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2014-03-13

Brush management improves pastures

Courtesy SWCD Larry Stark, District Conservationis

Why spend money and time managing the invasive brush on your land? Doesn't it have wildlife habitat benefits and provide nesting for birds? Yes, it does provide some benefit but it is out of proportion to the need and the negative effects it creates.
Larger areas of grasses and forbs are actually more beneficial for wildlife because they provide more forage on the edges of brush cover and open areas and have higher nutrition levels. Grasses and forbs also provide valuable nesting for ground birds such as quail.
Invasive species such as cedar (blueberry juniper), mesquite, and huisache, and in some areas, mountain laurel and persimmon, historically only made up 3-8 percent of the plant population and typically only grew in restricted areas due to inability to spread because of healthy stands of grass and forbs.
Grass allows water to soak into the soil and recharge the water table. It prevents erosion, whereas heavy stands of brush not only cause more erosion and do not hold the soil and associated fertility in place, but these brush species are also water hogs and deplete the soil water from your ground.
Through several different conservation programs, the Bandera County Soil & Water Conservation District can assist landowners in addressing brush management needs, if the landowner qualifies and is eligible for these programs.
Even landowners not eligible for financial assistance, can receive assistance in planning steps to benefit their operation and the land.
Contact the SWCD office for assistance by calling 830-796-3334, or stopping by at 2886 SH 16 North, at Mansfield Park in Bandera.