Keeping Texas Big,
Wide and Open
Created by landowners for landowners, TALT's mission is to protect private working lands, thus conserving Texas’ heritage of wide open spaces.
Photo © D.K. Langford
|The San Pedro Ranch|
Since its inception in 1812 as part of a Spanish Land Grant to Juan Francisco Lombrano, only three families have cared for the land that comprises the San Pedro Ranch. In the ultimate act of stewardship, the current owners have protected the San Pedro for future generations by donating a conservation easement to TALT.
“We chose a conservation easement because it was the best option for our family and the best option for our land,” said one of the landowners. “Our goal has always been to keep the San Pedro operating as a family ranch just as it has been since our grandfather purchased the ranch in 1935. We value the diverse biology, history and culture that characterize this property and want to see it carried forward into the future.”
Located in Dimmit County near the Mexican border, the San Pedro sits squarely at the intersection of the South Texas Rolling Plains and the Chihuahuan Desert in an ecological transition zone characterized by biological diversity. The diversity is further enhanced by the presence of water, a rarity in this arid region. The San Pedro Ranch, which is located between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers, is home to San Pedro Creek, San Ambrosia Creek and San Pedro Spring. The spring is the only live water in the vast expanse between the two rivers, drawing people to it throughout history. It is said that Santa Ana camped at the spring en route to the Alamo.
In a region where many working ranches have become recreational ranches, the San Pedro maintains the traditions of the range. On this South Texas cow-calf operation, much of the work is still done on horseback and Spanish is the first language. Just as the land ownership has passed from generation to generation, so have the land management responsibilities. Currently, this is the third generation of owners and managers to work together.
“We’re blessed to have a loyal and devoted team at the San Pedro who shares our family’s commitment to improving the natural resources in our care,” said another member of the family. “Together, we’ve learned what works best and what doesn’t work at all. They share in our excitement when a management technique works particularly well and in our frustration when nature gets out of balance. We feel a sense of responsibility toward one another and toward the future.”
This sense of responsibility combined with a love of the land prompted the family to consider a conservation easement.
“We care about this land and how it will look in 50 years or 100 years,” a family member said. “Our children share our commitment to the ranch’s biological and cultural integrity, so a perpetual conservation easement made sense. The land is perpetual and our responsibility to care for it is perpetual, so why not enroll it in a conservation easement that will protect it for perpetuity?”
Of course, this decision did not come without careful consideration, consultation and negotiation. Initially, the family was concerned that an easement would be a one-size-fits-all proposition.
“Despite belief to the contrary, conservation easements are not all exactly the same and they do not require landowners to enroll their entire property,” one of the landowners said. “As landowners, we had the right to negotiate all the details, so we were able to hammer out an agreement that was customized for us.”
An integral part of the process was finding an organization to hold the easement that understood the family’s goals. TALT filled the bill.
“The people of TALT understand the people of the land because they come from the land themselves,” a family member said. “As a rancher, it’s comforting to find a group of people who inherently understand our goals, our challenges, and the value of maintaining our way of life.”
San Pedro photos ©JohnDyer2004