The establishment of the Clive Runnells Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve dates back to 1989, when Clive Runnells II donated more than 3,000 acres of coastal wetlands and upland prairies to TNC. The land is directly adjacent to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Mad Island Wildlife Management Area, which TNC helped establish with a 5,700-acre donation. In 1993, TNC added 3,900 acres to the preserve with critical support from the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, as well as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Dow Chemical, US Environmental Protection Agency, Trull Foundation and Communities Foundation of Texas.
In the 1980s and 1990s, much of our work at Mad Island centered on enhancing the freshwater wetlands and coastal marshes for wintering waterfowl. In close partnership with organizations like Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we created more than 500 acres of seasonally flooded wetlands that can provide critical stopover and wintering grounds for migrating birds.
Today, we’ve broadened that focus, managing the preserve using prescribed fire, invasive species control, and native seed harvesting and development—with an eye toward supporting this ecosystem’s natural processes to create functioning, connected and resilient communities that support the health of the broader Gulf Coast prairies and marsh ecoregion.