Friday, May 13, 2011

Grasses, Politics and Education

Our current State Legislature is considering a bill to allow ranchers to retain their agricultural exemption if they maintain a healthy grass cover on their rangeland. Why would this be good for the people? It’s really quite simple. Range grasses prevent runoff of precious soil. They allow rainfall to percolate into the earth refilling our underground aquifers. Grasses filter out harmful chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides making water pure and less expensive to our homes . . . . Grass is the cheapest, fastest and most efficient conservation practice there is and that’s why I support this bill.

I was asked to testify before a Senate Committee on Senate Bill 449 authored by Senator Kirk Watson. The hearing was on March 26, 2011. I thought it would be a real eye opener if the committee could see what a totally unseen part of grass is like. Joanna Rees and I spent the better half of the previous day digging deep into the earth to get the roots of grass. We dug up three species – Little Bluestem, Indian Grass and Lindheimer Muhly, each having differing root systems. I’ve been told there is a government bulletin that states that in one square yard of a prairie the roots would be 9 miles long! Going through security at the Capital I was asked what I had in the bag. When I said, “GRASS,” they said, “NOT THE SMOKING KIND!!!” They are not used to this sort of show taking place in the Capital! Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

Unfortunately, the Senators didn’t allow me enough time to really extol the many virtues of grass. The hearing room was crowded, standing room only. The timing light came on and the buzzer rang. The Chairman spoke through the microphone, “Mr. Bamberger, your time is up”, but I protested and continued. By this time I had the grasses out and dirt was falling all over the table. At this point the chairman interrupted my testimony, “Are we to understand, Mr. Bamberger, that grasses are important for the conservation of water?” to which I replied, “You’ve got it!” The crowded hearing room loved the performance and gave me a strong ovation. Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

The following day I had the opportunity to use the grasses again. This was at the Thompson Conference Center on the UT campus where we were giving our conservation experience to a continuing education group for Seniors known as Quest. 50 of the members had visited Selah a few weeks prior to this day. Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

The goal of the Quest Program is to provide those who participate with continuing intellectual growth in a campus environment. The Thompson Center is one of my very favorite places to speak. It is equipped with the very latest technology and young people there to help with its operations. Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

Another opportunity to use the grasses came up on March 29, 2011 when Andy Sansom, Executive Director of The River City Institute and Research Professor of Geography at Texas State University at San Marcos, invited me to speak to his class which also included continuing education adults from the community. Andy is one who really knows, appreciates and teaches the value to society of grasses. Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

I shared the evening with Matt & Peggy Winkler. The Winklers have 1800 acres on the Pedernales upon which they have cleared much of the cedar and established good grass cover. Actions like this stabilize river banks and allow the Pedernales to flow clear clean water. The Winklers have also made a gift to society by placing a conservation easement on their ranch, thus protecting it from development in perpetuity. Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

It was 1959 when I bought my first ranch, 205 acres just twenty miles north of San Antonio. At that time, there were very few universities that offered classes on the environment. Conservation didn’t seem to be of much concern. Now, thanks to a great awakening college classes are full of young people anxious to learn and to apply that learning to solving America’s many environmental problems. I’m so glad that Selah, not just me, but all of us that live here, can by our example play a role in this learning process. Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

Here at Selah’s 5500 acres we not only operate a working ranch with cattle, goats, hunting and hay making, but also we share the ranch with thousands of young people and adults through our many education programs and our outreach programs such as this blog on grasses . . . . But here’s where we are so very, very different. We do all of this with just five employees and some volunteers . . . . It’s been ten weeks since I’ve written my blog and that’s because we need help, but that takes money. I invite you to come here and experience this place and its people before making a commitment. This place is different. You will find no gift shops, vending machines or caf├ęs. It’s all preserved for nature, pure and simple and that’s worth saving. We are a 501c3 private operating foundation. We have an outside Board of Directors and contributions are deductible to the extent of the law. Please call us at 830-868-2630.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


This week I visited an old friend in a rehabilitation hospital in San Antonio. My friend had been in intensive care for the last 4 ½ months. He underwent seven operations in a series of events that began with a check in at the hospital for pneumonia. My friend is 86 years old. I cannot begin to tell you how all of this built up, but one of the seven operations resulted in my friend losing his leg. During this 4 ½ months he drank no water, ate no food nor used his voice. My friend had just been moved into this rehabilitation center the day before my visit. Surprisingly, he looked good and was able to talk a little. When he told me how much he missed and longed to drink a glass of water, how he longed to eat and chew and swallow. It made an impression on me that I shall never forget. My friend has a ranch in the Hill Country and said how he longed to be there. I surely understand that as well. My friend will be undergoing physical therapy, learning how to walk with a prosthesis, developing muscle mass again and also speech therapy. It will be a long road back. How fortunate are you and I to have our health, our family, our friends and our love of Mother Nature, the natural world . . . . . . So what does this have to do with passion?

