Numerous brush management projects have been conducted on the ranch including investigations of new herbicides and use of prescribed burning.
White-tailed deer censuses are conducted each year on the ranch. This data is used to guide harvest quotas and to educated and help keep hunting lessees involved in management of the deer herd.
Ranch Vegetation and Soils
Eight ecologicial sites are found on the ranch, composed of clays, fine sandy loams, and sandy clay loams. There are 15 soil series on the property which support a diversity of vegetation-types dominated by a woody plant complex collectively known as “South Texas mixed brush”.
All of the ranch acreage, except 120 acres of introduced grass pasture, is native vegetation that ranges from dense thickets to relatively open grasslands. Six major plant communities found on the ranch include 1) Whitebrush- Mesquite Drainage, 2) Texas Colubrina-Brasil, 3) Mesquite-Hairyseed Paspalum Lakebed, 4) Guajillo-Blackbrush Acacia Ridge, 5) Mesquite-Mixed Shrub, and 6) Mesquite Drainage. This diverse mosaic of vegetation-types is important as wildlife habitat. Major game species occurring on the ranch include white-tailed deer, javelina, bobwhite quail, and morning and white-winged dove. Numerous non-game species either live on the ranch or use it during migration.
Long-term monitoring of vegetation, climate and economics is one way range managers can be educated through experiences at La Copita. For example, field days have been hosted to discuss brush management, grazing and forage management. Participation in these field days included Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialists, agents and faculty from Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK). Cooperation with TAMUK and the Jim Wells County Extension Agent have also included visits from university students and producers from Mexico as part of TAMUK international programs. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) is involved at La Copita and utilizes the ranch for field labs. TAMUCC classes (taxonomy, botany and vertebrate biology) have visited the ranch and assisted with monitoring vegetation and wildlife populations. Scientists and students from Texas A&M University-College Station and Texas State University have also visited the ranch to collect data on long- term shrub ecology projects.
Training activities are not limited to students and producers. Texas Parks and Wildlife have conducted training sessions at La Copita for instructors of hunter education classes. The Natural Resources Conservation Service has also conducted training sessions at La Copita for their field personnel in rangeland evaluation.