Erosion Control for Wildlife Management Use
Any active management practice that attempts to reduce or keep soil erosion to a minimum for wild animals’ benefit is erosion control for the wildlife tax valuation. Soil erosion can take place just about anywhere in Texas, although farm lands and ranch lands, especially those located in hilly areas, tend to more disposed to having issues. Many landowners will not have erosion issues or will only have minor issues that will be resolved after livestock are removed (or at least deferred for some time) from the property. Some erosion control practices include:
- Pond construction
- Gully shaping
- Streamside, pond and wetland revegetation
- Establishing native plants
- Dike, levee construction or management
- Water diversion
Wildlife Management Use and Protecting Soil
Pond construction for the wildlife tax valuation in Texas is defined as building a permanent water pond to prevent, stop or control erosion as an approved Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) watershed project while providing habitat diversity and benefiting wildlife. Whenever possible, property owners should use ponds to help create or restore shallow water areas as wetlands and for water management.
Gully shaping involves reducing erosion rates on severely eroded areas by smoothing to acceptable grades and re-establishing vegetation. An area should be seeded with plant species that provide food and/or cover for wildlife.
Streamside, pond and wetland revegetation means revegetating areas along creeks, streams, ponds and wetlands to reduce erosion and sedimentation, stabilize streambanks, improve plant diversity and improve the wildlife value of sensitive areas. Some revegetation practices include:
- Building permanent or temporary fences to exclude, limit or seasonally graze livestock to prevent erosion
- Using hay (native, when possible) to slow and spread water runoff in areas where vegetation has been recently re-established
- Establishing plant buffer areas or vegetative filter strips along water courses or other runoff areas
- Installing rip-rap, dredge spoil or other barrier material along embankments to prevent erosion and protect wildlife habitat
- Establishing stream crossings to provide permanent low-water crossings to reduce or prevent erosion
Establishing native plants on critical areas is one method of controlling erosion. These plants also can provide food and/or cover for wildlife and restore native habitat. Some of the ways to establish these plants include:
- Establishing and managing wind breaks/shelterbelts by planting multi-row shelterbelts, renovating old shelterbelts (re-fence, root-prune and replace dead trees) and establishing shrub mottes
- Establishing perennial vegetation on circle irrigation corners by revegetating at least every other corner to reduce erosion and sedimentation, improve plant diversity and improve wildlife habitat
- Planting permanent vegetation on terraces and field borders to reduce erosion, improve plant diversity and improve wildlife habitat
- Conserving tillage/no-till farming practices by leaving waste grain and stubble on the soil surface until the next planting season to provide supplemental food or cover for wildlife, control erosion and improve the soil tilth
- Managing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) cover by maintaining perennial cover established under the CRP on erodible sites using proper management techniques such as haying, prescribed grazing or burning
Dike, levee construction or management is a way to establish and maintain wetlands or slow runoff to control or prevent erosion and to provide habitat for wetland-dependent wildlife. Levee management may include reshaping or repairing damage caused by erosion and revegetating levee areas to reduce erosion and sedimentation and stabilize levees. This practice may include fencing to control and manage grazing use by livestock as well.
For the wildlife tax valuation, water diversion systems also can be installed by landowners for erosion control to divert water into wetlands to provide habitat for resident and migratory water birds and wetland-dependent species. This wildlife activity can be be very beneficial for both plants and animals in some ecoregions of Texas.