Texas Stream Team is welcoming 2020 with Tyson Broad as the first Citizen Scientist Spotlight of the year! Tyson is the co-founder and project coordinator for the Llano River Watershed Alliance (the Alliance) and dedicates countless hours to leading the efforts of water quality monitoring and riparian restoration efforts around the entire Llano River Basin.

Tyson first became involved with Texas Stream Team after being named the watershed coordinator for the Upper Llano Watershed Protection Plan in 2015. Tyson developed a passion for water in the early 80’s during his senior year at Texas A&M University, where he took a semester off to attend an Outward Bound class called Land and Water Conflicts in the Upper Colorado River Basin based out of Western Colorado and Utah. 

“For months we went around talking to nonprofits, government agencies, private citizens, all the different stakeholders in that watershed,” said Tyson . “It really struck a chord in me of something I was interested in working on.”

After finishing at A&M, Tyson completed a multidisciplinary Master’s degree in Watershed Resource Management from Oregon State. While at Oregon State, Tyson took an internship at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Portland that turned into a full-time job. 

After nine years, Tyson said he had another calling and resigned from USGS in order to answer this call – to travel. Tyson took a year off and traveled throughout Central and South America, Asia and Oceania. 

“I was 32-years-old with a good government job, but traveling was always something I really wanted to do,” Tyson said. “While traveling, I even ended up meeting the woman I’m married to today.”

During his time overseas, Tyson said he realized the places he enjoyed visiting the most were those that had a lot of beauty but were not well known.

“At the time, the Texas Hill Country was kind of like that,” Tyson said. “We have a family ranch over in Burnet county, so I moved there and started doing some of the land stewardship practices that I learned.”

Once in Texas, Tyson worked at the Texas Living Waters Project for a number of years dealing with water policy regarding the Edwards Aquifer and other water concerns throughout the state.

“I kept thinking that there were are all these people working on the Edwards Aquifer, but there was no one working on or nothing in place to address any potential concerns on the Llano River,” Tyson said, “So I was able to partner with Environmental Defense Fund, which is one of the partners of the Texas Living Waters Project, and the Dixon Water Foundation, and started the Alliance in 2008 through those efforts.”

When the Alliance was first co-founded by Tyson, monitoring efforts covered just the North and South Llano River Watersheds. But two years ago, the Alliance expanded monitoring and riparian restoration to cover the entire Llano River Watershed.

Currently, Tyson oversees 14 sites that are monitored for dissolved oxygen and conductivity with the help from members of the Alliance and the Texas Master Naturalists Hill Country Chapter. This year, tributary sites like Beaver Creek and James River will soon be added to the count to this 4,000 square mile basin.

“I always joke that we are the size of Jamaica, but we don’t have the Jamaican bobsleigh team to cover all the ground,” Tyson said.

Texas Stream Team thanks Tyson for taking initiative and leading the important stewardship efforts at the Llano River Watershed. Texas residents, communities and waterways benefit every day from citizen scientists and water professionals like Tyson who dedicate their time to understanding the watersheds of this great state.

To learn more about the Llano River Watershed Alliance and how to get involved, visit LlanoRiver.org. To learn more about Texas Stream Team, visit TexasStreamTeam.org or email TxStreamTeam@txstate.edu.

Valerie Villarreal

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