Elder Prairie Preserve

Published by Kirsti Harms on

Location: Washington County
Region: Blackland Prairie/Fayette Prairie
Size: 203.7 acres
Ownership: Owned by NPAT with conservation easement held by the Texas Land Conservancy

The Elder Ranch, now known as Elder Prairie Preserve was donated to NPAT in April 2023 by the Houston Trust Company as the Trustee of the Charles Jago Elder Charitable Trust. The conservation easement is held by the Texas Land Conservancy.

The ranch was owned by Ms. Virginia Jago Elder, who passed away in 2018. The Houston Trust Company contacted The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 2019 to discuss charitable options for Ms. Elder’s 580-acre property, Wunder Hill Ranch, where she lived and bred thoroughbred horses. The property is located between Chappell Hill and Brenham. Ms. Elder wanted the property, or part of it, to be preserved and used for purposes such as wildlife conservation, an equestrian riding area or animal sanctuary. The charitable trust was named after her son who died at a young age.

David Bezanson at TNC visited the property with the Trust in 2019 and identified 203 acres of the property as recovering native prairie. As part of TNC’s recommendations, David highlighted the unique importance of the Fayette Prairie, an area of rolling, scenic Blackland prairies where almost no land has been set aside for conservation. He recommended NPAT as a recipient.

The balance of the property was donated to Camp for All, a nonprofit which operates a camp for special needs children and adults in nearby Burton and was looking to expand their activities.

The 203-acre Elder Prairie Preserve is one of the largest examples of the Fayette Prairie, a subregion of the endangered Blackland Prairie.

The 203-acre Elder Prairie Preserve is one of the largest examples of the Fayette Prairie in conservation and, as such, can be a valuable rescue site for seed and plants from rapidly disappearing prairie remnants in the area. The property has been rested from grazing since 2021. Huisache has invaded uplands throughout the property, and removing huisache and other woody species will be an important management focus.

Elder Prairie was in bloom during an April visit.