South Texas Natives receives land restoration grant from ExxonMobil

$12,000 to support native plant pilot project on King Ranch

Kingsville, TX - The South Texas Natives Project (STN) will conduct a land restoration project beginning in the spring 2011 following a $12,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The project will identify four former ExxonMobil oil and gas production locations on King Ranch and restore them to their natural native landscape for wildlife habitat and grazing resources, similar to the surrounding areas.

Once the four pilot sites are identified, STN personnel will test and improve the soil, conduct plant surveys to determine the appropriate mixes of native seeds for each site, plant the mixes with specialized restoration equipment, and monitor the areas after planting. 

“Producing oil and gas while conserving and restoring native habitat for ranching and wildlife is very important in Texas,” said STN Project Director Forrest Smith.  “Through this project, STN, ExxonMobil and King Ranch will have the opportunity to improve the native habitat on these oil and gas production sites while also maintaining ranch productivity, livestock production, and wildlife populations.”  

“ExxonMobil is pleased to be extending our partnership with STN on this project to support the development of South Texas native seeds and to use them on our former production areas,” said Clay Powell, senior field superintendent for ExxonMobil’s South Texas operations.

Restoration of former oil and gas production sites with native plants can be difficult depending on the soil conditions and loss of native plants’ seed banks to re-colonize the sites.  In addition, seeds of South Texas native plants have not been easily available in necessary quantities for planting and restoration.  Today, due to the successful efforts of STN, native seeds are available for oil and gas production site restoration as well as rangeland restoration, highway right-of-way plantings, and horticultural plantings in the region.  Restoration research plantings and demonstrations such as these are an integral part of efforts to help advance native habitat restoration success in South Texas.

STN is a grant and donation-supported research program of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.  The goals of the project are to develop native seed sources and help make them commercially available for public use.  Other goals include conducting research on restoration methods, demonstrating the uses of native seed sources, and educating the public about the value of native habitats and good restoration practices.  Since inception of the project in 2001, STN and its collaborators have developed and released 14 native seed sources to commercial seed growers for use in South Texas.

ExxonMobil, which has been producing oil and gas in South Texas and on King Ranch since the early 1900s, is a leader among the oil and gas industry in support of restoration and native seed source development research in South Texas. ExxonMobil has contributed $83,000 since 2001 to STN and is a member of their advisory group.