John L. Nau III donates $1 million for West Texas habitat research

ALPINE — Thanks to a generous donation from a longtime supporting donor, the Borderlands Research Institute is enhancing West Texas habitat research efforts that will benefit native wildlife. John L. Nau III has committed $1 million over the next five years to support BRI’s Habitat Enhancement Project.

“BRI is committed to promoting meaningful habitat conservation in West Texas, but best management practices aren’t always apparent when you combat drought, invasive species, brush encroachment, changes in hydrology, and the other factors landowners typically face in the Trans-Pecos,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, who is the Dan Allen Hughes Jr., BRI endowed director and professor of wildlife management at Sul Ross State University. “If we are to be successful in restoring rangelands to functioning systems, we must evaluate different and novel techniques. The Habitat Enhancement Project is designed to develop best management practices for a variety of natural resource conditions, and the generous gift from John Nau is an investment in using good science to combat the natural resource challenges that landowners face in the region.”

Research studies indicate that habitat degradation due to brush encroachment, invasive plants, desertification, severe drought and overgrazing causes reductions in wildlife populations. Because of this, effective restoration requires land stewards to recognize the amount of disturbance or management intervention needed to cause habitats to shift to a required state that meets the needs of wildlife. BRI’s ongoing research efforts will provide the data land managers need to improve land stewardship efforts.

“Our goal is to employ an adaptive management strategy to assess habitat improvements on flora and fauna of the region using site-specific, science-driven management recommendations,” said Dr. Carlos (Lalo) Gonzalez, assistant professor of natural resource management and the Nau endowed professor in habitat research and management at BRI. “We will continue our research efforts to learn more, and will share what we learn with land stewards across West Texas.”

Nau is chairman and chief executive officer of Silver Eagle Beverages, one of the largest distributors of Anheuser-Busch products in the United States.  He owns a ranch in West Texas and has been actively involved with the BRI for more than a decade.

Since 2007, the Borderlands Research Institute has encouraged effective land stewardship of the Chihuahuan Desert. Housed at Sul Ross State University, the Borderlands Research Institute builds on a long-lasting partnership with private landowners, the university’s range and wildlife program, and cooperating state, federal and non-governmental organizations. Through research, education and outreach, the Borderlands Research Institute is helping to conserve the last frontier of Texas and the Southwest.