Places We Protect

Diamond Y Spring Preserve

Texas

A small round pond in a grassy field.
Diamond Y Spring The preserve protects one of the largest and last remaining ciénega systems in West Texas. © Jacqueline Ferrato

The Diamond Y Spring Preserve protects one of the largest ciénega systems in West Texas.

Overview

Description

At first glance, the aquatic system at The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Diamond Y Spring Preserve doesn’t appear to be much more than a small creek, deep pool and desert ciénega (a spring-fed marsh or swamp) in the middle of sparse and arid grasslands. However, the truth is much more complex; the rarity of this desert spring habitat and the species it supports makes this freshwater marsh one of West Texas’ most extraordinary natural treasures.

Access

CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC

Size

4,099 acres

Explore our work in Texas

Species Spotlight

Watch this clip of the Leon Springs pupfishes in action at Diamond Y Spring Preserve.

A marsh filled with tall grass and moss.
Biodiversity Hostpot TNC's Diamond Y Spring Preserve is home to flora and fauna found nowhere else in the state. © Jacqueline Ferrato

Why This Place Matters

Diamond Y Spring Preserve protects one of the largest and last remaining ciénega systems in West Texas. It also provides critically important habitat for an assortment of globally rare and uncommon plants and invertebrates, as well as seven federally endangered or threatened species. These include the rare Gonzalez springsnail, found in two separate stream segments totaling about 1.5 miles; springsnails are an important indicator of water quality and quantity in springs.

Four other of these species are named for surrounding Pecos County: the Pecos gambusia, amphipod, sunflower and assiminea snail. Diamond Y Spring Preserve also provides the only remaining natural habitat for the endangered Leon Springs pupfish—a species first discovered in 1851 at Leon Springs, a spring system that once flowed just west of Fort Stockton.

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Photos from Diamond Y Spring Preserve

Discover the diverse plant life and wildlife at this ciénega system in West Texas.

An orange butterfly with brown and white markings sits on a green plant.
Three men stand on the edge of a pond.
A blue pond with ripples surrounded by tall grass.
A mesa extends behind a field of geen shrubs and flowering yellow plants.
The edge of a blue pond meets a tall grass field.
A small green fish with brown mottled scales swims in shallow clear water.
A marshy pond pilled with plants and tall grass.
A field of blooming bright yellow sunflowers.
A lizard burrows into rocky terrain.
A round blue pond surrounded by tall grass.
A man kneels beside a sign reading Karges Spring.
Conservation Legacy On April 22, 2021, TNC honored longtime friend and colleague John Karges for his years of commitment to conservation by dedicating a spring at the preserve in his name. © Ryan Smith

What TNC Is Doing

TNC purchased the roughly 4,000 acres from a prominent Pecos County rancher M. R. Gonzalez, who was motivated to protect the pupfish, Pecos gambusia and the Pecos sunflower. The acquisition was an important first step in minimizing the myriad threats to this vital aquatic system, such as potential subdivision, runoff pollution and soil contamination from various sources, including regional oil and gas production.

Working with a range of partners, including the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lehigh University, the U.S. Geological Survey and Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, TNC has created an extensive water-monitoring program to track the preserve’s freshwater spring flows, water quality and the health of the pupfish and other species.

Strong science and collaborative action will help ensure Diamond Y Spring Preserve continues to shine as a proven conservation model for this delicate desert ecosystem.

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Resources