Local grassland steward the Katy Prairie Conservancy is for the first time branching out beyond its natural habitat with a 5,332-acre ranch about 90 miles outside the area the organization is named for. The Spread Oaks Ranch — part of which is shown above — sits near Hwy. 35 in Markham, just outside Bay City and about 70 miles southwest of Sugar Land. Last December, Spread Oaks’s owner closed a deal with the Conservancy giving the organization’s land trust the power to restrict development and subdivision of the coastal prairie property forever. Spread Oaks still owns the land and can pass it on if it chooses, but the Conservancy gets the power to limit its use, regardless of who has the deed.
Spread Oaks is the name given to the Morrow, Cuenca, and LeTulle ranches — pieced together by a single landowner between 2012 and 2015. The property is a working cattle ranch that “prides itself on raising some of the finest quality Brangus cattle in Texas.” Farming and hunting also take place on the land, which includes lodging for overnight guests. The Colorado River runs along an eastern section of the property.
Before the agreement, all of the roughly 20,000 acres the Conservancy protected were located inside the green ring on the map of west Houston below: