THE STORY OF ARANSAS FIRST

Preserving Aransas County's Treasures for our future generations

This is our story

Aransas First, a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 2002 by Lowell Kepp, Curtis Reemsnyder, Anna Reemsnyder, Herb Wisch, Dinah Dyer, Francis Hicks, David Herring, Ray Little, and John Beree.  A Land Trust was recognized as a need primarily by people in the Aransas Bird and Nature Club.

The mission is to identify, acquire, and protect sensitive Coastal Bend habitat essential to the nurture of birds, wildlife, and people; to increase public awareness of ecosystems unique to the area through education, access, and participation.

Aransas First has worked diligently with the city, county, non-profits, school systems, universities, TXDOT, and Aransas County Navigation District to gain grants, lease access, acquire properties and conservation easements, and plan for the enhancement of the environment and quality of life.  


Aransas First has been in the forefront of conservation, preservation, and acquisition efforts in Aransas County since its founding in 2002 by visionaries who recognized the unique ecosystem that our Coastal Bend environment offers.

Why is this important?

A land trust is a mechanism to preserve the natural resources that benefit a community or state, educate the public and provide public access, while protecting our native habitat and wildlife. The Texas Land Conservancy: a state-wide trust, defines their mission as dedicated to “Protecting the land, water, and wildlife of Texas from the negative effects of land fragmentation and poorly planned development.” According to the Land Conservancy, Texas is losing its rural land faster than any other state in the country and has less than 2% of lands protected including state and local parks, with over 95% of Texas land being privately owned, A Land Trust can work with landowners to find economically advantageous protections from encroaching development, but can also by working with local governments and developers, to prioritize the future protection of land and water for the benefit of all. Dr. Earl Matthew; current President of Aransas First, and on the board of the Texas Land Conservancy states: “The advantage of a local Land Trust over a large state-wide trust, is that we are a local citizen organization working directly for our own community’s benefit.”

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Aransas First by the numbers

in aransas county

community partnerships

dedicated board members

aransas woods

Conservation activities

Aransas First Land Trust has been in the forefront of conservation, preservation, and acquisition efforts in Aransas County since its founding in 2002 by visionaries who recognized the unique ecosystem that our Coastal Bend environment offers.

105 Acres in Lamar

Through a generous donation Aransas First is preserving and creating public access to 105 acres of wetlands in the critical Lamar Peninsula.

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100 acre Cove Harbor Wetlands

Built the Cove Harbor Boardwalk with a grant on wetlands leased from the Aransas County Navigation District.  Damaged during Hurricane Harvey, will be rebuilt by 2020.  Repairs covered by FEMA Grants and Aransas First.

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Aransas Woods 120 acres

Aransas First manages this 120 acre property which became Texas Birding Trail #47.

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4.8 acres Myrtle Street Tract

4.8 acres donated by Mary Spencer to preserve a freshwater wetlands and upland on Myrtle St in Rockport.  

8 acre Woods Beachfront

Woods Beachfront in Port Aransas is an 8 acre property donated by Ted and Mary Woods to protect the barrier dunes in front of their property in Port Aransas along the Gulf of Mexico.
  

Live Oak Education Center

Obtained CMP and CBBEP grants for this ACISD property donated by C. Frost for the Live Oak Education Center, trails, and outdoor class rooms.

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Connie Hagar Sanctuary

Aransas First holds the conservation easement for the bird sanctuary now managed by Aransas Pathways.  Prior to this the property was not fully protected from sale or development.  

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Green Corridor Committee

The Green Corridor Committee was a forerunner of Aransas Pathways founded in 2004; transitioned into Aransas Pathways as a venue to promote birding and tourism in 2014.  The group surveyed available lands for acquisition.

Leased Tule Marsh East

Leased this property in 2004 from the City of Rockport, this became Texas Birding Trail #50.  Transferred to Aransas Pathways in 2014.

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Our Projects

Learn more about the active projects under Aransas First management

Aransas Woods

FEMA TDM Grant to replace the Aransas Woods Windmill with a solar pump and clear the trails at Aransas Woods.

Lamar 105 Acre Property

Recently began managing this 105 acre property in Lamar, this is a critical wetland habitat.

Preservation of Critical Lamar Peninsula Habitat

Actively pursuing, in cooperation with Texas Parks and Wildlife, acquiring critical habitat on the Lamar Peninsula funded by a generous donation to Aransas First from a Lamar Resident.