In late October, a land transaction took place that finalized one of the largest land purchases and donations of untouched coastal land in Texas when the last 1,360 acres of the Powderhorn Ranch were donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The transaction closed on October 27. In addition to the nearly 15,000 acres donated to TPWD in 2018 by the Texas Park and Wildlife Foundation, the deal retains one of the largest “unspoiled coastal prairies in Texas” and will one day become a state park.
“It shows how the Texas conservation community can work hand-in-hand with the state to preserve an extraordinary part of our natural heritage for generations to come,” said Dan Friedkin, chairman emeritus of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
History of the Powderhorn Ranch land
According to a story published by Texas Monthly in 2015, the earth has a history stretching back almost 500 years. The land was driven out by the Karankawa, and explorers René Robert Cavelier and Sieur de La Salle lost a ship in a storm in 1686, according to the story. The land then belonged to Leroy G. Denman, who was close to Bob Kleberg of King Ranch, and purchased the land in 1936, according to Texas Monthly.
The family then began selling the ranch in the late 1990s, and a billionaire from Tennessee sold the land to the state.
In a press release from the TPWF, in 2014, significant funding became available from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which resulted from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and TPWF pledged to raise 15 million dollars to complete the financing of the project. . In addition to the purchase price of $ 37.7 million, TPWF raised funds for initial habitat restoration and an endowment to finance long-term maintenance, bringing the total cost of the project to nearly $ 50 million. The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy have provided bridge funding, and The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement that will protect the property forever.
The land includes nearly 11 miles of coastline along Matagorda Bay, and the land is near the Aransas Wildlife Refuge, making it one of the longest unspoiled stretches of coast in Texas.
Along with coastal lands and live oak forests, the lands include freshwater wetlands and salt marshes, meaning that preservation helps protect a multitude of native fish, plant and animal species. from the Texas coast.
Protecting Gulf Coast Habitat
“Powderhorn Ranch preserves pristine wildlife habitat in an area of Texas facing increasing development pressure,” TPWD executive director Carter Smith said in the department’s press release. “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 Systems, which are critical to the resilience of a healthy Gulf Coast ecosystem.
There is no timeline for the end of a state park, as the statement says a master plan needs to be developed and state funding needs to be identified for development. But now the property belongs to the citizens of Texas.
“We are delighted to mark this important milestone in the donation of the final Powderhorn acreage to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,” TPWF Executive Director Susan Houston said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to the many generous donors and partners who made this historic acquisition of conservation possible. “