Texas

How We Work

Sweeping view of the Rio Grande against rocky mountains in arid West Texas.
CONSERVING THE BEST OF TEXAS TNC is working to protect Texas land, water, wildlife and way of life while tackling climate change. © Tim Speer/TNC Photo Contest 2019

We believe that a world where people and nature thrive is possible. Join us today as we protect nature for tomorrow’s Texas.

Protecting Nature for Tomorrow's Texas (1:52) We're working to protect the health of our state's lands, freshwater and oceans while mitigating and adapting to a changing climate.

The Nature Conservancy in Texas

In Texas, we’re already feeling the effects of the climate and biodiversity challenges facing our planet. Experts have identified more than 1,300 Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the state. As our cities grow, our freshwater supplies continue to be overallocated. Meanwhile, our coastline along the Gulf of Mexico loses over an inch each year as climate change compounds sea level rise.

Nature is resilient, and we’re collaborating with partners to develop solutions and strategies to ensure Texas’ natural places, spaces and resources continue to thrive. From the West Texas desert, north to the high plains, through the Hill Country and eastward to our Pineywoods and Gulf prairie, we know what’s at risk if we don’t start making changes.

We’re developing scalable solutions to enhance resilience and equity. The choices we make now will have resounding impacts far beyond our borders for centuries. Join us today as we protect nature for tomorrow’s Texas.

Lands

There’s a whole lot of land to love in the Lone Star State—roughly 270,000 square miles. Yet nearly 95% of Texas land is privately held. For conservation, this means collaborating with landowners, ranchers, businesses and other partners to protect key lands. While 86% of Texans live in cities, about 83% of state lands are rural areas like farms, ranches and forests. With Texas losing more than a square mile of land to development every day, preserving and stewarding these open spaces will be more critical than ever if we hope to provide enough food, water and energy to support our rising population.

Our path forward hinges on protecting, managing and restoring our lands to preserve the natural resources and industries on which we depend, like farming, ranching and timber production. That’s why TNC is creating a network of resilient, connected lands and waterways that will allow nature to adapt to a growing state and a changing climate. We believe that all Texans deserve to enjoy and benefit from the dark skies, open spaces and cherished natural areas that make Texas so special.

Freshwater

In Texas, our rivers, aquifers and watersheds do it all: power our cities, support fishing and farming economies and sustain people, nature and biodiversity. Fresh water flows to the taps of millions of Texas residents, running through our beloved spring-fed swimming holes and sustaining nearly 250,000 farms and ranches across the state. But it’s also a finite resource. In the next 50 years, the demand for water in Texas will soar as our population doubles. Conserving water—and changing how we use it—is the simplest and most cost-effective way to safeguard our water supplies.

TNC is developing adaptable strategies to address water scarcity and freshwater conservation issues across Texas. We’re working with partners and landowners to lease water rights, implement agricultural efficiencies and modify dam operations—all to ensure that there’s enough water to support people and nature. From groundwater to river systems, we're using science to advance more sustainable water management and policy practices. Through good stewardship, we’re also preserving land around lakes, rivers and streams and protecting source water while restoring connectivity. Together, these efforts equal improved water quantity, quality and resilience for Texas’ watersheds.

Coast

At least half of the planet’s oxygen originates from marine organisms, but today, marine and estuarine environments are some of the most imperiled in the world. In our Gulf waters, only 20% to 50% of oyster reefs now remain. These beneficial bivalves do everything from filtering water to supporting other species to serving as buffers during storm surges. Similarly, coral reefs are under threat from warming waters, while more and more of our wetlands are lost each year to the detriment of nearly 400 bird species.

The Gulf is a powerhouse, supporting fisheries and tourism while providing numerous benefits—but all of this is in jeopardy. The last decade has brought some of the most devastating environmental catastrophes to the Texas Gulf Coast, particularly in under-resourced communities. But resilience doesn’t just start at our coasts. Our Texas rivers ultimately flow into Gulf bays and estuaries, and their management is essential. TNC is protecting and restoring lands and waters that safeguard iconic Texas species, constructing oyster reefs that boost our Gulf’s ecology and economy, and examining nature’s role in buffering coastal communities from extreme weather. 

Climate

Climate change affects everything from the health of Texas’ natural resources to the strength of our economy and our quality of life. We’re already feeling the effects of more frequent and intense hurricanes, wildfires and flooding events, along with their impacts on air and water quality. Temperatures are climbing, and habitats are migrating or disappearing, with serious implications for biodiversity. Using bold, new climate solutions that scale across the state, we can make our communities stronger, more equitable and better prepared for when the next big catastrophe hits.

Climate change touches everyone in Texas, and we must all have a hand in finding solutions. TNC is harnessing the power of nature to improve the health and resilience of our communities. This means influencing policy and planning efforts to include equitable, nature-based solutions. We envision communities that recover faster and with fewer losses when extreme weather hits and that have enough clean, safe drinking water for a growing population. From protecting floodplains to conserving green spaces, nature benefits the environment and communities alike. 

People

Texas may be one of the most diverse states in the nation, but across our differences, we all depend on nature—from providing resources and recreation to enhancing mental health and resiliency. Sadly, time after time, we’ve seen that underserved communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental and climate challenges like heat islands, storms, and air and water pollution. Historical disinvestment in such communities has also resulted in limited access to greenspaces and parks, along with their many-layered benefits.

TNC is creating on-the-ground projects with a coalition of partners to enhance outdoor access through trails, pocket parks, greener schoolyards and bus stops. We’re engaging local communities and Indigenous peoples as these projects take shape, seeking diverse input and uplifting their conservation leadership. We’re also helping leaders rethink the role that nature can play, not only in improving the ecological function of our community greenspaces, but also in terms of nature’s benefits to human health and well-being. 

Support Our Work

With your help, we can secure a resilient, equitable future for people and nature in Texas.