A plot of land in Texas that a family has enjoyed for decades will remain relatively untouched for years to come, thanks to a selfless act from the owners.
Michael and Karen Collins have donated a conservation easement on their 531-acre land near Liberty Hill in Williamson County, north of Austin.
Under the conservancy agreement, the family may still use the land and build on some designated sections, but the land will never feature subdivisions, stores, or gas stations, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
“That’s one of the reasons we feel really good under the conservation easement,” Karen Collins told the publication. “It will always be our family place, as long as the family wants to congregate there.”
This type of generous donation is beginning to look like an inspiring trend in Texas, with other notable recent cases in the Honey Creek area near San Antonio and another in Williamson County, near Jarrell, and it’s clearly beneficial for the preservation of natural spaces in the state. As the Austin American-Statesman noted, 95% of Texas land is privately owned, and easements like the one the Collins family approved have helped to conserve nearly 1 million acres.
“We can protect almost three times more land with conservation easements than through direct land purchases, all while preserving water supply and supporting farming and ranching — integral components of our state’s heritage, economy and culture,” Laura Huffman, former regional director of the Texas Nature Conservancy, told the American-Statesman.
“What this means for conservationists is a lot of collaboration and creativity — private landowners are our most critical ally if we aim to achieve our mission at scale. And we do.”
The preservation of abundant trees on the land will help to absorb harmful gases in the atmosphere that contribute to global heating, while lack of interference and construction will ensure the health of a vital fresh water source, as a river runs through the property.
But while keeping the land for generations of family members to come was one factor in the Collins’ decision, the other residents on the property were considered, too.
The farm is home to golden-cheeked warblers, bobcats, foxes, and jackrabbits, and it hosts scores of migrating bird species.
“I want a place where the critters can continue to live,” Karen Collins said. “I’m anxious to keep a green spot for the wildlife.”
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