Congressman Lloyd Doggett today announced that the Dahlstrom Ranch Project in Hays County will receive technical assistance valued at $45,000 from the National Park Service.”This technical assistance to the Dahlstrom Ranch will promote both environmental conservation and historic preservation,” said Rep. Doggett, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and House Budget Committee. “This public-private partnership is a wonderful example of how we can work together to protect our Texas heritage.”
These federal funds will support technical assistance to develop recreation and educational facilities on a portion of the privately-owned ranch in Hays County. This includes assistance with community involvement in developing a plan that will balance recreation needs and protection of natural and cultural resources.
“We are incredibly pleased to select the Dahlstrom Ranch public access project as one of our key projects for the coming year,” said Kathryn Nichols of the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program. “This project may be the first time in Texas in which a private ranch will combine public use with a conservation easement designed to protect rural ranch qualities from urban development. The plan will knit together the wishes of the family with the desires of the community and the partners to have more places to enjoy the natural beauty of Hays County.”
The development rights on Dahlstrom Ranch will soon be purchased by the Hill Country Conservancy, Hays County, and the City of Austin. All of the 2,275 acres will be protected by a conservation easement and an approximately 370-acre portion of the ranch will be set aside for public access. The ranch contains critical aquifer recharge features, almost two miles of Onion Creek frontage, and scenic Hill Country wildlife habitat.
The key partners are excited to be joining in the effort. “Our family believes that access to natural areas for recreation and education is vital to our community and we are looking forward to working with NPS, the Hill Country Conservancy, Hays County and the City of Austin to provide access to our private property,” said Jack Dahlstrom.
Lee Leffingwell, City of Austin Council Member, shared that “the City of Austin is proud to have a part in preserving the Dahlstrom Ranch in perpetuity. It is my hope that the City’s partnership with Hill Country Conservancy, the National Parks Service, and Hays County will serve as a model for future preservation efforts that have significant environmental and community benefits.” Hill Country Conservancy’s Executive Director, George Cofer, says that the Conservancy “looks forward to working with the NPS Rivers & Trails Conservation Assistance planning group, the City of Austin, Hays County and the Dahlstrom family to provide a rare opportunity for the public to experience first-hand this private, historic Texas Ranch. For generations to come, Texans will benefit from the wide open spaces and recreational opportunities provided by this conservation accomplishment.”
Through the RTCA program, the National Park Service helps communities and neighborhoods preserve their important local resources, protect river resources, develop new trails and greenways and create new natural areas. These projects are locally-led with RTCA staff supporting local recreation and conservation leaders. This year, 48 projects were selected as RTCA grant recipients in the Intermountain Region, spanning 8 states.
by Wyeth Ruthven
Office of Congressman Lloyd Doggett