Texas Rice Industry Coalition for the Environment

 

“Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.” - Daniel Webster

 

What is Texas R.I.C.E.?

Texas Rice Industry Coalition for the Environment


The environment is for everyone and all of us have a vested interest in it...Whether you are a naturalist, concerned about the preservation of our life-sustaining resources, an outdoorsman who values healthy waterfowl, fish and wildlife populations, an urbanite who enjoys the accessibility of nature for rest and recreation and its added quality of life, and agriculturalist who depends on it for a living and its bounty to feed the world, or the industrial user who converts the resources to goods and services for a modern society...all of us depend and expect a clean, healthy environment.

 

The Texas Rice Belt is an environmentally important part of the coastal prairie of Texas. From Port Arthur to Port Lavaca, it occupies land area within 18 counties of the upper Gulf Coast. Not only is this area valuable for its agricultural production, but it is also vitally important to the delicate ecosystems of five of the state's seven major river basins. These bays and estuaries provide the spawning and breeding grounds for hundreds of fish and bird species. Although Texas wetland has declined by 47% over the last 50 years, the man-made wetlands provided by the rice industry supply over 300,000 acres of these dwindling areas. These wetlands are vital as winter feeding and roosting grounds of millions of ducks and geese who have made this area the final stop in their annual migration on the Central Flyway.

 

With a heavy human population, this area also supports a unique blend of agricultural, industrial, urban and recreational users...all of whom have diverse interests and needs within a sensitive ecosystem. Rice farmers recognize the importance of sustaining our natural resources and are striving to work in harmony with the environment. In fact, rice cultural practices can actually enhance the delicate ecosystem balance. But realizing the matter is bigger than just agriculture, rice producers want to work with others concerned with the issues. As a result, Texas R.I.C.E. (Rice Industry Coalition for the Environment) was formed in 1994 as a means for all concerned users to work together.

 

What Projects Have We Completed?
 

Brazoria NWR: This project consisted of the construction of 2,000 acres of moist soil units in active and abandoned rice farmland by constructing levees, precision leveling the rice fields and installing water control structures. This included the restoration of Otter Slough along with the refurbishment of the rice irrigation system. We also treated a 15,000 acre area to eliminate exotic Chinese Tallow to restore native prairie.
 

Anahuac NWR: This project consisted of constructing approximately 2,100 acres of moist soil units in active rice farmland by precision leveling the fields, constructing levees and installing water control structures.
 

Mad Island WMA: Two wetlands totaling 85 acres were constructed along with the refurbishment of 250 acres of existing wetland units and the spraying of 300 acres to eliminate invasive species.
 

Mad Island Preserve: The construction of 550 acres of moist soil units by constructing levees and installing water control structures in active rice farmland along with the partial refurbishment of the rice irrigation system.
 

Big Boggy NWR: The construction of two wetland units totaling 85 acres in abandoned rice farmland.
 

San Bernard NWR: The refurbishment and enhancement of 300 acres of wetland units in the Sargent Unit.
 

Pierce Ranch: The construction of 1,000 acres of moist soil units in active rice farmland along with the restoration of 400 acres of abandoned farmland back into native prairie.

 

Private Lands: The construction, enhancement and restoration of over 6,000 acres of moist soil units along with native prairie restoration, the refurbishment of irrigation systems, installation of water control structures and the precision leveling of rice fields.

 

 

 

 

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