The last 1,360 acres of Powderhorn Ranch were donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, completing the transfer of the 17,351-acre property to Calhoun County, which is one of the last remaining stretches of unspoiled coastal prairie in the state. , in the hands of the public.
Almost 15,000 acres of the property were transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife in 2018 to establish a wildlife management area. Since then, this land has been open to the public on a limited basis for hunting in the fall and winter and for bird watching, the main one of which is in the spring.
The most recently donated acreage will one day become a state park, according to a press release from Texas Parks and Wildlife, although the development process typically takes “many years.”
“Powderhorn Ranch conserves pristine wildlife habitat in an area of Texas that faces increasing development pressure,” Carter Smith, executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife, said in the statement. “Investing in this property forever protects a remarkable diversity of species and habitats and connects a mosaic of protected lands ranging from the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge to the Mad Island Wildlife Management Area and the area. newly expanded Matagorda Peninsula Coastal Management System, which are critical to the resilience of a healthy Gulf Coast ecosystem.
Powderhorn Ranch was purchased in 2014 through a public-private coalition led by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and funded largely by a restoration fund created following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The cost of purchasing the land, funding the initial habitat restoration and establishing an endowment for long-term maintenance totaled nearly $ 50 million.
In the years that followed, conservationists worked to restore native grassland and savanna habitats and improve existing freshwater habitats on the property.
Since the creation of the Wildlife Management Area, the property has become a hotspot for birding and a staging post for migratory species, including the endangered whooping crane. A 2019 bird count documented 164 species in a 15 mile circle that included the ranch.
Meanwhile, public hunting locations are determined through an online drawing, with selected people able to hunt white-tailed deer, sambar deer, axis deer, wild pigs, and turkeys.
“This transformational project preserves irreplaceable wildlife habitat and provides an exciting new recreational opportunity for the people of Texas,” Dan Friedkin, chairman emeritus of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, said in the press release. “It shows how the Texas environmental community can work hand in hand with the state to preserve an extraordinary part of our natural heritage for generations to come.”
Mark Rosenberg reports on local, regional and breaking news for the Victoria Advocate as a member of the Report for America corps. He can be reached at [email protected] or 361-574-1264 or on Twitter at @ markrosenberg32. To support local journalism at Advocate through Report for America, visit VictoriaAdvocate.com/report.