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Farm, Ranch, and Recreational Hunting Property for Waterfowl Along the Texas Gulf Coast

January 29, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 110

Along the Texas Gulf Coast lies a broad coastal plain that extends up to 80 miles inland and encompasses over 9.5 million acres. This ecologically important geographic area is commonly referred to as the Texas Coastal Prairies and it provides important habitat for one of the largest winter concentrations of waterfowl in all of North America. Historically this regions flat topography was dominated by tall prairie grasses interspersed with a mosaic of natural ponds or "potholes". During years of average to above average rainfall these natural potholes were inundated, providing habitat for ducks and other wetland dependent wildlife.

The flat topography and long 270-day growing season of this region made it well suited for agricultural production of rice. Rice soon became the primary crop with rice-pasture rotations and rice-rotation crops such as milo and soybeans becoming standard agricultural practice by the 1960's. Production of rice in Texas is limited to the southeastern Gulf Coast; an area commonly referred to as the Rice Prairies or Texas Rice Belt. This area encompasses 18 counties between the Guadalupe River in the southwest and Sabine River in the southeast. There are 10 distinct prairies ranging in size from 195 to 1,160 square miles located within the Texas Rice Belt. In most years this region winters over 2 million snow geese and 1.5 million ducks making it one of the top destinations in the U.S. for waterfowl hunting enthusiasts.

The rice prairies of the Texas Gulf Coast have long been an important wintering ground for waterfowl migrating down the Central Flyway. The infrastructure utilized for rice agriculture make the Texas Rice Belt well suited for development of recreational hunting property and waterfowl management. Harvested rice fields inundated during wet cycles or by mechanical means provides a food source that waterfowl quickly exploit. When properly managed residual rice grain left after harvest provides waterfowl with a dependable high-energy food source. In addition, fallow, set-aside, and retired rice fields can easily and economically be converted to waterfowl impoundments managed exclusively for native moist soil vegetation. These native grasses, sedges, rushes, and smartweeds typically referred to as "weeds" by Texas rice producers are high in protein and make up an important food resource for waterfowl.

The greatest potential for developing hunting properties for waterfowl management exists in areas where wetland hydrology has been altered or modified by agriculture. Areas that are poorly drained with a reliable water source to allow shallow winter flooding are well suited for waterfowl management. Land with clay or silty clay loam soils are best suited for development of waterfowl impoundments because these soils compact well, creating a tight seal when flooded. Water and soil dynamics play an important role in determining habitat condition and utilization by waterfowl. Food resources must be provided in a manner that makes them available to waterfowl. Impoundments that are shallowly flooded (6" - 12") place food within the forage zone of the greatest number of waterfowl species as well as other wetland dependent wildlife.

Development of hunting properties for waterfowl management typically requires the construction of levees and proper placement of water control structure devices to replicate natural hydrologic regimes. Levees and water control structures should be designed based on topography to maximize the amount of flooded habitat at optimal foraging depths. A detailed topographic survey will help determine proper placement of levees, water-delivery and water-discharge systems, and ultimately determine the optimal size of the wetland.

There are a multitude of state, federal, and private grant programs available in Texas that provide funding for restoration, enhancement, and management of waterfowl habitat on recreational hunting property. By enlisting the services of a professional that is knowledgeable in both recreational hunting land and wildlife habitat development and management, you can ensure you find the right property and take full advantage of these available funding opportunities. If you're in the market to find your very own waterfowl hunting property you owe it to yourself to take a look at the Texas Coastal Prairie. As they say, "everything is bigger and better in Texas".

Ed Ritter is a Certified Wildlife Biologist, Licensed Real Estate Broker, and owner of Wildlife Management Enterprises, LLC (WME). WME is an exclusive real estate brokerage, consulting, wildlife habitat development, and wildlife management company specializing in farm, ranch, and recreational hunting properties in Texas. Ed has over 20 years of real estate and wildlife management experience and provides both seller and buyer representation with a distinct clear cut advantage over other competitors in the market place. Visit WME's website at and contact us today to turn your dream of owning your own Texas farm, ranch, or recreational hunting property into a reality.

Source: EzineArticles
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