal marshes, estuaries, lakes, islands, prairies, and woodlands, more bird species may be observed on the Texas coast than any other place in North America.

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Established in 1969 as an autonomous, self-supporting chapter of the National Audubon Society, Houston Audubon’s mission is to advance the conservation of birds and positively impact their supporting environments. This is accomplished through acquiring and maintaining critical habitat as bird sanctuaries, providing education programs and nature experiences, and advocating policy and management actions in support of the mission. Houston Audubon owns and manages 17 nature sanctuaries encompassing 4,121 acres across the Greater Houston and Galveston regions and became an Accredited Land Trust in 2017.

Audubon Texas is the state branch of the National Audubon Society, dedicated for over 100 years to conserving and restoring natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity. 

Audubon Texas protects and manages colonial waterbird populations in every major bay system on the Texas Gulf Coast, identifies and conserves the most important sites for birds statewide, and is working to reach 50,000 students annually through conservation education and stewardship action at three urban Audubon Centers.

The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory (GCBO) is an independent non-profit organization located on the Upper Texas Coast, recognized as an innovative conservation organization, designing and conducting significant numbers of large avian conservation projects. These include migration studies, habitat enhancement, land acquisition, regional habitat mapping, and others, in order to accumulate, assess, and distribute high quality bird population and conservation information that will provide a scientific basis for the protection of birds and their habitats around the Gulf of Mexico and far beyond.

 
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THE TEXAS GULF COAST

The Texas coastal ecosystem provides perhaps the greatest ecological diversity found in the US. The bays and estuaries play a critical role in maintaining the fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico. Freshwater inflow is the source of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus that fuel the microscopic plants and animals of the bays and estuaries that form the basis of the coastal food chain.

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The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) is a non-profit marine conservation organization. CCA is comprised of 17 coastal state chapters spanning the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic seaboard, and the Pacific Northwest. CCA's strength is drawn from the thousands of recreational saltwater anglers who make up its membership.

In Texas each year, CCA funds programs focused on enforcement, education, research, and healthy coastal fish populations.

Harte Research Institute (HRI) is set apart from other marine research institutions by its use of the HRI Model, a unique interdisciplinary way of working that integrates our science with economic, policy, and sociological expertise. While its solutions are science-driven, the challenges facing the Gulf of Mexico can't be solved by science working alone. HRI scientists are encouraged to think broadly and pursue partnerships to create lasting solutions.

The Galveston Bay Foundation works to preserve and enhance Galveston Bay as a healthy and productive place for generations to come through programs in STEM-based children’s education, habitat restoration, water protection, land conservation, and advocacy. It envisions a Galveston Bay that is brimming with vitality, connected to people and contributing to the community in every possible way.

For over 20 years, the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (or CBBEP) has been working with partners to create a Texas coast with cleaner water and sediment, healthier habitats, greater public access, and a more aware and engaged public. With the help of partners, the CBBEP has restored thousands of acres of marsh habitat, implemented dozens of projects designed to improve water quality, and installed infrastructure to enhance public access opportunities. In addition to implementing projects that address priority issues like water quality, habitat restoration, and nature tourism, the CBBEP has created programs for environmental education, coastal habitat conservation, and coastal birds.