During its 87-mile course through three counties, the Blanco River is the defining element in some of the Texas Hill Country’s most beautiful scenery: shady banks lined with cypress, pecan, and willow trees; hills and bluffs punctuated with live oaks and limestone outcroppings; deep pools where fish hang suspended in the glassy green water. It is a vital link in a network of rivers and aquifers in the Edwards Plateau ecoregion that residents in Austin, San Marcos, Wimberley, San Antonio, and the surrounding countryside depend on for drinking water, agriculture, and recreation.
Fast-paced development threatens the Hill Country and the freshwater resources that sustain its native plants and animals. Seven counties in the Hill Country ranked among the top 100 fastest-growing counties in the United States between 1990 and 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Around the Blanco River, Hays County (home to Wimberley and San Marcos) doubled its population over 20 years from 40,000 to 97,000 people in 2000, and projections suggest it could reach 167,000 in another eight years.
To address the permanent conservation of this Hill Country resource and natural treasure, The Nature Conservancy launched the Blanco River Project in cooperation with public and private partners. The project encourages voluntary collaboration among private landowners, community leaders, government agencies, educational institutions, and non-governmental organizations. Its goal is to conserve the biodiversity of the Blanco River Valley with particular emphasis on aquatic resources, aquatic system function, and rare or unique wildlife and plant species. Because land ownership within the 400-square-mile project area is overwhelmingly private, the Conservancy’s strategy is to work primarily with willing private landowners in a variety of ways, especially providing technical land and water management expertise.
The Blanco River Project office opened in December 2003. Prior to the office opening, the Conservancy was already cooperating with scientists from Texas State University-San Marcos in an effort to better describe the function and condition of the Blanco River system and the organisms that live there. Future work on the project includes expanding the Conservancy's relationship with partners and providing information to area landowners on available conservation assistance programs.
For more information, contact Rachael Ranft, firstname.lastname@example.org, (512) 968-6800.