Where the First Raindrop Falls - Water Cycle

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Information about Where the First Raindrop Falls - Water Cycle

Published on September 23, 2013

Author: mulebarn



Steve Nelle presents Where the First Raindrop Falls - The Water Cycle to the 2013 Master Naturalist, Hill Country Chapter training class.

“Saving the water and the soil must start where the first raindrop falls” Lyndon B. Johnson, 1947 Where the First Raindrop Falls

““All my life I have drawn sustenance fromAll my life I have drawn sustenance from the rivers and from the hills of my nativethe rivers and from the hills of my native state . . .I want no less for all the children ofstate . . .I want no less for all the children of America than what I was privileged to haveAmerica than what I was privileged to have as a boy.”as a boy.” Lyndon B. JohnsonLyndon B. Johnson

Healthy and Abundant Waters

Texas has some severe water challengesTexas has some severe water challenges Common “Solutions” to Water Crisis Dams / Reservoirs Dredging Wells /Pipelines Desalinization Brush Control Water Conservation An Overlooked Opportunity

Water Comes From the Land

“In the primitive state of the country, the mountains and hills were covered with soil and there was an abundance of timber. The plains were full of rich earth, bearing an abundance of food for cattle.” The Land / Water Connection is not a new concept

“Moreover, the land reaped the benefit of the annual rainfall, having an abundant supply of water in all places; receiving the rainfall into herself and storing it up in the soil. The land let off the water into the hollows which it absorbed from the heights, providing everywhere abundant fountains and rivers.”

“Such was the state of the country, which was cultivated by true husbandmen, who made husbandry their business, and had a soil the best in the world and an abundance of water.” A description of Ancient Greece Plato, 400 B.C

“In comparison of what then was, there now remain only the bones of the wasted body. All the richer and softer parts of the soil have fallen away … a single night of excessive rain now washes away the earth and lays bare the rock. Now the land is losing the water, which flows off the bare earth into the sea.”

What happens to rainfall when it hits the ground? Soaks in Runoff

Watershed Water Catchment

Dysfunctional Water Cycle

Properly Functioning Water Cycle

Water CatchmentWater Catchment WatershedWatershed

The essence of Good Land / Water Management Keeping a healthy cover of desirable vegetation on the ground Minimizing bare ground

Key Principle of Land / Water Management: Slow the movement of water as it flows downhill.

The Premise of EcologicallyThe Premise of Ecologically Sustainable Livestock Ranching:Sustainable Livestock Ranching: GrassGrass SurplusSurplus is Available For Grazingis Available For Grazing

Caring for the Green Zone, Riparian Areas and Grazing Management Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Project, “Cows and Fish Project”

Water Catchment Watershed

Land Stewardship helps process and protect the water of Texas: • Absorbs the rainfall • Stores the water • Releases the water in moderation • A more even distribution over time • Prolongs base flows • Maintains high quality water

What is Land Stewardship? What is a Land Stewardship Ethic?

Aldo Leopold 1887-1948

“A land ethic reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of land.”

“An ethic, ecologically, is a limitation of freedom of action.” - Leopold

Land Health and the A – B Cleavage “Conservationists are notorious for their dissentions: Group A regards the land as soil and its function as commodity production Group B regards the land as a biological complex; and its function as something broader.”

“In my own field of forestry . . . Group A is quite content to grow trees, like cabbage, with cellulose as the basic forest commodity. Group B manages a natural environment rather than creating an artificial one. It worries on biotic as well as economic grounds . . . about a whole host of secondary functions – wildlife, recreation, watersheds.”

“In the field of wildlife, cleavage also exists Group A the basic commodities are sport and meat; the yardsticks of production are ciphers of take in game. Artificial propagation is acceptable as a permanent or temporary recourse. Group B worries about a whole series of biotic side issues: predators . . . exotic species . . . rare species”

Land Stewardship: A deeply held inner conviction that motivates land managers to care for the land entrusted to them . . . not only for their own personal benefit, or for the benefit of future generations, but also for the benefits to society

JX  RANCH                                                                        Ranch Stewardship . . . . we realize that the decisions we make on this ranch have a rippling effect . . . . Our goal is to improve the ecological health of the land, while at the same time making a living for ourselves . . .

