HCC is working with numerous landowner partners on projects that will add to the fabric of Hill Country conservation. Working with our landowner partners, we carefully negotiate these projects to protect important conservation values and the public benefits they provide while preserving our landowner’s rights to ranching, farming, and traditional recreational uses. These deals are often complex and getting any land project across the finish line is a reason to celebrate.
We don’t normally count our chickens before they hatch but we are very excited to share a preview of a magnificent conservation easement project rapidly nearing the finish line. This donated easement will preserve an additional 141 acres of pristine savannah and woodland habitats overlying the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.
On site we see an abundance of conservation value beginning with a segment of South Onion Creek. These flowing waters shimmer in the sunlight as they pass below wooded limestone bluffs and through grassy pastures. Important riparian vegetation, including switchgrass and buttonbush, line the creek edges offering a natural buffer to filter runoff before entering the crystalline stream. The healthy uplands support an abundance of oaks, elms, and tall grasses that serve to slow the movement of rain waters across the land and assist the percolation of those waters into the soil. In addition to protecting water quality and quantity, this project will preserve idyllic Hill Country views along a popular back country road. This small ranch supports a variety of native wildlife; recent songbird surveys highlight this diversity with over 50 species documented including several of conservation concern.
The owners of this ranch are thoughtful land stewards; the signature of their care for the land can be read in the health and vigor of the range. Utilizing the conservation easement tool, our landowner partners will preserve their stewardship legacy while ensuring that the land they care for so much continues to provide far-reaching public benefits and will remain here forever.