LAMPASAS — Stakeholders in the Lampasas watershed district gave their resounding approval of the Lampasas River Watershed Protection Plan at a meeting hosted Thursday by Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
About 15 stakeholders attended the meeting to discuss details of the plan, which was released in January and open for review and comments.
Although a quorum of the steering committee was not present, the group decided to move forward to explore outreach programs and funding opportunities, said Lisa Prcin, Texas AgriLife research associate at the Blackland Research & Extension Center in Temple.
“We presented changes to the watershed protection plan based on comments we’ve received,” she said. “Stakeholders were in agreement with the comments and changes, and the group will present the information for final stakeholder approval in September. There will also be a kick-off celebration to implement these activities in September, as well.”
The Lampasas River watershed includes parts of Bell, Burnet, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Mills and Williamson counties. Water quality concerns about elevated levels of bacteria were first discovered in a 2002 Texas Water Quality Inventory report released by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Prcin said the protection plan identifies groups and agencies that provide state and federal governments grants. She has already started pursuing available funding opportunities.
Jared Timmons, an extension associate and feral hog specialist with the Texas Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, also spoke at Thursday’s meeting, highlighting the feral hog program’s initiatives for improving water quality.”
“Basically, we try to educate landowners in how to control feral hogs, and we provide site visits if someone has a problem and needs more assistance,” he said.
Feral hogs are not native to Texas, Timmons said, and their presence on land and in creeks in the Lampasas River watershed contributes to the presence of E. coli in the water. The E. coli is acquired through accumulated waste and the hogs’ use of water bodies to seek relief from the heat.
“Feral hogs have no sweat glands, so they use the streams to cool off in the hotter months,” he said. “There’s also a problem with the sedimentation — as they lay in the streams, it can redirect the sediment, causing problems with the amount of light that can get down to the surface, which affects fish and plant life.
“The more feral hogs that are removed off the landscape, the more we can improve water quality in the Lampasas River watershed.”