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Hailey Ranch Receives 2011 Lone Star Land Steward Award

Hailey Ranch Receives 2011 Lone Star Land Steward Award

Story by Randy Henry

Rob Hailey, owner of the 2,560-acre Hailey Ranch in Abilene, Texas, received the 2011 Lone Star Land Steward Award for the Rolling Plains region. The ceremony was held May 25 in Austin, Texas, and recognized land stewards who represented private ranches in various ecological regions in the state. Recipients also were recognized for their achievements in wildlife management associations, contributions in outreach and education, along with their corporate efforts.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Sand County Foundation recognized these land stewards and ambassadors of conservation, who have shown exemplary efforts in managing their property. Native habitat restoration and enhancement that benefits wildlife is a common thread among the recipients of this year�s Lone Star Land Steward Awards. The Hailey Ranch has native range/brush and cropland as habitat types.

The award�s objectives are to recognize private landowners for excellence in habitat management and wildlife conservation on their lands, publicize the best examples of sound natural resource management practices, encourage youth education and participation in promoting responsible habitat management to improve ecosystem health, promote long-term conservation of unique natural and cultural resources, promote ecosystem awareness, and acknowledge the best conservation practices in the state�s 10 ecological regions.

Described as �the hardest working man in wildlife management,� Hailey, in his own humble way, is considered an evangelist for natural resource conservation, hunting ethics, and land stewardship within the Rolling Plains region. He also has allowed USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) access to his land for sampling soils at various soil layers.

Ricky Linex, NRCS wildlife biologist based in Weatherford, was one conservation leader who nominated Hailey to TPWD for the Rolling Plains region.

�There are 25 food plots on Hailey Ranch that are planted and maintained on an annual basis, mainly wheat for the deer and sunflowers for doves and quail,� Linex said. �Hailey is a student of plants, and can tell you the names, values, soil preferences, and how to manage the hundreds of native plants on the ranch.�

�As a testament to Rob Hailey�s ranch management, you can walk a short distance nearly anywhere on the ranch and see a hundred different plant species,� Linex said.

Over the past 15 years, the ranch has used ecologically sound and proven management practices, such as disking, livestock deferment, prescribed burning, food plots, principles of plant succession, and wildlife-friendly water troughs to enhance wildlife habitat. The ranch hosts numerous field days and an annual youth hunting event for more than 50 kids and parents.

�Whenever someone comes to visit Hailey Ranch, whether a paid hunter or casual visitor, Rob Hailey makes their experience one of the better events they have enjoyed,� Linex said.

Besides TPWD and the Sand County Foundation, other sponsors for the award included Gulf States Toyota, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service�s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Texas Wildlife Association, Lower Colorado River Authority, USDA-NRCS, Bamberger Ranch Preserve, Llano Springs Ranch, Ltd., Texas Agricultural Land Trust, and both the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
To view the video on Hailey Ranch�s presentation at this year�s award ceremony, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBVNkHdsIQI.

A special thanks to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for contributing to this story.

Rob Hailey, center, owner of the 2,560-acre ranch near Abilene, Texas, receives the 2011 Lone Star Land Steward Award from TPWD Commissioner Ralph Huggins, left, and TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith, right, during the award ceremony held on May 25 in Austin. (Photo Credit: Ricky Linex, USDA-NRCS) Hailey examines the seeds of a Leavenworth eryngo, which is one of many plant species found on the Hailey Ranch. Hailey won the award for his excellence in land stewardship within the Rolling Plains region.

Rob Hailey, center, owner of the 2,560-acre ranch near Abilene, Texas, receives the 2011 Lone Star Land Steward Award from TPWD Commissioner Ralph Huggins, left, and TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith, right, during the award ceremony held on May 25 in Austin. (Photo Credit: Ricky Linex, USDA-NRCS)

Hailey examines the seeds of a Leavenworth eryngo, which is one of many plant species found on the Hailey Ranch. Hailey won the award for his excellence in land stewardship within the Rolling Plains region.

Hailey Ranch has 21 watering tanks with the earth built up around the sides so quail and other wildlife have easy access to water. The water tanks are fed from 30,000 feet of water lines on the ranch. Ricky Linex, left, NRCS wildlife biologist and Rob Hailey, right, discuss one of the hundreds of native plants found on Haile.

Hailey Ranch has 21 watering tanks with the earth built up around the sides so quail and other wildlife have easy access to water. The water tanks are fed from 30,000 feet of water lines on the ranch.

Ricky Linex, left, NRCS wildlife biologist and Rob Hailey, right, discuss one of the hundreds of native plants found on Haile.