JAMAICA BEACH — An Austin family has donated 9.4 acres of wetlands to a Jamaica Beach organization for the purpose of creating a nature habitat in the tiny island town.

The piece of land was donated on Monday by Perry Lorenz, an Austin-based real estate developer, and Charlotte Herzele, a lecturer at the University of Texas. The two are siblings who inherited the land after the deaths of their parents.

Lorenz said Tuesday that his father, Howard Lorenz, bought the land in 1976 after falling in love with the natural beauty of the island. Howard Lorenz died in 1982 within weeks of a house being built nearby.

The house was sold long ago, but the land remained in the family’s possession, Lonrenz said. Aside from an occasional visit to the island, they became absentee owners. They feared that the state of the land would deteriorate if it was not put in the hands of someone else.

“It makes me happy to know we did our part to preserve part of the island,” Lorenz said.

The homeowners association has no plans to develop the land, said Margaret Lloyd, the group’s vice president. Instead, it will be named the Lorenz Family Jamaica Beach Bird and Fish Estuary and maintained as a nature preserve.

Lloyd said the location, east of Bob Smith Drive and north of Managua Way, is a popular spot for bird watching and for kayakers looking to enjoy the sunset.

“It’s been used as kind of a public area for a long time, but it’s always been owned by private landowner,” Lloyd said. “It’s just a very peaceful little spot.”

The wetland area is one of the few undeveloped tracts in Jamaica Beach, a city of less than 1,000 residents that covers less than one square mile.

To ensure the that the area will not be developed, the land was deed-restricted to be a nature habitat, to be used only of nonmotorized recreational purposes.

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com.

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