Two individuals were recognized at the January 21st Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting by Executive Director Carter Smith for their outstanding natural resources stewardship and cross-border collaboration in wildlife conservation.
Oscar Garcia Ugarte received the recognition on behalf of 47 private landowners and six ejidatarios (communal ranchers), all of whom developed a wildlife management plan for their ranches and collaborated to pool about 321,000 acres of land for conservation, forming the Palo Blanco Basin Wildlife Management Co-op.
The co-op was established in 1994 by Consejo Estatal de Flora y Fauna Silvestre de Nuevo León for habitat restoration. White-tailed deer, Rio Grande turkey and javalina have been stocked in the region, and the landowners participated in workshops to learn a science-based approach to manage the habitat for these and other species. Often, they learned side-by-side with Texas landowners when they attended workshops at TPWD wildlife management areas.
Jorge Villarreal Gonzalez, who co-founded Consejo Estatal de Flora y Fauna Silvestre de Nuevo León in 1993, also received recognition. Consejo provided technical guidance to the landowners, helped organize a community cooperative patrolling system to strengthen wildlife enforcement, developed environmental education programs, taught hunter education courses, and trained some landowners as hunter education instructors.