Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Good Ol' Boy Headed for Austin ...

According to this press release from The Nature Conservancy, a longtime advocate for West Texas' natural treasures is being 'bumped upstairs' to run a statewide office.

I first met John Karges, who was West Texas Regional Manager for the
Texas Nature Conservancy, when I was just starting as managing Editor of the Fort Stockton Pioneer. He has spent much of the past two decades conducting biological inventories and conservation assessments on strategic lands throughout West Texas. He will now assume leadership of The Nature Conservancy’s Texas Natural History Survey. That database of biological information — gathered largely through partnerships with private landowners — is used by the organization, its partners and academic institutions to steer conservation efforts across the state.

It was under John's guidance that the
Diamond Y Spring Preserve (just north of Fort Stockton) was created, ensuring the survival of at least one of the desert cienegas that had once dotted West Texas, and are now mostly gone. That preserve was created through a successful partnership of the TNC, a local rancher, and a major oil company. He was also part of creating another partnership that led to the establishment and development of the Davis Mountain Preserve (outside of Fort Davis) that not only protected West Texas natural treasures, but its ranching heritage, as well.

For all his credentials as a conservationist, John never lost his touch with ranchers, oilmen, bureaucrats and all the various entities that would have a say in the establishment of these TNC preserves ... as far as I'm concerned, he was 'the main man.'

John's place will be taken by Jeff Francell. A graduate of the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs, Francell has spent his entire career working on behalf of conservation in Texas. Currently The Nature Conservancy’s director of land and water protection, he has previously worked for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the National Audubon Society. He also has strong, personal ties to West Texas and spends time on his family’s ranch near Valentine.

I wish Mr. Francell nothing but good luck ... he has a big pair of boots to fill.

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