Big Bend seminar to discuss where energy and conservation meet

ALPINE — Sul Ross’ Borderland Research Institute is exploring where energy and conservation meet at a free seminar on March 18. Seminar attendees will hear from subject matter experts Joseph Kiesecker with The Nature Conservancy and Melinda Taylor from the University of Texas.

The seminar is the second in a series designed to engage a broad constituency of Big Bend community members to better inform them on recent energy projections, potential impacts on communities and conservation values, and to develop creative strategies to conserve the unique resources and communities of the region. A seminar that had been scheduled on Feb. 5 was cancelled due to weather and re-scheduled for April 22. The first seminar, held in January, provided an opportunity for the community to hear from energy and conservation experts about the possible conflicts between energy development and the conservation values of the region.

The seminar series is sponsored in part by Respect Big Bend Coalition, The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, Permian Basin Area Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, Still Water Foundation and the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University.

“The Respect Big Bend Coalition has been working hard for over a year now, trying to better understand what energy projections will look like for the Greater Big Bend region, and what type of solutions we can deploy to conserve the landscape and wildness of the region that we hold dear,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, who is the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., BRI endowed director and regents’ professor of wildlife management at Sul Ross State University. “The Development by Design process is at the core of our strategies to engage a broad group of stakeholders. The March seminar will provide insight in how we are applying that model to the energy issues surrounding West Texas.”

Kiesecker is lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s global land and water conservation program. He is a leader in developing guidance to balance energy and infrastructure demands with environmental conservation. He has also been at the forefront of moving development and mitigation planning to a landscape scale. He pioneered the Conservancy’s Development by Design approach, an initiative that seeks to improve development planning through the incorporation of predictive modeling to provide solutions that benefits conservation goals and development objectives and directs its implementation in over a dozen countries around the world.

Taylor is a senior lecturer at the University of Texas School of Law, where she teaches courses on environmental and energy law, including the environmental impacts of energy development. She founded the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law and Business and was the first executive director of the center. Prior to U.T. Law, Taylor directed the Ecosystem Restoration Program for the Environmental Defense Fund.

Each seminar in the series will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Espino Conference Center at Sul Ross State University in Alpine. Register for the March 18 seminar: