DISAPPEARING BREED

By Allison Hess

You can still find open prairie around Houston.

Even as Texas’s largest city continues its decades-long advance on surrounding municipalities, you only have to drive about 50 miles west from the city center to find the wide flatlands of the Kaechele Ranch.

Out here, ranching culture reigns, with community names proving a pre-suburbanization purpose: Prairie View, Fulshear, Fields Store, Hope. Frank Reznicek, who operates the 100-some year-old Kaechele Ranch, worries though. He sees housing developments on the horizon. He knows about Cinco Ranch–everyone does–a deeply historical ranch between here and Houston, sold to land developers and turned into miles of quiet, winding suburban streets and identical houses. He says he gets weekly calls from developers looking to buy his land. It’s only a matter of time. For Reznicek, there’s important history rooted in ranches and lifestyles like his. Which elements are worth fighting for against the inevitable? How can we balance the needs of expansion and preservation? How do you remember the past when it’s been built-over? Allison Hess, a photojournalism student at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Texas native, explores these questions and more in “Disappearing Breed,” a work in-progress. All donations through this page will fund the project’s completion.


“I worry about it every day, even though it’s not mine.

I just would really hate to see this ranch in houses.

To me, that would be the worst thing.”

– Frank Reznicek, Head Rancher, Kaechele Ranch

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Frank Reznicek worries that his lifestyle may soon exist only in memory. His fear is that his land, his life’s work and its history will be forgotten.
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Bonnie Reznicek brings lunch to her family nearly everyday. Her grandfather founded the ranch. She has spent her life living and working on the ranch, just as her son has done the same.
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Frank Reznicek, Head Rancher at the Kaechele Ranch, and Dr. Carolos Bonnot assess the damage on a steer’s hoof at the Wharton County Veterinary clinic in Wharton, Texas.

Cinco Ranch is a master-planned community in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Houston. The community sits on Houston’s western edge.

Between 2000 and 2010, Cinco Ranch’s population grew by more than 63%. Its population in 2010 was 18,274. The median income was $140,000, nearly three times the median income of Texas in general.

The Greater Katy suburban area, of which Cinco Ranch is a component, continues to expand outward from the city of Houston.

In the historically agricultural region, more than half of Cinco Ranch’s employed population works in management and finance or sales and administration.

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“I thought [Fulshear’s development] would get here sooner, but on the slower level.

Now what’s happened is that it didn’t come, didn’t come, didn’t come…and then exploded.

Like the dam burst.”

– Doug Konopka, President, DHK Development

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A sign within Cross Creek Ranch, Fulshear’s largest residential neighborhood development.
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Duane Peck stands on her front porch, which faces Main Street in Fulshear. Her house sits on land that was formerly one of her family’s cattle pastures. She was raised on a house within the same block.

“I always said I would leave when the first Starbucks comes.”

– Duane Peck, retired elementary school teacher and lifelong Fulshear resident.

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Ryan Reznicek cuts hay one evening on the Kaechele Ranch. With the combination of creeping city limits signs and the amount of hired-labor work diminishing in the area, the future of their ranch looks uncertain.
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Ryan makes notes of cattle in the holding pen at the Kaechele Ranch. When his dad retires, Ryan will most likely assume the role as Head Rancher.

“It’s always the prior generation that needs to do their job and instill in the next what needs to be done.

In that case, there would never be a need to sell.”

– Frank Reznicek, Head Rancher, Kaechele Ranch

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Frank and Ryan herd a cow into the ranch’s original barn for vaccination.

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Frank and Ryan Reznicek, a father and son team, scale through fields of the Texas prairie as the sun rises almost each morning.

 

Any donations made through this page will fund this project’s completion.

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