Desert Door Field Guide
Wild places are a core part of our brand; they inspire and define us. This field guide gives insight into what land stewardship looks like, particularly as it pertains to regeneration and conservation of resources.
Conservation Series #2 | Spoke Hollow
Our second Conservation project is centered around our partnership with Spoke Hollow Outfitters, in Wimberley, Texas. Our hope is that our efforts will have a powerful impact on their property, with measurable environmental improvement.
As part of the project, we strategically removed Ashe Juniper (better known as Cedar) from the Spoke Hollow Ranch on each side of their creek system. From a conservation perspective, the removal of these trees opens up opportunities for water to return to the land year round, which in turn will benefit the ranch’s flora and fauna.
Without the native Ashe Juniper trees absorbing massive amounts of water on a daily basis, native grasses will be given the chance to regenerate and return to full health. In addition, the increase in water availability will feed into the soil, continuing on into the aquifers and resettling water table levels in the creek system.
When it comes to conservation and wildlife, any action must be carried out with great discretion. With Spoke Hollow, we elected to take a manual approach, culling the trees by hand. Though labor intensive, this is actually the most efficient path to conservation.
“A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the axe] he is writing his signature on the face of the land.”- Aldo Leopold
Some native wildlife, such as the white-tailed deer, find some benefit from Ashe Juniper in terms of shelter and food supply. But these same animals will experience greater benefit from the removal of the trees. In actual fact, white-tail deer receive very little protein from Ashe Juniper.x
The removal of this very aggressive species of tree allows for native grasses, plants, shrubs and less harmful trees to return to full health, resulting in a better, more protein rich diet for deer and other animals. As the saying goes, “what’s good for the bird, is good for the herd.”
Grasses and Soil
Soil is a critical factor when discussing the return of native grasses from Ashe Juniper removal. Native grasses serve as place holders for the soil, slowing or, in some cases, even halting soil erosion. In addition, these grasses allow water to travel more efficiently throughout the soil, which leads to our next topic.
Ashe Juniper is a water hog. Absorbing almost 33 gallons a day, the tree poses a real threat to the water table. Removing cedar opens many avenues for water to travel and irrigate the soil.
Run-off from rainwater is able to navigate the land more efficiently, creating a viable water source for plants but also contributing to the restoration of aquifers and natural creeks. In addition, the native plants that return are in general much more stingy than cedar with regards to water absorption, allowing the water supply to be more evenly distributed through the land.
Prominent Wild Species in the Texas Hill Country
- White-tailed Deer
- Wild Turkeys or Rio Grande Turkeys
- Guadalupe Bass
Texas Land Conservation and Cedar Tree Removal Deep Dive
VISIT | EXPERIENCE:
Pedernales State Park: State Park in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, located in Johnson City, TX. This is an exceptional place to enjoy the native Pedernales River and examine Texas wildlife.
Guadalupe State Park: Located in Spring Branch, Tx, this state park offers a plethora of activities that nearly all Texans love, including fly-fishing in the famous Guadalupe River.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge: Nestled in the small town of Austwell, TX along the Gulf Coast, the Aransas Refuge is a great location to set up a tour to experience some of the wildest habitat in Texas. Depending on the time of year, this meeting ground for fresh and saltwater ecosystems gives visitors an opportunity to see whooping cranes, alligators, and other creatures native to both habitats.
Spoke Hollow Outfitters: Offering hunting and fishing experiences in the heart of Texas Hill Country, including guided fishing trips along the Blanco, San Marcos, San Gabriel, and Guadalupe Rivers. In addition, upland bird hunts and foraging classes are offered to those who enjoy wild activities in wild places.
Stewards of the Wild: Organization that works in tandem with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. Stewards of the Wild targets works with young professional, focusing on introducing them to the outdoors, fostering a love for wild places, and encouraging future stewardship of wild lands.