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.
2011 Lone Star Land Steward Award Winner
The Brian Smith family received the 2011 Lone Star Land Steward Award for the conservation work done on the Trinity Bluff Wildlife Ranch in Navarro County. Since 2002, when the Smiths acquired this 733 acre ranch nestled along the Trinity River, they have worked to transform overgrazed pastures into a diverse habitat of native bunchgrasses and forbs, which provide substantial wildlife habitat. Removing livestock, prescribed burning, disking, mowing, and native seed planting are some of the methods used on this ranch to improve native plant diversity. Also, the Smiths have worked with the East Texas Wetlands Project and Ducks Unlimited to construct a 20 acre wetland in the Trinity River bottom that captures floodwaters and attracts waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds.
The Smiths are a prime example of land stewards that work with the land to improve plant and wildlife diversity, leading to overall ecosystem health. As a wildlife enthusiast, Brian Smith believes that rich land will provide rich wildlife and that his ranch serves as an example to other landowners how good stewardship practices can do just that.
Watch this Texas Parks and Wildlife video to see how the work the Smith family has done and how it benefits the land, wildlife, and water resources of the Trinity River basin.