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Former Paige ranch shows off natural beauty

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    Pines & Prairies Land Trust has been working to restore Billig Ranch from agricultural use, full of invasive species of grasses, to a native prairie ecosystem. Insects, flowers, birds and frogs were plentiful in the area on Saturday morning.
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    Hundreds of bullfrogs, some that haven’t even yet lost their tadpole tails, lined the coast of a pond at Billig Ranch, appearing like rocks in the water.
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On Saturday, ranch-turned-preserve Billig Ranch was opened to the public for the first time during Open Preserve Day.

Billig Ranch is a 677-acre piece of land north of Paige that was previously used for ranching. In 2008, Erwin Billig gifted the ranch to Pines & Prairies Land Trust (PPLT), a Bastrop-based nonprofit that protects natural and cultural resources in nearby counties, to turn the ranch into a haven for wildlife.

The morning began with a bird-watching hike at 8 a.m., followed by a talk and demonstration about the damage caused by feral hogs and methods of trapping them at 9 a.m.

Later, PPLT executive director Melanie Pavlas led a tour of the preserve, showing the areas where the pastures of invasive grass were restored back to native prairie species.