Sunday, January 3, 2016

Powderhorn Ranch A Texas State Park By 2021?!

The 2014 Powderhorn Ranch purchase was a joint effort by the TPWD, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Conservation Fund, and the Nature Conservancy of Texas. The Nature Conservancy will hold a permanent conservation easement on the property, and has a contract through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to provide habitat management for the first the first two years. The land will be transferred to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2018. 

Denman Family Ranch House & Pier   Earl Nottingham, TPWD Copyright

The 17,351 acre ranch has the largest remaining undisturbed tracts of native coastal prairie habitat left in Texas. The ranch has 3.7 miles of frontage on FM 1287, 4.4 miles frontage on SH 185, 4.0 miles frontage on Live Oak Bayou, 5.5 miles frontage on Matagorda Bay, and 5.9 miles frontage on the shoreline of Powderhorn Lake, a tidally influenced, secondary bay off Matagorda Bay. Habitat consists of tidal flats, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, oak mottes, and tallgrass prairie. TPWD will use a portion of the ranch near the old air strip to create a state park which will offer canoeing and kayaking, kayak fishing, wade fishing, hiking, camping, hunting and other activities. The remainder of the ranch land will be a Wildlife Management Area. A possible opening date would be in 2021. Until that time the park may be open for limited uses, such as fishing, hunting, paddling, and use by birding and scout groups.

Fringe Marshes    Earl Nottingham, TPWD Copyright

“If ever there was a sportsman’s paradise, it’s the Powderhorn Ranch,” says Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. “The place is literally teeming with fish and wildlife.” The wetlands are critical year-round for waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds. Spring birding can be incredible. The woodlands and scrub, and freshwater wetlands provide important “fall-out” areas for migrating songbirds, including painted buntings, tanagers, warblers, and grosbeaks. Powderhorn Lake is #032 on the Calhoun Birding Loop of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, Central Gulf Coast Region. Wildlife also includes feral hogs, Sambar deer, axis deer, a variety of fish species (including spotted sea trout and redfish), blue crab (in tide pools), oysters, and alligators.

Tide Pools     Earl Nottingham, TPWD Copyright

The ranch is located just northwest of Port O’Connor, and approximately three miles south of a unit of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, three miles north of the north end of Matagorda Island, 13 miles northeast of the Welder Flats Coastal Preserve, 20 miles east of the Guadalupe Delta WMA, and 28 miles southwest of the Mad Island WMA.

Powderhorn Ranch Acquisition Map    Earl Nottingham, TPWD Copyright

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