J.B. (Bunker) Sands
Rosewood Ranches
Dallas, Texas

For the past 15 years, Bunker Sands has directed the restoration of more than 1,600 acres of wetlands on Rosewood Ranches, a working cattle ranch. In 1980, Sands began making decisions based on a holistic approach that takes into account the impacts on land and people, as well as economics. Sands developed a slogan for his business that reflects his novel approach to management: “Rosewood Ranches - Wetlands and Brahman Cattle.”

The wetlands, located in almost every pasture of Rosewood Ranches, provide many beneficial values: habitat to migratory birds; short-term, high-quality grazing for livestock; and emergency fodder during periods of drought. They also supply an annual crawfish harvest. The wetlands include shallow-water seasonal emergent wetlands, shrub swamps, and flooded bottomland hardwood forests. Cattle are concentrated on one or more pastures for a short period of time and rotated strategically. Water is circulated throughout various cells on the property to ensure that there is a diversity of flooded, mudflat, and dry zones during the period of low moisture. From mid-September through the end of May, most cells are inundated with water, and wheat and clover are planted adjacent to the wetland cells for cattle and other wildlife.

The wetlands are a source of pride for the family and ranch employees and regularly are visited by wildlife viewers. Two graduate students are monitoring the wetlands as part of research projects for their post-graduate degrees. Sands and Rosewood Ranches have proven that wildlife and agriculture are not only compatible, but may be an essential union.

— Mike McCollum, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service