Throughout twelve counties in Texas clustered around Richland-Chamber Lake, there is a small grass roots organization with big conservation goals.

In 2016, Ben Davis, Brandon Bing and Matt Machacek, with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, had the desire to start a think tank of sorts, a place where landowners could meet, share ideas and learn from each other. Their first meeting in January of 2017 included two local land owners and three NRCS agents. By word of mouth their third meeting drew 20 land owners.

This rapid growth was a positive response to the group’s primary goal to provide a support system and encouragement within their community. The grazing group serves as a platform where landowners can bounce ideas off each other and learn from the successes and struggles of their fellow community members; it is a support system of individuals who are all interested in trying something new. The group is a matrix of ideas made from cattle grazers, sheep herders, pasture chicken and pork producers, bee farmers and prairie restoration enthusiasts.

Benefits have been wide-ranging. Locally, the Fairfield NRCS office has seen an increase in requests for conservation technical assistance since the groups initiation. These requests include topics such as plant identification and cattle breed adaptability. This increase in communication with the NRCS office is driven by word of mouth recommendations from neighbors and fellow ranchers and farmers. The NRCS’s goal is to “be here for the people,” according to Davis. The NRCS agents work hard to serve as local experts by gaining as much knowledge as they can from local landscapes and operations. “Advertisement media is everywhere, but if the local person does not trust you, you have no credibility,” reflects Davis. The grazing group is not only teaching and supporting its community, but it is also adding strength through building trust.

The Grazing Group has come a long way since 2016, growing from an idea across a few like-minded individuals into a group of around 40 landowners representing approximately 10,000 acres. The group is strengthened through trust, knowledge, support and also diversity. Ben, Brandon, and Matt are continually encouraged by the generosity and initiative of people. An offshoot from their group has already begun to grow south in Fredericksburg. The NRCS agents hope to continue to spread the word and maybe over the next 10 years have five or six of these groups across all of Texas.

The group meets once a month at various ranches across the region to discuss topics of common interest. Anyone is welcome who is interested in knowledge and fellowship, even if you do not own land. If you are interested in learning more or joining the Grazing Group, please call the local NRCS offices listed below.

Ben Davis or Brandon Bing

Natural Resource Conservation Service

Fairfield, Texas

(903) 389 – 2430

Matt Machacek

Natural Resource Conservation Service

Corsicana, Texas

(903) 874 – 5131 Ext 3

To learn more about land stewardship in the Tarrant Regional Water District watersheds visit the following website link.

http://www.trwd.com/water-supply/environmental/environmental-stewardship/watershed-protection/