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30 Years and Counting: a Family Preserves their Land in Burnet County

We have owned our small ranch on the north edge of the Texas Hill Country only since 1970. Since that time, we have seen a number of other ranches in the area sold off in small home sites, reducing and degrading the wildlife habitat. Starting in 2002, we became aware of the conservation easement concept as a method of protecting the native plants and wildlife on our place into the future years.

Through the years since the settlement of this area of Texas by farm families, any land that could be plowed was planted to cotton and grain crops each year, resulting in significant soil erosion. The upper rangeland acres were grazed by cattle, sheep and goats. Barbed wire fences came into use in about 1880, further facilitating over- grazing the native forages. Since we have owned our ranch, we have tried to reverse the dam- age done in previous years of overuse of the land and the plant community. We participated in the USDA Great Plains Program in 1970-80, planting perennial grass on the 95 acres of plowed land, installed cross fencing and water lines to facilitate rotation of grazing and removed Ashe Juniper from selected areas of rangeland. We restricted the number of cattle to fit the forage availability and did not use sheep and goats, all of which helped the native grass and forbs to recover. Our choice not to use herbicide on the perennial pastures improved the wildlife food supply.

Since 1980, we have continued to battle Ashe Juniper by hand removal of regrowth and by some selective clearing of strips. The native grass and forbs have come back nicely in the cleared areas. From 2004-07, we worked with the officers and board of the Hill Country Land Trust to develop the conservation easement filed in 2007. We continue to broaden our knowledge of native plants and wildlife by working with the HCLT Stewardship Committee. We and our family are pleased that our place will be in far better condition for the future years than we found it in 1970. - Gordon and Judy Chapin

posted on 3/23/2016

Hill Country Land Trust sometimes get testimonials from land owners that we have worked with. We really appreciate them taking the time to send these to us, and we like to share them here on the website.

We are commited to conserving the Texas Hill Country, and we like to hear from others as to why they have chosen to make this commitment too.