Conservation of natural resources in South Texas is basically a modern development that parallels the evolution of the Soil Conservation Service and other federal agricultural agencies. Since the World War II era, Hispanic producers have played an important role in adopting new conservation practices to conserve and enhance the value of their lands. Initially, the region was a natural grassland devoted to ranching, but farm development in the early twentieth century led to a sharp increase in irrigated farmland along the Rio Grande. Conservation practices during the long period of extensive ranching were ineffective. As a result, by the twentieth century much of the grasslands were turned into brushland due to overgrazing, the disuse of fires to suppress weeds and useless shrubs, soil compaction, and soil and wind erosion. Hispanic farmers and ranchers had to be convinced that new practices were beneficial. The cooperation of SCS, ASCS, and other agencies facilitated the work of introducing new practices, such as disking, root plowing, seeding of new grasses, and range management practices. Farmers also benefited from new practices. Construction of Falcón Dam in 1954 was a great boost to water conservation and flood control. The last forty years have seen a rapid growth in wildlife ranches and the sale of rangelands to prosperous professionals and businessmen and women. At present, three thousand Hispanic producers are dedicated to conserving their water and soil resources, adapting to these two new developments.

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