2012 Aldo Leopold Award: Cook's Branch Conservancy - Texas Parks and Wildlife [Official]

Uploaded by TexasParksWildlife on 25.05.2012

(Birds singing)
(Water trickling)
(Gate opening)
[Kathy Hutson] Hey. Welcome to Cook’s Branch.
[Kathy Hutson] As you come in here and you realize that we
are surrounded by urban sprawl …there are just green spaces that are disappearing. And
the family making the decision to keep it like it is and to restore it to pre-settlement
condition is just phenomenal.
[Katherine Lorenz] Growing up it was much more of a working ranch.
And I remember riding bikes through pastures with cows and being scared of them. And over
the last 15 years, it’s been amazing to watch the transformation from a working ranch
into a really amazing nature conservancy that it is today.
(Crow calls)
[Narrator] Nearly half a century ago, George and Cynthia
Mitchell set aside 5,600 acres for a family gathering place. Over time, the family took
more of an interest in the land, largely because of  one small bird...
(Bird chirping)
...the Red Cockaded Woodpecker.
[Wildlife Manager] This is part of the annual burn area, this
area gets burned every year.
(ladder clanking)
This hole right here is about 42 feet. That cavity there is about 55, so I should have
enough ladders.
(Bird chirping)
[Narrator] Today, management for this woodpecker species
includes select cutting of pines, building artificial cavities, annual controlled burns
and weekly nest checks during nesting season.
[Wildlife Manager] This here is the primary cavity competitor
with Red Cockaded Woodpeckers, Southern Flying Squirrel.
[Narrator] The Mitchell family has taken on other restoration
efforts, like planting 17 species of native grasses. These grasses benefit many bird species
like the Eastern Wild Turkey and Bobwhite Quail.
[Kathy Hutson] I heard it and I couldn’t believe what I
was hearing...
(Bob White Quail call)
...so I actually taped it on the phone and then I took a picture and sent it to Mr. Mitchell.
You know it was like ‘Really! They're right there?'
(Water running)
[Narrator] The eight lakes on the property are all fed
by springs starting with the namesake “Cook’s Branch,” which runs through the entire property
and flowed even during the drought of 2011.
(Birds singing)
(Truck driving)
[Katherine Lorenz] Cook’s Branch is a perfect example of the
types of philanthropic investments that my grandfather has done and will continue to
do. He’s deeply committed to land conservation and he chose this beautiful property and held
onto it for our family for 40 years now.
[George Mitchell] It’s very simple. You now have 6-billion
people and you can’t make it work. What are you going to do with 9-billion people
in 2050? When you can't make it work with 6 billion right now. So how do we make the
world work? Well, teach them how so they’re all working at it.
(Bird chirping)
[Narrator] And with the recent creation of the Cook’s
Branch Conservancy...
(Bird call)
...the wildlife here and the Mitchell legacy will both have a place to call home forever.
[Sarah Mitchell] I think that my grandfather being 92 and being
able to be honored for his vision and my aunt Sheridan who really did the active restoration
really began that process, for us to carry on their vision and their legacy in this way,
there's nothing in the world that could be more important to me.
(Evening forest buzz)