Shield Ranch supports a diverse ecosystem consisting of over 450 species of native grasses, flowering forbs, shrubs, and trees that together provide habitat for numerous wildlife species, including vertebrate and invertebrate pollinator species.
Our land management principles are based on eighty years of experience and the advice of natural resource professionals including the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, and Texas A&M Forest Service.
Our management practices promote healthy flora and fauna, excellent water quality, and ecosystem services for the Ranch and for all Central Texans. Activities include:
- A short-duration/high-intensity grazing system to mimic the impacts of bison on herbivory. Deferment periods are used to rest pastures and grow fuels for prescribed fires.
- A hunting program to maintain a sustainable deer population and improve the quality of the herd, as well as the diversity of the plant community, which in turn benefits many other species.
- An integrated brush management plan that allows Ashe juniper to mature on the steeper slopes of riparian areas and removes varying amounts of Ashe juniper in upland areas through selective mechanical clearing and prescribed fire.
- Efforts to protect riparian areas, restore soil health, and control feral and exotic species.
In concert, these management practices improve the overall quality and diversity of rangelands and wildlife habitat on the Ranch and have increased habitat for migrating neo-tropical songbirds such as the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo.
Land stewardship is a deeply held inner conviction that compels and inspires people to be responsible caretakers of the land entrusted to them. The motivation for this stewardship is based on three essential things: present benefits to the landowner; benefits to future generations; and the benefits that accrue to society outside of the boundary of the land.
Steve Nelle, from “Lessons from Leopold; What is Land Stewardship?” (Texas Wildlife, January 2017)