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J. David Bamberger: A Biography

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 1286 words Published: 4th Sep 2017

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champion of land stewardship and habitat restoration

J. David Bamberger has become an internationally known and highly respected conservationist who has dedicated his life work to protecting the environment while using its resources. He has transformed a once blighted.useless property into a beautiful sanctuary that serves as a model for others interested in habitat restoration. He has made strides in protecting and growing certain endangered species populations which have made positive impacts around the world. Bamberger shares the knowledge he has gained throughout his life by teaching others through trainings and workshops.

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Bamberger grew up in rural Ohio during the Great Depression and World War II. He had always admired the Amish for their ability to live in harmony with the land. (Greene, 2007) His father was a farmer so he learned to grow food at a young age. (Mcleod, 2001) His mother gave him a book titlePleasant Valley, written by Louis Bromfield, when he was growing up. Bromfield was an American advocate for land restoration and he wrote about his ideas in that book. Bamberger once said “if I ever make money I want to do what Bromfield did”,(Greene, 2007) referring to his work in habitat restoration.

According to Goodwyn, (2010), Bamberger began working in Ohio as a door to door vacuum cleaner salesman in the 1940’s. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Kent State University in 1950 before he moved to Texas where he continued to sell vacuum cleaners. He worked long hard hours with few days off to make as much money as he could, as he was paid by commission. Although his family was disappointed in his initial career choice according to Goodwyn (2010), he was able to bank half of a million dollars over a ten year period. Then he met another vacuum salesman named Bill Church who was trying to expand his fried chicken restaurant but needed some financial backing. Bamberger used some of his fortune to invest into the company known as Church’s Fried Chicken and became a partner in that business. By the late 1960’s the restaurant expanded across Texas making them both very wealthy.

Bamberger used the wealth he had worked for to fulfill a lifetime dream in habitat restoration. Goodwyn (2010) reported while realtors were trying to show him properties with air strips and nice houses, he told them he wanted something nobody else wants. He ended up purchasing a 5500 acre ranch that was full of juniper plants which choke out other plants by spreading and taking over the landscape so nothing else can grow, reported in the article “Restoring the Range”. The land was overgrazed from years of misuse and there was little topsoil which had been blown away by wind due to the absence of plant root systems which would have held moisture in the soil. The creeks on the property were mostly dried up and not supporting the habitat. The animals that lived on the ranch were undernourished as well due to the lack of food in the area.

Bamberger worked for decades to restore the ecological balance of the property.  He cleared the land of Juniper, carved plateaus into the hillsides to hold rain water, planted grass to hold the soil in place and to absorb the water into the soil. (Goodwyn, 2010). He changed and improved the water distribution across the property and planted trees and wildflowers according to the article “Restoring the Range”. Mcleod (2001) cited the incredible work he has accomplished on his property is evident by simply looking at his fence line. On one side of the fence, Junipers are still ravaging the landscape while on his side of the fence there are fields of grass along with a diversity of many other plants.

The wildlife on the property have prospered on the revitalized ground according to the research. Bamberger said there were initially 48 species of birds when he first acquired the property but that number has climbed to over 219 species. (Restoring the Range, 2012) At the beginning the best deer harvested weighed 55 pounds after field dressing. (Mcleod, 2001) Now the average weight is 105 pounds. The ranch is also a working farm that raises and sells livestock. According to Goodwyn (2010), he used one square mile of his property to provide a habitat for a highly endangered Scimitar-homed Oryx, an antelope that had disappeared from the African Sahara. The animal is currently extinct in the wild but still bred in captivity. The ranch is now home to a large herd of thriving Oryx and breeding aged males are regularly traded with zoos and other animal preserves to preserve genetic diversity. He carved a three dome cave into a hillside on his property in 1998 and lined the ceiling with gunite, a mixture of cement, sand, and water that is generally sprayed into tunnels to line them with a hard dense layer. This is now home to more than 400,000 Mexican Free-Tailed Bats. 

Bamberger ranch has been one of the largest habitat restorations in Texas.  His work has not only improved the quality oflife for the 5500 acres and species living there, but has served as a model for others to follow. Goodwyn (2010) acknowledged he has improved the water quality of the water on his land which positively effects everyone downstream of his property.

Bamberger hosts research on grasslands and range management at the ranch. He holds conferences and educational workshops on habitat restoration for students, landowners, scientists, and conservation agencies.  He has earned dozens of awards for his work on the ranch and in the community.

J. David Bamberger’s life journey is an inspiration to others. His inspiration came from a book his mother bought him. He worked hard, saved money, and fulfilled his dream. He found the worst piece of property he could find and he was able to transform it into a model for land stewardship. The refurbished property now boasts healthy water and vegetation. His work didn’t stop there, as he added endangered species to the property,  as well as helped the species that were already there to prosper. Then, he continued to help the enviromnent by passing on the knowledge he has gained through his experience to others by hosting training and workshops. He has shown that everyone can make a difference if they set their mind to it.

Works Cited

Around the Nation. Texas Rancher An Unlikely Environmentalist, Heard on All Things Considered, by Wade Goodwyn, 2 February 2010 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storylcl=12306868 l

The Austin Chronicle, Day Trips, J. David Bamberger has taken a slice of the Hill Country and restored it to pristine beauty, by Gerald E. Mcleod, 12  October  2001 http://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2001-10-12/8325 l/

Making a Difference: Restoring the Range, posted 29 May 2012 https ://hmclecozine.com/2012/05/29/restoring-the-range/

Water From Stone, The Story of Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve, by Jeffrey Greene, 26 March 2007


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