In his oversight of his family’s six ranches, his lifelong interest in conservation led to an increasing desire to treat the properties as a whole ecosystem that took into account the impacts on land, water and wildlife as well as people and economics.
Early on, he recognized the importance of wetlands to the health of the habitat and wildlife, and in 1980, he began restoring the natural wetlands and developing man-made wetlands on the Seagoville property. His vision was to turn half of this ranch into a wetland that would provide essential nesting and wintering areas for migratory birds in addition to conserving water.
In his lifetime, Bunker’s project grew to approximately 2,100 acres of seasonal wetlands within the Trinity River basin. The addition of the East Fork Water Reuse Project in 2004 more than fulfilled his vision. Unfortunately, he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2003 and did not see his full dream realized.
An additional 1,200 acres of bottomland hardwood forest with shallow wetlands has also been permanently dedicated through the creation of the Bunker Sands Mitigation Bank under the direction of Wetlands Management, LP, a subsidiary of The Rosewood Corporation.
The work of John Bunker Sands was recognized in 1996 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Law Institute, which presented him with the National Wetlands Award. In that same year, he also received the Lone Star Land Steward Award. He proudly served on both the Dallas Area Advisory Committee of The Nature Conservancy and the Board of Governors of the Alan Savoy Center for Holistic Management.