Spicewood Ranch After 23 Year of Restoration: What we Have Accomplished and Learned

When restoration on the 1200 acre Spicewood Ranch started in 1988, the vegetation was typical of much of the Texas Hill Country. Most of the palatable native grass species were gone or greatly reduced with KR bluestem dominating, and the surviving forb and woody plants were reduced to unpalatable species such as Mexican hat, horsemint, live oak and Texas persimmon.

Restoration practices, including controlled burns, cedar removal, deer reduction, high fencing, seeding, exotic species control, and deer exclosures for research have significantly improved conditions. Successful reestablishment of woody species and perennial forbs has been dependent on developing a sequence for their reintroduction. We start with those species that are only slightly palatable to the reduced deer population, and then gradually add more palatable species as allowed by the increase of available forage and decrease in deer browse pressure. Locally harvested wild seed is often used for these reintroductions, with planting sometimes starting within exclosures to increase available seed quantities.

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