Rosewood Ranches History
Rosewood Ranches, Inc. is owned by a subsidiary of The Rosewood Corporation, a Dallas-based company, owned by the Caroline Hunt Trust Estate. Rosewood operates six ranch properties in Texas. Three of them are close enough to each other that they are managed as a team, sharing the labor as needed. They are called the Ennis, Sands, and Seagoville ranches located in Ellis, Navarro, Henderson, and Kaufman Counties of Texas. Rosewood Ranches is a responsible cattle breeding operation. The Rosewood Ranch mission statement addresses various quality of life issues, one of those being wildlife, a value to be enhanced and enjoyed.
The late Bunker Sands (1948-2003) was an Executive Director of The Rosewood Corporation and the son of Caroline Rose Hunt and Loyd Bowmer Sands. For Bunker, one of the more enjoyable aspects of the three ranches was the development of the wetlands. He recognized the importance of wetlands to the total environment and began restoring and developing manmade wetlands on the Rosewood Ranches in 1980. Bunker’s primary concern in the creation of the wetlands was the health of the habitat and wildlife. With the help of Rosewood Ranch managers, Kenneth Braddock of Ennis Ranch and Richard Braddock of Seagoville Ranch, efforts were made to create new wetlands and replace natural resources providing essential nesting and wintering areas for migratory birds in addition to conserving water. Bunker began making decisions based on a holistic approach, taking into account the impacts on land and people, as well as economics. He developed a slogan for his business that reflects his novel approach to management: “Rosewood Ranches – Wetlands and Brahman Cattle.”
Rosewood Ranches constructed the original wetlands using a levy system, with water outlets installed in the levees to regulate water levels. Commercial herds of Brangus and Braford cattle are strategically rotated through these wetlands. They graze on the levees that have been constructed, and when the boards are pulled from the water outlets to drain the wetlands, grass grows which provides valuable spring and summer pastures for the cattle. From mid-September through the end of May, most cells are inundated with water, and wheat and clover are planted adjacent to the wetland cells for cattle and other wildlife. This agricultural land that was once considered to be poor quality because it was flat with poorly drained fields that sometimes flooded, turned into the perfect location for wetlands and the wildlife that utilize them. Bunkers interest, ideas and dedication grew into a project of approximately 2,100 acres of seasonal wetlands located within the Trinity River basin. The wetlands provide beneficial values such as a habitat to migratory birds; short-term, high-quality grazing for livestock; and emergency fodder during periods of drought. They also supply an annual crawfish harvest. The wetlands include shallow-water seasonal emergent wetlands, shrub swamps, and flooded bottomland hardwood forests.
In 1996, Bunker’s vision was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Law Institute, who presented him with The National Wetlands Award. He served on the Dallas Area Advisory Committee of The Nature Conservancy. As a member of the Migratory Wildlife Advisory Board of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, he received the Lone Star Land Steward Award in 1996. In addition, Bunker served many years on the Board of Governors of the Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management which advocates for land use decisions based on impacts to the land and its people, as well as the economic benefits. He received other awards from The Dallas Morning News and the Greater Dallas Chamber in recognition of Rosewood's outstanding commitment to protecting our natural heritage. Bunker, along with his family was named a laureate of the 1999 Texas Business Hall of Fame. Bunker’s vision for the wetlands development is a source of pride for the Caroline Rose Hunt family and ranch employees. The ranches are regularly visited by wildlife viewers including special groups such as the Boy Scouts and The Audubon Society. Rosewood also contributes to the community in the area of environmental education allowing college students to monitor the wetlands for their research.
Today 1,840 acres of land, part of the Seagoville Ranch, is being used by the North Texas Municipal Water District to clean and process water drawn from the adjacent East Fork of the Trinity River. The water will be diverted into these new wetlands and eventually pumped to Lake Lavon, supplying water for 1.6 million residents in North Texas. An additional 1,200 acres of bottomland hardwood forest with shallow wetlands will be permanently dedicated through the creation of the Bunker Sands Mitigation Bank. The John Bunker Sands Wetland Center will serve as the hub of the educational, research and social interests for the 3,100 acres of wetland habitat on the Rosewood Seagoville Ranch.