The ranch includes more than eleven miles of tidal bay front on Matagorda Bay and provides habitat for hundreds of species of birds and animals, including the federally-endangered whooping crane. The ranch also includes thousands of acres of freshwater wetlands and salt marshes that offer vital fish and wildlife habitat and provide natural filtering to improve water quality. The undeveloped land shields people and property from storm surges and sea level rise.
In August 2014, The Conservation Fund along with The Nature Conservancy, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced the history-making acquisition of Powderhorn Ranch using $37.7 million in donated funds—the largest dollar amount ever raised for a conservation land purchase in Texas.
A HISTORY-MAKING PARTNERSHIP
The Conservation Fund initiated the effort three years prior when we began negotiations with the previous owner, Cumberland & Western Resources, LLC. Committed to preserving the exceptional natural quality of the Powderhorn Ranch, the seller sold the property below market value to ensure its permanent safekeeping.
A significant portion of the funding for the project was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which was created with dollars paid by BP and Transocean in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. NFWF has committed $34.5 million over the next three years, making this the biggest land acquisition in the nation so far using BP spill restoration dollars.
The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy of Texas have provided $10 million in interim funding. The Nature Conservancy will hold a permanent conservation easement on the property and will provide habitat management for the first two years through a contract with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPW). TPW will hold title on the property by the end of 2016, and will ultimately turn it over to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In years to come, Powderhorn Ranch will become a state park and wildlife management area.
WHY THIS PROJECT MATTERS
In an era of rapidly rising land prices and diminishing government resources, this project exemplifies a new model of funding for landscape scale conservation projects in Texas and is a demonstration of public and private entities working together for the long-term benefit of Texas and its citizens.
"A unique and innovative collaboration among public and private organizations has preserved a critical coastal landscape of epic size and scale for generations to come."
—Larry Selzer, CEO, The Conservation Fund
AT A GLANCE
- Powderhorn Ranch conserves 17,351 acres of freshwater wetlands and salt marshes.
- At $37.7 million, it is the largest dollar amount ever raised for a conservation land purchase in Texas.
- The protected area includes more than 11 miles of tidal bay front on Matagorda Bay.
- It provides vital fish and wildlife habitat for hundreds of species of birds and animals, including the endangered whooping crane.
- It offers natural filtering to improve water quality.
- It protects people and property from storm surges and sea level rise.
Senior Project Manager, Conservation Acquisition