Fort Davis, Texas
“As I moved into adulthood—and a life in cities—I missed having the ready access to the outdoors that I enjoyed as a child, and I noticed that Texas’ population growth was making that opportunity more rare for everyone,” said Potts, a 1980 Baylor graduate who earned his law degree from Columbia University in 1984. “I’ve spent the past 25 years working to ensure that Texas has open space land and healthy ecosystems, so people have opportunities to experience and understand nature.”
Today Potts serves as president and CEO of the Dixon Water Foundation (dixonwater.org), which owns and operates four cattle ranches in north and west Texas. Under Potts’ leadership, the Foundation works to “promote healthy watersheds through sustainable land management to ensure that future generations have the water resources they need.” Previously, Potts served as Texas state director for the Nature Conservancy and later as the general manager of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, which manages the primary water source for 1.5 million Texans.
“At the Edwards Aquifer Authority, my primary job was helping people understand that we could keep the incredible resource indefinitely if we cared for it, but we would lose it if we didn’t,” he said.
The lesson of the aquifer is transferrable to Texas’s rural lands.
“Productive, open space land is a vital resource as surely as an aquifer,” Potts said. “It’s an illusion to think our cities with their commerce can continue to exist without healthy, productive rural land. City dwellers depend on open space land for clean air, water and food, not to mention the benefits of recreation and aesthetics.”
His work at the Dixon Water Foundation, which uses cattle grazing as a tool for managing watersheds, promotes the stewardship of Texas’ working lands. And it motivated him to join the TALT Board.
“Other land trusts have their roots in urban centers, but TALT has its roots in production agriculture and rural Texas,” Potts said. “TALT strives to keep rural land for the benefit of rural communities and rural families as well urbanites and suburbanites, it is a meaningful difference in approach to the challenges of fragmentation and disappearing land.”