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 ecosystem function.

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

Trinity -Mc Farlane 18

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.

Haunted Waters

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.

Contemplating the Trinity, 2004

Reviving the Trinity, 2008


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