Kordzik-Sheppard Ranch is 732 acres of quintessential Hill Country land located within a few short miles of Fredericksburg in Gillespie County. The Kordzik-Sheppard Ranch provides sweeping vistas stretching more than 10 miles into the surrounding area including the City of Fredericksburg and the Pedernales River valley. The Pedernales River provides approximately 23% of the water flowing into the Highland Lakes, a critical drinking water resource for more than a million people in Austin and other downstream communities. In addition, the ranch falls within an area where historic over-grazing, browse pressure, and land fragmentation are the norm.
The Kordzik-Sheppard land has been in the Kordizk family since the late 1800s. In recent years, the family saw their sleepy hometown transform into a buzzing tourist destination while of the properties around them were subdivided and sold as real estate. This recent explosive growth prompted the family to contact Hill Country Conservancy for advice on protecting their land. The family chose to enter into a conservation easement agreement because they love the land and want to continue their legacy of stewardship for generations to come.
“After 40 years with the Navy the Sheppard's made the Kordzik ranch their home in 2010” said landowner Tim Sheppard. “Being aware of the recent development in Gillespie County we wanted to preserve Nancy's stepfather Guenther Kordzik's homestead which had been purchased in the late 1800s by his Grandfather Henry Kordzik and was recognized in 1982 by Jim Hightower, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, as having been owned and operated as a continuous family agricultural operation for 100 years or more.”
The ranch boasts a variety of habitats that provide breeding grounds for a multitude of wildlife, including twelve avian species currently listed on Texas' Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The Kordzik-Sheppard Ranch includes unique plant and animal life and ecological features indigenous to the Texas Hill Country. The protection of the ranch will also help to support the biological diversity of the many plant and animal species that are dependent on the nesting habitat and food sources found on the property; and will help to ensure that this area and its existing features will continue to be available for its natural habitat values.
To immense public value, this newly established partnership will permanently protect the Kordzik-Sheppard family’s critical land and promote further stewardship of its water resources and wildlife with a conservation easement held by Hill Country Conservancy. “This agreement is carefully crafted to serve the public interest of preserving water, wildlife, soils, scenic views, and long-term productivity while ensuring that the landowner can continue to live, recreate, graze, farm, hunt, and fish on their land,” said Hill Country Conservancy Chief Conservation Officer, Frank Davis. “But more importantly, we all benefit from this conservation easement each time we turn on the tap, knowing clean water will be there on demand.” The addition of these 732 acres brings HCC’s total conserved land to over 14,000 acres working in conservation easements.
This easement was made possible by the many partners of the Hill Country Headwaters Conservation Initiative and the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program. This will be the first conservation easement that Hill Country Conservancy has administered outside of the usual 6 county purview. The easement is significant, as it falls within an area where historic over-grazing, browse-pressure and land fragmentation are the norm. Therefore, the easement will preserve the health of the primary water source for millions living in downstream communities, including Austin, Bastrop, Smithville, and others eastward to the Gulf of Mexico.