RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Dos Venadas Ranch in Starr County is an oasis of original native brush surrounded by plowed fields and unchecked wind turbine development.
By South Texas standards the nearly 400 acre ranch is not big, but the habitat diversity is outstanding with three distinct soil types, 195 birds documented and a thriving population of native wildlife.
Dr. Steve Bentsen, a McAllen veterinarian, bought the property in 2002 from absentee landowners, and during the past 18 years of dedicated stewardship he has created a wildlife oasis.
“When I first got out here the first thing I did was put out some hard rubber containers and started hauling water from town…Before I ever put a fence up electricity or anything I established water sources.”
Water is the magic elixir in the arid South Texas brush country, and Dos Venadas now has numerous permanent water sources where there was once none.
Every remnant of dwindling native habitat is important in the rapidly growing Rio Grande Valley, and the stewardship of each parcel regardless of size plays a vital role in preserving our natural heritage.
“The big ranches are the building blocks that hold it altogether, but the little ranches can do things the big ranches can’t do. The big ranches can’t have a water source every 30 acres. They just can’t do that, but the little ranches can be lush oasis’s beyond anything a big ranch can do.” said Dr. Bentsen.
Dos Venadas is protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement with the Valley Land Fund, and Dr. Steve Bentsen is thankful his beloved property will never be cleared.
“When you are lucky enough to have a place like this and develop very protective feelings of it and realize how special it is you begin to think long term about what is going to happen to this when I’m gone.” added Dr. Bentsen.