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Bracken Bat Cave
Frank Klein A recent generous gift from TNC supporter Frank Klein helped complete a fundraising campaign to protect lands around Bracken Bat Cave in perpetuity. © Jeff Weigel/TNC

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Land protecting world’s largest bat colony named Frank Klein Cibolo Bluffs Nature Preserve

A recent generous gift from TNC supporter Frank Klein helped complete a fundraising campaign to protect lands around Bracken Bat Cave in perpetuity just in time for Halloween. The 2,005-acre property protects the home of millions of Mexican free-tailed bats and valuable water supply directly above the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. This fall, the property was dedicated as Frank Klein Cibolo Bluffs Nature Preserve to honor Frank Klein’s contribution that will protect critical wildlife habitat and water in one of the fastest developing areas in the region.

Frank Klein Cibolo Bluffs Nature Preserve sits about 20 miles northeast of San Antonio. It neighbors a property that was originally slated to become a subdivision that TNC purchased with a coalition of public and private organizations. The final piece of the land puzzle, the Klein gift now ensures that the area encompassing Bracken Bat Cave is protected and that the centuries-old wildlife habitat will continue to provide a safe home for one of the most ecologically important creatures in the region.

Nature’s pest control, bats in the Bracken bat colony consume more than 100 tons of mosquitos and other insects each night, reducing crop damage and pesticide use for area farmers. But it was the beauty of the bats that drew Frank Klein to follow his heart to protect them. Mr. Klein endearingly describes the bat babies as looking like a plume of smoke as they exit the cave in the evening to feed on the local insects.

“I first witnessed the bats exit Bracken Cave in 2014 as part of a Nature Conservancy event, and each time I’ve witnessed it since then, it is just as breathtaking as my first experience,” Mr. Klein said.

“The need to protect our Texas lands is evident, but it warms my heart to know my gift will also protect these unique creatures in perpetuity, Mr. Klein added. "Through the donation of this preserve, I know that proper awareness will be brought for bat conservation around the globe. I would like to thank the people who had the foresight and courage to start this conservation project to protect the bat cave."

Bats aren’t the only critical wildlife habitat Frank Klein’s gift helped protect. The property is also home to a federally endangered species: the golden-cheeked warbler, a rare songbird that only nests in Texas Hill Country.

“Frank Klein’s personal commitment to conservation has helped secure a trifecta of conservation: protecting the world’s largest bat colony, preserving warbler habitat, and safeguarding Texas’ water supply,” said Suzanne Scott, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas. “The Nature Conservancy is proud to recognize his contribution with the newly named Frank Klein Cibolo Bluffs Nature Preserve.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.