3 Creeks Farm Protected in Perpetuity

On June 16, 2017, PPLT officially closed on its 7th conservation easement (CE), purchased from Jon Beall and located in Littig, Texas (Elgin area), aptly named 3 Creeks Farm. This 315 acre property hosts a small organic farm (Guinea Hill Farm), prime farmland soils, wildlife habitat, cultural resources and stream bank habitat along Wilbarger, Willow and Dry Creeks. At one time, the property was owned by the first African-American post master. This CE increases the land held in perpetual protection by PPLT to over 2500 acres.

Pond at 3 Creeks Farm

Pond at 3 Creeks Farm

Funding for the purchase was obtained through the USDA Farm Bill's Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (now called the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program) and the Travis County Conservation Easement Bond Program, as well as the bargain sale of the easement from the landowner. 

CONSERVATION EASEMENT GOALS OR "CONSERVATION VALUES"

Of high priority in protecting this land (the "conservation values") is protecting portions of Wilbarger, Willow and Dry Creeks from stream bank erosion. Preserving this land will increase land protected through the Wilbarger Creek Conservation Alliance to almost 1000 contiguous acres protected in perpetuity with the resultant synergistic effects of landscape scale conservation. Other goals of the conservation easement include:

http://siglogroup.com/ourwork/wilbargercreekconservationalliance/

http://siglogroup.com/ourwork/wilbargercreekconservationalliance/

1. The mitigation of the force and quantity of surface flood waters into the previously mentioned creeks and provides a significant quantity of high quality storm seepage and ground water runoff to the Wilbarger Creek Alluvium, the Colorado River and Colorado River Alluvium. The Wilbarger Creek watershed is rated as a “high conservation priority” according to the Trust for Public Land’s Travis County Greenprint for Growth. The Colorado River provides water for thousands of central and southeast Texans, and wildlife populations, and the Colorado River Alluvium helps maintain baseflow and environmental flows in the Colorado River.

2. The protection of approximately 9,000 feet or 1.71 miles of double-sided creek frontage within its boundaries

3. Significant open space and scenic views, including agricultural ranch lands.

4. The protection of native Blackland Prairie in Central Texas. Most of the Blackland Prairie has been plowed leaving less than 1% of this Ecoregion intact. The Blackland Prairie is the most endangered Ecoregion in North America. This Ecoregion is designated as a high priority for protection in the State Land and Water Conservation Plan and State Wildlife Action Plan.

5. The protection of over 20 acres of prime farmland soils.

Guinea Hill Farm seedlings and owner, Sharon Crow

6. Biological diversity of the many native plant communities and wildlife communities
that rely on the habitat and water and food sources found in the Wilbarger Creek
corridor and watershed. All four major native Blackland Prairie plant communities
are rare and most have conservation rankings of G1 (Critically Imperiled) or G2
(Imperiled). The Blackland Prairie region is also an important stopover habitat for
migrant songbirds and wintering raptors, and many of these species are declining.

7. Protecting cultural resources.

8. Public recreation and outdoor education that will address park and recreation inequities identified in the Travis County Master Parks Plan.

HISTORIC USE

The fact that three creeks come together on this property would have provided valuable access to water during prehistoric times, attracting human habitation for hundreds or even thousands of years. Portions of the property had been farmed for over 100 years. 

The Town of Littig was founded in 1883 along the Houston and Texas Central Railway, on land donated by Jackson Morrow, former slave and first African-American post master in Texas. Although Littig declined in the mid-20th Century, it remains an important Travis County Freedmen’s Town. 3 Creeks Farm was part of a larger parcel of land owned by Mr. Morrow, who used it for farming. His niece, Johnny Adams, inherited the land from him and sold it to the Bealls in 1998, when she was approximately 93 years old.

100+ year old, hand dug pond

100+ year old, hand dug pond

Also located on this acreage is a 100+ year old pond dug by manual labor with mules and a scoop bucket. Cattle were removed from the Farm over 30 years ago. One parcel was row cropped with cotton, sorghum and corn in the mid-1980s and was also hayed and leased for cattle. 3 Creeks Farm and an adjacent ranch were once part of the Thrasher Ranch.

