Winston 8 Ranch receives 2014 Leopold Conservation Award
When the Winston family acquired their property just south of Nacogdoches in the 1980s, it was largely land that had been cut and not replanted. Since then, it has been carefully restored and transformed into a showplace on how to produce timber and quality wildlife habitat.
Today, Virginia Winston and sons Simon and Dee, own and operate the 3,400-acre Winston 8 Ranch, a verdant medley of pine forest, longleaf pine, open range and wetlands providing food and shelter for a resurging population of white-tailed deer, northern bobwhite quail and wild turkey.
The property is used regularly by the College of Agriculture and Forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University for fieldwork and research, and by state and federal agencies in East Texas as a demonstration area on forest management. It is also a destination for educational and recreational opportunities. Through a partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Winstons have hosted students and disabled hunters at special events on the ranch.
Dedicated to sound management principles and stewardship, The Winstons have implemented an active wildlife habitat improvement program that involves timber management, prescribed burning, invasive species control, and native habitat restoration. The family uses prescribed burning to reduce the threat of wildfires and to provide wildlife species, such as the eastern wild turkey, with places to nest near places to feed.
They have restored 180 acres of native longleaf pine, thinned 700-plus acres of loblolly pine to promote forest health, and cleared and seeded 93 acres for native grass and forbs. Interspersed throughout the upland open pine habitat are more than 500 acres of riparian/wetland habitat and approximately 90 acres of native grasses and forbs growing in openings and on pipeline right-of-ways.
“The Winston legacy and dedication to stewardship is entrenched in their core family values,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Jeffrey A. Reid in his nomination of the Winston 8 Ranch. “When John Winston acquired the property, it was largely a cutover track of land. Intensive planting, management, and harvesting have led this property to be held up as one of the premier examples of multiple use forest land and open pine management.”
Applications are accepted June 1 through November 30.
Sand County Foundation is a private, non-profit conservation group dedicated to working with private landowners to improve habitat on their land. Sand County’s mission is to advance the use of ethical and scientifically sound land management practices and partnerships for the benefit of people and their rural landscapes. Sand County Foundation works with private landowners because the majority of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and natural resources are found on private lands. The organization backs local champions, invests in civil society and places incentives before regulation to create solutions that ensure and grow. The organization encourages the exercise of private responsibility in the pursuit of improved land health as an essential alternative to many of the commonly used strategies in modern conservation.
At Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, our mission is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. We seek to balance outdoor recreation with conservation as we achieve greater self-sufficiency.
On one hand, we must manage and protect our natural and cultural resources. At the same time, we must generate increased revenue by adding value through more and better public services. We affirm that a culturally diverse, well-trained staff will best achieve this balance. And we must never forget, not in the haste of business, nor in the pride of science, that the outdoors should above all be a source of joy! Providing outdoor experiences, whereby young minds form values, will be our greatest contribution to the future.