Ranchers in central Texas aren’t known for their fondness for government regulation or the Endangered Species Act. But one rancher — a former vacuum cleaner salesman turned fried chicken tycoon — has become a champion of land stewardship and habitat restoration. And it’s rubbing off on his fellow ranchers.
David Bamberger converted 5,500 acres of some of the most badly damaged and overgrazed hill country in Texas into a showpiece of environmental restoration. Bamberger has been hailed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and has won the state’s top voluntary land stewardship award.
A visit to Bamberger Ranch is like a trip back in time. Instead of cedar brush and barren limestone breaking the soil’s surface, large hardwood trees surround grassy meadows. Wild turkey and deer wander in the open, and bobcats lurk in the hollows hunting game.
One recent morning, a dozen hill country property owners took a daylong tour of Bamberger’s ranch to see what they can learn from him. But why would Texas ranchers care about conservation? The answer is a combination of the hill country history and generational change.