Commission Agenda Item No. 9
Presenter: Christopher Abernathy

Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council Update
January 21, 2021

I.      Executive Summary: In 2005, the Texas Legislature created the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program (Program) and assigned oversight to the General Land Office with the purpose of funding conservation easements on working private lands. In 2016, the Program was moved to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and is housed in the Land Conservation Program.

II.     Discussion: The goal of the Program is the conservation of working lands identified as having high values for water, fish and wildlife, and agricultural production, especially those lands at risk of development, by providing grants to qualified easement holders for the acquisition of conservation easements.

Oversight of the Program is provided by the 12-member Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council (Council). There are six ex-officio members and six Governor’s appointees each serving staggered terms of six years. The Council oversees the Program through review and selection of applicant funding using several criteria approved by the Council.

Since the Program’s transfer to TPWD, the Council has approved funding for 21 total projects. Seven were approved in the 2016-2017 biennium, six in the 2018-2019 biennium, and eight in 2020-2021 biennium.  Total working land currently protected under these conservation easements is more than 24,000 acres, with another 3,300 expected in 2021.

From 2016 to 2020, the Program has awarded $3.7 million in state-funded grants and leveraged a combined $32 million in federal funds, match funds, and landowner contributions.

According to the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, the Program annually conserves $2.9 million in agricultural commodities, $7.3 million in water replacement costs, and $170,400 in wildlife consumptive uses. As the Program grows, these numbers will also grow.

Attachment – 1

  1. Exhibit A – Project Map

Commission Agenda Item No. 9
Exhibit A

Texas Farm and Ranch Land Conservation Program Projects