Texas Almanac, 1992-1993 Page: 70
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and sparse. The principal growth consists of lechuguilla, croton, cacti and several poisonous plants.
ocotillo, yucca, cenizo and other arid land plants. In the Range Resources
more arid areas, yeso, chino and tobosagrass prevail. More than 100 million acres of Texas are devoted to
There is some mesquite. The vegetation includes cre- providing grazing for domestic and wild animals. This is
osote-tarbush, desert shrub, grama grassland, yucca the largest single use for land in the state. Primary
and juniper savannahs, pine oak forest and saline flats. range uses Include: watershed for streams, springs,
The mountains are 3,000 to 8,751 feet in elevation and lakes; food and cover for wildlife; forage for domestic
support pinon pine, juniper and some ponderosa pine and livestock; and recreation for man.
other forest vegetation on a few of the higher slopes. The Piney Woods, primarily valued for timber, also
The grass vegetation, especially on the higher moun- provide significant grazing. More than 80 percent of the
tain slopes, includes many southwestern and Rocky acreage is devoted to range in the Edwards Plateau,
Mountain species not present elsewhere in Texas. On the aCreage o raeis the E ar Platseau
desert flats, black grama, burrograss and fluffgrass are Cross Timbers and Prairies, South Texas Plains and
frequent. More productive sites have numerous species Trans-Pecos Mountains and Basins.
of grama, muhly, Arizona cottontop, dropseed and per- Because it is perennial, range is a renewable re-
ennial threeawn grasses. At the higher elevations, plains source. Range management seeks to perpetuate plants
bristlegrass, little bluestem, Texas bluestem, sideoats gra- and methods which yield maximum returns, while con-
ma, chino grama, blue grama, pinon ricegrass, wolftail trolling or eliminating competitive, undesirable plants.
and several species of needlegrass are frequent. FOR FURTHER READING - Hatch, S. L., K. N. Gan-
The common invaders on all depleted ranges are dhi and L. E. Brown, Checklist of the Vascular Plants of
woody plants, burrograss, fluffgrass, hairy erioneuron, Texas; MP1655, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station,
ear muthly, sand muh ly, red grama, broom snakeweed, College Station, 1990.
Soil Conservation and Use
The following discussion was prepared especially for the Texas Almanac by the Soil Conservation Service, U. S.
Department of Agriculture, Temple, Texas. Additional information may be obtained from that source.
The vast expanse of Texas soils encouraged wasteful province that Includes large similar areas in Oklahoma
use of soil and water throughout much of the state's his- and New Mexico. The flat, nearly level surface of very
tory. Some 1,100 different soils series are recognized in large areas has few streams of any dissection to cause o-
the state. Settlers were attracted by these rich soils and cal relief. However, several major rivers originate in the
the abundant water of the eastern half of the region, High Plains or cross the area. The largest is the Canadi-
used them to build an agriculture and agribusiness of an River which has cut a deep valley across the Pan-
vast proportions, then found their abuse had created handle section.
critical problems. Playas, small intermittent lakes scattered through
In the 1930s, interest in soil and water conservation the area, lie up to 20 feet below the surrounding flat
began to mount. In 1935, the Soil Conservation Service plains. Early estimates were that playas numbered
was created in the U. S. Department of Agriculture. In 37,000; a 1965 survey indicated more than 19,000 in 44
1939, the Texas Soil Conservation Law made it possible for counties, occupying some 340,000 acres. They received
landowners to organize local soil and water conservation most of the runoff, with less than 10 percent of this water
districts. percolating back to the aquifer.
The state as of Jan. 1, 1991, had 211 conservation dis- Soils are brown to reddish, mostly deep, clay loams,
tricts which manage the various conservation functions sandy loams and sands. Free lime is present under many
within the district. A subdivision of state government, soils at various depths. Main series: Pullman, Olton,
each district is governed by a board of five elected Sherm (hardlands); Amarillo, Portales (mixed lands);
landowners. Technical assistance in planning and Brownfield, Tivoli (sandy lands); Potter (loamy soils,
applying conservation work is provided through the shallow over caliche). The Guadalupe, Spur and Bippus
USDA Soil Conservation Service. State funds for dis- series are the main soils of bottomands, but areminor
tricts are administered through the Texas State Soil and in extent.
