Every year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, honors landowners from across the state with the Lone Star Land Steward Award for their contributions to natural resource conservation and management. This year, TPWD honored seven winners from six ecologically diverse regions of the state as some of the best examples of sound habitat management, according to TPWD.
Initiated in 1996 by the TPWD Private Lands Advisory Committee, the Lone Star Land Steward Awards seeks to recognize the important role private landowners play in the future of Texas’ natural resources by honoring them for their accomplishments in habitat management and wildlife conservation. Because more than 94 percent of Texas lands are privately owned or operated, private landowners are the key to effective habitat management across the state. Since the program’s inception 21 years ago, more than 200 landowners have been honored for conserving more than three million acres of fish and wildlife habitat.
“The landowners we honor with these awards really represent the unique natural and cultural characteristics that make up Texas’ storied heritage,” said Justin Dreibelbis, director of TPWD’s Private Lands and Public Hunting program. “We’re very fortunate that we have such dedicated landowners working to conserve these beautiful, wild places.”
Following is a list of this year’s award recipients:
- Blackland Prairie: T Star Ranch, Navarro County. Bruce and Shirley Thomas, owners/managers
- Edwards Plateau: Winkler Ranch, Blanco County. Matt and Peggy Winkler, owners. Derek Birck, manager
- Gulf Prairies and Marshes: Parks Ranch, Goliad County. Cuervo Ranch Holdings, Ltd., owner. Crow Ranches, Inc., manager
- Post Oaks and Prairies: Pecore Farm, Fayette County. Albert and Wilda Pecore, owners/managers
- South Texas: San Pedro Ranch, Dimmit and Maverick counties; Fitzsimons and Howard Families, owners. Chase Currie, manager
- Trans-Pecos: Harkins Ranch, Terrell and Pecos counties. Harkins Family, owners/managers
- Special Recognition for Landowner Outreach and Education: Steve Nelle, Tom Green County
The seven land stewards were recognized during an annual banquet May 19 in Austin, where the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award, the highest honor awarded in the program, was also presented by the Sand County Foundation, to Blue Mountain Peak Ranch.
For more information about the award recipients' conservation work, read this TPWD news release. For details on the Lone Star Land Steward Awards, including eligibility rules and how to nominate a landowner for next year’s awards, visit the program’s website. Read this news release for more information about the Leopold Award-winning ranch.
The Lone Star Land Steward Awards program relies on partners and sponsors for its continued success, according to TPWD. Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and TPWD partner to host the awards program, with Toyota as the presenting sponsor. The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and the Texas Water Resources Institute were Bronze Sponsors of the awards program this year.