Laurels Ranch

Laurels Ranch

David K. Langford loves the Texas Hill Country land that his family has cherished for five generations. His passion for the land has informed his career as a professional photographer, and he has been a tireless advocate for working lands conservation and private property rights his entire adult life. He was among a small group of private landowners who got their heads together in the 1980s to form the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) to raise the profile of private land…

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A growing Texas means loss of working lands

A growing Texas means loss of working lands

Farm and ranch acres in Texas are disappearing. The land is not gone, but its use is. You’re probably not surprised. What may surprise you, however, is the rate at which the land is being converted. The Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute says in the 20 years from 1997-2017, Texas lost about 2.2 million acres of working lands. The rate of conversion accelerated in the last five-year period, with over 1.2 million acres lost during that time. That’s over 650…

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How 45 million hunters and anglers are aiming to bypass Hollywood

How 45 million hunters and anglers are aiming to bypass Hollywood

The ideological fault lines running between the coasts and the American heartland, turning red and blue to code words, are manifesting in everything from politics and religion to television and films. For many middle Americans who are so often portrayed as uneducated rubes by coastal content companies, there’s a move afoot to leave media giants behind and chart their own path forward… “There are more than 45 million Americans who hunt and fish,” says Liberatore, “that’s more people than live…

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The wine industry continues to expand in Texas Hill Country

The wine industry continues to expand in Texas Hill Country

When I polled Texas Hill Country wineries and growers on the major changes in the region over the last two years Julie Kuhlken, co-owner and founder of long established Pedernales Cellars, said “The continued growth in the number of wineries and vineyards”. January Wiese, executive director of Texas Hill Country Wineries(THCW), the region’s winery trade group, ran the numbers and found that since March 2018 THCW winery membership has  increased 40%, adding 17 members and making 60 in total. The…

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Bill Neiman: A sculptor of seeds and soil

Bill Neiman: A sculptor of seeds and soil

A sculptor molds, carves, shapes, and ultimately creates. They may work in different media and are adept with their tools. In addition to shapes, lines, and colors, some incorporate motion —an interrelationship of objects. Bill Neiman is a sculptor. For more than four decades, his medium has been plants and Texas soil. In 1974, at age 19, he started his own landscaping company with a borrowed shovel, rake, and lawn mower. Today, Neiman’s family and a dedicated team run Native American…

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What’s at stake when we pave over, fragment and otherwise fail to protect Texas farmland from the disruptions of development?

What’s at stake when we pave over, fragment and otherwise fail to protect Texas farmland from the disruptions of development?

Millions of acres of America’s agricultural land were developed or converted to uses that threaten farming between 2001 and 2016, according to “Farms Under Threat: The State of the States,” a new report by American Farmland Trust. The report’s Agricultural Land Protection Scorecard is the first-ever state-by-state analysis of policies that respond to the development threats to farmland and ranchland, showing that every state can, and must, do more to protect their irreplaceable agricultural resources… The report found that Texas was the most threatened state in the nation due to…

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7.7 million young people are unemployed. We need a new ‘Tree Army.’

7.7 million young people are unemployed. We need a new ‘Tree Army.’

Nearly 7.7 million American workers younger than 30 are now unemployed and three million dropped out of the labor force in the past month. Combined that’s nearly one in three young workers, by far the highest rate since the country started tracking unemployment by age in 1948… As our country’s leaders consider a range of solutions to address this crisis, there’s one fix that will put millions of young Americans directly to work: a 21st-century version of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Read more from Collin O’Mara,…

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Resources for new landowners: Aldo Leopold’s five tools of wildlife management

Resources for new landowners: Aldo Leopold’s five tools of wildlife management

Aldo Leopold – author, philosopher, conservationist, and so-called “Father of Wildlife Ecology” –  is a pillar of the modern-day wildlife conservation and management movement. His revolutionary musings on the value of land and wildlife and his intentional management techniques often appear in the discourse on wildlife management. In Game Management, Leopold wrote, “Are we too poor in purse or spirit to apply some of it to keep the land pleasant to see, and good to live in?” This conveys a…

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The credible case for a resilient water supply in Texas

The credible case for a resilient water supply in Texas

In this time of crisis and deep uncertainty, one thing we must be able to depend on is our water supply. Access to water is critical to public health, fragile local economies, and food production. And the benefits are also intangible. Confined to our homes, many of us are realizing that time spent along the banks of a lake or clear flowing creek offers much-needed respite. Now, more than ever, we must protect our water resources. The world is a…

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Farms that sell directly to consumers are thriving amid Coronavirus downturn

Farms that sell directly to consumers are thriving amid Coronavirus downturn

“We feel pretty lucky,” Chris Newman admits. Newman is the owner and operator of Sylvanaqua Farms, a small permaculture operation that sells and delivers directly to consumers. Meat may be running low in grocery stores as farmers across the country face dire decisions about their animals but, in the midst of the coronavirus downturn, farms like Sylvanaqua are managing to thrive. Sylvanaqua delivers meat across a pretty wide area beyond the farm—surrounding areas in Virginia as well as north to…

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