By Shane Reynolds :: Photography by Terry Vine
Taking care of the natural resources within Cordillera Ranch, which face increasing pressures and demands from a growing community, is a task that requires everyone to lend a hand at whatever level they can.
This topic came to mind when I received a phone call from a Cordillera Ranch property owner who reported a lot of broken glass at the park on the shores of the Guadalupe River where we launch kayaks. The location is also a great place for young kids to enjoy the banks of this beautiful waterway. When I arrived, I was shocked to see approximately 12 beer bottles shattered into hundreds of pieces on the edge of the river. As I began to pick up all of the glass, my mind drifted to wonder who might be so compelled to trash such a pristine environment. I thought, yes, we were all teenagers at some point, but for some reason I never would have considered breaking glass next to a river.
One of the best places to begin to teach kids about conservation and stewardship is right where you live. Whether it’s a two-acre lot or a 50-acre estate, your “backyard” is an important part of a larger natural community and ecosystem. The large expanse of neatly trimmed turf that’s pleasing to some is a very inhospitable environment for wildlife, and the practices necessary to maintain such a landscape often contribute to water quality and quantity problems. By making different landscaping choices, property owners can do their part to assure a healthier habitat and cleaner creeks and lakes. One the great benefits of living in Cordillera Ranch is the fact that most of the property is required to remain in its natural state with native grasses that flourish in the Hill Country.
Teaching stewardship, conservation and environmental ethics to children can often be challenging. Can you teach someone how to act in the outdoors? Not really. However, you can make them aware of the consequences of their actions. You can also lead by example and show them what they can do to promote the conservation of our natural resources and the creatures that live there. Here are some tips you might find helpful in passing on key messages of conservation and ethics to the next generation who call Cordillera Ranch home.
We’ll use fishing as an example. You can begin by engaging your kids in a discussion of ethical dilemmas they might face while fishing at Swede Creek Lake or the Guadalupe River. Practicing catch and release fishing and the use of barb-less hooks is one example. Explaining that wetting your hands when handling fish helps minimize the damage to the fish’s protective slime is another. A good rule of thumb is to remember that ethics are caught, not taught. So set a good example when you take youngsters or guests fishing.
Here’s a good role model activity for demonstrating environmental responsibility: place a plastic bag in your pocket while at Swede Creek Lake or the Guadalupe River. Without saying a word, begin to walk around and pick up trash. Your children and guests will hopefully copy your actions and start helping with the cleanup.
Passing on good conservation habits and ethics can be challenging. However, the benefits to fish and wildlife are extremely important. Discussing with children and guests the consequences of incorrect actions and how those actions can hurt wildlife is a starting point. As a resident of Cordillera Ranch, you have the opportunity, one by one, child by child and guest by guest to set an example for future generations to follow as they begin to enjoy the wonderful environment and great outdoor resources of Cordillera Ranch and elsewhere.
Shane Reynolds is the Director of Outdoor Recreation at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210.616.6051, or the Cordillera Ranch Outfitter Center at 830.336.4823.