Land Steward Spotlight
What is Land Stewardship?
Land stewardship implies environmental sensitivity, knowledge
and understanding of the resources, and empowerment to sustain
natural resources through management. In other words, a land
steward is someone who manages his or her land to assure natural
systems are maintained or enhanced for the future. Land stewards
also recognize that natural resources extend beyond boundaries
(e.g., fence lines, or political or government boundaries). To make
correct decisions that maintain land in a "healthy" and productive
condition, one must have a knowledge and understanding of natural
systems. Therefore, a good land steward is someone who understands
the land - soil, water, ﬂora and fauna - he or she is managing and
has the knowledge and expertise to apply techniques that enhance
This page highlights examples of good land stewardship within
the Trinity River Basin as an example to other landowners of what
can be done on their land as well.
2001 Lone Star Land Steward Award Winner
Dr. Robert McFarlane, known as "Doc" to his friends, is a native
East Texan and graduate of Harvard Medical School. After
returning to Palestine and starting up a cardiology practice, he
found the bottomland hardwood forest that he loved growing up was
greatly diminished. In 1992, he bought some land of his own,
starting with 1,000 acres and growing to 7,500 as surrounding
properties became available. He named his place the Big Woods on the Trinity after
William Faulkner's 1955 book Big Woods. He then
began booking deer, hog, and waterfowl hunts on his property and
has turned his property into a hunting resort.
After learning about federal wetland rules and mitigation
processes, he started improving his land by planting trees.
These efforts led to dramatic improvements in habitat and wildlife
populations that earned Doc the 2001 Lone Star Land Steward
Award. Realizing that there were other relatively intact
properties nearby, Doc saw the potential for restoring large areas
in the Trinity River basin that could benefit society at
large. In 2006, Doc and other landowners founded the Trinity
Basin Conservation Foundation (renamed Trinity Waters in 2011) to
best take advantage of funding opportunities available from state,
federal, and corporate programs. Doc served as President of
TBCF for a time and is an example of how rural landowner
stewardship can benefit society by providing essential ecosystem
services such as drinking water, carbon sequestration, wildlife
habitat, and flood mitigation.
Read these articles from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine
to learn more.
the Trinity, 2004
the Trinity, 2008
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