Winston 8 Ranch
By: Leopold Conservation Award Program
When the Winston family acquired their property just south of Nacogdoches in the 1980s, it was largely land that had been cut and not replanted. Since then, it has been carefully restored and transformed into a showplace on how to produce timber and quality wildlife habitat.
Today, Virginia Winston and sons Simon and Dee, own and operate the 3,400-acre Winston 8 Ranch, a verdant medley of pine forest, longleaf pine, open range and wetlands providing food and shelter for a resurging population of white-tailed deer, northern bobwhite quail and wild turkey.
The property is used regularly by the College of Agriculture and Forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University for fieldwork and research, and by state and federal agencies in East Texas as a demonstration area on forest management. It is also a destination for educational and recreational opportunities. Through a partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Winstons have hosted students and disabled hunters at special events on the ranch.Dedicated to sound management principles and stewardship, The Winstons have implemented an active wildlife habitat improvement program that involves timber management, prescribed burning, invasive species control, and native habitat restoration. The family uses prescribed burning to reduce the threat of wildfires and to provide wildlife species, such as the eastern wild turkey, with places to nest near places to feed.
They have restored 180 acres of native longleaf pine, thinned 700-plus acres of loblolly pine to promote forest health, and cleared and seeded 93 acres for native grass and forbs. Interspersed throughout the upland open pine habitat are more than 500 acres of riparian/wetland habitat and approximately 90 acres of native grasses and forbs growing in openings and on pipeline right-of-ways. “The Winston legacy and dedication to stewardship is entrenched in their core family values,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Jeffrey A. Reid in his nomination of the Winston 8 Ranch. “When John Winston acquired the property, it was largely a cutover track of land. Intensive planting, management, and harvesting have led this property to be held up as one of the premier examples of multiple use forest land and open pine management.”