February 7, 2011
Not long ago, HCC was awarded a grant from the NRCS Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) for conserving a third phase of Storm Ranch. Many of Hill Country Conservancy’s followers and supporters know Storm Ranch as the largest conservation property in Hays County with majestic oaks, knobby hills, scenic vistas, and miles and miles of clean, clear streams throughout. However, even after completing two conservation easements on this gorgeous ranch, there’s still urgent work to be done to ensure the whole ranch is preserved for the benefit of present and future generations.
To date, through partnerships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the City of Austin, the Houston Endowment, and LCRA, the Storm family and Hill Country Conservancy have protected over 3,500 acres of Storm Ranch. The conservation easement for Phase 3 will ensure that the water, wildlife and scenic beauty on an additional 350 acres of the ranch will remain healthy and intact. The easement will be purchased using FRPP grant funds, with a large part of the value to be generously donated by the Storms. Development will be limited to one home, agricultural structures and related improvements like roads and fences. As with other conservation easements, the family will remain as owners and operators of the ranch, taking care of the land just as they have for generations.
Scott Storm, speaking about the conservation easements on their place, has said:
“I knew some of the people who had been working on (a conservation easement). So I called one of them up, and he explained how that had worked out for him with his ranch. And he said, ‘Well, I don’t know what your plans are, but if you really just want to hold on to your ranch, and just keep doing what you’re doing, there’s just not a better idea in the world.’ So that got our attention pretty quick. And one thing led to another, we started working with George and HCC, …. Basically it’s the only reason why we are here right now. And still in one piece instead of a whole bunch of little fragments, with us living in a condo downtown, I guess.”
Storm Ranch is one of many old ranches in the eastern part of the Texas Hill Country – near the I-35 corridor – at risk of being developed due to escalating property values. In time, high property values can mean a big estate tax bill, and families are often left with few options other than to sell their land. By giving up some of their unused development rights through the conservation easement, the Storms are able to receive some financial compensation, deduct some of their income taxes and reduce the value of their estate. All these factors work together to help them keep their land. That benefits all of us, because large sensitive tracts of land like the Storm Ranch are important for providing clean water and air to the people and wildlife in the watershed and the greater region.
There is no better time to conserve land in the Hill Country. Click here to find out how you can help.
Are there any volunteer opportunities at the ranch? I live nearby and would love to help out here.
It's nice to know there's still pristine places like that around. Throw in some horseback riding tours and it would be quite the experience.
Hi there, just had to stop by and say I love your photos of this place! I was rehcsreaing a little on it to see if the hubby and I should check it out next weekend and I think we definitely will Looking forward to bringing my camera! Your shots (and blog as well) are lovely