Success Story 2023

Connecting with Community to Protect Marfa’s Grasslands

Photo: Shelley Bernstein
Connecting with Community to Protect Marfa’s Grasslands
Big Bend Conservation Alliance
30 acres protected

In 2022, The Conservation Alliance provided a discretionary grant to The Big Bend Conservation Alliance (BBCA) to conserve 30 acres of grassland just outside of Marfa, Texas. This southwest Texan town has some of the state’s best rangeland with desert grasslands that are critical habitat for plants, animals, and climate resiliency. Until recently, residents in the area, where 68 percent of the population is Hispanic and 20 percent live below the poverty line, had no access to this landscape and few opportunities for outdoor recreation. In July 2023, BBCA, in partnership with the Judson Foundation, successfully protected this important landscape through a conservation easement. This will help to establish a publicly accessible outdoor space and open up the potential to store 150 tons of carbon.

With 95 percent of land in Texas privately owned, the creation of public space for the wider community is a rare and welcomed opportunity. Furthermore, BBCA has made community input and engagement a central part of this effort. The organization initially engaged in a series of focus groups to inform site design and development, including involvement from elders to address accessibility, parents to address the needs of children and families, and teachers and students. Community members will also be able to help co-create a publicly accessible 3-mile recreational and educational hiking trail.