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 dotted 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.
But that link was broken over Memorial Day 2015, when an unprecedented amount of rain caused the Blanco to overflow its banks and crest at more than 40 feet above its normal level. Central Texas was devastated—flash floods swept away 350 homes and damaged another 1,400 properties. Tragically, 13 people lost their lives.
Flooding also scarred much of the serene Central Texas landscape, uprooting an estimated 12,000 cypress, pecan and oak trees.
Since the Memorial Day Weekend floods, The Nature Conservancy—through its Blanco River Project—has educated landowners on the ways in which they can help the landscape recover. Originally launched in December 2003, the project encourages voluntary collaboration among private landowners, community leaders, government agencies, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations—partnerships that are all the more important in the wake of this natural disaster.
The goal of the Blanco River Project 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, primarily providing technical land and water management expertise.
The restoration of the Blanco River riparian corridor is no small task, but the Conservancy will support regional landowners until the work is complete. Protecting this Hill Country treasure is paramount to the health and wellbeing of the entire region.
For more information, contact Rachael Ranft, firstname.lastname@example.org, (512) 968-6800.