Jim Bill Anderson and his wife, Deborah, have spent their adult lives putting the Anderson’s Frying Pan Ranch back together. The 5,600-acre ranch is home to the Andersons, an integrated livestock operation, a growing population of the rare lesser prairie chicken, and a myriad of other wildlife. The family decided the ranch, located east of Canadian in the sand-sage Canadian Breaks prairie, will remain intact forever.
“As stewards, we believe that we have a responsibility to care for the land during our time and to leave it better than we found it for future generations,” Anderson said. “We have built our entire operation on the concept of sustainability — the ability to carry a practice on into the future — and a conservation easement fits into that framework. It helps us accomplish our long-term goals.”
One reason that the Andersons chose to conserve their legacy is the rapid fragmentation of agricultural land in Texas.
“Texas is losing agricultural land faster than any other state in the nation,” Anderson said. “The size of Texas disguises the urgency of the problem because it seems like we’ve got a lot of land. But if this trend continues, we could wake up one day and see that it has gone too far. What will we do then?”
Although others argued that geography would protect the Anderson’s holdings from urbanization, the family took a different view.
“Canadian is not the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, but that doesn’t mean that fragmentation won’t come,” Anderson said. “While our area probably won’t be dealing with strip malls and hotel chains, we could see the big ranches carved up into 300-acre recreational properties. It’s already happening in adjoining counties.”
To stop potential development, the Anderson family chose to enact a conservation easement.
“People enter into conservation easements for all sorts of reasons, including tax considerations and estate planning benefits, and while those were important considerations for us, the big reason we chose to do this was philosophical. In the long-term, keeping our land intact is as good for the people who live in the city as it is for us. Open space land benefits us all.”
Anderson Ranch photos ©Texas Parks and Wildlife Department