John Bunker Sands Wetland Center and Rosewood Ranches Receives Texas Leopold Conservation Award

AUSTIN – John Bunker Sands Wetland Center and Rosewood Ranches, in Seagoville, will be awarded the state’s highest honor for private land conservation at the Lone Star Steward Awards Banquet on May 25. 

John Bunker Sands Wetland Center and Rosewood Ranches were named a Lone Star Land Steward ecoregion award winner in 1996 and continued to be an exemplary land steward by employing outstanding habitat management to their almost 2,000-acre property. 

Past and current wildlife management practices on the property have evolved over several years, especially with the continued development of the 1,840-acre wetlands and wetland education center. The property generates income through livestock management. The man-made wetlands recycle water from the East Fork of the Trinity River, which runs along the boundary of the property. Water from the wetlands leaves once it’s been filtered through 28 wetland cells and is then pumped via pipeline into Lake Lavon where it is stored in the reservoir for municipal use for the North Texas Municipal Water District. 

In addition to serving as a water source for nearby citizens, the property serves as ideal habitat for many native plant and wildlife species. The landowners have worked closely with Audubon Texas members to create a list of the over 200 avian species that can be seen on the wetlands. In addition, wood duck boxes have been placed in several areas, while native vegetation has been planted on wetland islands to supplement feeding and nesting sites of a variety of waterfowl and other birds. The wetland construction has created significant available habitat for resident and migratory birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. 

The wetland and ranch’s wildlife and vegetation provide ecotourism and educational opportunities for the public and nearby schools. Each year the property welcomes youth duck hunters, Texas Master Naturalist chapters, and the public as the wetland’s boardwalk and roads act as a year-round space for nature photography, wildlife observation and hiking. As more programs are being developed with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Urban Biologists, so are additional trails to provide for more hiking opportunities adjacent to the wetlands. Research projects involving local universities and students are currently being reviewed through the wetland center to further knowledge of holistic land management and wetland habitats. 


Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to the land, water and wildlife habitat resources in their care. In Texas, the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation and national sponsor, American Farmland Trust, in partnership with TPWD’s Lone Star Land Steward Awards program. 

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.” 

The Leopold Conservation Award in Texas is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from American Farmland Trust, TPWD, Sand County Foundation, Lee and Ramona Bass, The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation, Dixon Water Foundation, and McDonald’s. 

In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.” 

Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 22 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. 


The Leopold Conservation Award Program is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). 


The Sand County Foundation inspires and empowers a growing number of private landowners to ethically manage natural resources in their care, so future generations have clean and abundant water, healthy soil to support agriculture and forestry, plentiful habitat for wildlife and opportunities for outdoor recreation. 


The American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through its No Farms, No Food message. Since its founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families. 


The mission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.