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Energy & Environment

As Eastern Travis County Grows, Ranch Owner Protects Land

Photo by Hill Country Conservancy
Wildflowers in bloom on the Brockenbrough Ranch in southeast Travis County. The ranch's owners have filed a conservation easement, limiting how the land can be developed.

Eastern Travis County may be on the cusp of a development boom, but a new 285-acre swath of land will be off-limits to developers. The Brockenbrough Ranch (pronounced BROE-ken-broe) has been placed under a protected conservation easement.

A conservation easement is a voluntary restriction that landowners can place on their property. It limits what the land can be used for, and it lowers the owner’s taxes by reducing the property’s assessed value. Texas Parks and Wildlife has produced this guide on conservation easements.

“We see this as the beginning of a movement out there,” Frank Davis with the Hill Country Conservancy told KUT News. “A lot of these folks are faced with different economic issues, they’re trying to keep the land together, trying to upkeep the land, and they’re looking for options.”

Parts of eastern Travis County can feel pretty rural these days, but plans are in the works to construct thousands of homes. Travis County Commissioners want voters to approve millions in new road projects, not to mention the new F1 track in southeastern Travis County.

“I look around and see all these old ranches threatened by development and think I have to act fast,” ranch owner Anne Brockenbrough said in an interview posted on the HCC website. “When the ranch below me was slated for 400 homes, I was not in a financial position to do anything about it, but I went barreling down the hill like Joe Bryan with his rebel yell and tried to stop it.”

But Frank Davis with the HCC insists they’re not anti-development.

“We believe that if you’re strategic about finding the most sensitive and unique lands in the area, then you can set those aside using tools like conservation easements, while development goes to the most appropriate places,” Davis said.

This is the area of the Brockenbrough Ranch.

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