Looking for Land Stewards
Who Will Be Texas’ Conservation Stars for 2003?
By Linda McMurry
The Lone Star Land Steward Awards program recognizes private landowners for their accomplishments in habitat management and wildlife conservation. The program is designed to educate landowners and the public and to encourage wider participation in habitat conservation.
Land stewards may be nominated by biologists, friends, hunters/lessees, associates and partners, family members or other members of the community. Completed nomination packets are sent to the appropriate TPWD regional offices, and local selection committee members then visit, inspect and rate each property based primarily on conservation and wildlife management, but also on local involvement, youth activities, research and innovative approaches to land management.
Awards are given in three categories. The primary category honors one outstanding private land steward from each of the 10 ecological regions. The next category recognizes outstanding stewardship by a wildlife management association or wildlife co-op. The third category recognizes outstanding stewardship by non-governmental organizations and corporations. A statewide winner also is selected.
The 12 winners are honored at a ceremony in Austin each year around the end of May. Video highlights of the winning properties showcase the special attributes for which each landowner is being recognized. Certificates, plaques, artwork or other commemorative items are awarded to each person responsible for the outstanding stewardship demonstrated.
Applications for the 2003 Lone Star Land Steward Awards will be accepted until Jan. 31, 2003. Obtain applications from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744 or on the conservation page of the TPWD Web site.
2002 Lone Star Land Steward State Winner
Womack Family Ranch
Jess & Lou Womack
Descendents of a pioneer farming family, Jess and Lou Womack made it a goal to restore the wetlands habitat on their 8,500-acre Womack Family Ranch, once part of the historic 34,000-acre McFaddin Ranch that was partitioned in 1991. Through the Womack’s efforts, 50 percent of their diverse acreage has become fruitful wetlands, attracting more than 250 bird species including bald eagles and peregrine falcons. An unexpected benefit is the proliferation of crawfish, blue crab, alligator gar and catfish, which the Womacks recently began harvesting for sale. Large counts of ducks, geese and other waterfowl visit the wetlands on annual migrations. The ranch’s upland acreage contains croplands and pastures. For this area the Womacks apply prescribed burning rotational grazing and reduced herbicides.