The Nature Conservancy Buys 500 Acres In The Hill Country For Future Preserve

El Rancho Cima is home to endangered species like the golden-cheeked warbler, and faced possible land development in the growing area between Austin and San Antonio.

By Jill AmentNovember 25, 2019 1:51 pm

In the Hill Country, a nonprofit is stepping in to protect the habitats of numerous plants and animals in a natural area along the Blanco River. The Nature Conservancy purchased over 500 acres of El Rancho Cima, a recreation area that used to be a Boy Scout camp. The area is threatened by rapid land development, and the group says the purchase will help it preserve an “iconic piece of Texas history.”

Jeff Francell is associate director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy. He  says El Rancho Cima, about 30 minutes west of San Marcos, is in the middle of a high-growth area between Austin and San Antonio. He says at some point, the land would have likely become a housing development.

“That State Highway 281 to I-35 corridor – that’s really where all the growth is occurring,” Francell says. “That is one of the reasons why we stepped in to protect the property.”

But The Nature Conservancy also wants the land to eventually become a public preserve, run by Hays County, so the public can enjoy this part of the Blanco River that hasn’t always been accessible.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Why the Nature Conservancy wants Hays County to eventually take ownership of the property

– What endangered and threatened species are native to El Rancho Cima

– How the Nature Conservancy is helping to preserve vulnerable habitats around Texas

– How the Nature Conservancy is helping Texas Parks and Wildlife modernize the state parks system


Written by Caroline Covington.