As I walked into the facility, the very first impression, just the very few first steps into the door, everything was neat and clean. The people I met in the hallway, the elevator, the nurses’ station, everything and everyone reminded me of the young staff here at Selah. I’ve always said that nothing great will be achieved without enthusiasm. Enthusiasm comes from a love of your life and what you are doing with your life and therefore, enthusiasm comes from passion. My friend has persevered not only because of his determination, but because of the passion of the caregivers. As I left my friend, I saw a small poster with this definition of passion. It’s impactful. It should be in the dictionary -


Steven Fulton, Ranch Biologist, and Colleen Gardner, Executive Director, plan and carry out the programs. It’s not an nine to five day. Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

Bonham Elementary School kids were here for two days this week. Bonham is a Title One 125 year old school in the inner city of San Antonio. Good parenting and teachers who are passionate about their role in shaping these young people’s lives are so important to the future health of, not only these children, but our nation. Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

Hes’ Country Store. It’s the last place where the kids come to before leaving the ranch. That’s me, J. David Bamberger, telling stories about my childhood. I’m passionate about the Store and the Ranch and want it to continue as a model to educate others. Even Cory, my dog, plays a role here by climbing a tree – that really gets the kids attention. The real story here is one overlooked in school. It’s encouraging the kids to visit their grandparents, to learn about the family’s past, to ask questions of them and to keep a journal about the experience. Photograph taken by Joanna Rees.

Selah will go on because of the passion of young people like Steven Fulton and Colleen Gardner and you who share our passion.

Perhaps you never thought about it, but Title One school children’s parents as well as the school do not have the money to send their kids to Selah for three days or to have trees planted on their campus. Frankly, neither do we. So we ask for financial assistance from people and sources who feel as we do about the need for nature exposure. 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.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Video of the J.J. Pickle School Visit

As a follow-up to David’s posting this Sunday, readers might be interested to know that Colleen Gardner, Executive Director of the Ranch, created the following video of the J.J. Pickle school visit. Have a look.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Passion, Reverence, Venerate

From Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary:

Passion – extreme, compelling emotion, intense emotional drive or excitement; specifically a) enthusiasm or fondness; b) strong love or affection

Reverence – a feeling or attitude of deep respect, love, awe and esteem

Venerate – to look upon with deep respect and reverence. Synonyms – honor, respect, adore, reverence

“Three Little Words” though not so little in what they mean . . . . . . I see it here on the ranch every day, but this particular day was special. It began at 6 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. That’s 12 hours of physical labor mixed with 6 hours of emotion – PASSION, REVERENCE and VENERATION.

Ranch staff Lois Sturm, Colleen Gardner, Steven Fulton and intern Michael Galster arrive at the lobby entrance of J.J. Pickle Elementary School at 7 a.m. The plan for this day is to plant, with the help of these young kids, four trees on the campus of the school. That’s one tree for each class that had visited the ranch. Steven had grown these trees from seeds collected here on the ranch. They are Golden Ball Lead Tree, Desert Willow, Shumard Oak and Monterrey Oak. Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson.

J. J. Pickle is a Title One elementary school in East Austin. Being in East Austin it serves what is known as a poor neighborhood. The school has four 5th grade classes. . . . Over a one month period each class gets to come to the ranch for a three day two night field trip. For the most part these kids don’t have a grandfather who owns a ranch so being here, experiencing the natural world, going to bed and waking up in silence instead of sirens, these experiences can be life changing for the kids ~ REVERENCE. I know they are for us.

The principal had the students assembled in the school’s auditorium to greet us. This was a big day for them as well as the school. PASSION – the kids were so happy to see “Big Steve” and “Queen Colleen” again. You had to be there to witness the tears and the joy of this sight. Photograph taken by Colleen Gardner.

It was not only us that were mobbed. Colleen had taken her dog, “Buttercup”, along. The kids remembered Buttercup and the fun with her on their ranch visit. Photograph taken by Sofia LaTorre.

It was a cold day, but the kids were eager to help dig the holes. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

Steven describes every step of the planting: dig a square hole so the roots can grow outward, don’t plant too deep, use mulch or a weed barrier to keep the ground cool and damp. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

Every tree is protected with a steel cage and a plaque is added that describes the tree. Photograph taken by Lois Sturm.

