Ranches that Surround the East Rim Ranch
The East Rim Ranch includes 10,000 acres on the east side of US Hwy 118 about 28 miles south of Alpine. The ERR is in the Calamity Creek Valley which begins about 25 miles north on Cathedral Mountain and flows south along the west side of Elephant Mountain and thru the ERR toward Terlingua and the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park.
There are three large ranches that abut the ERR as well as a state-owned Wildlife Management Area. These properties, along with the ERR, form a stable, well managed, land stewardship for the entire Calamity Valley. The ranches include:
• The O2 Ranch which is 275,000 acres on the west and south sides of ERR is owned by The Lykes Brothers Corporation from Florida;
• The Y-Bar Ranch, owned by the Yarborough family from Midland is 30,000 acres;
• To the East of ERR is the 45,000-acre Black Mesa Ranch owned by the Nunley brothers from Uvalde, Texas;
Also to the north is The Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife,being 23,000 acres and devoted to breeding the desert bighorn sheep and conservation.
The O2 is one of the largest ranches in Texas and has been owned by the same family since the 1930’s. The Lykes family is also the largest land owner in Florida and 11th largest in the US according to Forbes. O2 abuts the ERR on its south boundary and is across the road for most of the ERR’s seven miles of US Hwy 118 frontage. The ranch is mostly being managed for wildlife and hunting. There have been some wildcat oil and gas wells drilled in the past five years and a large seismic shoot was completed in 2010.
The O2 has partnered with researchers and students at Sul Ross University in Alpine and has foregone cattle grazing for large scale habitat restoration efforts on the ranch. In 2011 the O2 was chosen as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Land Steward of the Year award.
This ranch has been in the same family for nearly 50 years and is now about 30,000 acres. It sits mostly on the west side of US Hwy 118 but has several pastures on the east side bordering Elephant Mountain and the ERR. It owns much of the land on the top of the 800 foot high Kokernot Rim just west of Elephant Mountain. This family-owned ranch is well managed and actively raises cattle in the Calamity Valley.
Black Mesa Ranch
This ranch borders the ERR on the east sharing seven miles of fence. It includes the 1,000’ high Black Mesa and neighboring Santiago Peak at 6,700’ elevation. The Black Mesa Ranch is a 45,000-acre property that has land in the Calamity Creek drainage and the Chalk Draw that runs south on the east side of Elephant Mountain. This ranch is managed mostly for mule deer hunting and cattle.
The owners, who are from Uvalde, Texas, have an active deer feeding program. One of the family shot a trophy buck (Net TPGA typical scoring 188 3/8 pts.) off the ranch in 2008. article on trophy mule deer.
Parts of the Black Mesa were once part of the old 35,000-acre Kokernot Ranch on the east side of Hwy 118 that included the ERR.
Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area
This property was gifted to the state in 1985 to provide a way to conserve and protect native species like the desert bighorn sheep. Today, the flat top of this mountain which includes 2,200 acres is the largest breeding ground for these animals. The public is not allowed on the top but researchers with Texas Parks and Wildlife manage the herd.
The WMA has a 14-mile road around the perimeter with a number of waterholes for wildlife viewing. It also allows limited hunting by permit only. Their website discusses the wide variety of birds and mammals that have been seen on the property and it is often open to the public. “Over 65 species of mammals, eight amphibian species, 40 species of reptiles, 160 species of birds, and 50 species of butterflies have been documented on the property.”
This WMA is a great neighbor to have and provides knowledge about our immediate environs, good stewardship, and stable ownership to one of the valleys most scenic sites, Elephant Mountain.