Lone Star Land Steward Ecoregion Award Winners Announced

Austin, Texas – The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) is proud to reveal the winners of the 2022 Lone Star Land Steward Ecoregion Award. This year’s winners represent a variety of conservation goals and achievements , all of which demonstrate excellence in natural resource management and stewardship.

The annual banquet celebrating the Lone Star Land Steward Award winners will take place this year at 6 p.m. on May 25. More information about the banquet, as well as a video playlist highlighting last year’s winners, can be found on the Lone Star Land Steward page of the TPWD website.

The Lone Star Land Steward Awards recognize private landowners in Texas for their exemplary contributions to land, water and wildlife management. With 95 percent of Texas land under private ownership, the conservation and stewardship efforts of private landowners are vitally important to all Texans.

Here is a list of this year’s Ecoregions award recipients and a summary of their stewardship achievements:

Blackland Prairie – Ebel Grasslands Ranch (Hopkins County)

Karl, Kelli, Christian and William Ebel

The Ebel Grassland Ranch restoration project began in 2003 with an initial purchase of 645 acres. The family added 360 acres in 2012. The total acreage of the Ebels had been cultivated and grazed for years, beginning around 1834. The family worked closely with TPWD biologists to discover that at least 780 acres of the property were remnants of the original tallgrass, Silveus’ gout seed prairie, one of the endemic native plant communities rarest in Texas. Through land management practices that focus on returning the land to the native prairie ecosystem, the family has been able to increase native flora and fauna, improve soil health and wildlife diversity on the property while running a full-time livestock operation.

Cross Timbers – Wagley Ranch (Palo Pinto County)

Jay and Sue Wagley

The Wagley family has a long history in Palo Pinto County and manages their ranch with a long-term perspective with an emphasis on maintaining and improving their native grasses and pollinating plants. When making a decision about the ranch, they ask the question, “Will this benefit the ranch for future generations?” The Wagleys base every decision on striking a balance between cattle grazing and wildlife habitat management. The Wagleys take great pride in their Black Angus herd and the fact that the whole family is involved in running the ranch. They also take great pride in the diversity of terrain, habitat and wildlife that supports the northernmost breeding range of the Golden-cheeked Warbler. Their long-term approach to land stewardship ensures that the unique wildlife species that inhabit the property have a home for years to come.

Gulf Coast Grasslands – Grahmann Family Ranches (Victoria and Goliad Counties)

Johnny and Susan Grahamman

Grahmann Family Ranches (Flycatcher Cattle) is a small cattle and wildlife operation that raises commercial and registered Brangus cattle on four properties. The overall goal of the Grahmann family is to be the best possible stewards of the land, wildlife, and livestock on their relatively small parts of Texas. Managing and restoring habitat for wildlife and livestock is the family’s top priority, using management efforts such as counting browse stalks, managing wildlife population, restoring grasslands and riparian areas. When not working diligently on their own property, the Grahmann family is always willing to lend a hand to neighbors or other private landowners, by sharing farm equipment or advice, which in many many cases, is reciprocal on the part of these same landowners. In addition, each hunting season, the family makes a point of introducing aspiring hunters and conservationists to the outdoors, most of whom are young or minority audiences.

High Plains – Grotegut Farm and Ranch (Deaf Smith County)

Chris, Chris Sr., Josef, Gertrud and Judith Grotegut

Dr. Chris Grotegut, a local veterinarian, farmer and rancher, operates under his philosophy of “living by the means of water” – that is, sustainable and responsible irrigation, livestock grazing and management practices pastures. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by land producers in the southern high plains, namely wind erosion, severe drought events and a rapidly depleting aquifer, Grotegut Farm and Ranch is a model of sustainable land production practices that use native grasses to replenish rangelands and playas. on their property

Edwards Plateau – Natural Bridge Caverns and Wuest Ranch (Comal, Bexar Counties)

Wuest Family

The Wuest family has used a combination of tools on the Wuest Ranch for many years, including rotational cattle grazing, brush management, and reseeding with native range plants. Thanks to the extensive efforts put in place by the family, native grasses and herbaceous plants are flourishing on the property, livestock productivity has increased, the family has seen an increase in the quality of white-tailed deer, small mammals and reptiles , and greatly improved the soil of the property. and water quality. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of Texas citizens can enjoy the limestone geology of their property and learn about Texas history, geology, hydrology, and beautiful open spaces while visiting. Much of the property has been under a conservation easement since 2005, meaning it will sit undeveloped in perpetuity in one of the fastest urbanizing areas in Texas.

