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Talbot Brothers Prairie

Location: Bowie County
Region: Pineywoods
Size: 366 acres
Ownership: Owned by NPAT with a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

Fifth generation Texans, David and John Talbot of New Boston sold this 366-acre property in Bowie County to NPAT in 2019. It has bottomland forest and one of the last examples of unplowed, native prairie in Northeast Texas.

The Talbots owned the now-preserved property for more than 55 years. “The land stewardship and preservation of these unique prairie lands into the future is very important to our family’s legacy,” said John Talbot. “Our mother, Mary Talbot, initiated a similar transaction several years back on another tract of around 115 acres.” [Purchased by NPAT in 2012 and named Mary Talbot Prairie.]

“We are thankful for landowners like the Talbots who recognize the value of these prairie lands as a precious natural resource not only today but forever,” said Kirsti Harms, NPAT Executive Director.

Prairie Blazing Star. Photo courtesy of Jason Singhurst.

The funding to buy the property was provided by a damage settlement related to the former Kerr-McGee creosote wood-treating facility in Texarkana. The settlement funds were allocated by state and federal agencies including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas General Land Office, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for projects that compensate for damage to creek and wetland habitats.

The Talbot Brothers Preserve has been in hay production for decades which has maintained the prairie’s natural character, including colorful seasonal wildflowers and waving tall grasses which are knee-high by midsummer, when the hay is cut. While improved pastures usually have only a few plant species, more than 330 varieties of plants grow in the prairie and woodlands of the preserve. Native prairies are also important for wildlife, including songbirds and bobwhite quail.

“The prairie land was a real blessing for us,” said David Talbot. “Native prairie grasses are very palatable and require the least care of any kind of hay operation. Others around us converted to improved pastures, but we never did.”

The preserve is even more exceptional because it is a type of prairie with a unique mix of grasses and wildflowers, including a grass known as Silveus dropseed. These prairies are found nowhere in the world except northeast Texas and are one of the rarest landscapes in the Lone Star State.

Scarlet paintbrush. Photo courtesy of Matt Buckingham.

The preserve also includes more than 200 acres of bottomland, hardwood forest and wetlands, adding different habitats which are used by many wildlife species.

The preserve is protected by a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy (nature.org), a global, nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. “We feel very fortunate to be able to protect one of the best examples left of the natural heritage of Northeast Texas,” said David Bezanson, TNC Protection and Easement Manager. “We are grateful to the Talbot family for managing the property so well and for helping sustain a Texas legacy by conserving it.”