About > Case Studies
The Central Texas Conservation Partnership has created a library of case studies that illustrate effectively conserving the property you already have or enhancing your property to meet your goals. Please check back with us on a regular basis for new information.
Located near Salado, TX, the 8000 acrea Solano Ranch was purchased in the 1950's. Livestock and wildlife management have been the focus for about 20 years.
Size: 8126 Acres
Location: 47 miles north of Austin between Salado to the north, Jarrell to the south and Florence to the west & I-35 as the east boundary at Exit 280.
Salado, TX (Bell, Williamson County)
Q: What are your primary objectives for the property, and how did you come up with your ideas/goals?
A: Solana Ranch started with my father some 60 years ago when he bought a very rough looking ranch in 1950 and immediately went into a 7 year drought. The Ranch was primarily a cedar break and it took years of clearing, years of planning to improve grasses and water that was on the ranch which was substantial. We still to this day have the same goals once again, that is to operate and maintain one of the finest working ranches in Central Texas.
Q: What conservation practices or tools have been most beneficial and what objective did the practice help accomplish?
A: The most beneficial program has been the Environmental Quality Initiative Program (EQIP). The purpose of this program is for break control, cedar clearing, improved water quality and plant health & vigor overall. We have used this program in cooperation with NRCS for several years. This program worked well obviously for both parties with incentives given by NRCS which put us in a position to achieve some of the necessary improvements that the program provides. We have also been instrumental, with the assistance of the NRCS and Texas Forestry Services, doing controlled burns. Controlled burns have been a blessing to us and we have accomplished burning off selected sections of brush, undergrowth, and cactus in larger acreage that would have been costly to us otherwise. The burning policy is gaining popularity especially down in south Texas and there is good reason why … it does work. We also use other programs to improve our water flow & quality and our spring flow through our 18 natural springs on the property that feed our creeks, the Salado; the Rumseys north & south; and the Buttermilk. Water is an important issue to us and these water practices have paid off with dividends.
Q: What advice do you have for landowners thinking about conservation, and do you have any overall tips for being successful or avoiding mistakes?
A: It is impossible to avoid making mistakes in this complex business. You are at the mercy of a moving market. You are at the mercy of Mother Nature. You are at the mercy of things you cannot control. You have to have a plan in place and loyal employees that are on the same page of what your intentions and overall goals are going to be. With every project or undertaking, we first focus on the problem. We, then, plan every detail before we act or execute. At this point, we evaluate the outcome and hopefully, with that plan, we were correct. In some cases, we are not correct and we have to adjust. You definitely have to have the proper people with you who understand what the overall goal is and are willing to sign on and take responsibility. Conservation should be number one in this day and time especially as it concerns water & water quality. We have an abundant amount of water on the Solana Ranch, but it didn't just happen; it took a lot of hard, hard labor to clear out the waterways and keep these areas maintained and the quality of water flowing. In this part of Central Texas, we have a history that goes back 30,000 years of drought, flood, drought, flood… and it is very difficult to forecast especially if you do not have a plan or anticipate disaster before Mother Nature throws her next curve. It's always important to remember that if you take care of the land - the land will take care of you and the generations that follow.