Two weeks after Travis County voters demonstrated their support to create new parks and conserve our region’s important water resources by passing Prop 2, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted, today, to finalize a key acquisition on that list.
This afternoon, the Commissioner’s Court voted to accept the purchase agreement for the historic Reimers Ranch. With this action, Travis County acquires nearly 800 acres of open land that will connect Hamilton Pool Preserve west of Austin and the neighboring Milton Reimers Ranch Park. The deal will add 1.5 miles of public access to the Pedernales riverfront, adjoin 3,500 acres of conservation land in the Hill Country and preserve water quality at Hamilton Pool.
“We are pleased the voters chose to support this purchase to protect one of our region’s crown jewels and make it even better,” said Precinct 3 Commissioner, Karen Huber. “With this acquisition, Travis County will be one step closer to boasting one of the very best parks in all of Texas.”
Hamilton Pool and Reimers Ranch are situated about 30 minutes west of Austin. Created when massive erosion collapsed the dome of an underground river, Hamilton Pool rivals any Hollywood creation with a gorgeous green grotto, moss-covered limestone walls and a 50-foot cascading waterfall.
“Once again Travis County has delivered on its commitment to balance our region’s growth with water protection and land conservation projects,” said Laura Huffman, executive director for The Nature Conservancy in Texas. “This is exactly what right looks like. The public is essentially getting double the access to one of the most scenic stretches of the Pedernales River, we’re connecting a conservation area ten-times the size of Zilker Park, and protecting water quality in one of Texas’ most treasured natural swimming holes. There is not a person in Travis County who won’t benefit from this transaction.”
The Nature Conservancy and Travis County Parks Department worked together for more than a year to negotiate the transaction. The County will be purchasing the property for approximately $19.2 million, which is $1 million less than its appraised value. As part of the purchase agreement, the current owners will retain a 40-acre life estate and have the option to lease a portion of the property for grazing. This latest transaction is a continuation of The Nature Conservancy’s more than twenty year partnership with Travis County to protect the region’s most environmentally significant landscapes and waters. In 2005 this partnership led to the protection of the 2,500-acre Milton Reimer Ranch and in the early 1990’s, the County and the Conservancy collaborated with the City of Austin and the Lower Colorado River Authority to establish the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan, which to date has assembled more than 28,000 acres of permitted acreage.
The contract for Reimers Ranch is expected to close by December 31, 2011 and visitors will have access to travel along the river’s edge between the Hamilton Pool Preserve and Milton Reimers Ranch Park shortly thereafter.
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.