The ability to manage land in good times as well as bad is the mark of a good land steward. This year’s recipients of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Lone Star Land Steward Awards are prime examples. The Dixon Water Foundation’s Bear Creek Ranch in Aledo received the award for the Cross Timbers and Prairies region.
The annual Lone Star Land Steward Awards recognize and honor private landowners for their accomplishments in land, water and wildlife stewardship. The program is designed to educate landowners and the public and to encourage participation in habitat conservation. This year’s recipients characterize the unique cultural and natural heritage of Texas. Landowners restoring degraded habitats while conserving flora and fauna are a common thread.
Progressive, innovative grazing management and livestock production are skillfully employed on the Dixon Water Foundation’s Bear Creek Ranch to create and maintain an ecologically stable, diverse, and functional landscape and to generate income.
Bear Creek Ranch is divided into 32 grazing units to allow for abbreviated grazing periods and long recovery periods. Each unit is grazed for only 5 to 15 days each year and is rested from grazing for the remainder. A combination of cattle and sheep are used to mimic the historic grazing patterns and grazing habits of bison and pronghorn.
Education and outreach is a primary function and purpose of the Dixon Water Foundation. Using their four ranches in North and West Texas as practical real-world laboratories, the foundation hosts and sponsors numerous field days, training sessions, tours, seminars and conferences.
The Dixon Water Foundation’s mission is promoting watershed health through sustainable land management to ensure present and future generations have the water resources they need. The foundation also sponsors research and funds grants that support its mission in key Texas ecosystems. Clint Josey is board chairman, and Robbie Tuggle and Danny Parker are ranch managers.