This is Mr. Thompson’s class. The tree is a Golden Ball Lead Tree. Each class has pledged to “look after” their specific tree. Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson. The following letter was written to us by one of the young students after they spent three days at the ranch.

Here’s Ms. Sayree’s class of young naturalists along with “Buttercup.” Their tree is a Desert Willow, a flowering tree. Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson. And here’s another letter ~ REVERENCE.

Ms. Pruitt’s 5th grade class now has a Shumard Oak to care for. Here’s another letter from these kids. Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson. The appreciation for the ranch experience is evident in all these letters ~ VENERATION.

Ms. LaTorre’s class planted the Monterrey Oak. The excitement of these 5th grade kids over the contribution of these trees and the time at the ranch travels through the school. The 4th grade anticipates their ranch trip next year ~ REVERENCE. Photograph taken by Judith Hutcheson.

You can tell by these letters what it has meant to these city born children to have spent three days on the ranch, a natural world without television and other modern day gadgets and to have spent that time with these educated, interesting and passionate young people.

This small staff is incredible, they are my heroes. They never cease to amaze me. They most certainly are not paid large amounts. No, they are PASSIONATE, REVERENT and VENERABLE . . . . Pictured left to right: Michael Galster, Lois Sturm, Steven Fulton, Colleen Gardner. Photograph taken by Judith Htcheson.

In the past few years there has been much written, much discussion and some action about children in nature and children with “nature deficit disorder.” Here at Selah for the past twenty years, we’ve been doing something about it, but I must say the real success of programs such as these is because of the PASSION, REVERENCE and VENERATION of Colleen Gardner, Steven Fulton, Lois Sturm, Michael Galster and volunteers who don’t look at a clock . . . After this emotion packed day at J.J. Pickle School, they arrived back at the ranch and found enough time to “work” the bees!

Steven Fulton, Colleen Gardner, Lois Sturm and Michael Galster. Photograph taken by J.David.

Perhaps you never thought about it, but Title One school children’s parents as well as the school do not have the money to send their kids to Selah for three days or to have trees planted on their campus. Frankly, neither do we. So we ask for financial assistance from people and sources who feel as we do about the need for nature exposure. 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.

Friday, December 24, 2010

What Are We Celebrating and Why?

Pictured left to right: Scott Grote, Ranch Operations Manager; Colleen Gardner, Executive Director; Francisco Coronilla, Ranch Hand; Steven Fulton, Ranch Biologist; J. David, Founder; Lois Sturm, Adminstrative Assistant; and our dog Cory.
Photograph taken by Colleen Gardner.

I’m not talking about Christmas, but rather about this place called Selah. Fifty-five hundred acres of the Texas Hill Country reserved and preserved for Mother Nature. To me, Selah is like Walden was to Thoreau, a place to pause and reflect and to think about my stewardship of this land. I’m celebrating because this small staff works together in harmony and respect for one another and their passion is absorbed by all who come here. We’re celebrating because we’re at the end of a successful year. Even though we are very short on rainfall right now, we’re celebrating the end of the worst drought in our forty-one year history. We’re celebrating because all of us are healthy. We’re celebrating because of the enthusiasm of our many volunteers. We’re celebrating because more and more people have come to our aid in 2010. We’re optimistic about the future of Selah. Yes it’s Christmas time, we’re celebrating that too.

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.

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.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bamberger’s Folly – Huh?

I’ve forgotten just when this happened, but it’s all true…

When our bat cave was about finished, we held a big event at the site. We invited every bat scientist we knew of as well as TV, radio and newspaper writers. They came in droves. This event was in 1998. It was the first time the word “chiroptorium” was ever used; it being authored by my son, David K. Bamberger, and my wife, Margaret C. Bamberger. Here’s how they arrived at the name. In science bats fall into an order called “chiroptera” (it’s pronounced KI-rop-tur-ah) which means hand wing and of course “auditorium” which is a big place to see a show. We have submitted it to three well-known dictionaries and expect that it will soon be an accepted word.

Here is the chiroptorium as it was just before the application of the gunite. The framework was of iron rebar rods – 20 tons of them, welded and tied together then covered with metal lath forming 8,000 square feet of surface area. Scientists at the time thought that our man made habitat would hold one million bats. Photograph taken by Susan Sander.

Shortly after the big scientist and media event, gunite was blown onto the steel framework. This was the only part of the construction that we contracted out ~ this was done by a company that builds swimming pools. The black bottom was of tar painted on to prevent moisture from weakening the structure. Photograph taken by Susan Sander.