Development pressure is quite evident on large parcels in the area. These amenities, along with the area’s proximity to Austin, Manor and Elgin, are attracting people seeking ranchette-sized parcels to build and live on and businesses to develop. The new Formula One racetrack was located in this area, taking over 1000 acres of agriculture land out of production. The construction of toll roads also brings with it fast growing development. And while there are good aspects of growth, protecting connected corridors of open space means water quality and quantity, view sheds, wildlife habitat and our own health and happiness are also protected.

While this project took several years to complete, it was well worth the time and effort all parties involved spent on it. PPLT would like to offer extra special thanks to Jon Beall and Becky Jolin for never giving up and having land protection always their top priority.

Zoomed Out View (2).jpg

Pines and Prairies Land Trust to receive support from the National Park Service

Pines and Prairies Land Trust to receive support from the National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that Pines and Prairies Land Trust (PPLT) has been selected to receive assistance from the NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program. NPS staff will provide technical guidance to Pines and Prairies in order to improve the trail system at PPLT’s Colorado River Refuge. The assistance will include an assessment of current trails, a review of PPLT’s volunteer programs, and coaching for PPLT staff and partners. The project is one of four new projects accepted by the NPS in Texas this year. 

The NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program helps communities design trails and parks, conserve and improve access to open space, protect special places, and create recreational opportunities through locally led partnerships.

Pines and Prairies Land Trust protects natural and cultural resources through education and the preservation of open space in the Central Texas counties of Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Lee and Eastern Travis County. PPLT holds conservation easements and owns property in the five county region it serves. Besides direct land conservation, PPLT also hosts nature lessons, workshops and participates in conferences, local environmental events, and provides speakers for civic and business groups.

The NPS is proud to support the visions of community organizations and help improve access to open space in and around central Texas. We believe in public and private partners working together to align state, federal, and local resources that achieve long-term enhancements to quality of life.  

Nationwide Impact

In the last 20 years, the NPS has assisted thousands of communities – from rural Alaska to downtown New York City – with more than 5,000 projects. These community partnerships have helped conserve more than 1,000 miles of river corridor, develop nearly 1,800 miles of trail, and protect more than 50,000 acres of park land, wildlife habitat, and natural areas every year.

Key project contact:

Melanie Pavlas, Executive Director

Email: melanie@pplt.org

phone: (512) 308-1911

For more information on the NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program, please visit http://www.nps.gov/rtca, join the conversation at http://www.facebook.com/RTCANPS, or watch a video about our work in communities at www.nps.gov/orgs/rtca/multimedia.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local natural and historic areas and to create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

Regional Landowners, The Pecores, Recognized

Celebrating Excellence in Private Land Conservation

 

Four Seasons Hotel, Austin—The banquet room was teeming with wall-to-wall people, all assembled to publicly recognize seven regional Texas landowners for their conservation contributions to land, water and wildlife stewardship. Each year Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation highlight the best land stewards in all of Texas.

Post Oaks award winners Albert and Wilda Pecore oversee 196 acres in Fayette County, land which has been meticulously restored to a natural state reminiscent of the native tall grass prairies of yore. They share a bond with their land, made by decades of struggles and successes.  There is no hurry, no sense of urgency.  They know nature is everlasting change and to walk hand-in-hand with her requires a long view. . .a patient, loving view. The land is one of six properties protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement through Pines and Prairies Land Trust of Bastrop, Texas.  The Pecores have also partnered with the Wildlife Habitat Federation, a conservation and restoration non-profit located in Cat Springs, Texas and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Initiated in 1996 by the TPWD Private Lands Advisory Committee, the Lone Star Land Steward Awards set out to recognize private landowners for excellence in habitat management and wildlife conservation; as well as, to illustrate the important role that landowners play in the conservation of Texas’ natural resources. The program also focuses on encouraging youth education and the importance of engaging future generations of Texans in responsible habitat management and ecosystem health.  Since inception of the program, landowners have been recognized for conserving more than three million acres of our cultural and natural heritage in Texas.

Larry Gfeller