Landscaping and grounds at UTPA is attractive yet practical; while it provides the campus community shade and beauty, it is not harmful to the habitats of wildlife or insects. Water usage and conservation is vital to life in the Rio South Texas region, with its limited annual precipitation and high temperatures.
UTPA is located in the Rio Grande watershed. The main campus occupies approximately 285 acres and is near major bodies of water such as Rio Grande River. A majority of runoff from campus runs into the Arroyo Colorado, which eventually empties into the Laguna Madre. The activities that occur upstream affect the biological, chemical, and physical health of the ecosystem downstream, and in the case of UTPA that includes the Rio Grande, Arroyo Colorado, and the Gulf of Mexico.
The vegetation of UTPA corresponds with the semi-arid environment of the Rio Grande Valley, thus it must be drought-resistant as well as freeze-resistant as we experience periodic freezes. These efforts would serve to make best use of the limited water available in the area. Currently, campus irrigation is zoned into two major areas on campus with approximately 39 irrigation controllers. These are strategically programmed at specific times, and reduced by 25% in the winter to maximize efficiency in consumption and cost. Also, grounds crews conduct preventive maintenance of irrigation sprinklers heads on a quarterly basis. They inspect each landscape bed and perform periodic soil tests to maintain healthy soils and improve plant quality.
Organic soils management is practiced on campus. Mulching, recycling of yard waste, composting and effective pruning techniques are all applied methods for a healthier grounds environment. Intermittent aeration of high traffic compacted soils is done to improve root growth and water infiltration to create a denser and more tolerant grass. Proper planting and pruning techniques are important for this process. UTPA estimates that almost 3,267,000 sq. feet of canopy is provided by campus trees—equivalent to 75 acres. Trimming of limbs or removal of dead shrubs is practiced to control plant disease and pathogens, thus minimizing the need for chemical pesticides.
The objective entails a modification of campus community culture—to one that focuses on the preservation of natural resources while minimizing our emission of carbon. The vision is to transition all landscape and grounds maintenance activities to a more ecologically sound operation by extending awareness and educational programs in support of this.
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Dr. Timothy Brush has watched birds since being a teenager in his home state of New Jersey, the Garden State. It was at this young age that he became fascinated with these beautiful creatures and decided to devote his life to the study and conservation of them.Read More