As the picture illustrates, we had covered the structure with earth. Bat biologists told us that “seeding” bat houses by capturing bats and introducing them had never ever been successful, but they thought with a structure of this size it just might work. Two attempts were made bringing bats, each time but to no avail – they left that evening and never returned. Over a two year period, we witnessed one hundred or so bats that found our chiroptorium on their own, but they didn’t stay long. Upon investigating I found numerous dead bats on the floor below an observation room window. Further investigation revealed that they had crashed into the window and I made an erroneous assumption. I thought that the bats’ echolocation was not working off the glass. . . . It was a long and anxious wait, but then a bat biologist from England, Allison Walsh, paid us a visit in 2003 and after two days of scientific study determined that there was a streak of light reflecting off the wall creating an effect on the glass that to the circling bats appeared as an opening to them. She said, particularly in small spaces (our main dome is forty foot wide and 20 foot high), bats use their eyes as well as echolocation thus they slammed into the window, injuring themselves and therefore finding our chiroptorium very unfriendly . . . . Within days we covered the three observation windows with cardboard – and now comes a series of events I call “Bamberger’s Folly – HUH!” Photograph taken by Lorraine Benini.

It’s late in the summer of 2003 when a very diligent reporter for the San Antonio Express News calls – “Mr. Bamberger, I’m doing a follow up story on your chiroptorium, how many bats do you have?” I’m a bit embarrassed as at the time the number is small, say maybe 100, so I try to be funny ~ “I can’t tell you exactly how many, but they cost me $5,000.00 each” ~ “You don’t have any bats then, so I’m going to do a column on Bamberger’s Folly” and so the story comes out, Bamberger spent as much on a bat house as he did on his own house - the chiroptorium is Bamberger’s Folly.

But wait ~ This was at the same time that the bat biologist, Allison Walsh, was here and within days of us covering the windows with cardboard a migrating group of bats – my estimate was 20,000 – found our cave and moved in. I called another of our media event guests who was from Channel 12, a San Antonio television station, who promptly sent a film crew up and this spectacle shows at 6 and 9 p.m. on the nightly news just a few days after the Bamberger’s Folly story. . . . completely exonerating me and putting egg on the face of the hapless reporter. Photograph taken by Lorraine Benini.

Scientists from Boston University have developed a infrared computerized camera and an algorithm that can process its images to count the bats as they swarm out of our cave. They visit us the first two days of every summer month. A few days after they have been here with their equipment, they call us and tell us how many bats we have. This year they were not able to do the October census. Now at then end of this summer the population has swelled to what I believe is 200,000 Mexican free-tail bats and a small number of another Hill Country species called Cave myotis. The emergence is awesome! Sometimes lasting twenty-one minutes. They come out and form a serpentine column. Scientists believe this is a defense behavior for protection from the hungry eyes of red tail hawks and owls. Photograph taken by Lorraine Benini.

While most all of our guests observe the evening emergence very few have ever witnessed the bats return. However our good friend and volunteer, Chris Johnson, was on hand to witness this extraordinary event. He is adding it to this blog posting.

Thanks, David. Chris Johnson here, just to add a few relevant links. However, let me begin by saying that I’ve been waiting ages for someone to post photos of the chiroptorium’s construction to this blog, but just before I was going to start a formal campaign of nagging David, he came-up with this post. Wonderful. However, having seen one of David’s slide shows about the chiroptorium, I’m fairly sure there are even more photos that’re worth seeing. So, post comments asking about those photos and you might get lucky. (David, I’ll scan the slides for you, if necessary.)

Now, those links I mentioned.... First, there’s a high-definition (720p) movie I shot of the bats returning to the chiroptorium on August 14, 2010. A search of YouTube for "Bamberger chiroptorium" turns-up a number of videos, but this one seems to be unique in showing the return of the bats, and is unusual for being high-definition. (See my associated blog post for further details.)

Second, for those of you with QuickTime installed on your machines (that’ll be all Mac users, and some Windows users), there’s a QuickTime VR spherical panorama I shot inside the main (first and largest) chamber of the chiroptorium back in December of 2007. The chamber has changed a bit since then, as more bat boxes were added to the ceiling in February, 2008, but this panorama is still pretty much the best and only way for most of us to get a good look at the inside of the finished chiroptorium, as access is tightly restricted both to avoid disturbing the bats, and to avoid disturbing the various ongoing studies of the developing ecosystem inside the structure.

Chiroptorium Main Chamber. Click to View.

More details on that experience, the chiroptorium, and the challenges associated with that panorama, are available from the relevant post on my blog.

Finally, there’s this aerial view of the chiroptorium from March, 2009, which was obtained with the help of my good friend Jerry Gatlin who happens to be a pilot. Jerry did the low flying and aggressive banking, while I rattled around in the back of the plane shooting the photos.

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.