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Home | Tag Archives: Sul Ross State University

Tag Archives: Sul Ross State University

New Endowed Chair is Largest Gift in Sul Ross State University History

ALPINE, TX – The Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University is pleased to announce the largest philanthropic gift in its 10-year history. The $1.5 million gift will fund a new Nau Endowed Chair in Habitat Research and Management at BRI.

The Nau Foundation in Houston has pledged $100,000 to an endowment and $50,000 for operations annually over the next ten years. The gift is also the largest ever received by Sul Ross State University.

“Endowments are among the most impactful philanthropic gifts that can be made because they provide funding certainty for key faculty positions,” said Dr. Bill Kibler, Sul Ross State University President. “We are extremely grateful to John L. Nau III and the Nau Foundation for this incredibly generous gift. It is a strong show of support for the outstanding reputation of BRI and will help expand the expertise of our faculty by allowing us to hire a national expert focused on habitat research and management for the region.”

Nau is the chief executive officer of Silver Eagle Distributors in Houston, the largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch products in the United States. The Nau family owns a ranch in West Texas and has been actively involved with the BRI for more than 10 years.

The Nau family has supported BRI research projects, including studies on desert bighorn sheep, quail, and mule deer in West Texas. The Nau family has not only helped fund these studies, but their family and ranch personnel actively engage and interact with BRI students. Family member Parker Johnson currently serves on the BRI Advisory Board.

“We’re proud to make this gift to support BRI’s habitat program,” said Johnson. “BRI has been a great asset to our ranch operations, to the landowners of the region, and throughout Texas. Learning more about the habitat that supports thriving wildlife populations will ensure future generations will enjoy the natural resources we have today. Our family believes that supporting the habitat program will have the most impact on future conservation efforts.”

“The Nau family are champions of conservation and they have been leaders in the stewardship of natural resources on the ranches they own and operate in West Texas and across the state,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, who is the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., BRI Endowed Director and professor of Wildlife Management at Sul Ross.

“What I respect the most about the Nau family is that they truly care about natural resource conservation and they seek information about how to best steward the resources they manage on their properties. They let science guide their management decisions and that philosophy has been the cornerstone of our relationship with them. We are immensely grateful for this gift.”

The position will have a joint research and teaching appointment and will be jointly funded by Sul Ross State University and the endowment. Harveson hopes to hire the new position in 2018.

Borderlands Research Institute Celebrates 10 years of Collaborative Conservation

(Alpine, TX) The Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University is marking ten years of collaborative efforts to conserve one of the most biologically diverse regions of the world: the Chihuahuan Desert in the borderlands of West Texas.

Through research, education, and outreach, BRI has encouraged effective land stewardship throughout the region by providing land managers with the most current scientific information. A steady stream of graduate students has produced new research annually on topics ranging from pronghorn to songbirds.

“Collaboration with our many partners makes our work possible,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, who is the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., BRI Endowed Director and professor of Wildlife Management at Sul Ross. “With 95 percent of Texas in private hands, our most important partners are the landowners we work with every day. Conservation in Texas begins and ends with private landowners.”

Since BRI’s inception, the institute has graduated more than 60 graduate students, with another 25 currently enrolled. Under the guidance of faculty professors, more than 80 significant research projects have been completed, adding to the body of knowledge that has improved land management practices.

“One of the key things we’ve learned in the last decade is that we need to manage wildlife on a much larger scale,” said Harveson.

“Tracking thousands of radio-collared animals has demonstrated that many species require much larger landscapes than we thought. That means if we want healthy wildlife, we need to work with our neighbors. We all have a responsibility and role to play in conservation.”

Research findings on pronghorn are a case in point. BRI is working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, landowners and many other partners on a pronghorn restoration project. BRI research insights are driving some of the management decisions.

For example, BRI research data documented that pronghorn frequently make movements in excess of 15 miles within a few days. In addition, one of the more surprising findings is the unwillingness of pronghorn to cross fences.

For decades it was assumed that pronghorn easily negotiated wire fences. It wasn’t until BRI students put GPS collars on the pronghorn and tracked them that scientists and wildlife biologists learned that was not the case. Another study demonstrated the problem could be easily resolved with a simple fence modification.

Since then, TPWD and BRI have spent thousands of hours modifying fences to accommodate pronghorn. In addition, many landowners have voluntarily replaced miles of restrictive fence with pronghorn-friendly fencing.

“In a relatively short amount of time, BRI has grown to be a trusted partner for landowners, ranch managers, conservation organizations, and state and federal agencies,” said Elliott Hayne, BRI Advisory Board Chairman.

“Landowners across the region have allowed BRI students to access more than two million acres of private land for their research projects. Not only has the institute contributed significantly to the body of knowledge about West Texas natural resources, we are also training the next generation of conservation leaders.”

Besides research and education, outreach to land managers is a top priority for BRI. Getting scientific information into the hands of those who can apply it on the landscape improves land management practices across the region. BRI shares knowledge through newsletters, research briefings and landowner workshops.

Every four years, BRI hosts the Trans-Pecos Wildlife Conference, bringing together researchers, wildlife biologists, land managers and landowners to share the latest knowledge about wildlife and their habitat needs.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of BRI’s operation is that it is essentially self-funded through private dollars and grants. The first annual budget in 2007 was only $3,000.

Today BRI is managing almost $3 million in research accounts and has endowments that exceed $3 million.

“It’s a remarkable public-private partnership,” said Dr. Bill Kibler, Sul Ross State University President. “The quality of the research program has attracted support from private donors and foundations that has enabled the program to grow. We are grateful for the support. The Borderlands Research Institute has become the flagship program for the university.”

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