Dahlstrom Ranch is a majestic piece of the Texas Hill Country located west of Buda on Onion Creek. This 2,254-acre ranch holds an impressive system of unique caves, sinkholes and karst features, which directly convey clean water to the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer making it vital to the water supply for homes, agriculture, wildlife, springs and streams. The natural landscapes of the Dahlstrom Ranch are an essential filter for rainwater as it “recharges” the aquifer, fueling a unique quality of life that Central Texans have enjoyed for generations.
This ranch has the distinction of devoting a 384-acre area to public education and nature programs. This will foster land stewardship and conservation awareness, while also providing a unique place for recreation and renewal. Hays County is now working with the Dahsltrom family to plan public access to this area of the ranch, with guidance from a steering committee led by the National Parks Service.
In 2007, Hill Country Conservancy, with funding from the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, came together with Hays County, the City of Austin, and the Dahlstrom family to create the first private land preservation agreement of its kind. This rare collaboration safeguards the significant benefits afforded by natural open spaces and ecosystems.
With a family history dating back five generations, the Dahlstrom Ranch is a central part of the region’s rich heritage. In recent years the Dahlstroms, like many other Texas families, were concerned about whether they would have to sell some or all of their land in order to pay impending estate taxes. Gay Ruby Dahlstrom instead chose to preserve her family’s heritage and legacy by obtaining a conservation easement, which allowed her family to keep the natural character of the ranch intact.
“At the end of the day, my mother did this because she loves this land and appreciates all that it has given us,” Jack Dahlstrom, Jr., Gay’s son, said. “Now, it’s our family’s turn to give back to the land, and we appreciate the efforts of everyone who worked so hard to help us make that happen.”
Hill Country Conservancy strives to preserve large tracts of land to create the contiguous habitat necessary for wildlife to thrive, to preserve scenic views of the rolling hills, and to protect the precious water that flows across and through this sensitive land. Dahlstrom Ranch lies just outside of Buda, TX, which was until recently a rural area, but is now rapidly urbanizing. The population of Hays County is expected to almost double by the year 2030. It is through the cooperation of landowners like the Dahlstroms, who have plans for eco-tourism and wildlife-related art exhibits as well as long-term restoration projects on the property, that the beauty of the Texas Hill Country and its natural resources are conserved for all to enjoy.
Land conservation easements can be expensive and complex. Our experienced land management professionals have the expertise, resources and connections to leverage federal funds and voter initiatives to ensure that results-driven cooperation and strategic conservation play an integral role in Central Texas’s planning and development of the green infrastructure. The knowledge of the land, and relationships with landowners, are what facilitate these agreements, allowing the Hill Country Conservancy to guarantee our vast open spaces are here forever.