Summer 2014

Provision helps ensure flourishing antelope populations

On January 16, 2014, The U.S. House and Senate approved legislation to exempt from endangered species protections three antelope species nearly (or completely) extinct in their native African countries but thriving on ranches in Texas. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 — which included this provision — was signed by President Obama on January 17.
The exemptions now clear the way for ranchers to maintain their herds and to offer hunts for these game animals without government intervention. When done properly the Bamberger Ranch believes that revenue from these types of hunts provides incentive for landowners to ensure flourishing populations.
Now beyond legislative hurdles, a group of conservationists are in early discussions of forming an alliance of credible and experienced participants from private, public and nongovernmental sectors who would dedicate resources to increase the genetic populations of oryx around the state and country.  
What does that mean in layman’s terms? For Selah, we have animals that we know have never been bred with animals on South Texas ranches during the 30+ years we have been working with them, and being able to share breeding animals with like-minded conservationists would hopefully benefit the health of our herds.
While the American Aquarium and Zoological Association has maintained records, theirs include just a small pool of known material. This is an exciting proposition and we will be reporting more in length of its progress on our website in coming months.

Steven Fulton checks on 2 new oryx calves born in 2014.

Jared Holmes joins Selah staff

Educational programs, tours, workshops, and outreach dominate staff attention seven plus months out of every year. (The remaining five are intended to rest the ranch in the heat of the late summer and to manage wildlife in the fall.)
We always have good things to report and say about our groups that visit us annually but we are particularly excited about formally adding Jared Holmes to our staff on June 1, 2014.
Professionally trained and schooled in herpetology and zoology, Jared will bring a fresh perspective to our programs and will be a valuable contributor to a large scale multi-year biodiversity study for the ranch. Jared has been a counselor with our nature camps, Camp Selah, for more than seven years, so we know how great he is with kids. He is equally engaging with adult audiences.
We have a superb staff who is honored every day to be able to share with you the Bamberger Ranch.

Jared Holmes demonstrates the warning coloration mimicry to Austin Nature Center campers. (Texas long-nosed snake, Rhinocheilus lecontei)

Aquatic-focused biodiversity study

Bamberger Ranch hosted Dr. Dean Hendrickson, Curator of Ichthyology, University of Texas at Austin, along with staff members from the Ichthyology Division of the Texas Natural History Collections at UT in May 2014 with the purpose of embarking on an aquatic-focused biodiversity study.
Though plants and other terrestrial organisms on the ranch have been well documented, Dr. Hendrickson was unable to find any records of fish samples from the ranch in biodiversity databases, and occurrence records found from nearby streams off the ranch were from over 60 years ago.
For a variety of reasons (concurrent droughts, multiple dams along Miller Creek, time length of the sampling study), the crew were unable to find 13 of 17 expected species of fish while on-site. While disappointing, it was a good start to a larger goal of a ranch-wide multi-university biodiversity study we wish to conduct over the next 15 years.

Dr. Hendrickson and his team did create for us a Bamberger Ranch “place” in iNaturalist ( where anyone can now upload new and historical flora and fauna images to this site. This resource will enable us to document the natural history of the ranch and be a useful tool for land management, as well as possibly pattern climate change trends.

Ichthyologists net one of several Selah ponds to survey the fish species.

G I V I N G   T R E E
Donate to Bamberger Ranch Preserve

As part of a foundation grant and several individual contributions, seven campers were partially or completely awarded scholarships for our annual Camp Selah in June 2014. Five of those seven campers came from inner city neighborhoods in Austin and San Antonio.
During their six days and five nights at Selah, they saw starry night skies, bat emergences, bat re-emergences!, swam in our spring fed lake and enjoyed everything that nature could provide.
The Bamberger Ranch Preserve is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation, to which charitable donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Donations support educational and conservation efforts on our 5,500 acre nature preserve.

While we as a foundation deeply appreciate your charitable consideration, children who are able to experience Selah first-hand probably do even more. 
If you would like more information, please call David Bamberger at 830-868-7303, or Colleen Gardner at 830-868-2630. Our website's homepage also makes it easy to donate online.

What do pond critters say about your watershed?

C O L L E E N ’ S   C O R N E R
Share your Selah Moment

The word Selah as we interpret it, means to stop and pause and reflect on an important message or experience. As part of our namesake, Selah can be to a visitor like Walden was to Thoreau — a special and unique natural space where one can pause and reflect.
Over the years, we have begun to use the word Selah as an adjective or an adverb when trying to describe those special little qualities about an experience or a person or an event. In our minds, if we have described you as “Selah,” we have paid you the highest compliment we could honor. If we say this or that “isn’t very Selah,” well then, we probably don’t approve.
Working and living on 5,500 of restored Texas Hill Country acres provide countless “Selah Moments” for our small staff and corps of volunteers. 
Seasonal changes can bring obvious and flamboyant Selah Moments: a flock of sandhill cranes flying a few meters above your head while on a tour; the spring green that no artist could truly capture; the yellows and reds of native grasses in that soft and beautiful afternoon October light.
During extreme hot or cold times, you might have to work a little to find your Selah Experience, like looking down to see a small lonely flower blooming out of a sun-scorched hole in a rock that you nearly just stepped on.
There are have been times when I have tried to formulate an acknowledgement for a donation that was made in honor of a lost loved one, and I look out my window and try to describe what I’m seeing or hearing in the hope that sharing a Selah Moment would bring some level of peace or solace.
During the roughest and saddest times, I have to consciously work to find my Selah Moments — not because they aren’t there, but because I am not slowing down long enough to breathe.
But they are necessary. They are vital. Selah Moments are to your soul like water and food are to your body.
We are embarking on a large-scale biodiversity study on this ranch during which we hope to contribute to future science as it pertains to climate change and its overall effect on our region’s ecological health.
I’m not a scientist but I like to collect data too. Tens of thousands of people of all ages have visited and experienced the Bamberger Ranch in the 45 years of J. David Bamberger’s stewardship.
I’m not sure how many email recipients will open this newsletter but I'll bet our full recipient list doesn’t even come close to 5% of all of those visitations. However, I am quite certain that every single one of those visitors walked away with at least one Selah Moment of their own.
While we know that there are endangered species, we also believe there is such a thing as endangered experiences. I would like to hear your Selah Moment, which could be anything at all: a story you heard, an issue you learned about while here, a photograph you took, a bird you saw — anything that Selah provided to you that caused you to pause and reflect.
And remember. I believe documenting those moments are just as necessary to the contribution of scientific research as any specimens collected. I also believe that the experience you share with us will enable you to live it all over again, and in that, we have both just had a Selah Moment together. May you have many such moments, today and every day.
You can share your stories and photos with me at

Colleen Gardner, Executive Director

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