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Texas Parks & Wildlife Department honors Wexford Ranches for environmental efforts

June 5, 2012 at 1:05 a.m.

Winners of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's 2012 Lone Star Land Steward Awards include:

Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes:

• Wexford Ranches, Goliad, Refugio and Victoria counties

• Louise S. O'Connor, owner, and Kai Buckert, manager

Cross Timbers and Prairies:

• Colonel Burns Ranch, Brown County

• Toni and Paul Burns, owners/operators

Rolling Plains:

• Gibson Ranches LLC, Cottle and King counties

• Mike and Shonda Gibson, owners/operators

Trans Pecos:

• Double H Ranch, El Paso County

• Charles, Barbara, David and Anne Horak, owners/operators

Wildlife Management Association:

• Arroyo Veleno Wildlife Management Coop, Zapata County

• David Dodier, David Volpe, Ernesto Uribe and Jose Lopez families

Special Recognition:

• Roxanne Harnandez, Lost Pines habitat conservation plan administrator and coordinator of the Lost Pines Recovery Team, Bastrop County

Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department news release

Environmental efforts placed one Crossroads-area ranch complex on the statewide map.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department named Wexford Ranches, a 30,000-acre complex that spans Goliad, Refugio and Victoria counties, among the recipients of the 2012 Lone Star Land Steward Awards.

It was the entity's conservation efforts that earned it a place with this year's winners, according to a parks and wildlife news release.

The land, managed by the O'Connor family for 136 years, is one of Texas' last remaining tracts of coastal prairie habitat, according to the release. It is also one of the largest.

Wexford maintains conservative stocking rates and rigorous brush management systems, according to the release, and also partners with agencies to restore and enhance the habitat for the endangered Attwater's prairie chicken. The ranch hosts field days focused on topics such as feral hog control, prescribed burning, brush management, firearm and archery safety, and youth hunting programs also join the ranks.

The annual awards program honors private landowners for accomplishments in habitat management and wildlife conservation, according to the release. The goal is to educate both landowners and the public, and to encourage habitat conservation.

Attempts to contact Wexford Ranches on Monday were unsuccessful.



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