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Ranchers & Landowners Association at 12

By Fidel Ramirez RLAT President

RLAT President Fidel Ramirez

Last year, the Ranchers and Landowners Association of Texas (RLAT) celebrated its 12th anniversary. .
In December 2002, the Texas Secretary of State chartered the organization as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit community organization. At the time, a group of landowners had banded together to address some law enforcement issues that were occurring in Bandera County, such as poaching and theft of property. Out of that came RLAT's Mission Statement:
• To be a collective voice for all landowners in Bandera County against any person or entity, governmental or otherwise, that challenges or seeks in anyway to undermine the rights of property owners.
• To support law enforcement agencies in their efforts to serve and protect the rights of property owners.
• To provide information and resources on subjects of interest to the membership.
RLAT firmly supports local youth activities such as the Bandera County Junior Livestock Show and the Boys & Girls Clubs, in addition to awarding scholarships to deserving students. Most recently, RLAT donated funds to the building trades classes at Bandera High School, enabling them to continue their water conservation efforts - rainwater harvesting in particular.
RLAT has 180 paying members and the organization sustains its activities with member dues and donations and the most appreciated help from the Bandera County business community.
RLAT's Reward Fund assists law enforcement solve crimes perpetrated against landowners. Seed money for this fund came from former Bandera resident Steve Forrest's donation of a Whitetail hunt on his West Texas ranch. Each year, RLAT conducts a raffle to maintain the fund.
In March 2014, RLAT began a series of community meetings to raise the awareness about local groundwater. The two-day series drew a crowd of 144 participants. The speakers included not only local experts, but also representatives from Texas A&M University with support from the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District.
"Many thanks also go out to Sam Womble, local agent for Texas AgriLife Extension," said an RLAT spokesman. "Additionally, the assistance of the local business community helped make this effort a big success."
The second meeting of the series, held in November, garnered a standing room crowd of 87 participants. Keynote speaker was John Kight, an expert in rainwater harvesting.
The third session in the series will cover organic gardening and the use of native plants in gardens and lawns. Time and place for this program will be announced at a later date.
RLAT's next quarterly meeting will begin at 7 pm, Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the Bandera Electric Cooperative Community. County Judge Richard Evans will give his yearly presentation on the State of Bandera County. This will be an opportunity to learn about county government and ask questions about taxes, capital improvements, the court system and budgets, among other issues. All community members are invited to attend and light refreshments will be served.
The membership, directors and officers invite all landowners - whether they own a lot, small acreage or a larger spread - to join RLAT. Membership dues are only $ 25 per year, and the organization meets four times a year. "Remember, there is more clout in numbers to address issues facing landowners," the spokesman continued. "So, mark your calendars for RLAT's next meeting on Tuesday Jan. 27."