Our Prairie People – June 8th
Each Wednesday in June we are sharing a feature about one of our marvelous members, in celebration of “Our Prairie People.” This is our second entry.
Wray-Todd Ranch LLC
NPAT Member since 1994
David Todd has always set his sights on caring for the land. It is in his genes. His nature.
Like so many folks, he became interested in conservation and the outdoors in his early years. His family talked lovingly about nature and applauded conservation efforts. They were dismayed when they witnessed the abuse of nature.
His great-grandfather, who arrived in Houston and Beaumont in the 1890s, became involved in the 1910s and ’20s with a group determined to protect the Vingt-et-un Islands in Galveston Bay. Wading birds such as roseate spoonbills, egrets, and herons roosted here, and people were killing them for ladies’ decorative hat feathers. Later, his great-grandfather’s family became involved in the Outdoor Nature Club (an early conservation group, and the origin of the Houston Audubon Society), and its creation of the Little Thicket Nature Sanctuary.
David’s grandparents started a cattle ranch in 1949 near Columbus, Texas. They fought the construction of the Shaws Bend dam on the Colorado River that would have submerged a large tract of their land. Years later, the I-10 freeway and state highway 71 were built through their property. This sensitized them even more to the human-caused impacts on the environment.
The conservation ethic was passed on to David’s mother, Lucie Wray Todd. She was very involved in an umbrella group of the Houston environmental community and helped found the Fayette-Colorado River Association, which finally put an end to the Colorado River dam project. President Reagan himself signed off to de-authorize it. Lucie also set up the Wray Charitable Trust and the Magnolia Charitable Trust, which supported environmental groups in Texas.
As a youth in Houston, David recalls going to his grandparent’s ranch almost every weekend. He remembers noticing as they drove out the relentless expansion of Houston farther and farther into the countryside. He recognized that the only immediate way to counter this was to set aside land for conservation.
David discovered NPAT in 1998 while launching the Texas Legacy Project, a video-based oral history archive of conservation leaders in the state. He was interviewing legends Bob and Mickey Burleson, founding members of NPAT, at their 100-acre property near Temple, TX. David was inspired by their passion for their land and prairies. He continues to be the primary interviewer for the Texas Legacy Project, and its companion, the Texas Fauna Project.
Today the Todd family and partners raise cattle and conserve grassland properties in Colorado and Fayette Counties through the Wray-Todd Ranch LLC. “One of my greatest concerns is that while Texas was initially a prairie state, less than 1% of these remnant prairies remain,” David said. He and his partners are applying a variety of prairie restoration methods on their properties, such as rotational grazing, prescribed burns, reseeding, removing invasive species, and managing cattle stocking rates. The landowner community within NPAT chapters who share best practices, and the additional expertise from the association, have made a big difference. David has also appreciated the insight of NPAT members David Bezanson, Jason Singhurst, and Executive Director Kirsti Harms.
David and his wife Wendy live in Austin, and with sister Emily, they have been generous supporters of NPAT for many years. Thank you, David, for your lifelong dedication to conservation. We are grateful to you and all of our members! If you are not yet an NPAT member, learn more about it HERE.