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Three of State’s Finest Elected to Conservation Hall of Fame
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 • Posted September 15, 2011

A habitat restoration pioneer, a noted conservationist-philanthropist, and the state’s largest landowner membership organization, have been elected to the Texas Conservation Hall of Fame. J. David Bamberger, George C. “Tim” Hixon, and the Texas Wildlife Association comprise the Class of 2011 to be inducted at a gala September 22 at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio. Nearly 1,000 admirers are expected to attend.

The Texas Conservation Hall of Fame Dinner will be co-chaired by Peggy & Dan Allen Hughes, Julianna and Peter Holt, Margaret Martin, and Todd and Lisa Piland. The event is hosted by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation, the official non-profit partner of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Dan Allen Hughes, Peter Holt, and Margaret Martin are TPW Commissioners, while Todd Piland is a Foundation Board member.

Bamberger, once co-founder and CEO of Church’s Fried Chicken, wanted to purchase the worst ranchland he could find. In 1969, Bamberger searched for and bought 3,000 acres of the most used and abused land available in Blanco County. His plan was to demonstrate to others that, with careful habitat restoration, land could be restored to support wildlife and livestock and improve the quality of life of the owners. What was then widely agreed by experts to be the sorriest piece of ground in Texas has grown to 5,500 acres of prime real estate.

Through the removal of invasive woody species such as Ashe-juniper, the planting of native grasses, water capture and diversion, and other now-proven measures, fish, wildlife, and native habitat flourish. What has become known as the largest private habitat restoration project in Texas is also the precedent-setting example now followed by countless landowners, agencies, and professional habitat managers state and nation-wide. His vision and, more importantly, his work have led to the transformation of literally millions of acres.

He was once the subject of some ridicule because of his previously unproven approach to conservation. But he proved to be ahead of his time. J. David Bamberger is now almost universally considered to be the “Father” of native habitat restoration in Texas. “I appreciate the opportunity to share my experience with habitat restoration with others,” Bamberger said. “Nothing is more important to our survival than our water and our soil. Careful stewardship of the land enhances both.”

The Texas Wildlife Association was organized in 1985 as an advocate for wildlife, managers, landowners, and hunters in educational, scientific, political, regulatory, legal, and legislative matters. To support its mission and write its many success stories over the past 26 years, TWA:

Disseminates informative and educational material on wildlife, legislative issues, regulatory matters, scientific findings, management techniques, and member news;

Encourages the participation of all ages in outdoor education, hunting, fishing, and wildlife-oriented activities through organized youth hunts, ecology camps, 4-H Enrichment Programs, Project Wild, field trips, and other related educational programs;

Administers the Texas Youth Hunting Program (in conjunction with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and other groups) to educate and mentor Texas’ youth in our hunting heritage.

Maintains a permanent legislative liaison and engages in proceedings of the state and national legislatures and their committees, of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and other State and Federal agencies on matters affecting the interests of our members, and testifies whenever applicable in support of these interests; and

Co-sponsors (with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) the popular Texas Big Game Awards program, which honors successful hunters and recognizes achievements by habitat managers and landowners. The TBGA Youth Division recognizes young hunters every year they are successful. The TBGA also welcomes “first-timers” into the fraternity of ethical hunters, and promotes the multi-billion dollar hunting industry in our state.

“The Texas Wildlife Association is very honored to be recognized with such a distinguished award,” said TWA President Tina Y. Buford of Harlingen. “Our members embrace the values of private land stewardship, and I believe they, and other Texans like them, are the true champions of conservation in our state. TWA is proud to represent those individuals in receiving this award.”

Hixon is the past Chairman of Hixon Properties Incorporated, a family business based in San Antonio. His resume lists hunting, fishing, and wildlife conservation as his hobbies, so it is no surprise that his business expertise and philanthropy have resulted in many conservation success stories.

Not only is he a member of many conservation organizations, he has also served them in top leadership positions. He has served as Executive VP of Game Conservation International, as Treasurer of the African Wildlife Foundation, as President of the Boone & Crockett Club and the San Antonio Zoological Society, as a Texas Parks & Wildlife Commissioner, as Chairman of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation, as a Board member of the Texas Nature Conservancy and the national board of The Nature Conservancy, and is presently a member of the Board of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. During his tenure on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, he was a driving force behind the purchase and establishment of Government Canyon State Natural Area.

Each of the 2011 Hall of Fame inductees will receive the Conservation Gold Medal during a ceremony featuring video tributes and other more complete information about their conservation influences and accomplishments.

The Hall of Fame, through the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation, provides the opportunity to publicly recognize the life-long accomplishments and singular landmark achievements by Texas’ greatest conservationists. While not chosen from specific categories, eligible candidates include individuals, organizations, agencies, corporations, professionals, volunteers, artists, communicators, elected officials, educators, and others.

The Foundation Board accepts nominations, keeps a fluid list, verifies biographical information, and, after careful consideration and dialogue with those most knowledgeable of the nominees, ranks and makes selections. Past inductees include: Perry R. Bass, Dr. Jim Teer, Anheuser – Busch, Jack Cowan, the Texas Bighorn Society, Governor William P. Clements, the Meadows Foundation, Walter Fondren III, Meredith Long, and the Coastal Conservation Association.

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