Mission: The strategic objectives of the trust are to (1) provide economic incentives to water rights holders to leave some water in the stream for maintaining healthy flows for fish, wildlife, agriculture and recreation; and (2) help willing landowners protect springs and restore riverside habitat. The trust's guiding principles include: respect for private property rights recognition of landowner stewardship promotion of the natural and cultural heritage and economic values associated with the rio grande and its tributaries in the trans pecos region.
Programs: The trust has partnered with the dixon water foundation to protect a 1,090 acre-tract of land known as the alamito creek preserve. The tract of land, located 30 miles south of marfa, includes a 3. 5 mile section of scenic alamito creek, a major tributary of the rio grande containing wonderful natural resources, such as native fish and a mature cottonwood canopy forest. The preserve is used for educating teachers, secondary school students, and university students in stream ecology, riparian management and other issues critical to the future of our west texas rivers and streams. We have already begun holding teacher workshops in conjunction with the region 18 education service center and have hosted several educational groups. The alamito creek preserve will be a venue for such areas of study as range and agricultural science, biology, archeology, geology, water and soil conservation, conservation and environmental studies. Base line biological and archeological studies of the property have already begun. The trust is also working with the desert fishes habitat program of the us fish and wildlife service on a mesquite removal and habitat restoration project for the alamito creek preserve.
the trans pecos water trust currently leases 1,840 acre-feet of water rights from water rights holders in the trans pecos portion of the rio grande basin. The basic process is the trust signs a lease contract with the water rights holder that will pay the water rights holder an annual per-acre-foot fee. The trust then adds an "instream use" clause to the lessor's water rights permit by applying to amend the lessor's permit issued by the texas commission for environmental quality. Please note that adding instream use to a permit allows the water to remain in the stream and be "used" by the river for aquatic insects, fish, and other wildlife, and for enhancing vegetation that grows on the banks of the river, but nowhere in this process does the water rights holder lose any control of his or her water, and does not "give up" the water to any other entity, only agrees to not use the water for irrigation or other purposes for the time period stipulated in the contract. Current practices are that the fee is negotiated between the trust and the landowner, and is usually not more than the local established rate for water rights leased for other purposes. However, during the lease contract period, the trust will also pay the tceq an annual maintenance and management fee, alleviating that financial burden for the water rights holder. After negotiating a lease of water rights, the trust will initiate the administrative process for leasing the right and adding instream use to the list of beneficial uses on the tceq permit so the water can remain in the stream. An additional and very important benefit to the owner while the water right is under lease to the trust is the water right will not be cancelled by tceq for non-use because it's "use" has been designated in the amended permit as being for instream flow.
restoration projectsprivate lands in 2010, the trust mechanically removed mature salt cedar from 50 acres of abandoned farm-lands near presidio and plans to use these restored lands to raise native plants and seeds for future restoration projects. The trust removed mature salt cedar from ten acres around a permanent spring fed pool of water (near presidio) with more work planned at this site as funding allows. Big bend ranch state parkin the fall of 2008 trans pecos water trust began a multi-year project of removing salt cedar from 290 miles of canyons and creeks in big bend ranch state park. With the help of volunteers, the trust completed removal of salt cedar in madera canyon down to the river road bridge and began work in fresno creek near the old mine in 2009. In 2010, in the span of only 2 trips and about 40 volunteers, the trust successfully cleared 7 miles of the upper fresno canyon, and 4 miles of the lower contrabando canyon. Restoration work will continue in the fall of 2011, with several trips scheduled. The trust needs more volunteers to help with this project. Working for the rio grandephase 1 will concentrate efforts in that stretch of river between confluence of rio conchos/rio grande and lajitas, texas. The work will focus on eradicating non-native vegetation and replanting native species when necessary along the banks, in tributaries, on sand/gravel bars, and in wetlands. The trust will conduct labor-intensive removal of invasive species, hiring locally, creating temporary employment opportunities and using volunteers. Funding is needed for this project. If you can help, please contact the trust.