2nd Annual Rita Blanca Fence Project and Chapter Campout
Dallam County, Texas – The Texas Chapter of BHA held the 2nd Annual Rita Blanca Fence Project and Chapter Campout June 2-4. Initially pioneered by the New Mexico BHA Chapter in 2021 on the Kiowa Grasslands, The Texas BHA Rita Blanca Grasslands project is now in its second year. This project is a habitat restoration effort to help improve habitat connectivity for Texas Pronghorns. Pronghorn must crawl under fences because their body structure is not built for jumping high. Unlike other hoofed animals in the Texas Panhandle, their legs are not designed to provide the necessary lift to clear a fence, and they resort to crawling under it to migrate. Working alongside the US Forest Service staff to modify fences, 23 volunteers from Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma worked to improve habitat connectivity for the pronghorn. The volunteers camped at the Thompson Grove Picnic Site and enjoyed a wild game potluck that featured Canada goose, Bighorn Sheep, Axis, Pronghorn, and White-tailed deer.
The New Mexico & Texas BHA Chapters have collectively modified or verified nearly 75 miles of fenceline and improved connectivity of over 54 square miles of grassland habitat for pronghorn antelope. Over 15 miles of fence line were repaired or enhanced this year to facilitate Pronghorn movement between fenced areas, allowing them access to water, food, and shelter. Because of the success of this project, both chapters received the USFS’s 2023 Prairie Partner Award. This award is for external partners that have demonstrated resource stewardship, a willingness to provide funding and other resources to Grassland projects and have produced innovative practices and results.
There will be continual pressure on wildlife biologists and conservation organizations to conserve and manage pronghorn and their habits, and this type of boots-on-the-ground project is part of what the Texas BHA Chapter is all about. The restoration and improvement of public land are at the forefront of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and we are already looking forward to the 3rd Annual Rita Blanca Fence Project and Chapter Campout.