Stories in Texas

Protecting the Great State of Texas

The Nature Conservancy has long protected Texas' most cherished and iconic lands, including Big Bend, Enchanted Rock, Powderhorn and more.

A winding river lined with brush cuts between towering mountains.
The Rio Grande The Rio Grande runs through Big Bend National Park and serves as the international boundary between Mexico and the United States for more than 1,000 miles. © Tim Speer/TNC Photo Contest 2019
Preserving Texas' Heritage & Natural Legacy (2:16) Within Texas’ Refugio-Goliad Prairie, many heritage ranching operations are helping the region remain one of the most productive grassland ecosystems in North America. Watch how we’re working together with landowners, ranchers and other partners to conserve coastal prairie for people and nature.

The Lone Star state is a living laboratory for the world, encompassing all of the planet’s major ecosystems. You name it, we have it: shortgrass, tallgrass, desert, mountains, marshes, forests and oceans. With the state population projected to double by 2050, it’s now more important than ever to protect and preserve Texas land, water, wildlife and way of life for future generations. Read on to find out more about how The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has protected almost one million acres of land in our great state. 

Large trees hang over a field filled with blue and white flowers.
Uniquely Texan Although Texas is losing land at a rapid pace, TNC is working hard to protect the places and spaces that make our state so unique. © Linda Nickell

TNC Preserves: Places We Protect

For more than 55 years, TNC has committed to protecting the best of Texas: the lands and waters that sustain us and make our state so special. That includes making large-scale land purchases to protect areas that are ecologically and culturally important—whether they provide habitat for endangered species, safeguard freshwater supplies or connect to Texas’ natural history and heritage. Across the state, TNC owns and maintains 37 preserves representing nearly 100,000 acres of protected land. View the places we protect in Texas or find an open preserve day or volunteer event near you.

A turquoise river cuts between an expanse of hilly land dotted with green trees.
LONE STAR LANDSCAPES TNC has helped protect critical acreage across Texas, including parts of Central Texas like the Blanco River. © Christopher Zebo

Private Landowners: Lone Star Land Stewards

With 95% of Texas land privately held, conservation easements with private landowners are among the most effective tools at our disposal, because they allow landowners to keep the land they love while safeguarding natural resources for the future. As the Texas population grows and development increases, the impact and importance of conservation easements isn’t going unrecognized. While land fragmentation accounted for the loss of over 1 million acres of working lands in Texas from 1997 to 2012, 88% of all conservation easements in Texas have been executed in the last two decades alone.

With these easements, we can protect almost three times more land 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. In many cases, landowners have stewarded Texas landscapes for generations, threading their legacy into the lands on which they live, work and play. 

Two men in cowboy hats sit on horses in an overgrown, green field as multiple dogs follow them.
STEWARDING OUR LANDS Landowners, ranchers and farmers are essential to our Texas way of life and heritage; they also preserve land by preventing development. © Carlton Ward Jr.

Partnerships: Preserving Legacy Landscapes

TNC also has a long history of collaboration with government, philanthropic and community partners to protect public lands, safeguarding nearly one million acres across the state to date. These are places and spaces Texans have cherished for generations—from the West Texas desert, north to the high plains, through the Hill Country and eastward to our Pineywoods and Gulf prairie. In total, TNC has played a critical role in preserving 34 of Texas’ state and national parks, including iconic places like:

Public Places We've Helped Protect

Collaborative Conservation: The Way Forward

Texas is faced with outsized challenges that are stretching our lands to their limits. The state continues to grow, prosper and develop at a remarkable pace, and conservation in Texas is becoming increasingly synonymous with creativity and collaboration. As the next chapter of the Lone Star land story is written, TNC is committed to forging strong partnerships and innovating solutions to protect the landscapes we love and depend on—for the next 55 years and beyond.