Tarleton team to conduct mitigation project ahead of lake expansion

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A Palo Pinto Creek stream that is to be monitored and managed, located at the project field site near Strawn.

STEPHENVILLE (May 29, 2019) — Professors from Tarleton State University are partnering with the Palo Pinto County Municipal Water District No. 1 to conduct mitigation work for the planned expansion of Lake Palo Pinto known as the Turkey Peak Reservoir project, and explore methods to conserve the riparian habitat along the streams feeding the lake.

Drs. Heather Mathewson and Darrel Murray from the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences’ Department of Wildlife, Sustainability and Ecosystem Sciences are the principal investigators collaborating with the district on the 10-plus-year Turkey Peak Mitigation Project.

Lake Palo Pinto, located in Palo Pinto County north of Interstate 20, will be expanded with the construction of a new dam downstream of the existing lake.

The Tarleton team and representatives from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and HDR Engineering, the district’s consultant, are working at the Upstream Mitigation Area near Strawn. The mitigation areas are located on properties that are, or will become, part of the future Palo Pinto Mountain State Park.

Tarleton faculty members will conduct baseline surveys, assist with vegetation management, and document progress with photos and written reports, furthering the goal of enhancing the stream ecosystem in the Palo Pinto Creek watershed. The project will also expose Tarleton wildlife students to hands-on management practices and training in surveying a variety of species.

Graduate student Kathryn Burton will manage technicians and volunteers on surveys and data collection. Avian point counts, mammal monitoring by camera traps, and invertebrate surveys will be used to track changes in the landscape and monitor the effects on riparian systems.

“Tarleton has always given me incredible hands-on field experiences, and now I get to be the graduate student who shares those experiences with undergraduates,” Burton said. “This project consists of so many components that really allow us to thrive as young, upcoming wildlife biologists and to practice the skills we’ve gained at Tarleton.”

Amber Penney Kennedy, a Tarleton volunteer, said she’s excited to be involved. “I know it will be a great collaboration between Tarleton and the other contributors, and I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome.”

Social media and websites will be maintained to share information with the public on current activities and benefits of the changes being made.

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