— By Ann Kercheville —

“It was what we learned at the Cibolo Conservancy workshop on March 8, 2003 that put it all in motion.  Before that, we had a skeptical and even negative connotation of conservation easements.

“Since acquiring Joshua Creek Ranch in 1986, the development of the ranch as a wildlife habitat has been our primary objective.  Juniper has been cleared and native grasses restored to pastures.  The more we worked toward this end, the deeper our love became for this beautiful and diverse property.

“It soon became an added goal to somehow preserve the ranch as a wildlife habitat beyond our lifetimes, and keep it in the family at the same time.  We had investigated various avenues to this end, but a conservation easement became the first step after we learned the facts at the Cibolo Conservancy workshop in March, 2003.  We didn’t have to give up any control; in fact, we could establish the parameters for all future development of the ranch, regardless of who owned it.  And the way the valuations work for land in a conservation easement made it more likely the land could remain in our family after our deaths.

“With the help of Art Wilson, Bill Jolly, Rob Hicks, Jim Schwarz, and our tax accountant, we established our first conservation easement on land that includes Guadalupe River frontage and a diverse upland area of dense woods, rolling pastures, and open fields.

“We are thrilled with the idea of preserving this unique property and protecting it from development, thus ensuring that future generations in our family and this community will have the opportunity to enjoy it as we have.