August 12, 2014

 PicHCLTEnchantedRockIn 1998, a group of like-minded people including Trudy Vars Harris, Terry Hershey, and others from the Fredericksburg area started meeting as a group with the goal in mind to conserve and protect the Hill Country from the break up of family lands, loss of wildlife habitat, and degradation of water resources and scenic views. In 1999, the group selected Bart English as the first President and received non-profit status from the IRS.

In 2001 the (HCLT) accepted the donation of their first conservation easement, 133 acres of wildlife habitat and native grasses across from Wildseed Farm and along the busy Hwy 290 E corridor outside Fredericksburg. This land will remain much as it is in perpetuity, with HCLT assisting in good land management practices to protect the resources found on the property.

A conservation easement is a written agreement between a landowner and the holder of the easement under which a landowner voluntarily restricts certain uses of the property to protect its natural, productive, or cultural features. In this case, HCLT is the holder of the easement and works with landowners on good land stewardship practices.

Since 2001, HCLT has accepted 17 more donated easements of over 5,700 acres of protected land in the Hill Country. One of the highlights includes four easements around Enchanted Rock. The scenic view from Enchanted Rock continues to be one of HCLT’s primary focus areas in the Hill Country. Other focus area properties includes those in the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge area with important water resources, and the latest donated easement of 685 acres south of Stonewall containing important Pedernales River watershed resources and endangered species habitat.

In early 2013 HCLT received Land Trust Accreditation. HCLT was one of the first land trusts in Texas to accomplish this goal, and is one of 254 nationally accredited land trusts. HCLT now operates by a list of standards and practices to ensure the quality of the easement process for landowners.

In 2014, HCLT hired the first Executive Director, Martha Zeiher. Martha is responsible for the general administration of the land trust as well as supporting the all-volunteer board in acquiring additional conservation easements. For more information on the Hill County Land Trust visit their website at or call 830-997-0027.

Photo: Enchanted Rock
Photographer: Melissa Mial