Prioritization of Riparian Conservation Opportunities in the Upper Guadalupe River Basin (UGRB), South-Central Texas
Udita, Tasnuva Shabnam
The Upper Guadalupe River Basin (UGRB) is home to abundant terrestrial and aquatic wildlife resources and diverse flora, however human-mediated land uses and structures like dams and road-crossings are negatively affecting aquatic organism passage (AOP) and riparian vegetation. This dissertation used a priority- and percent-rank based system to analyze and present the spatio-temporal connectivity results of the basin’s extant riparian vegetation and barriers, to support riverine and land conservation efforts. The results revealed that 110 barriers ranked highly for either removal or remediation and many coincide spatially with partial or complete loss of the surrounding riparian vegetation. The majority of lateral disconnectivity is observed near urban developments in the lower floodplain valleys, while most of the intact vegetation is found on non-floodplain areas located on higher elevations. Approximately 3% of the riparian vegetation is completely lost within the 1990-2022 period with minimal dispersed areas of gain. An additional 6.3% would benefit from either conservation, restoration, or some combination of both. However, the real-world application of conservation actions is difficult and complex due to the dominance (96%) of private land ownership in the basin. Conservation easements have proved to be one of the most effective tools in management of the state’s lands and water. There are many opportunities to convince landowners to enter into easement agreements and engage them into conservation activities, such as- maximum tax and cost incentives, sensitivity to landowners’ personal views and values, negotiable contract terms, and non-perpetual contracts. The federal government plan “America the Beautiful” facilitates such actions with special emphasis on public-private collaboration and would be beneficial for the UGRB in the effort to increase its natural habitats and eco-tourism based economic possibilities.
barrier, riparian, conservation, restoration, connectivity, Upper Guadalupe River, aquatic connectivity, longitudinal, riparian buffer, land ownership, spatio-temporal
Udita, T. S. (2023). Prioritization of riparian conservation opportunities in the Upper Guadalupe River Basin (UGRB), South-Central Texas (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.