Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust Preservation Matters

News

The upkeep of nature
Landowner, agency establish conservation easement for riverbank

January 21, 2009
Tara Boznick
Victoria Advocate

TIVOLI – One rancher-doctor breathed easy under the Spanish moss as the cool water flowed gently downstream.

The riverbank where Dr. Del Williams stood on Tuesday will never see parking lots, septic systems or even manufacturing plants. Two-and-a-half miles of waterfront property will be preserved forever now that Williams established a conservation easement on his land in Calhoun County, near the Refugio County line.

"Even if my heirs sell it, it still goes with the land," Williams said. "Very few people get a chance to do some unselfish thing that carries on through the years."

The easement, finalized in December, marks one of the first in the Guadalupe River Delta. Williams and a conservation agency hope that more landowners will follow suit and realize the importance of preserving a near-untouched habitat.

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust, a nonprofit land trust organization, approached and worked closely with Williams to file the necessary paperwork.

Williams had thought about the idea before and appreciated the agency's guidance on following complicated regulations.

The Trust continues to talk with landowners in the area, executive director Todd Votteler said. The agency would like to see the riparian zone, the interface between land and water, maintained to ensure future water quality in the river.

Wildlife, like the alligator when sunning, need that area, Votteler said.

William's land is in the delta, one of the few fully intact deltas on the Gulf Coast, which also provides wetland habitat where species may get freshwater.

"The Guadalupe Delta is important for the overall health of San Antonio Bay," Votteler said.

Williams' property, adjacent to the Guadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Area, could also provide a buffer for the land managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

"I've got one end of the river here. I hope the movement progresses," Williams said. "I would really like to see the majority of the riverbank preserved all the way up to its source."

Williams, known as "Doc" because he was a general surgeon in Victoria for 35 years, bought the 1,000 acres in 1983 because it appealed to the sentiments of his childhood spent on a ranch.

Now at age 68, Williams and his wife, Mary Ann, enjoy sharing the pristine land with their five children and five grandchildren.

The kids host birthday perch-fishing parties, ride bikes or go along with their dads to the duck hunting blinds, Mary Ann said.

The ranch-raised grandmother enjoys the bountiful flowers that pop up in the spring and the peace of nature. She tells visitors to leave their worries at the gate.

The couple, now married 12 years, keeps cows, which mow the grass for waterfowl - Williams' favorite wildlife.

He hired Rexco Construction company in Port Lavaca to create 15 wetland impoundments for ducks, geese and shorebirds, more for their support rather than hunting.

The semi-retired doctor manages his delta oasis closely to serve all God's creatures. When he first acquired it, the brush and high weeds had taken over.

Now, he cleans up the trash that floats downstream and swears to protect his part of the Guadalupe.

Mary Ann just likes the thought of her descendants seeing the land as she did long after she passes.

"It's really a remarkable place," she said. "It wouldn't be like that if it was developed ... and hopefully, it'll be there forever."

For more information about ways to preserve land, call the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust at 830-372-5077. Or, visit www.gbrtrust.org or www.texaslandtrustcouncil.org.