2020 Evaluation Report
Texas Farm and Ranch Land Conservation Program
Authors: Lund, A.A., G.W. Powers, R.R. Lopez, L.A. Smith, L.M. Olson, and L.F. Gregory. 2020. Texas farm and ranch lands conservation program: 2020 Evaluation report. Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, research report 2020:1. College Station, Texas, USA.
Texas is comprised of 142 million acres of private farms, ranches and forestlands, leading the nation in privately owned working land acres. These working lands are under increasing land conversion and fragmentation pressure. In response, the Texas Legislature created the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program (TFRLCP) in 2005 to protect agricultural lands in the state.
In April 2015, NRI evaluated the TFRLCP, a purchase of development rights (PDR) program, to determine the needed funding levels and target areas of opportunity for the state. This report provided science-based information to help the land trust community make the case for sustained TFRLCP funding and resulted in the program receiving funding for the first time since its establishment. In December 2016, a second report evaluated the effectiveness of the TFRLCP, following the implementation of the recently funded program. The report focused on the program’s return on investment, value of protected water resources and potential future demand for a PDR program. For more information on the TFRLCP program, see the TPWD program’s website.
Finalized in November 2020, NRI examined the conservation easements executed under the TFRLCP, specifically evaluating ecological and economic values secured through the protection of these properties as well as the fiscal efficiency of state funds to protect working lands with high agricultural value at a relatively low cost for state residents.
Read the 2020 report, prepared by NRI, the Texas Land Trust Council and the Texas Water Resources Institute, here or download the report below.
Hays County Aims at Enhancing Connectivity, Recreation Options with Cape's Pond Project
Hays County is aiming at enhancing and expanding regional connectivity and recreation options for county residents with the acquisition of 28.7 acres of property near the San Marcos River.
The county acquired the land located just east of Interstate 35 and south of River Road for the Cape’s Pond Project through a 2018 transportation bond.
Hays County General Counsel Mark Kennedy said in a press release that the project was discussed as a “key land acquisition to provide multi-modal transportation connectivity between currently disconnected areas of San Marcos and local hike and bike trail systems, including those that are in the planning stages.”
Texas' Farms Under Threat
Texas’ farms are under threat, with its best land succumbing to development.
The report found that Texas was the most threatened state in the nation due to the loss of agricultural land to poorly planned real estate development. Between 2001 and 2016, 1,373,000 acres of agricultural land were developed or compromised, 555,000 of which were “Nationally Significant,” or land best suited for growing food and crops.
The hot spots for development are around Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Odessa and San Antonio.
However, the threat is more than just urban sprawl. Texas’ agricultural land is disproportionately threatened by a new, more insidious kind of development discovered by AFT through this research, termed low-density residential, or LDR, land use.
Roughly 50% of the land developed or compromised in Texas fell into this category. LDR is insidious because it is not always immediately visible to communities and policy makers and therefore has yet to provoke a policy response. In Texas, LDR is 30 times more likely to be converted to urban and highly developed land use than other agricultural land.
Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute Publishes Texas Land Trends
From the Press Release:
“The report shows as Texas continues to grow in population and economy, the demand for rural land, especially in areas surrounding major urban centers and transportation corridors, will continue to increase and have long-term impacts on working lands.”
“Open spaces in Texas also provide valuable ecosystem services that we rely on for everyday necessities, such as air and water quality, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat,” he said. “Fragmentation and conversion of working lands disrupts the natural processes of healthy ecosystems, creates an increased financial burden to mitigate impacts and elevates pressures on remaining open spaces to provide these services for growing urban areas.”
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Comal County Subdivision Development
Honey Creek Ranch Development Meeting Minutes
The proposed Honey Creek Ranch Subdivision will be built at the upper portion of the Honey Creek watershed. Honey Creek runs through the 2,293.7 acre Honey Creek State Natural Area and into the Guadalupe River. Honey Creek normally gets it flow from the Honey Creek Cave and a few small springs. Honey Creek is truly one of the most pristine, clear and pure steams remaining in Texas. That is why it is preserved as the Honey Creek State Natural Area.
Saving Family Lands:
Challenges & Opportunities for Working Land in Texas
Texas is losing rural land at a faster rate than any other state. With over 1 million acres of working lands having been lost between 1997 and 2012, many landowners are seeking a means to protect their land from a similar fate. This presentation will begin with an overview of current land trends in Texas using data compiled by Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute’s Texas Land Trends Study, and will suggest the use of agricultural conservation easements for facilitating permanent protection of working lands and their associated legacies. Options associated with conservation easements and the processes involved with their development and implementation will be discussed in detail.
Protected Land of the Edwards Aquifer
Protected Land Maps
- SIX-COUNTY PROTECTED LAND MAP
- COMAL COUNTY PROTECTED LAND MAP
Impacts of Growth in Comal County
- LAND CONSERVATION MENU: MODEL PROJECTS, OPTIONS & OPPORTUNITIES
- WHAT IS A CONSERVATION EASEMENT?
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- AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION EASEMENT PROGRAM (ACEP)
- PROS AND CONS OF CONSERVATION EASEMENTS
Texas-based attorney, Jim Bradbury, and West Virginia University Law Professor, Jesse Richardson, talk details, pros, and cons of conservation easements. Check it out if you are interested in learning more about CEs and how they work.
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Farming Assistance for Veterans
Veterans can get farming assistance covering land, equipment, and training from USDA.
Learn more here.
Learn more here.
CCCA & HCA Host "Saving Family Lands" Workshop in Comal County
Spring Branch, Texas — Comal County Conservation Alliance (CCCA) and Hill Country Alliance co-hosted the workshop, "Saving Family Lands: Tools for Landowners in Comal County," on February 15, 2019 at the Anhalt Dance Hall in Spring Branch, Texas.
The one-day workshop, which highlighted financial and conservation tools available to rural landowners in fast-growing Hill Country counties, attracted ninety attendees. The workshop was designed to provide farmers, ranchers, and other landowners with effective tools and resources to help them address issues inherent in passing family land on to future generations.
Read full article here.
|Margaret Menicucci Braun & Gresham Attorneys at Law “Conservation Basics & Income and Estate Tax Benefits”|
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|Chris Abernathy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department “Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program”|
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