Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve, will open for self-guided fall color tours this Saturday. Visitors must register in advance. Pam LeBlanc photo

Every year, Selah Bamberger Ranch Preserve hosts a fall color tour, so visitors can drink in some of nature’s red, orange and gold hues of the season.
The 2020 tours are scheduled for this Saturday, Nov. 21, but they’ll look a little different this year because of the pandemic. Five trails on the ranch will be opened for self-guided exploration. Admission is $50; register at
I got a preview of this year’s show today when I packed a brownbag lunch and drove out for a picnic with the preserve’s new executive director, April Sansom. We perched on a picnic table next to Madrone Lake, where big tooth maples and cypress were well into their fall transformation.

April Sansom is the new executive director of Selah Bamberger Ranch Preserve. Pam LeBlanc photo

Sansom, who earned a degree in wildlife biology from Texas A&M University, then went on to earn a master’s degree and PhD from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, took over the post from long-time executive director Colleen Gardner, who left earlier this year. Sansom’s experience includes a stint in the Peace Corps in the Philippines and as executive director of the non-profit Community Conservation in Wisconsin. Her focus is on community conservation.
“(J. David Bamberger) is a guy who basically decided along the way he was going to make a difference,” she says of her new 92-year-old boss, who started his career as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, then helped create the Church’s Fried Chicken empire, before using his fortune to buy what he perceived to be the most worn out and abused piece of land in Blanco County. “The lessons he has learned over 50 years have benefitted and inspired so many land stewards.”
In her new role, Sansom hopes to expand the outreach of the Selah Bamberger Ranch Preserve.
“I would love to physically expand our borders, but we’re definitely working metaphorically to reach more landowners,” she says.
Sansom is no stranger to the ranch. She visited it as a teen-ager with her father Andy Sansom, the former executive director of the Texas Nature Conservancy, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.
Want to learn how you can adopt some of Bamberger’s life lessons to improve your own land?
The Selah team is planning a full schedule of educational workshops in 2021 – but prepared to modify them as needed, depending on the pandemic. The all-day sessions, informed by Bamberger’s own experiences and the knowledge of staff biologists, include a landowner stewardship overview; native grass workshop; wildlife enhancement workshop; and water workshop.
For more information, go to

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