The Nature Conservancy has long recognized the importance of America’s public lands. Americans look to our beloved landscape not only to support and enrich our lives, but also in overcoming times of crisis.
From the Civil War to the Great Depression, America has turned to conservation to sustain and heal our nation.
- The siege of Petersburg, Virginia, had only just begun when President Lincoln authorized California to protect Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove "for public use, resort and recreation."
- To save a generation of young men as well as our land, President Franklin Roosevelt launched the Civilian Conservation Corps in Virginia’s national forests. The CCC ultimately restored natural resources in every state (including Alaska and Hawaii, then U.S. territories) and enhanced access for all Americans.
Today, the Conservancy supports policy initiatives such as America’s Great Outdoors and urges a permanent commitment to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Of course, the Conservancy also has a long history of working with local, state and federal entities to establish and expand popular and iconic places. While the sites below represent only a fraction of our projects in Texas, we hope these highlights will inspire you to explore and protect our great outdoors.
After all, this land is your land.
In 1987, the Conservancy donated 67,000 acres to expand one of the nation’s most iconic national parks – Big Bend. Its features include 118 miles of the Rio Grande running like a green ribbon through deep canyons and the Chisos Mountains, which rear more than a mile high from an arid plain to form a forested sky island.
Purchased by the Conservancy at the urging of Ladybird Johnson in 1978, the granite dome rising 425 feet above Big Sandy Creek near Fredericksburg was recently designated a National Natural Landmark, but it had already been well known as “enchanted” since the early 1800s, according to centuries-old legends.
In 1987 the Conservancy acquired and conveyed 5,700 acres to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to create the Mad Island Marsh Wildlife Management Area—a move that protected habitat that is critically important to the more than 160 species of resident shorebirds, wading birds and songbirds that use the area for feeding, nesting and roosting. In addition, 16 species of ducks and four species of geese, plus tropical migrants, are found here and at the Conservancy’s adjacent Mad Island Marsh Preserve.
Between 1991 and 1997, the Conservancy acquired and conveyed 6,500 acres to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Caddo Lake. Formed by Big Cypress Bayou, Caddo Lake and its wetlands make up one of only 27 wetlands in the United States recognized by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international treaty that recognizes exemplary wetland systems across the world.
In 1981 the Conservancy helped preserve a Hill County jewel, Honey Creek, when the organization transferred 1,825 acres to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Today visitors at Honey Creek may spot animals ranging from deer, jackrabbits, wild turkeys and ringtails to leopard frogs, golden-cheeked warblers, green kingfishers, and Texas salamanders. Ranging from upland flats with native grasses like Indiangrass and little bluestem, to Honey Creek’s narrow floodplain lined with sycamores and bald cypress trees, the flora here rivals fauna.
In 2001 the Conservancy conveyed 23,000 acres on South Padre Island to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect nesting habitat for the most endangered sea turtle in the world—the Kemp’s Ridley. The Conservancy donated the remaining 1,500 acres in 2007. Beach-loving visitors to the refuge can spot dozens of bird species or fish for speckled trout and redfish.
The Conservancy acquired and conveyed to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 77 acres here in 1977, expanding the park that preserves the site of the Battle of San Jacinto which brought Texas its independence. Now encompassing 1,200 acres, visitors here can learn about the battle in which troops under the command of General Sam Houston defeated a Mexican army led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in 1836.
In 1991 the Conservancy helped create a national wildlife refuge near Austin when it acquired and conveyed 2,200 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The limestone hills and spring-fed canyons that make up most of the refuge protects nesting habitat for two endangered birds—the black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler. The Conservancy also owns an Austin-area site aimed at protecting habitat for these endangered birds—Barton Creek Preserve.