at Bracken Bat Cave, Texas.
Mexican free-tailed bats at Bracken Bat Cave, Texas. © Karine Aigner

Stories in Texas

Protecting Bracken Bat Cave

Together with Bat Conservation International and the city of San Antonio, The Nature Conservancy has secured a 1,521-acre property in Comal County that represents a trifecta of conservation success for the entire region.

The land is located roughly 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, adjacent to BCI’s Bracken Bat Cave. Bracken is the world’s largest bat colony, with millions of Mexican free-tailed bats roosting there each year between March and October. This land deal helps ensure this centuries-old wildlife habitat will continue to provide a safe home for one of the region’s most unique inhabitants.

The purchase also creates new habitat for the federally endangered golden-cheeked warbler and expands the Conservancy’s work in protecting Texas’ most valuable resource: clean, fresh water. This acreage is located entirely within the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, the most sensitive portion of the aquifer system. As one of the most prolific artesian aquifers in the world, the Edwards Aquifer provides drinking water for roughly two million central Texans, including the entire city of San Antonio. In the last decade, the Conservancy has helped protect 21 percent of recharge zone.

The history of this property is unique—it was previously slated to become a 3,500-home subdivision. Scientists, conservationists and community members were strongly opposed due to the property’s proximity to the bat cave and the risks to local water supplies and established warbler habitat. After more than a year of work, this highly complex conservation deal came together with input from a broad spectrum of trusted partners. Much of the funding comes from a coalition of public and private organizations that includes The Nature Conservancy, the City of San Antonio, Bat Conservation International, the Edwards Aquifer Authority, Forestar, the United States Army and Bexar county. But there is still a $4 million funding gap that BCI and the Conservancy are racing against the clock to address. You can help by donating to this important project.

This property creates an important link between the Conservancy’s Cibolo Bluffs Preserve and the Bracken Bat Cave and creates an uninterrupted expanse of nearly 5,000 protected acres. It also offers an excellent example of at-scale conservation in Central Texas.

Bracken Cave Bats Watch millions of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from Bracken Bat Cave at dusk.