32nd Annual Native Plant Society Of Texas Fall Symposium
Thursday, October 4 – Sunday, October 7, 2012
YO Ranch Hotel and Conference Center in Kerrville Texas

“The Texas Hill Country – a Changing Landscape”

Early 19th century Texas explorers described the Hill Country landscape as savannahs interrupted by groves of sparse timber with “real thickets” existing only in the “ravines of water courses.” Buffalo and bear were found near Town Creek in what is now downtown Kerrville, while the Pedernales River was described as “smart and clear.” By the 1860’s, much of the timber near settlements had been cut for human dwellings, and livestock had already begun to take a significant toll on the prairie grasses.

Fast forward to the late 20th century, and we find the historic balance of savannah and woodland landscapes trending towards more shrubby woodlands threatened by invasive species and unchecked populations of white-tail deer, exotic species, and livestock that place pressure on our botanical resources. Burgeoning human populations with increasing thirst for our water resources further aggravate the issue by destroying or fragmenting native habitats which are the guardians to the gates of our aquifer. Exceptional drought, wildfires, and tree diseases have created new stresses and opportunities for the landscape to evolve in different ways while also serving as learning opportunities for conservationists. Most of our wild lands reside in private ownership which creates both challenges and opportunities for promoting improved stewardship practices.

What will the future landscape of the Hill Country resemble? Mother Nature proves to be ever resilient in re-balancing our natural environment in ways that are not always initially evident to us and on time scales that humans cannot always appreciate. Fortunately, we are learning from our past mistakes. Awareness and appreciation for our natural resources are increasing, and we are gaining new insights on becoming better stewards of our native landscape and how to better influence its natural transformative processes. Interest in conservation of water resources serves as a catalyst for using native plants in landscapes and for preserving native habitats. But will our efforts be effective, and will they come soon enough?

Symposium 2012 explores the history of the Edwards Plateau eco-region, highlights the factors that have influenced its transformation, and debates the issues that we face today in conserving our native plants and habitats. Our speakers will share their research and best practices on how we might positively influence the future evolution of the landscape, improve stewardship of our natural resources, and preserve unspoiled natural habitats in the Edwards Plateau. Field trips to diverse locales will showcase beautiful examples of endemic habitats and efforts to restore or preserve endangered areas.

Do not miss this opportunity to enhance your awareness and knowledge of our Texas Hill Country – A Changing Landscape!

Symposium 2012 is open to anyone interested in the role that native habitats play in our daily lives and offers a tremendous opportunity to learn how to restore and preserve our state’s rich and diverse native plant communities. In an effort to attract more students and educators, we will offer scholarships to qualified applicants. Please contact us at symposium@npsot.org or (830) 997-9272 for more information.