Water Conservation Board. (See Index.)
The 1987 Nerational Resources Inventory showed that The soils are moderately productive and the flat sur-
morhe as sowind ero- face encourages irrigation and mechanization. Limited
sion each year than to sheet and rill erosion. The inven- rainfall and constant danger of wind erosion are hand-
tory also showed that about 21 percent of all land in caps; but the region is Texas' leading producer of three
Thex HhP th remt hg pla- most important crops - cotton, grain sor-ghums and
Texas is "prime farmland." wheat.
Soil Subdivisions The native vegetation is of three distinct kinds. In
Most authorities divide Texas into 20 major subdi- the northern part and on the fine-textured soils south of
visions that have similar or related soils, vegetation, to- the Canadian River, the vegetation is short grasses,
pography, climate and land uses. These are called Major mainly buffalo with some grama. In the southern part on
Land Resource Areas. Brief descriptions of these subdi- the sandy loam soils it is largely grama and threeawn. On
visions follow, the deep sands it is mainly little bluestem, sand dropseed,
sideoats grama and threeawn grasses. In places these
1. TRANS-PECOS SOILS sands support a thick growth of shinoak and sand sage
The 18.7 million acres of the Trans-Pecos, mostly (Artemisia).
west of the Pecos River, are diverse plains and valleys 3. ROLLING PLAINS SOILS
intermixed with mountains - quite different from other
Texas areas. (See also section on physiography.) he Rolleatng Plains in Nomprise an eastern sThe area ieson of
Upland soils are light reddish brown to brown clay west of the North Central Prairies and extends from the
loams, clays and sands, (mostly high in lime, some sa- edge of the Edwards Plateau in Tom Green County
line) and many areas of shallow soils and rock lands. northward into Oklahoma. It includes about 21.7 million
Main series: Hoban, Reeves, Reagan (lower basins); acres. The Red Beds and associated reddish soils led to
Brewster, Lozier, Verhalen, Musquiz (mountains and use of the name Red Plains by some.
valleys); Hueco, Wink, Kermit (sandy soils); Orla
(gypsic soils). Bottomland soils are dark grayish brown Upland soils are pale brown through reddish brown
to reddish brown, silt loams to clayey, alluvial soils to dark grayish brown sandy loams, clay loams and
(some saline). Main series: Harkey, Glendale (Rio Gran- clays. Most soils have free lime in the lower part and are
de); Pecos, Arno (Pecos River). saline in places; some are shallow and stony; some are
Rainfall is sparse, and vegetative cover is as thin deep sands. Main series: Miles, Woodward, Springer,
and variable as the topography, soils and drainage con- Vernon, Tillman (northern two-thirds); Abilene, Row-
ditions. In general it is of two types: short grasses and ena, Mereta, Lueders (southern one-third).
shrubs on the flat soils of the basins and valleys, and a Bottomland soils include minor areas of reddish
mixture of mid and short grasses and species of oak, brown, sandy to clayey, alluvial soils. Main series: Lin-
pine, juniper and semiarid plants and shrubs on the coin, Yahola, Guadalupe, Clairemont, Spur, Bippus and
rough and mountainous lands. Alkali sacaton and other Mangum.
salt-tolerant plants occur in the basin. The native vegetation varies with soils and surface
2. HIGH PLAINS SOILS conditions. On the finer-textured soils curly mesquite,
The High Plains area comprises the vast high pla- buffalo and grama grasses are dominant, with some scat-
teau of more than 19.4 million acres in Northwestern tered shrubs in places. On the coarser-textured soils
Texas. It lies in the southern part of the Great Plains the principal grasses are little bluestem, sideoats
TEXAS ALMANAC 1992-1993
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1992-1993, book, 1991; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279642/m1/74/: accessed February 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.