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Environment & Nature

How Population Growth Is Affecting The Texas Landscape


Texas consistently ranks as one of fastest growing states in the U.S. On Think, Krys Boyd talked with conservationist David Todd about the ways that growth is affecting the natural landscape.

David Todd is the co-author of “The Texas Landscape Project: Nature and People.”  

The KERA Interview

David Todd on …

… the growth of Texas:

“Texas has been on a growth spurt since the 1830s. The growth has been a good thing for Texas and its economy, and it has really brought a lot of vibrancy to the state. But it’s also brought a lot of pressure on the natural resources that we have here.”       

… how cars affect the landscape:

“We love our cars in Texas. I’m a big fan of the car and of course it needs a road and parking lot and garage, and much of Texas has been built out in a low-density sprawling way to accommodate our use of cars and make it convenient for us. But all that space dedicated to cars has sucked a good deal out of some of the prime agriculture areas of the state. It’s affected the prairies - some of the natural ecosystems that we have here - and so I think we have to be conscious of this.”

… appreciating Texas landscape:

“A lot of us, when we think about wilderness we think of maybe the Amazon or the great frozen north of the Yukon, but for Texas the wilderness may be the 300 species of grasses and forbs that you find in a native tall grass prairie. It’s not dramatic. It’s not 300-foot-tall redwoods. It may be a grass that’s six inches tall, but it’s very distinctive and it represents a lot of diversity and richness for the ecosystem that’s based here in Texas.”

… use of ground water:  

“Texas is fortunate to have good aquifers and ground water supplies in the eastern part of the state, but as you move farther west it’s been a real difficulty … We’ve lost something of like a thousand springs, major springs, some of them including the one that was formally called Government Springs in Fort Stockton. I think we are starting to realize that this is a finite resource … And so there may be some sort of day of reckoning coming up for the traditional agriculture that we see in the panhandle today because of these water shortages.”