El Carmen Land & Conservation Co.

Project Summary: 

Nestled between Big Bend National Park and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area lies approximately 27,000 acres of desert landscape breaming with the incredibly diverse flora and fauna of the Chihuahuan desert. Black Bear, Mountain Lion, Bighorn Sheep, as well as hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds call El Carmen Land and Conservation Company home. While maintaining a wild landscape on this level might not seem like a normal corporate investment, to the owners of ECLCC, it was the natural thing to do, and argue that it is not only good for the environment, it is good for their bottom line.

El Carmen Land and Conservation Company, owned by CEMEX USA and Mr. Josiah Austin, has a mission to restore the lower desert landscape and protect ecological corridors in a transboundary area located as the connecting link between Texas and Mexico. They work with numerous conservation partners to restore native wildlife and birds through land restoration, water developments, and habitat enhancement. Future plans include using the property as a research and demonstration area situated in a lower desert ecosystem in the Trans-Pecos Region of western Texas.

ECLCC originally connected with Texan by Nature as a Monarch Wrangler, which is now part of the TxN Certification program. TxN Certification highlights the best and brightest conservation projects of all sizes across the state. Click here to learn more, get inspired, or to submit your own project!

Project Mission: 

To restore the lower desert landscape and protect ecological corridors in a transboundary area located as the connecting link between two countries. To restore native wildlife and birds through land restoration, water developments, habitat enhancement and use the area in the future for a research and demonstration area situated in a lower desert ecosystem in the Trans-Pecos Region of western Texas.

Partners Include:

Primary partners include CEMEX USA, Mr. Josiah Austin, and Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texan by Nature. A full list of past and current habitat project partners is below.

Project Impact:

The 26,000+ acres of the El Carmen Land & Conservation Co. looks vastly different today than it did when purchased by CEMEX USA in 2007 thanks to the tremendous amounts of conservation work. Located between Big Beng National Park and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, the property’s Trans-Pecos landscape contains diverse habitats including desert lowlands, yucca foothills, and higher desert mountains, 6 miles of Rio Grande Wild & Scenic riverfront, and everything in between, including a stunning array of plant and wildlife. After removing domestic livestock, including feral burros, the team at El Carmen began the process of restoring the land and the habitats it contains.

Projects include:

  • Resting lands to allow regeneration of native grasses and forbs, as well as implementing erosion control methods to curtail the loss of topsoil and
    seed banks.
  • Eradication of exotic salt cedar using Tunisia beetles in partnership with the USDA, Texas A&M, and Texas Agricultural Extention Services. Eliminating salt cedar allows native willows to reestablish along the Rio Grande river, providing nesting sites for songbirds, including several threatened and endangered species.
  • Habitat enhancement, including riparian floodplain restoration, nest boxes for Elf Owls, the creation of a 207 species bird checklist, a trans-boundary wild sheep initiative, the reintroduction of the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow, the planting of Cottonwood poles
  • Installation of water pipeline and 16+ water guzzlers across the property.
  • Supplementation of low native wildlife numbers, including Mule Deer, Gambel’s Quail, and more.

Upcoming Projects

  • ECLCC is constructing a permanent wetland to provide a “stepping stone” stop-over habitat for migrating songbirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl during migration. These stop-over areas are critical to birds making long travels during migration over many miles of desert country. They provide rest stops, water, and food sources necessary for birds to refuel and continue their annual migration in both spring and fall. This project has the approval of the Texas Commision on Environmental Quality.
  • ECLCC is setting up a bird banding station to document migratory birds using the corridor from Mexico to West Texas in both spring and fall. This project will also document resident species for longevity, diversity, and more. This is a fully-fledged TPWD-TX Scientific Reserach Permit research project lead by Bonnie McKinney, who has a Master Personal Bird Banding Permit. The research project is titled The Ecological and Geographical Distribution of Birds in a Lower Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem in Southeastern Brewster and South Central Val Verde Counties, Texas. Principal Investigator: Bonnie McKinney. This ongoing project is expected to last 5-10 years.

 

Project Goals:

 From its inception, the ECLCC has worked to restore the lands and native wildlife to a lower Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem, providing long-term protection of the ecological and biological corridor connecting West Texas and Northern Mexico, thus providing safe immigration and emigration of large mammals (such as Bighorn sheep, Black Bears, and Mule Deer) as well as resident and migratory birds. As projects continue, ECLCC hopes to expand their conservation impact by providing “boots on the ground” volunteer and research opportunities through the continuation of partnerships with local and state-wide business, academic, and conservation partners.

Texan by Nature‘s vision is that there will be uninterrupted conservation and stewardship across the Chihuahuan Desert and beyond. El Carmen Land and Conservation Co. Will be the showcase example, and Texan by Nature pledges to gain at least 3 additional landowners and 2 additional corporations in emulating their standards of stewardship. TxN will achieve this by producing a case study and best practices manual based on the existing and future projects at ECLCC. CEMEX’s work on ECLCC proves that private corporations and landowners can positively impact the people, prosperity, and natural resources of Texas, on a scale as grand as the Lone Star State. 

Are you a landowner who is interested in implementing conservation projects on your land, but need guidance? Email here for information!

Are you a business or corporation interested in the benefits of making conservation part of your mission? Email here for information! 

 

Resources

Title Link
ECLCC One Pager Download

Tangible Results

People

26+ Conservation Partners

Past and Current Partners Include:

Texas Bighorn Society, Wild Sheep Foundation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, International Assoc. Bear Research and Management, USFWS, US DOI, Big Bend National Park, Mule Deer Foundation, Texas Quail Coalition, Bear Trust International, Rio Grande Joint Venture- Chihuahuan Desert Ecoregion, Dallas Safari Club, Houston Safari Club, World Wildlife Fund, Lubbock Chapter of Safari Club International, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Borderlands Research Institute, Sul Ross State University, US Department of Agriculture, University of Texas, El Paso, Whitman College, Tarleton State University, Texas Wildlife Association- Brigade Students, Dallas Safari Club Ecological Foundation.

 

*Texan by Nature and ECLCC are working together to create a model for impact on the residents of the Trans-Pecos region and beyond!

Prosperity

Coming Soon

*Texan by Nature and ECLCC are working together to create a model for impact on economic prosperity by examining the benefits of conservation to local landscapes, as well as the financial benefits of conservation investments for corporations.

Natural Resources

27,000 acres

Ecosystems Impacted: Trans-Pecos Ecological Region, Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River, high desert, mountains, canyons, scrub desert, and grasslands.

Wildlife Species Impacted: Over 207 resident and migratory birds, including the Black-Capped Vireo, fish including the Silvery Minnow, Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep, Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Scaled and Gambel’s Quail,

Plant Species Impacted: thounsands of species of desert plants, including native cottonwood restoration in riparian areas.

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