The Nature Conservancy, City of San Antonio and partners protect 5,100 acres of additional Edwards Aquifer recharge lands
Latest agreements with eight Uvalde landowners are part of ongoing effort to ensure permanent, clean water for San Antonio and Hill Country residents.
Measuring a Sinkhole
A specialist from the Edwards Aquifer Authority measures a sinkhole on the property of Dr. Doug and Caroline Schreiber.
SAN ANTONIO, TX—July 14, 2009—The Nature Conservancy and partners from Green Spaces Alliance and the City of San Antonio announced the protection of an additional 5,100 acres in Uvalde County within the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer, the primary source of drinking water for 1.8 million residents of San Antonio and the neighboring Hill Country.
The effort was funded using money raised through Prop. 1, San Antonio’s 2005 ballot initiative to protect the Edwards Aquifer, and involves eight separate transactions with private landowners. The tracts—ranging in size from 340 to 1,200 acres—lie within the watershed for the Blanco Creek, a key tributary of the Frio River. The protected lands contain 4.3 miles of Blanco Creek frontage and numerous fissures, sinkholes, springs and draws that allow rainfall to replenish the aquifer.
The conservation deals were several years in the making and were brought about by the collaboration of landowners, conservation groups and city staff.
“The commitment to conservation exhibited by these Texans is inspiring,” said Laura Huffman, director of The Nature Conservancy of Texas. “It took years for them to realize their vision of protecting their land for future generations of Texans, yet they never gave up. By banding together, they found strength in numbers and proved that lasting conservation is within the power of every Texas landowner.”
“There is no better way to protect the integrity of San Antonio’s water supply than through conservation easements like this one,” Mayor Julián Castro said. “I applaud all of the partners involved.”
The landowners—Bob and Cassie Hixon, Dr. Doug and Caroline Schreiber, Todd and Beth Figg, William and Jeanette Wallace, Dr. Arthur Hadley,James and Suzy Livergood, Dr. Timothy and Dana Orihel and Dr. Catherine Tull—began exploring ways to conserve their properties years ago. In December of 2007, part of the group met with representatives from The Nature Conservancy. Shortly after, Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, a local land trust, joined the process.
Julie Koppenheffer, Executive Director of Green Spaces Alliance notes, “Throughout the long process of establishing conservation easements on the Blanco Creek properties, the goal of protecting our region’s drinking water was always paramount. The extraordinary degree of cooperation among all the participants provides a strong basis for further efforts to protect the aquifer."
Landowner Bob Hixon believes that the end result was worth the wait and the hard work. “I want the land to stay intact beyond my time here,” he said. “There are a lot of independent spirits in this group, but we were all able to rally behind the common goal of protecting this amazing region. It was a great learning process that allowed everyone to become more aware of the natural wonders out here on the Blanco Creek.”
In addition to the conservation easements, five of the landowners have banded together to form a wildlife association, which was created following Texas Parks & Wildlife Department cooperative guidelines.
To date, Proposition 1 has protected 78,638 acres of land critical to the Edwards Aquifer—including the 14,300-acre ranch of former Texas governor Dolph Briscoe—through partnerships with some of the largest landowners in Uvalde County.
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In the Lone Star State, The Nature Conservancy of Texas owns more than 30 nature preserves and conservation projects and assists private landowners to conserve their land through more than 100 voluntary land-preservation agreements. The Nature Conservancy of Texas protects some 250,000 acres of wild lands and, with partners, has conserved 750,000 acres for wildlife habitat across the state. Visit The Nature Conservancy of Texas on the Web at nature.org/texas. Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas is a San Antonio-based land trust dedicated to keeping South Texas green. In January 2008, Green Spaces' Board of Directors established a five-year plan to preserve 125,000 acres in Bexar and the surrounding counties. Green Spaces Alliance helped preserve 20,000 acres of ecologically significant land and water in 2008.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.