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Man and his wife posing for the camera and giving a speech and a public park (inset)

Family Rejects $100M and Preserves Honey Creek State Area

Scott Ball / San Antonio Report and
Uplifting News

Family Rejects $100M Offer For Their Ranch — They Saved Their Community Instead

"How much money does someone really need?"

In a world where financial gain often trumps environmental conservation, one Texas family made an extraordinary decision that prioritizes the greater good.

The Urbanczyk family turned down a potential $100 million profit to preserve their 245-acre ranch in Hill Country, transforming it into a public park for future generations to enjoy. This inspiring story underscores the importance of protecting our natural heritage and the selfless acts that make it possible.

A Bold Decision For The Greater Good

Overhead view of trees and water and a man and woman pose for the camera.

Honey Creek Natural Area | Ronnie and Terry Urbanczyk pose for camera

Dave Sims Media/The Nature Conservancy |

Ronnie and Terry Urbanczyk, who purchased their 245-acre ranch near the Honey Creek State Natural Area three decades ago, faced a significant choice.

Over the years, they expanded their property to 750 acres and considered capitalizing on the booming Hill Country population by developing housing on their land. Such a move could have secured a $125 million inheritance for their children. However, their neighbors and local conservationists expressed concerns about the potential environmental impact, particularly on Honey Creek's fragile ecosystem and pristine waters.

Ronnie recalled the moment they involved their family in the decision-making process: "We brought them into the equation, and said, ‘Hey, what do y’all think?’ Because it was a huge financial ask of them also." To their delight, their children unanimously supported the idea of preserving the land as a park. “Dad, if it could be a park we could drive by and see the rest of our lives, and our grandkids' lives, let’s make it a park,” they said.

The Birth Of A Public Park

Trees and water

Trees and water

ONE SWEET CONSERVATION DEAL Honey Creek State Natural Area in Central Texas. © Dave Sims Media

After years of planning, Texas Parks and Wildlife announced in June 2023 that they would purchase the Urbanczyks' 515-acre ranch for $25 million. This transaction would ensure the land's preservation, safeguarding nearly 5,000 acres of habitat alongside the adjacent Guadalupe River State Park.

Rodney Franklin, Texas State Parks Director, emphasized the significance of this acquisition: “Together with the adjacent Guadalupe River State Park, these protected lands encompass nearly 5,000 acres of habitat that sustain plants and wildlife, benefit water quality, and provide opportunities for people to spend time in nature.”

Terry Urbanczyk expressed her surprise at the possibility of creating a public park: “We were not aware that making it a park would be a possibility unless you just donate the land, which we couldn’t do.” The decision was a family affair, with Ronnie consulting his nine grandchildren, whom he fondly calls his “board of directors.” Their enthusiastic support, "Yes! Let’s do it!" reinforced the family's resolve.

The land, rich with pristine streams, cypress trees, and at-risk species such as golden-cheeked warblers and Comal blind salamanders, will now be accessible to the public. Texans will have the chance to create their own memories in this beautiful natural setting, just as the Urbanczyk family did.

A Reminder "You Can't Take It With You"

In a capitalist world obsessed with amassing fame and fortune, the Urbanczyks' decision to prioritize conservation over profit is a powerful reminder of the importance of protecting our natural resources. Ronnie, who owns a concrete business, reflected on the emotional significance of their choice: "And now the people in Texas are going to get to really enjoy it for the next thousand years," he said. The couple plans to retire overlooking the state’s natural area, comforted by the knowledge that it will remain unchanged.

Local experts will manage the ecosystem to prevent harmful construction, ensuring the area's ecological integrity for future generations. Annalisa Peace of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance expressed gratitude for the Urbanczyks' foresight and generosity.

The family encourages other landowners to consider similar actions and seek assistance from organizations like the Nature Conservancy and state parks departments. Ronnie advises exploring creative solutions to protect sensitive ecosystems, noting the increased funding available for land preservation through initiatives like the Great American Outdoors Act of 2020 and recent state legislation.

The Urbanczyks' story is a testament to the profound impact individuals can have on environmental conservation. Their choice to forego substantial financial gain in favor of preserving natural beauty and biodiversity highlights a deep commitment to future generations. As Terry observed, their children understood the true value of their decision: “How much money does someone really need?”

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