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UH Coastal Center

Home of the Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education

2022 Coastal Prairies Restoration Practitioners Forum

Join us at the 2023 Coastal Prairies Restoration Practitioners Forum (see details).

April 20–21, 2022

Program Overview

The University of Houston Coastal Center and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department co-hosted a coastal prairie restoration forum designed for decision-making restoration practitioners. Attendees listened to presentations from professionals and participated in discussions on topics focused on control of specific species of non-native brush and trees, grasses, and sedges.

Additional topics included the next steps in restoration after initial treatments, the sources for Texas prairie restoration funding, and effective monitoring strategies for the validation of restoration progress. The forum was structured to allow information exchange among attendees and between attendees and presenters.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Steven Apfelbaum
Dr. Steven I. Apfelbaum is Director and research scientist of Applied Ecological Institute, focused on bringing ecological solutions to our most challenging problems. Apfelbaum retired as science advisor for RES December 2021, and after a 43 year career as senior ecologist and chairman of Applied Ecological Services, Inc. where he contributed to research, land management, and design and construction of ecosystem restoration projects including many projects across the prairies or North America. His books, “Nature’s Second Chance”, and the series, “Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land” have received national awards as the personal story of restoring his farm in Wisconsin, and as the first “how-to- do” restoration books, respectively. In addition, he has authored over a hundred technical papers and contributed to such books as “Laughing in the Wilderness”, “S is for Soils”, “Prairie Restoration Handbook”, and “Soil Carbon—environmental, economic and cultural benefits”. Apfelbaum has degrees from University of Illinois in the ecological sciences, including plant and animal ecology and broad experience in aquatic, terrestrial and wetland systems on earth. Apfelbaum co-teaches a class on the future of coastal ecosystems on earth at Harvard and has held research and teaching appointments at various universities in U.S., France, and in South and Central America.

Trey Barron
Trey Barron began his career with TPWD in 2011 as a wildlife biologist in the Texas Panhandle. In May of 2014, he moved to the coast to serve as wildlife biologist for Victoria, Refugio, and Calhoun Counties. Trey is now the Wildlife Diversity (non-game) Biologist for Region 4 and is focused on species of greatest conservation need. He received his Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology and Master of Science in Biology from West Texas A&M University. He enjoys helping landowners manage habitat for a variety of species, but is especially interested in birds and herps.

Dr. Megan Clayton
Since 2010, Dr. Megan Clayton has been an Extension Rangeland Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Department of Rangeland, Wildlife, and Fisheries Management at Texas A&M University in College Station. Her responsibilities as a Rangeland Specialist have her based at the Corpus Christi Research and Extension Center and include providing support for Extension agents, specialists, clientele, and organizations through teaching, training, and providing technical expertise on management of rangeland resources. Megan’s current interests include blending wildlife habitat and livestock range management, small acreage management, UAV (drone) research, brush management, and youth natural resources education. Her main area of responsibility includes counties in the Coastal Bend and South Texas.

Jaime Gonzalez
Jaime González works with communities in Greater Houston to co-create a healthier, more equitable, climate-ready, better-connected, and more biologically diverse region using nature-based solutions. Jaime is one of more than 20 Nature Conservancy city leads using nature-based solutions to build healthier cities throughout North America and the world. He also serves on the board of directors for the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). Mr. González earned a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction-Science Education and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Houston. He has also earned certificates in civic ecology, environmental education, environmental communications, and climate change and health from Duke, Yale, and Cornell Universities.

Jason Hohlt
Jason Hohlt currently serves as the Zone Rangeland Management Specialist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bryan, Texas. He provides leadership and technical training on livestock grazing and other land management issues throughout a 50 county area in eastern Texas Jason began his career with NRCS in 2003 and previously worked on the coastal prairie and the Rio Grande plains before moving to his current position in 2014. Jason is a certified Professional in Range Management and holds a Master’s degree in Animal Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Rangeland Ecology and Management.

Anna Matthews
Anna Matthews is the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture Science Coordinator and is an employee of American Bird Conservancy. Anna is originally from Dallas, Texas. She received a BS in Wildlife from the University of Minnesota and an MS in Wildlife Ecology from Texas State University. Anna is currently stationed in San Marcos, Texas where she works with joint venture partners in Texas, Oklahoma, and beyond to develop research and monitoring projects that contribute to grassland conservation across the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture geography.

Evelyn L. Merz
Evelyn L. Merz has been the Program Director of the University of Houston Coastal Center in La Marque, TX since October 2019. Evelyn initiated the concept of designating the UHCC as the Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education (TICPRE) and was an active participant in the successful effort for the Texas Legislature to do so in 2017. At UHCC, she is responsible for planning and coordinating restoration activities, community outreach, and assisting with development activities that will further the mission of UHCC and TICPRE. Previously, Evelyn worked in the Oil & Gas industry and has been active as a volunteer in conservation issues including flood control planning, public lands, and non-game wildlife. She received a B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of New Orleans and a M.B.A. from the University of Houston.

