Wildflowers at Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, Texas
Wildflowers at Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, Texas Wildflowers at Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, Texas © Lynn McBride

Places We Protect

Barton Creek Habitat Preserve


The Barton Creek Habitat Preserve protects the quality of water in the Barton Creek watershed.

The Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, nestled along four miles of Barton Creek in southwest Travis County in Austin, is a scenic and pristine landscape that protects the habitat of two species of endangered songbirds and, with the assistance of neighboring landowners, preserves the quality of water in the Barton Creek watershed.

The hills of the uplands are covered primarily by oaks and little bluestem; this community blends into mature oak/Ashe juniper. Interspersed with the forest communities on the uplands of the preserve are some grassland areas, primarily of little bluestem and Indiangrass.

Along the crest and sloping down the canyon walls to the creek bottom the oaks and junipers transition into sycamore, pecan, black willow, sugarberry, Texas oaks, Texas ash and elm. The creek sustains Bald-cypress, switch grass and common water-willow and water-hyssop. Populations of Gravelbar Brickellbush and Heller’s False-Gromwell (Heller’s marbleseed) have also been found in the creek bed.  

A significant percent of nesting habitat for the endangered Golden-cheeked warbler is found in the booming Austin area, which grew by 45 percent in the 1980s. This small songbird, which nests primarily in Texas’s mature and contiguous oak/juniper forests, has been the catalyst for a regional habitat conservation plan to accommodate both habitat and development.

The 4,084-acre Barton Creek Habitat Preserve includes 1,800 acres of habitat for the warbler and hundreds more acres that will mature or be restored to warbler habitat over a 30-year period. Additionally, at least 100 acres of the preserve will be restored to suitable habitat for the endangered Black-capped vireo. The protection of the Barton Creek frontage contributes to the protection of water quality recharging the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer and enhances habitat quality for the rare Barton Springs salamander.

In 1994, The Nature Conservancy purchased the property from Resolution Trust Corporation. This purchase comprises just one part of a regional habitat conservation plan and preserve system west of Austin (the Balcones Canyonland Conservation Plan).

Under measures required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Conservancy maintains the property as a habitat preserve in natural condition by protecting and restoring 4,084 acres of wildlife habitat and protecting water quality through watershed management. The management plan calls for occasional removal of new juniper, deer population control and prescribed burning.

Currently, public visitation is limited to scheduled volunteer workdays and arranged visits. Please contact Brandon Crawford at bcrawford@tnc.org for more information.