people watch bats fly from a cave entrance at dusk
Bracken Bat Cave Bats depart Bracken Bat Cave at dusk © Lauryn Wachs/TNC


Nature Briefs

This page was updated on January 20, 2022.


Very few Hine’s emerald dragonflies survive to adulthood in the wild, but TNC and the University of South Dakota are giving them a head start by hatching their eggs in a lab. Last year, 11 immature Hine’s emerald dragonflies were released into state wetlands in Door County, Wisconsin. With any luck, they will emerge as adults with the striking green eyes and yellow-striped body that are emblematic of this federally endangered species. Once believed to be extinct, the dragonfly was found in 1987 at TNC’s Mink River Estuary in Door County, where work to protect groundwater recharge is important to its larvae—and may be the key to the species’ survival. 

a dragonfly perches on a stem of grass
Hine’s emerald dragonfly An endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly in the Mink River Estuary, one of four TNC preserves in Door County, Wisconsin, where the species is found. © bookguy / iStock


Washington County, Utah, is the only place on Earth where the endangered dwarf  bearpoppy is found. At TNC’s 800-acre White Dome Nature Preserve, nearly 95% of  the plant’s habitat that had been on private lands has been protected from urban  development, habitat fragmentation, off-road vehicles and other threats. In spring, the poppy’s blossoms—sunbursts of yellow framed by delicate white petals—dot the preserve’s hillsides. 

Plants and flowers blooming at the White Dome Nature Preserve in Utah.
Dwarf bear-poppies Plants and flowers blooming at the White Dome Nature Preserve in Utah. © Shirley Surfus


A 1,521-acre purchase adjacent to Texas’ Bracken Cave—home to more than 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats, the largest bat colony in the world—was finalized this year thanks to a dedicated Conservancy supporter. It creates an uninterrupted expanse of nearly 5,000 acres, connecting the cave with The Nature Conservancy’s Cibolo Bluffs Preserve. These areas also provide precious habitat for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and safeguard land over the Edwards Aquifer, which serves as the  primary source of drinking water for nearly 2 million central Texans. 

A Mexican Free-Tailed bat being held at Bracken Bat Cave, San Antonio, Texas.
Mexican free-tailed bat A Mexican free-tailed bat being held at Bracken Bat Cave, San Antonio, Texas. © Karine Aigner