The Winston 8 Ranch of Nacogdoches recently received the prestigious national Leopold Conservation Award from the Sand County Foundation and partner - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department through its Lone Star Land Steward Award Program. The award recognizes exemplary land conservation practices and dedicated stewardship to private lands.
Simon W. Winston, III, of Winston 8 Ranch, has also shared a long partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) over the years focused on land conservation efforts and restoration of longleaf pine to Texas’ historical range.
“The awarding of the Leopold Award to Simon is well deserved. He has been an active cooperator and program participant with the local NRCS field office,” says Al Schmidt, NRCS district conservationist. “His interest and desire to apply practices to improve his land are continuous. Simon is enthusiastic about improving his timberland for both timber production and wildlife habitat. This attitude makes him a pleasure to work with. He is a true supporter of conservation and longleaf restoration.”
Winston is a longstanding partner with NRCS in implementing sustainable conservation practices such as firebreaks, prescribed burning, forest stand improvement, and tree planting. He also took it upon himself to plant areas on the ranch in longleaf pine. This is significant because the longleaf pine’s historic range has been reduced drastically over the past decades across the southeastern United States.
When Winston learned about the NRCS’s national Longleaf Pine Initiative, he immediately enrolled 150 acres of his ranchlands into the agency’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provided financial assistance for longleaf pine establishment and restoration efforts.
“Through the EQIP program, he planted the acreage to longleaf pine. Even after the NRCS program assistance was completed, he implemented numerous management practices such as hardwood control and burning to improve the condition of the stand. Today he has an excellent longleaf stand that will provide many benefits for years to come,” says Schmidt.
Winston’s love for the land and commitment to resource conservation on private lands could be heard through his words a couple years ago when he spoke to attendees during a Longleaf Alliance tour held at his ranch. And now, he and his family’s hard work and stewardship ethic are being recognized at the national level by the esteemed Leopold Conservation Award.
“One visit to the property shows the results of his efforts. He truly loves improving natural resources,” Schmidt says.