Spread Oaks Ranch is a working 5,500 acre cattle, farming, and outdoor recreation property located south of Houston in Matagorda county. The ranch comprises a mosaic of managed agricultural lands and diverse wildlife habitat, including live oak mottes and coastal prairie wetlands. Spread Oaks attracts naturalists and hunters with its abundant wildlife viewing opportunities, though the luxurious lodge and other amenities lend rustic comfort for any visitor. Other recreational activities include bass and saltwater fishing, kayaking, birdwatching tours, horseback riding, and more.
The ranch is situated along the Central Flyway, a vital migration corridor along the Texas coast, making the managed habitat especially important for migrating game birds such as ducks, geese, and sandhill cranes, as well as innumerable songbirds, shorebirds, and other non-game species. These coastal ponds and wetlands are also important for detaining stormwater, controlling erosion, purifying water, and carbon sequestration. Texas coastal wetlands are under threat from land subsidence, conversion to upland agriculture and urban development. Spread Oaks Ranch takes a proactive and long-term approach by managing their lands for agriculture, recreation, and wildlife.
Project Description & History
The Colorado River bordering the Ranch to the east and the year-round flow of Blue Creek supplement the agricultural/waterfowl habitat system; every fall, over 1,200 acres of organic rice, soybeans, and corn fields are flooded after harvest to create managed wetland habitat for migrating wildlife. In turn, these fields are planted with adapted food crops such as winter wheat and rye through spring to fuel the return journey for overwintering birds.
The ranch is also home to plentiful whitetail deer, dove, quail, hogs, alligators and more, including nesting pairs of bald eagles and the occasional cougar – all of which benefit from the diverse habitats supported at Spread Oaks.
Tens of thousands of migrating birds and other resident wildlife find refuge in the managed wetlands and fields at Spread Oaks Ranch, providing abundant recreational opportunities for outdoorspeople and ecotourists. Increased public access to the ranch boosts the local economy and creates jobs, while also raising conservation awareness.