Andy Newman
Andy Newman has worked across a wide portion of the continental United States (Southeastern Coastal Plain, Midwest, Appalachians, Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Baja California) with an emphasis on vegetation community assemblage analysis, rare plant surveys, graminoid identification, seed collection, and detection of invasive species. During his experience, Mr. Newman has worked closely with clients to develop appropriate research questions and approaches to document project specific data required for permit clearances, predictive management, and restoration trajectories.

As a restoration ecologist, Mr. Newman has utilized his extensive botanical knowledge to conduct baseline habitat assessments proposed restoration sites within numerous ecoregions to document existing conditions. Once wetland, stream, and upland restoration plans were designed, Mr. Newman utilized relevant literature and reference sites to generate planting plans, worked with operations managers to secure necessary vegetative materials and quantities, and authored anticipated plant succession results. Attention was paid during this process to how various species within the proposed restoration communities interacted with site geologies, hydrology, and climatic conditions.

He has also worked with state and federal agencies on species conservation plans, rare species mitigation and monitoring, and identification and collection of seeds for future commercial seed production and propagation. Much of this experience has been focused on tallgrass prairie and savanna habitats within coastal and east Texas.

Will Newman
As the Farm Bill Coordinator, Will Newman is the liaison for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to the USDA. He facilitates conservation partnerships, provides training to agency staff, and delivers technical and policy guidance to inform the implementation of Farm Bill programs for wildlife management. He represents TPWD on state-wide and interstate policy advisory committees. Prior to his current role, Will was the Quail Forever Coordinating Wildlife Biologist for South Texas, a Farm Bill Biologist in Ohio, and conducted grassland ecology and Quail research. Will earned Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Wildlife Management from Tarleton State University, and his Master’s degree in Ecology from The University of North Texas. He has co-authored research and technical publications on grassland bird behavior and habitat requirements, and habitat management through planned grazing. Will has provided wildlife habitat management and restoration technical guidance to hundreds of landowners through conservation planning and financial assistance programs. He brings this comprehensive experience and ground-level perspective to his current responsibilities.

Tim Siegmund
Tim Siegmund was born and raised in Giddings, TX. A bachelor’s degree and graduate research at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX was followed by employment with TPWD in 2009. In College Station, Tim was responsible for 7 counties performing wildlife surveys, public outreach, technical guidance, prescribed fire assistance, public hunting opportunity, wildlife tax valuation planning and dealing with other wildlife issues. Starting Nov 1st, 2017 Tim began his role as the Private Lands Program Leader for TPWD dealing with private lands issues in a statewide capacity. Tim resides in College Station with his wife and three children.

Aaron Tjelmeland
Aaron Tjelmeland is the Restorations Project Director for The Nature Conservancy. Aaron grew up in eastern Iowa, where he studied Ecology and Botany at Iowa State University. He came to Texas in 2004 for graduate work where he studied grassland restoration and wildlife management at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. He later worked for the university in avian ecology research and invasive plant research programs. He came to the Conservancy in 2011 and currently oversees a variety of regional projects which include preserves of coastal tallgrass prairie, bottomland forest, and estuarine marshes, as well as a regional prairie restoration program.

Derek Wiley
Derek Wiley was raised in North Central Texas. He grew up in agriculture and his interest in land and wildlife management began at a young age. He attended Texas Tech University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management with a wildlife biology emphasis. He also attended Texas Tech for his Master’s degree where he focused on northern bobwhite reproduction in the Rolling Plains. He worked for the Oklahoma Department of Conservation as the Upland Game Biologist before returning to Texas as a Coordinating Wildlife Biologist for Quail Forever and the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture. Derek is currently the Conservation Delivery Specialist for TPWD and OPJV working with the GRIP Program and native grassland restoration.

Program Materials

Day 1 - Strategies to Manage Brush, Trees, and Non-Native Grasses/Sedges

Participant Questionnaire - Master Compilation of Control Strategies

Dr. Megan Clayton - Control of Various Species

Trey Barron - Huisache Control

Tim Siegmund - Bermuda, Bahia, and Johnsongrass Control

Andy Newman - Deep-Rooted Sedge Control

Day 2 - The Restoration Process

Derek Wiley - Restoration: Beyond the First Step

Will Newman - Funding Opportunities for Restoration

Jason Hohlt - Plant Indicator Monitoring Strategies (Video)

Anna Matthews - Wildlife Indicator Monitoring Strategies

Dr. Steve Apfelbaum - Soil Indicator Monitoring Strategies