By Lisa Morton
A two-year study is underway in Culberson County at the Delaware Ranch owned by Earl Calhoun. The Borderland Research Institute (BRI) and Sul Ross State University in cooperation with Texas Parks and Wildlife, will be looking at browse plant species 3-4 times a year here and on other lands in the area. The research will help document and better understand any seasonal and annual variation in relation to the consumption benefits of big game animals such as deer and antelope.
“I am very proud to offer my family ranch if it can in anyway help in their quest to do the very best for wildlife. All three are great organizations, and the fruits of their labor in this endeavor is very evident in my 67 years of observation in Culberson County,” said Calhoun.
In 2016, the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) and Texas Parks and Wildlife staff published “Woody Plants of the Big Bend and Trans-Pecos: A Field Guide to Common Browse Used by Wildlife,” a user-friendly plant book that features 87 key browse species for our big game animals. This book is geared toward private landowners, ranch managers, resource professionals, students, and other outdoor enthusiasts of the Trans-Pecos – so that good stewardship of the land may be inspired and continued. BRI is now in the works of expanding upon that book and its knowledge by studying the seasonal and regional nutritional values of each of those 87 plant species across the Trans-Pecos.
The BRI will collect as many of the browse species as they can find for 2 years. A list of all plant species collected, and information gathered (crude protein levels, etc.), will be shared with ranchers and managers throughout the process.
Sampling seasons are in Spring, March-June, Summer, July-October, Winter (pre-freeze), November-December and Winter (post-freeze), January-February with the first sampling of plants completed last month.