Our meetings are free and open to the public. We always welcome guests! Our chapter hosts monthly meetings featuring speakers from nature-related professions who present science-based programs on topics important to the Texas Hill Country. Our meeting are always interesting and informative – bring a pen and take notes, there’s always something to learn.
Monthly Meeting >> Monday, 23 October
Freshwater mussels are Mother Nature’s barometers of environmental quality. When ecological conditions change or degrade, they are the first organisms to decline and then vanish. As a result, nearly 80 percent of freshwater mussels are extinct, threatened, endangered, at risk, or will be very soon.
Bob Howells began work with Texas Freshwater Mussels in 1992 and it quickly became apparent that many issues were directly or indirectly linked to declines in their abundance and distribution. Obvious factors like dewatering, water pollution, reservoir construction, and habitat alteration contributed to reduced numbers of freshwater mussels. However, less-obvious considerations like long-term environmental shifts, introductions of exotic species, public release of sensitive information, and poorly-understood harvest regulations have contributed as well.
In this presentation listeners are challenged to consider impacts from similar sources on the status of other fauna and flora in Texas.
Robert G. Howells is a fisheries research biologist with major interests in freshwater mussels and exotic fishes, shellfishes, and aquatic plants, as well as general fisheries research. Professional work history has included the staff of a natural history museum; ten years with an environmental consulting firm working in fresh, brackish, and marine waters; and twenty-two years conducting fisheries research with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center. This work ultimately produced several books, a series of scientific journal articles and symposia proceedings, an extensive list of technical reports, numerous informational and educational materials, and frequent presentations at scientific meetings and classroom instruction.
Howells retired from TPWD in June 2006, but has remained active in fields related to freshwater mussels, as well as legally prohibited and invasive exotic animals and plants. Post-retirement work has also included environmental and archaeological studies and reports for ecological and engineering firms as a consultant (BioStudies), as well as continuing input to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society, and the American Fisheries Society on freshwater mussel and exotic species issues. Additionally, he has continued to lecture and hold classes on both these topics as well as workshops on aquatic and wetland plant identification.
The monthly meeting of the Hill Country Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist program is free and open to the public. Meetings are held in the Upper Guadalupe River Authority Lecture Hall, 125 North Lehmann Drive in Kerrville. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for our social half-hour; program begins at 7:00.
View UGRA Lecture Hall, Kerrville Tx in a larger map
- November – Rufus Stephens and Jan Wrede, “Attracting Birds in the Texas Hill Country” with book signing
- December – Annual Party