Changing Our Approach to be More Effective
Recognizing the need to leverage time, talent and resources in a deliberate way in the Southwest Region, the Regional Directorate Team is adopting a model to effectively establish long-term strategic conservation priorities. Emphasis Areas will allow us to better leverage our resources and achieve strategic habitat conservation throughout the Southwest Region. The Emphasis Areas approach is a model for prioritizing our limited resources for the greatest return on our conservation investment.
Regional Leadership carefully assessed our current budgets, existing staff and workloads, and our footprint and determined that by focusing on Emphasis Areas we can leverage our budgetary and
personnel resources as well as opportunities
to build on our partnerships.
Brazos River Crossing Removal Helps Two Endangered Fish Species
(Before removal): This road crossing in Kent County was hindering migration for fish in the vitally important Brazos River (credit: USFWS) .
The Brazos River is the largest river between the Rio Grande and the Red River in Texas. From its headwaters in New Mexico to its outlet in the Gulf of Mexico, the 810 miles of the Brazos River provide habitat for an array of fish, plants and wildlife within the Great Plains Emphasis Area. The Brazos River is also a popular recreation destination, drawing outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy boating, camping and fishing along the scenic river.
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The 5 Emphasis Areas
The Gulf Coast - The Gulf Coast Region of Texas includes some of the most productive marshes and estuaries in North America. It encompasses near-coastal bottomland hardwood forests and oak mottes important to millions of migrating songbirds, shorebirds, wading birds and other wetland dependent species; the Service has a large conservation presence (about 450,000 acres) along the Texas Gulf Coast which protects many of the best wildlife habitats in Texas.
The Great Plains - The Southwest Region has three of the eight states that encompass the Great Plains geography: New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Some of the most compromised fish and wildlife habitats in the United States are found in this area, along with a number of imperiled species, including the recently listed lesser prairie-chicken. This landscape and the associated plant and animal communities are impacted by urbanization and development.
Rio Grande - The majority of the 182,200 square-mile Rio Grande watershed occurs in the Southwest Region. In New Mexico, the Rio Grande watershed is home to 63 percent of the state’s human population. Beginning in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the Rio Grande flows south through New Mexico, where it supports the fragile middle Rio Grande bosque ecosystem in its floodplain. The river continues moving south and east as it traverses a broad variety of landscapes and habitats through Texas and serves as the boundary between the United States and Mexico. Finally, it crosses the Chihuahuan Desert and Tamaulipan Brushlands before it joins the Gulf of Mexico.
Mogollon - The Mogollon is a rugged escarpment that forms the southern limit of the Colorado Plateau. It extends from northern Yavapai County in Arizona, eastward to near the Arizona/New Mexico border across heavily forested land and into New Mexico. Much of the land south of the Mogollon lies 4,000 to 5,000 ft. (1,200 to 1,500 m) above sea level, with the escarpment rising to about 8,000 ft. (2,400 m).
East Texas/Oklahoma - East Texas and Oklahoma are home to the one of the largest limestone aquifer systems in the world, with essential riverine habitat. The Edwards Aquifer lies within this Emphasis Area and is hugely important to the region. The importance of water in the arid southwest cannot be overstated. Focusing on this area, gives the Southwest Region an opportunity to get out ahead of endangered species issues by working proactively to implement conservation actions.