A Rare Breed

Deep in Texas hill country is a slice of the African plains, where a rancher is raising a rare breed of antelope alongside his cattle.

"This species would have probably faded from view in another 20 years," says J. David Bamberger.

But Bamberger is a rare breed himself. A corporate multimillionaire with a single purpose, Bamberger has dedicated his fortune to saving the earth and has turned his private preserve into a vast public classroom, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod.

All summer long trams full of teachers traverse his 5,500 acres.

"We have a duty to pass on to the next generation a planet, a country, a state, a city in better condition actually than we found it," Bamberger says.

Bamberger came to Texas with a 12-month-old in his arms, $124 in his pocket and a 30-year plan in his mind. His family grew. Bamberger made millions.

His ranch had the reputation for being the worst ranch in Blanco County. But now, once arid land is lush. Deer that were starving are now twice as big. Cows graze in pastures that used to support nothing but rocks.

"Restore it and they will come," is Bamberger's motto. His pitch - that tourists make a nice cash crop, too - is an incentive for ranchers to follow his lead and keep up their land.

Open your front gate and let people come in and see how you live. Let them come in to camp, to hike, to fish.

Bamberger's second dream is funded by his first, which was running a Fortune 500 fast-food chain.

His latest project is building the world's largest manmade bat cave. His wallet keeps him from sweating the fact that his $170,000 project is a batless bust.

Bamberger sums it up this way: "Let me tell you something. What good is it? You can't take it with you. You think they're going to shovel this ranch up and put it in my casket and I'm going to take it all with me?"

Bamberger calls his place "Selah" - a biblical command to pause and reflect. A long time ago he took that advice and since then, it seems he's been too busy giving back to catch his breath.


©1999, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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