Turecek and six other local ranchers have signed legally binding agreements with land trusts and government agencies to permanently restrict most development on their property. Collectively, the agreements are protecting some 86 square miles of shortgrass prairie considered among the world’s most endangered ecosystems.
“From here to the horizon, that’s all conserved,” said Turecek, who, like his neighbors, received tax breaks and grants in exchange for the deed restrictions. “This will always be a ranch, whether we run it or someone else. They can’t plow it, they can’t build on it, and they can’t subdivide it.”