History of The Wetland

The late John Bunker Sands "Bunker" (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 Company was the operation of three of the Rosewood Ranches in the neighboring Ellis, Navarro, and Henderson counties. He recognized the importance of wetlands to the total environment and began restoring and developing manmade wetlands on these 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 and Richard Braddock, 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." Today this approach continues through the newest subsidiary, Rosewood Ranches Wagyu Beef.

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. 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 is diverted into the wetland 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 has been permanently dedicated through the creation of the Bunker Sands Mitigation Bank.