Who Owns Public Lands in Texas

27.1 percent of U.S. land, or 615.3 million acres, is federally owned. Federal lands are 

administered for preservation, recreation, and resource development. 

The BLM oversees 39.7% of federally owned property. The Forest Service is responsible for 31,4% of the federal territory. The Fish and Wildlife Service oversees 14.5% of public lands and protects endangered species, wildlife refuges, fisheries, and migratory birds. The National Park Service oversees 13% of federal lands, while the Defense Department owns 1.4%.

The 1985 Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has given shelter and habitat to numerous animal species. When a contract ends, land managers must make management decisions that affect wildlife and habitat, hunting land guidance, property tax and land values, and other long- and short-term revenue prospects. 

Land having an agricultural assessment in Texas can keep it if managed for wildlife. Private consultants and state and federal resource organizations, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Texas AgriLife Extension Service, can help landowners. 

As urbanites seek outside activities, rural acreage with rich wildlife habitat increases in value. Landowners who desire to increase their property’s commercial potential can lease to hunters and wildlife watchers. Some hunters don’t require a guide, but others need one. Individual hunters, groups of hunters, outfitters, or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s public hunting program can lease the area. Or the landowner may run the hunt themselves. Wildlife observers need more time, effort, and amenities than hunters. Combining the two can be optimal. 

Wildlife is one of the ranching’s resources, thus the two go hand-in-hand. The 2008 Farm Bill prioritizes CRP participation in the working lands Grassland Reserve Program. Excellent rangeland management is good wildlife management, although changes are needed to maximize wildlife and livestock output. Landowners can prioritize cattle, wildlife, or both, based on their goals. 

Owners who desire to put their land back into crop production should evaluate the economics with the revenue potential of maintaining the area in CRP with certain wildlife enhancements. Most program lands were erodible or hard to grow. Returning such land to agricultural production involves fulfilling USDA commodities or conservation requirements. Farmers should “farm the best and abandon the rest” Highly erodible and odd-shaped terrain should be left for animals. 

Wildlife Benefits

Continuous CRP protects important wildlife habitats near streams and other water sources. Wildlife benefits from wind and natural grasses. Former wetlands not in a flood zone, such as surrounding farmland playas, can be sown to offer pheasant and duck habitat and prevent sedimentation. The Wetland Reserve Program may pay for playa restoration. CP29 uses marginal pastureland as a wildlife habitat buffer. Some counties grant CP38 Wildlife Enhancement State Acres to improve wildlife habitat. 

All of these approaches provide landowners financial incentives to preserve nesting, brood rearing, transit corridors, and winter cover. They help quail, prairie fowl, pheasants, deer, and other animals, which may assist the farmer or rancher. 

Because CRP property was once farmed, it lacks fencing and water. Landowners who wish to combine grazing and wildlife can check out the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, which offers cost-share assistance for cross-fencing, irrigation, removing brush, regulating grazing, and controlled burning. 

Landowners who want to protect endangered or decreasing species should seek cost-share financing. The NRCS Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and the TPWD Landowner Incentive Program all offer help. 

Maintaining Wildlife Habitat

Maintaining wildlife habitats on properties for sale might pay dividends since purchasers value wildlife and pleasure. 

These management approaches can help preserve animal habitats. If the present vegetative cover remains unaltered or ungrazed, expect brush encroachment. White-tailed deer like 40 to 70% bush canopy cover, mule deer 25 to 35%, quail and smaller prairie birds up to 25%, and pronghorns almost none. To please several species, compromise is needed. Single-species grass is widespread in CRP fields, but it’s less productive and less valuable to wildlife than several species, reducing the amount and types of wildlife the land can support. 

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