The Pipeline Prairies Initiative
The restoration of native plant communities to pipeline rights of way is of growing interest to private landowners and energy companies in Texas. Recent advances in commercial availability of appropriate native seed sources for Texas have enabled large scale restoration of native plants throughout the state. Staff of the Texas Native Seeds Program are working to expand partnerships with the energy industry to accomplish practical, economic, and science-based restoration on new energy rights of ways being in Texas. We believe that by doing so, large scale positive conservation impacts on wildlife, improved public perception of pipelines, better landowner-energy company relations are possible.
The Pipeline Prairies Initiative
TNS seeks to work together with energy industry partners and private landowners to facilitate the use of high quality, locally adapted native seed mixes on new pipelines being built in Texas. A primary function of this project will be for TNS to publish guidance on native seed mixes for each county and vegetational region in Texas based on research, and to make this information readily available for use by landowners and industry. This seed mix guidance will utilize up-to-date information on commercial seed supply provided by Texas seed companies producing certified native seeds. The TNS Pipeline Prairies website will be maintained with an easy-to-use map to identify the appropriate seed mix for all areas of Texas.
These efforts are not meant to restrict the choice of private landowners to choose what plants they wish to have seeded on rights of ways on their property. However, it is our aim to inform this choice on the half or more of the land impacted by right of ways that no seed mix is designated for by landowners. Simultaneously, we hope to streamline recommendations for landowners who do request specific seed mixes, and pipeline operators who wish to plant the most effective and appropriate native seed mixes.
This effort will seek to provide some uniformity seeding guidance, and synchronize property and project level recommendations based on research and guidance provided by a neutral party in TNS. Doing so should increase the efficiency of post-construction seeding operations and to result more affordable seed mixes for the industry. More companies participating in this effort will furthermore result in growth in the native seed market for Texas, reduce seed costs benefitting all seed users, and thereby opening doors for even more restoration to be conducted in the state.
Energy companies are being sought to follow these recommendations on portions of their rights of ways or lease holdings where they have the ability to choose specific seed mixes, or where restoration guidance has not been provided by landowners. We believe that a commitment to use this guidance will be a value added proposition for right of way acquisition from some landowners.
Projects that utilize guidance provided through this effort and plant recommended native seeds for restoration in their projects will be given the Texas Native Seeds Pipeline Prairies seal of approval. We will highlight those projects and the companies conducting them on the project website.
Background of the TNS Program
TNS is an externally funded collaborative initiative working to develop native seed sources and facilitate restoration of native habitats in Texas. The program is made up of a statewide network of six regional native seed increase and restoration projects. TNS is part of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. The program is widely regarded as a successful and impactful collaborative initiative, and recently received the Texas Environmental Excellence Award for Agriculture given by Governor Abbott and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the national level group achievement award from The Wildlife Society.
History of Energy Industry Partnerships of the Texas Native Seeds Program
TNS has an almost 20 year track record of working with energy industry partners. Beginning with the South Texas Native effort in 2001, and continuing to present in the statewide TNS effort, these relationships have been extremely impactful and beneficial. Examples of this these partnerships include: