Lone Star Land Steward Program Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 4/24/2015, 9:42 a.m.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) honors the conservation contributions of private landowners each year with its Lone Star ...

2015 Regional Winners To Be Honored for their Conservation Contributions

AUSTIN— The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) honors the conservation contributions of private landowners each year with its Lone Star Land Steward Award. This year, seven winners representing several of the state’s diverse ecological regions will join the distinguished roster of landowners who have received this recognition. Over the past 20 years, nearly 200 landowners across Texas have been lauded for conserving more than 3 million acres of fish and wildlife habitat.

On Wednesday, May 6 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, these seven land stewards will be recognized during the annual banquet, and the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award for 2015 in Texas will also be announced and presented by the Sand County Foundation. Keynoting this year’s event will be Tio Kleberg, a previous Lone Star Land Steward honoree and an advisory board member of Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.

Initiated in 1996 by the TPWD Private Lands Advisory Committee, the Lone Star Land Steward Awards set out to recognize private landowners for excellence in habitat management and wildlife conservation; as well as, to illustrate the important role that landowners play in the conservation of Texas’ natural resources. The program also focuses on encouraging youth education and in the importance of engaging future generations of Texans in responsible habitat management and ecosystem health.

Award recipients characterize the unique cultural and natural heritage of Texas. Following are summaries of stewardship highlights for each of the ecoregion and category recipients.

Edwards Plateau- Carpe Diem Ranch, Menard County Charlie and Marci Granstaff, owner/operators

In 1997, Charlie and Marci Granstaff took ownership of a portion of the family’s Hill Country ranch, with hopes of restoring historically overgrazed habitat. By implementing various conservation tools, their goal was to bring back a sustainable, healthy and ecologically functional landscape. The Granstaffs suspended grazing for 10 years to help the grasses rebound. Through mechanical brush manipulation, rest and native reseeding, grass coverage has flourished and continues to spread through strategic grazing and prescribed burns. As avid hunters, the Granstaffs are involved in managing deer numbers for sustainable habitat. They are proactive in creating the correct balance of nesting cover for quail, and actively manage water sources for wildlife on the ranch by installing new pipelines, storage facilities and drinking troughs.

Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes- Gore Family Farm, Jackson County Gore Family, owner/operators

The property purchased by the Gore family in 2007 is being converted from rice and cattle production into extensive wetlands and upland habitat. Restoration involves installation of a system of levees, gates and risers to allow for moist soil management in 11 wetland units. Recently, the Gore family allowed the wetland work done on the property to be used as a matching contribution towards a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant held by Ducks Unlimited. The grant provides funding to other wetland restoration projects through the Texas Prairie Wetland Program. Using prescribed fire, selective herbicide treatment and shredding, the Gores have also been able to gain control of exotic grasses in upland habitat.