Working Days I - 2016

Project Overview

The Devils River Conservancy, with support from private donors, organized the Devils River Working Days project to engage landowners in evaluating aquatic invasive species populations, water quality in relation to suspended solids and sediment distribution and recreational impacts. The intention of this project was to engage landowners and stakeholders in observing and addressing challenges to the shared resource.


Observations and Suggestions

  • Water Clarity- There is an There is an abundance of fine sediment suspended in the Devils River and many theories as to why; recent rain events along with bank disturbances, invasive fish activity, water temperature, lack of a large flood event, or a morphological-gradient change. From the top of the river to Blue Sage we only experienced the blue water that the Devils is known for once and that was in a spring branch of the river known as Blue Hole. Observations indicate that more study is needed to understand the sediment transport and distribution processes in the Devils River.

    • Recreation Impacts- It is clear that recreational impacts increase dramatically below the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Del Norte State Natural Area. In effort to address the ever growing recreational interest in the Devils River the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is developing projects to consolidate and minimize recreational impacts along the river. Annual assessmentsof recreational impacts may be helpful in monitoring the success of these projects.

    • Aquatic Invasive Species- Due to water clarity issues during the project we were unable to fully evaluate the reach and damage of the aquatic invasive species in the Devils River. A different means of assessment such as targeted electroshock would be beneficial in determining the population density and reach.

    • Landowner Engagement- The Devils River Working Days project was successful in uniting landowners around the shared resource, identify its challenges and working together to develop solutions. We had eleven landowners participate in the Working Days project and approximately twenty landowners attend the community gathering event.

DRC Presents Two Kayaks to Texas Parks and Wildlife at Commission Meeting

At the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting on August 20th, the Devils River Conservancy donated two kayaks to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for Devils River State Natural Area staff to use in conducting river patrols and outreach to river users. The DRC also donated custom wristbands, a paddler identification component of the Devils River permit system. Formed in 2011 by landowners and river users, the DRC aims to preserve and protect the Devils River and the lands within its watershed. The DRC’s donation allows TPWD to increase its management efforts and presence on the Devils River and create a pristine river recreational experience for river users.

DRC Board Members and TPWD Staff

DRC Board Members and TPWD Staff

Ruthie Russell's Presentation for the Texas Land Conservation Conference

The Texas Land Trust Council's annual conference, held March 4-6 in Austin, featured a panel on the Devils River including a presentation from DRC Board Member Ruthie Russell of Sycamore Springs Ranch. Click here to read her compelling speech.

The Devils River session was moderated by Jeff Weigel, Director of Strategic Initiatives at The Nature Conservancy and also included Dr. Ron Green, Institute from the Southwest Research Institute; Joe Joplin, Superintendent of the TPWD Devils River State Natural Area; Dan Snodgrass, Director of Land Conservation at The Nature Conservancy; and Carrie Thompson, Associate Director of Freshwater Protection at The Nature Conservancy.

Committed to Conservation, Featuring DRC Board Member


Ruthie Russell (center) owns Sycamore Canyon Ranch, which borders the Devils River.

Ruthie Russell (center) owns Sycamore Canyon Ranch, which borders the Devils River.

“If I was a billionaire, I would buy as many ranches as I could and preserve them all,” said Ruthie Russell, owner of Sycamore Canyon Ranch in Val Verde County. “But all I can do is keep doing my best to preserve the land I do have. Especially for legacy landowners, land stewardship starts with the deep passion that you have for the land; you’re so bonded to it,” Russell said.

Russell is a third-generation cattle woman and one of the landowners recently recognized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) with a 2014 Lone Star Land Steward Award.

“It’s a beautiful place,” Russell said. “We thought that it was key to protect and conserve this land because not only is it a transitional zone for different ecoregions, it also has multiple springs and 3 miles of riparian land along the Devils River.”