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GOOD NEWS: PBAF grants $300K to Respect Big Bend effort - Odessa American: Good News

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GOOD NEWS: PBAF grants $300K to Respect Big Bend effort

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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2019 7:00 pm

ALPINE — Permian Basin Area Foundation is providing a $300,000 grant to the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) to support stakeholder engagement and outreach as part of the Respect Big Bend Coalition’s efforts in West Texas.

Respect Big Bend is a collaboration between local landowners, community residents and leadership, scientists, industry, researchers, and conservationists formed to address energy development’s impact in the greater Big Bend region of far West Texas. The coalition aims to inspire and empower all stakeholders to conserve unique resources and protect iconic communities of the greater Big Bend region of Texas while developing energy responsibly.

“Permian Basin Area Foundation is a well-respected philanthropic organization that has been committed to investing in projects to improve the quality of life in West Texas for three decades,” said Louis Harveson, who is the Dan Allen Hughes Jr., BRI endowed director and professor of wildlife management at Sul Ross State University. “We are so pleased they are supporting the efforts of the Respect Big Bend Coalition, and these funds will enable us to engage the many stakeholders who should have a seat at the table.”

BRI is taking a leadership role in coordinating and implementing the outreach and education aspects of the project. Stakeholder groups that have been identified for this project include landowners, mineral owners, energy industry and service providers, community members, conservation partners, and regulators. BRI will be primarily responsible for communicating and meeting with the varied stakeholders through a variety of strategies, from private one-on-one meetings to broader community forums.

“Borderlands Research Institute is a great asset to West Texas, and we applaud their scientific approach in advancing best practices for land and wildlife conservation,” said Guy McCrary, president and CEO of Permian Basin Area Foundation. “We are pleased to join with the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and others in supporting the Respect Big Bend Coalition. We believe that BRI is well-positioned to advance this important initiative.”

BRI is coordinating the first landowner workshop for the effort in partnership with the Texas Agricultural Land Trust.

The workshop title is “Saving Working Lands: Preparing Landowners for Energy Development,” and it is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Espino Conference Center at Sul Ross State University. The agenda is still being worked on and will be posted online at bri.sulross.edu.

“This workshop is our first tangible effort to provide resources to area landowners to assist them with energy development opportunities on their properties,” said Billy Tarrant, BRI’s Associate

Director for Stewardship Services who also serves as Regional Coordinator for the Respect Big Bend Coalition. “By engaging them in this process, we will be able to provide the support they need to help them benefit from economic opportunities that may arise while maintaining the character and heritage of Big Bend area working lands.”

The Respect Big Bend Coalition launched with support from the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, a Texas foundation that seeks innovative, sustainable solutions for human and environmental problems. The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation works as an engine of change in Texas, supporting high-impact projects at the nexus of environmental protection, social equity and economic vibrancy. Find out more about the project at RespectBigBend.org

For more than a decade, the Borderlands Research Institute has encouraged effective land stewardship of the Chihuahuan Desert. Housed at Sul Ross State University, the Borderlands Research

The institute builds on a long-lasting partnership with private landowners, the university’s Range and Wildlife Program, and cooperating state, federal, and non-governmental organizations. Through research, education, and outreach, the Borderlands Research Institute is helping to conserve the last frontier of Texas and the Southwest.

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