Tuesday, May 5, 2009

J. David Bamberger Honored by Texas House of Representatives

Colleen Gardner, Executive Director of the Bamberger Ranch Preserve, writes:

Everything that happens on or around the ranch is a story. And never is the story short on details. On a cold and blustery volunteer workday with the Central Texas Trail Tamers this last winter, David Bamberger caught the ear of two new volunteers—“fresh meat” as the staff likes to tease—with some of his wonderful stories. One of these women, Carolyn, was motivated to visit the ranch after seeing a public television program featuring Margaret and David’s work. After reading Water From Stone, Carolyn signed up to volunteer and has become further enamored with the Bambergers’ conservation mission. It is to her that we give credit for honoring Selah 40 years of conservation with this house resolution.

After Church’s Fried Chicken went public on the New York Stock Exchange in May 1969, David Bamberger was able to purchase the abused, worn-out, chunk of land in Blanco County that he had had his eye on – the same one we all now know to be Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve. Honoring this 40th anniversary, Carolyn instigated, wrote draft copies and hand-delivered requests to both the Texas House of Representatives and the Senate for a House Resolution and a State Flag that flew over the capitol building.

Because the House is in session, we weren’t sure if Representative Rose’s public acknowledgement of David would happen until the very last minute. Intended to be a surprise, we therefore decided to read our draft copy of the resolution in front of over 100 guests at our Family Picnic Fundraiser on May 3 so that friends and family could celebrate David and Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve.

Everything works out the way it should – we were, in fact, able to get on the Representatives’s calendar for Monday morning, May 4. And at his prompting, our esteemed Representative Patrick Rose asked David Bamberger to stand on the upper gallery that overlooks the House floor while Representative Rose publicly acknowledged him and all of his great accomplishments with the following resolution (due to time constraints, it was not read in its entirety) and asked everyone to look up and clap for one of the greatest conservationists this State has ever known. Meanwhile, Senator Dewhurst’s office provided David with a Texas flag that flew over the capitol on May 2, 2009, the exact 40th anniversary of the date when Church’s went public.

The House Resolution

Presented at the State Capitol of Texas, May 4, 2009

House Resolution Number: 1633


WHEREAS, J. David Bamberger of Blanco County has contributed immeasurably to the cause of habitat restoration and responsible land stewardship in the Lone Star State; and

WHEREAS, Raised on a farm in Ohio, Mr. Bamberger graduated from Kent State University and enjoyed a highly successful business career, first with the Kirby Company and then as the cofounder of Church’s Fried Chicken; shortly after the latter company went public in 1969, he purchased approximately 3,000 acres in Blanco County, a tract described as the sorriest piece of land in the area; overgrazed, juniper-choked, and devoid of a natural water supply, the property was exactly what he was looking for – a place where he could realize his childhood dream of bringing a piece of abused land back to life; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Bamberger named his ranch Selah, after a Biblical expression that invites the reader to pause and reflect; over the past four decades, he has expanded the ranch to more than 5,500 acres and created one of the largest habitat restoration projects in Texas; and

WHEREAS, the first major undertaking on the ranch involved the extensive clearing of cedar and restoring of grassland; within two short years, flowing springs had begun to reappear; today, the property is a working ranch that supports more than 90 species of native Texas grasses, 4 species of ferns, 6 species of cacti, 175 species of native wildflowers, and 117 species of native woody plants and trees, including the endangered Texas snowbell and a Blanco crabapple that has been recognized as the Texas State Champion in its species category; the ranch is also home to 205 species of birds, among them the endangered black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler, and 26 species of native mammals; and

WHEREAS, other notable features of the Bamberger Ranch include a man-made cave that is designed to house a million Mexican free-tailed bats, the official state flying mammal, and a large herd of scimitar-horned oryx, an animal that is now extinct in the wild and that Mr. Bamberger is helping to preserve in a cooperative arrangement with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums; some experts have judged the latter effort to be the most successful species survival program in the world; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Bamberger’s guiding philosophy in managing the ranch has been to ask, first, what is the best for Mother Nature, and second, how can the lessons learned be passed on to others; the educational mission of the ranch, developed with the skilled assistance of his beloved wife, the late Margaret Bamberger, is carried out through public tours, programs for school children, and workshops, which collectively bring some 3,000 visitors to Selah each year; and

WHEREAS, The awards bestowed on J.David and Margaret Bamberger for their accomplishments and far-reaching influence include recognition from the Texas Forest Service, Texas Wildlife Association, National Arbor Day Foundation and Garden Club of America; in 2001, Mr. Bamberger created the non-profit Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve, to protect the land and continue its educational programs in perpetuity; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Bamberger’s efforts to preserve the state’s natural treasures have extended well beyond the boundaries of his ranch; he has succeeded in winning the trust of landowners who cumulatively own more than 120,000 acres in West Texas and gained their cooperation in reintroducing the Texas snowbell; his success in propagating the tree, a project he has pursued for more than 10 years, prompted the US Fish and Wildlife Service to designate his ranch as the lead institution in saving this rare species from extinction; and

WHEREAS, The esteemed Texan also played an instrumental role in the creation of Guadalupe River State Park and in the purchase, by Bat Conservation International, of Bracken Cave, home to the largest concentration of mammals in the world; and

WHEREAS In 1993, Governor Ann Richards appointed Mr. Bamberger to the State Task Force on Texas Nature Tourism, which developed the first state program in the country for promoting ectotourism; he has further served on the boards of the Texas Nature Conservancy, Bat Conservation International, the San Antonio Zoo, as well as on two Texas Parks and Wildlife Department advisory groups dealing with private-land issues; additionally, he has served on the San Antonio Area Foundation Board of Directors and given of his talents and resources to create Heart Line, a program for hearing impaired individuals in San Antonio; and

WHEREAS, Just as Mr. Bamberger was nurtured in his love of the land by his mother, he has shared the beauty and wonder of Selah with his three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; and

WHEREAS, J. David Bamberger has aspired to be a new kind of pioneer, an individual who heals the scars inflicted on the earth by past misuse and who brings to fruition again the land’s rich diversity; it is indeed fitting that, on this special milestone in Selah’s history, Mr. Bamberger’s fellow Texans pause and reflect on the magnitude of his achievement and on his tireless advocacy for preserving the extraordinary natural inheritance of the Lone Star State; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 81st Texas Legislature hereby honor J. David Bamberger for his immeasurable contributions to the advancement of nature conservation in Texas and commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Selah, the Bamberger Ranch and be it further

RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for Mr. Bamberger as an expression of high regard by the Texas House of Representatives.


Chris W. Johnson said...

Congratulations, you old conservationist. The honor couldn't have fallen to a more deserving fellow.

Lorilee said...

Congratulations on a well-deserved honor.

Charles said...

Congratulations, J. David. I think the David who wrote the Psalms was having a Selah moment when he penned Psalms 104. He could experience a similar Selah moment overlooking the natural beauty on the BRP as a result of your stewardship of this land.

Susan & Jerry said...

Missed that we weren't here to see David and all of his friends in Austin. Loved the info. Take care.

Sallie said...

Congratulations on a well deserved honor. You and the ranch are wonderful.