Rolling Plains – Indian Springs Cattle Company (Moore County)

Mitchell family

Before the Mitchell family purchased this property in the Canadian River Breaks, it was heavily overgrazed. Since the development of a detailed grazing plan, the diversity of native plants has responded exponentially to the care and stewardship of the family. Over the past six years, the predominance of grass types on the ranch has shifted to high quality bluestem and vine mesquite, among others, indicating a healthy short and mixed grass prairie. In addition, the property’s livestock carrying capacity has greatly exceeded its previous state while providing abundant habitat to meet the cover, food, water and space needs of grassland birds, small mammals, reptiles, predators and quality big game species. The ranch often lends itself to cooperative research, demonstration, and education programs that promote good wildlife and habitat management practices for private landowners who own and manage land in the area. Their management benefits all who use Lake Meredith just downstream.

Trans Pecos – Quail Ranch (Upton County)

Concho Resources Inc.

In a 16-inch rainfall area, it can be difficult to reclaim heavily impacted land, but that’s exactly what happens at Quail Ranch. Part of the prolific Permian Basin, reclaiming retired oilfield facilities and reseeding rights of way with native seed from local sources is a primary focus of Quail Ranch operations. This collection of Upton County properties that make up the Quail Ranch includes the ranch where famed Western Texas author Elmer Kelton was raised. Historically used for agricultural production, today the focus of land use has shifted to wildlife management after a century of diminishing grass and increasing creosote bush and mesquite. The property includes two large restored playa lakes and once brush-covered meadows that have been effectively treated and now serve as vital habitat for pronghorn, burrowing owl and black-tailed prairie dogs. Windmills have been converted to solar and energy guzzlers have been installed to ensure that over 95% of the ranch will fall within a mile of a water source. In an area providing enormous amounts of power to the public, Quail Ranch has dramatically improved the habitat for the wildlife species that inhabit this part of Texas.

Underwriters for the 2022 Lone Star Land Stewards Awards include Presenting Underwriter, Toyota; Gold Level Underwriters, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin L. Cox, Jr, Dallas Safari Club, Jimmie Ruth and Dick Evans, Partners for Fish & Wildlife – US Fish & Wildlife Service, HE Butt Foundation, Shield Ranch; Silver Level Underwriters ConocoPhillips, Eric Walsh – Compass Ranch & Land Real Estate, King Land & Water, Lower Colorado River Authority, The Rosewood Corporation, Trinity River Authority of Texas, Wexford Ranches, Matt and Peggy Winkler; Bronze Level Underwriters 4K Land and Cattle Co., Alum Creek Wildlife Management Association, Birdwell & Clark Ranch, The Bamberger Foundation, The Brown Ranch, Danny and Shirley Butler, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Capital Farm Credit, Colorado River Land Trust, Conservation Equity Partners LLC, Glen and Heidi Couchman, David S. Crow, Dorothy Drummer & Associates, Dunn O’Connor Land & Cattle Co. LLC, East Foundation, Harkins Ranch, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Kelsey, Oncor Electric Delivery, Republic Ranches LLC, M. Nelson J. Roach, San Antonio River Authority, Simms Creek Wildlife Association, Simon and Louise Henderson Foundation, Spicewood Ranch/Christopher Harte and Will Harte, Sycamore Canyon Ranch, Three Mile Creek Ranch, TLL Temple Foundation, Ellen C. Temple, Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas A&M Natural Resource Institute, Texas Agricultural Land Trust, Texas State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Texas Farm B Office, Texas Land Trust Council, Texas Tech University Center at Junction Llano River Field Station, Texas Wildlife Association, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mr. and Mrs. Warren and Dori Blesh, Wildlife Consultants, LLC, David Yeates, MJ David Bamberger; Mr. James K. Brite, Jr. (JA Brite Ranch), Mr. and Mrs. Rod Hench (Wild Wings Ranch), Mr. and Mrs. Roy Leslie (Leslie Ranch), Mr. and Mrs. Tom Vandivier (Llano Springs Ranch, Ltd .) and Mr. Kelly Walker (Walker 7 Oaks Ranch).

Learn more about the Lone Star Land Stewards program and private land stewardship on the TPWD Private Land and Habitat Program website.

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