Sunday, November 14, 2010

Conservationists All – “We the People”

As a nation we should not expect nor depend on our government to be occupied with conservation. There is just too much going on in the world for that. We should, however, expect our elected officials to provide leadership, education and incentives in regard to conservation issues and then “we the people” can go about accomplishing the work. It is only through the voluntary efforts of “we the people” that environmental and conservation needs will be met.

Over the past forty years here at Selah we have been preaching the gospel about conservation to tens of thousands of people and I have been a witness to a sea change in the attitudes of educators, landowners, and even corporations. There is momentum building, a new paradigm has emerged in our society and in particular the need for children to get connected to the natural world. The encouraging thing to me is that this activity – this sea change is coming about through the efforts of thousands of initiatives started by “we the people” not the government.

In the past few weeks, we have had many like-minded people visit here. It’s from people like these that I see reason for hope that we can preserve and pass on a healthy planet Earth.

Pictured left to right – J. David Bamberger, Candace Andrews, Bill Lende.
Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

Bill and Candace visited Selah early in November. Bill has always been an advocate for conservation and a supporter of environmental organizations but in October of 2008 he took a giant step in gifting 500 acres of his ranch to an entity he named Cibolo Preserve. The following was taken from the Boerne Star: Friday, October 1, 2008:

“Bill Lende, proprietor of Herff Falls Ranch for the past 27 years, has just announced the creation of the Cibolo Preserve, a non-profit private operating foundation to which he has donated 500 acres of his Herff Falls Ranch.

Included in the Preserve are the Fern Bank, Great Blue Heron Rookery, and Herff Falls, with a mile and a half of Cibolo Creek connecting these three landmarks. At Herff Falls, Cibolo Creek cascade through a fossilized rudist reef which flourished 110 million years ago when Kendall County was covered by a shallow ocean.

The Cibolo Preserve will be managed as a unique outdoor laboratory for preservation, research, and education. The Preserve has selected Texas Park and Wildlife Department, Cibolo Nature Center, and The University of Texas at San Antonio to conduct research on the property. The Preserve has been endowed by the Lende Foundation.”

Pictured are Daryl Smith, center, and Mrs. Sue Smith,
daughter Meg is holding granddaughter Sonya;
Steven Fulton, Ranch Biologist, is on the right.
Photograph taken by J. David.

This family visited Selah Thursday, November 11. They are all educators. Dr. Smith is Director of the Tallgrass Prairie Center at the University of Northern Iowa at Cedar Falls, Iowa. Sue Smith recently retired from a career as a science teacher and their daughter, Meg, teaches English as a second language. These were interesting people. The work of the Tallgrass Prairie Center is inspiring. The following is excerpted from their website

“The Tallgrass Prairie Center is a strong advocate of progressive, ecological approaches utilizing native vegetation to provide environmental, economic, and aesthetic benefits for the public good. The Center is in the vanguard of roadside vegetation management, native Source Indentified seed development, and prairie advocacy. The Center primarily serves the Upper Midwest Tallgrass Prairie Region and is a model for similar efforts nationally and internationally.

The Tallgrass Prairie Center’s mission is to develop research, techniques, education and Source Identified seed for restoration and preservation of prairie vegetation in rights-of-way and other lands. The Center was established at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in 1999 as the Native Roadside Vegetation Center. It is located on the UNI west campus and utilizes 65 acres of campus and leased land for native seed production plots. The name was changed January 1, 2006, to more accurately reflect its mission, programs, and activities. Many of the programs are accomplished through partnerships with organizations, associations, and federal, state, and local agencies.”

Hill Country Master Naturalists tour Selah
on the “Blue Bonnet”, October 30, 2010.
Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

We have had many chapters of the Texas Master Naturalist program visit the ranch. Many, after receiving their training, have returned to volunteer or further their education by attending our workshops. Here is a very good example of “we the people.” The following is excerpted from their website

“In Texas, this partnership among the AgriLIFE Extension, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and some 300 local partners has resulted in a unique master volunteer organization. At the state level, the organization is directed by an advisory committee providing training guidelines, program marketing and promotion, curriculum resources, and advanced training opportunities; and a volunteer representatives committee responsible for representing the varied interests of the chapters and providing a communication link to state committees and program leaders.

An individual gains the designation of Texas Master Naturalist™ after participating in an approved chapter training program with a minimum of 40 hours of combined field and classroom instruction, obtaining 8 hours of approved advanced training, and completing 40 hours of volunteer service. Following the initial training program, trainees have one year in which to complete their 40 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced training. To retain the Texas Master Naturalist title during each subsequent year, volunteers must complete 8 additional hours of advanced training and provide an additional 40 hours of volunteer service coordinated through their local chapter.

The program currently has trained 6,000 Texas Master Naturalist volunteers in 42 local chapters across the state. The program continually expands so if there is not a chapter near you contact the Texas Master Naturalist Coordinator or your local TPWD biologist or Texas AgriLife county agent.

Since its establishment in 1998 Texas Master Naturalist volunteer efforts have provided over 1,226,173 hours of service valued at more than $21 Million. This service has resulted in enhancing 90,000 acres of wildlife and native plant habitats; reaching more than 2 million youth, adults and private landowners. One member discovered a new plant species. The program has gained international state and local recognition with the Wildlife Management Institute’s Presidents’ 2000 Award, the National Audubon Society’s 2001 Habitat Hero’s Award, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission’s 2001 Environmental Excellence Award and Texas A&M University’s 2001 Vice Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in Partnership and in 2005 the U.S. Department of Interior’s “Take Pride in America” award.

Funding for the Texas Mater Naturalist program is provided by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and AgriLIFE Extension.”

There are so many, many good causes that need financial help. Preserving the earth itself is important. So, if you would like to help us with a donation, we are a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation and gifts are deductible to the extent of the law. You can send your contributions to: Bamberger Ranch Preserve, 2341 Blue Ridge Drive, Johnson City, TX 78636 or donate through your computer by using PayPal.