Texas Conservation Success Stories

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Craig and Conni French always considered themselves good land stewards

Their introduction to holistic ranch management techniques called into question long-held, traditional ways of thinking. The drastic changes that followed required a leap of faith for the fourth-generation ranchers. They traded harvesting hay for grazing methods that let their cattle harvest the forage themselves. Such changes didn’t happen overnight, and each came with its own risk and learning curve.


We Will Not Be Tamed: Meet Taylor and Katie


Taylor Collins’ and Katie Forrest’s life journey has taken them from restoring their bodies to restoring their land. The once-vegetarian Austin couple went vegan after health issues got in the way of sports training. When things got worse, they consulted a nutritionist who urged them to add clean meat protein to their diet.


50 Years Ago, This Was a Wasteland. He Changed Everything


Almost 50 years ago, fried chicken tycoon David Bamberger used his fortune to purchase 5,500 acres of overgrazed land in the Texas Hill Country. Planting grasses to soak in rains and fill hillside aquifers, Bamberger devoted the rest of his life to restoring the degraded landscape. Today, the land has been restored to its original habitat and boasts enormous biodiversity. Bamberger's model of land stewardship is now being replicated across the region and he is considered to be a visionary in land management and water conservation.


Brown’s Ranch in North Dakota: Guided by the “divine”


Like almost everyone else in his rural community, Gabe had been farming and ranching using conventional methods since purchasing his Brown’s Ranch from the parents of his wife Shelly in 1991. Possibly because he had not grown up on a farm, Gabe found that he was constantly asking the question, “why do we do things this way?”


Florida Partnership Enables Landscape-Level Prescribed Burn


On March 2, 2018, a large prescribed burn occurred at the Yellow River Water Management Area in Santa Rosa County, Florida, which is managed by the Northwest Florida Water Management District. Weather and atmospheric conditions were ideal and resources were available for the Florida Forest Service to approve the burn permit. Aerial ignition via helicopter started the fire systematically across the landscape. Ground firing and monitoring crews, consisting of 15 personnel were stationed at the tract perimeter as ground support during the burn.


Prescribed Fire Program Reduces Wildfire Severity


Over four long days in late March 2011, the most severe wildfire outbreak in a decade occurred at Eglin Air Force Base, located near Destin, Florida (Fig. 1). A persistent drought, 20 mph winds and low humidity, combined with 12-15 arson fires on the property, resulted in 6,000 acres burned in a matter of days. Due to Eglin’s aggressive prescribed fire program, the March 2011 wildfire severity and acres burned were significantly reduced. Without this regular fuel reduction, anywhere from 10-12,000 acres could have burned just on the Eglin side, with untold acres burned and property damaged north of Interstate 10.


Creating a Fire Resilient Landscape in the Pisgah National Forest


On July 14, 2015, a lightning strike ignited a wildfire on Bald Knob in the Grandfather Ranger District (GRD) of the Pisgah National Forest. Only 30 miles outside of Asheville, North Carolina and on rugged terrain difficult to access, the wildfire may have posed greater threat had it not been adjacent to areas containing recent fuel treatments (prescribed fire) and wildfires. These treatments, as part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), reduced fire fuel loads in the forest and enabled the Bald Knob fire to safely burn while protecting firefighters, local residents, structures, power line corridors, communication towers, and Forest Service property and surrounding land. Fuel treatments positively influenced the fire’s spread and allowed firefighting efforts to truly focus on protection of private properties. The inaccessible terrain as well as the confine and contain strategy allowed ample time to keep the effected community well informed of current fire behavior, smoke impacts and management plans for the fire.


Austin-Travis County Becomes a Model Fire Adapted Community Following Destructive Wildfires

Two destructive wildfires in 2011 brought the importance of wildfire preparation and protection to the forefront of the City of Austin, Travis County, Texas. These fires led to a multi-year, multi-faceted project to address wildland fire safety in Austin-Travis County.

The Austin Fire Department (AFD) provided the human-power, expertise, and educational resources necessary to address wildland fire issues. In 2013, the AFD, with federal, state, and local partners, developed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, a plan specifically designed to reduce wildland fire risk according to the needs of Austin-Travis County.


Operation Ponderosa


In 2014, Texas A&M Forest Service partnered with The Nature Conservancy to begin reforestation efforts on the Davis Mountains Preserve.  Between 2015 and 2016, TFS received a 3-year $200,000 grant from USDA Forest Service for initial forest stand assessments and management prescriptions. Stands were marked and baseline data gathered in preparation for the thinning of 350 acres. Over 2,000 seedlings were planted in a site prep experiment, and as wildland planting. The wildland planting includes any seedlings that were planted outside of the pre-determined research sites


Rufus Duncan Longleaf Pine Landowner Success Story


Longleaf LegacyThis video describes how Rufus Duncan is helping restore the historic Longleaf Pine range at Scrappin' Valley in east Texas.


Simon Winston - A Longleaf Pine Success Story


Longleaf LegacySimon Winston is restoring Longleaf Pine to his ranch near Nacogdoches Texas. Simon has received technical and financial assistance from many sources including the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Longleaf Taskforce. Simon uses frequent prescribed burns to create favorable wildlife habitat and enhance the longleaf ecosystem


East Texas Landowners Bring Back Longleaf Pines


Longleaf LegacyThis Success Story highlights East Texas landowner Lloyd Gillespie's efforts to bring back Longleaf Pines to Scrappin' Valley.


Longleaf legacy returns to Texas landscape


Longleaf LegacyMike Howard is a landowner in Sabine County and is restoring Longleaf Pines on his property.


A Ripple Effect


Texas Lawyer transformed part of Prairie Creek into a habitat where river otter, white-tailed deer and other wildlife thrive


No Jimmy Buffet Here


The marsh represents more than a good place to fish or a spot to play in the water. The marsh serves as a hurricane buffer, a sort of natural sponge that can absorb just about the worst that nature can throw at the Texas coastline.