However, one ranching family in south Texas is making an extraordinary effort to bring back the federally-endangered ocelot and aplomado falcon by protecting their habitat. Dr. Frank Yturria’s family has roots in the Texas ranching community that date back to 1860. He learned the value of conservation from his father, who in the 1950s sold 2,500 acres of his property to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for permanent preservation. In the 1980s Yturria began working with USFWS to protect parts of his property that contained critical wildlife habitat. Through land sales, land donations and conservation easements he is responsible for the preservation of nearly 25,800 acres.

The Conservation Fund’s Role

In 1999, Yturria and his brother and sister sold 12,600 acres in Cameron County to The Conservation Fund, which became part of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Most recently, in 2014, The Conservation Fund, in partnership with USFWS and the Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, purchased a conservation easement on more than 7,400 acres of Yturria’s property where the presence of eight ocelots has been documented. Funding for the purchase of the conservation easement came from the sale of other, less strategic USFWS lands, as well as from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, America’s premier land conservation program.

Why This Project Matters

Dr. Frank Yturria shows what kind of an impact one person can make. Private landowners play a vital part in conservation, especially in Texas, where more than 94 percent of land is privately owned. Conservation easements offer financial benefits for the landowner and allow them to retain ownership of their land. In exchange, they agree to keep sensitive wildlife habitat intact, permanently.

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Places We Work: Texas