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This Fried Chicken Tycoon Transformed a Texas Hill Country Ranch into Paradise

David Bamberger graduated college without a nickel to his name. He went on to build Church's Chicken, a fried chicken empire, from the ground up.

But after launching 1,600 stores, he sold his fortune. The successful CEO cashed in his capital for a piece of land.

The property was a dry moonscape covered in junipers when Bamberger bought the overgrazed ranch 50 years ago.

"My objective was to take the worst piece of land I could possibly find in the Hill Country of Texas and begin a process of restoration that would change it back to be one of the best," he said. "And that has happened right here."

But after extensive restoration efforts, the 5,500-acre plot was restored to a rugged landscape with lush grass and shaded valleys filled with crystal-clear streams. What was once an abandoned piece of land in the Texas Hill Country, is now home to Selah, the Bamberger Ranch Reserve.

"When I was younger, I discovered in the Psalms the word 'selah,'" Bamberger explains. "It means to stop, to pause, to look around you and reflect on everything you see."

Clearing the juniper was the first step in restoring the land. Ashe juniper infested the land when Bamberger bought the ranch. After removing the invasive tree, he planted native grasses that allowed the land to flourish.

The fried chicken tycoon turned preservationist now dedicates his life to stewarding the land and educating others about conservation.

"I'm telling you, truthfully, I've seen this property and the experiences people have here change lives," he said.

To experience this hidden Texas Hill Country gem for yourself, visit the Bamberger Ranch Preserve website for information about tours, workshops and events.

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