The basis for successful ranching and wildlife management A Land Stewardship EthicA Land Stewardship Ethic The Basis for Successful Ranching, WildlifeThe Basis for Successful Ranching, Wildlife Management and Water ConservationManagement and Water Conservation

Maintaining the Integrity of the Hill Country Large tracts of land . . . . Native vegetation Private ownership Good stewardship Economically sustainable

Everything is Connected

Those who do not understand natureThose who do not understand nature are destined to deplete itare destined to deplete it

Those who understand nature bestThose who understand nature best are compelled to conserve itare compelled to conserve it

No easy answers No simple solutions


““For every complex problem,For every complex problem, there is a solution that isthere is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong”simple, neat and wrong” H. L. Menken; 1880 - 1956H. L. Menken; 1880 - 1956

What is the basis of land knowledge? • Misinformation; Hearsay • Myths • Tradition • Paradigms; Bias • Ignorance • Good intentions • Accurate information • Good science; Logic • Stewardship ethic

Food for Thought

Land Management Questions to Ponder: • What was the historical vegetation of EP (pre 1850)? • Was the EP a vast open grassland? • Is juniper an “invader”? • Is juniper undesirable? • What effect does juniper have on water dynamics? • Does juniper destroy grasslands? • Does juniper cause erosion? • Do you understand juniper? • How do you decide what is the best mgt for your land? • Do you ever get conflicting information and advice? • Do land management professionals necessarily have the correct answers

Hill Country Natural History: Myths *, Legends and the Record Eric Lautzenheiser 1. Hill Country was a sea of grass 2. Cedar does not belong in Hill Country 3. Removal of cedar restores the land 4. Cedar is a great water guzzler 5. Hill Country can be restored “It ain’t what it used to be; it never was and never will be”

Understanding Juniper

Juniper Water Deer Management Aesthetic Value Soil Livestock Ranching Political Legal Social Other Plants Land Value Other Animals Economics Endangered Species Fire The complexity ofThe complexity of land managementland management

Miranda Expedition; 1756 Describing conditions along Cibolo Creek, and Guadalupe, Blanco, San Marcos Rivers “In all this region, there are no commodities nor anything except good cedar and oak timber… Crossing many swollen creeks and thickets of cedar and oak timber”

“The forests are very heavy. There is an abundance of cedar and various oaks scattered about in groupings…we went out… to survey the cedar forest to the east..” Berlandier; 1828 In the Guadalupe basin near present day Hunt

“…our course lay over mountains of rock and through cedar brake, which so impeded our course and bewildered our guides…” W. B. Dewees; 1830 Near confluence of San Saba and Colorado River

“The mountains are are of third and fourth magnitude…They are clothed with forests of pine, oak, cedar and other trees, with a great variety of shrubbery.” William Kennedy; 1839 A composite description of a large area including the canyons and uplands of the Nueces, Medina, Pedernales, Guadalupe, Llano, Colorado, San Saba, and Bosque Rivers

“From the Medina to the Hondo…prairie fairly timbered up to the mountains, which are covered with cedar” DeCordova;1858 Present day Bandera County

“an open grassy plain, only broken here and there by brushwood and scattered live oak trees” Roemer 1845-1847 Describing the landscape to the west of the Hill Country

“Some portions of the hills are very well timbered – others are prairie.” George Bonnell; 1840 Area northwest of Austin

“The periodic burning…drove out the shrubs and prevented the timber from gaining on the prairie” William Bray, 1904

“Overgrazing has greatly reduced the density of the grass. The practice of burning has disappeared. These conditions have brought about a rapid expansion of woody growth” Foster, 1917

Did Cedar Destroy theDid Cedar Destroy the Grasslands?Grasslands?

Does Cedar Destroy or Restore the Land? Juniper Trees, Soil Loss, and Local Runoff Processes;Juniper Trees, Soil Loss, and Local Runoff Processes; William and Nina Marsh; 1992William and Nina Marsh; 1992 The landscape . . . has been characterized by episodic change, fluctuating from waves of instability and soil loss to waves of stability and soil building. Instability was initiated by widespread overgrazing . . . Whereas relative stability came with juniper invasions. With each wave of juniper clearing, instability was renewed. It is essential to recognize the value of ashe juniper as a stabilizing agent in the landscape. Juniper stands also function as effective sediment sinks. With each juniper invasion, runoff and soil loss rates declined and soil material accumulated under the canopies. On the other hand, ashe junipers do not represent an environmental panacea. Careful consideration must be given to the appropriate balance among grasses, oaks, junipers and other vegetation types . . . Based on many factors including soil stabilization, runoff rates, biodiversity, etc . .

What should you do with Cedar? Get rid of ? Reduce / Thin ? Trim / Prune ? Leave alone ?

No easy answers No simple solutions

Helping Landowners Become Land Stewards Maintaining Large Tracts of Private Land Undeveloped in Perpetuity

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