What do such diverse and far-flung places like Matagorda Island, Enchanted Rock and the Davis Mountains have in common?
They are just a few examples of the many places where The Nature Conservancy of Texas helped create or expand public lands — precious and iconic properties that have enriched the lives of generations of nature lovers from Texas and around the globe.
In nearly five decades of working with landowners and local, state and federal agencies, the Conservancy has made acquisitions to provide eventual public access to state natural areas, federal wildlife refuges and many of its own preserves throughout the entire state.
In many locations like the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, the access is year-round, but is limited in others where the overall goal is to preserve and protect fragile habitats and rare flora and fauna.
The latter tend to be open in controlled situations under the guidance of experienced naturalists, but they can allow visitors glimpses to special areas largely undisturbed from the impacts human use heaps on popular state parks.
A good example is the Honey Creek Natural Area located adjacent to the Guadalupe River State Park west of San Antonio.
Consisting of 2,293 acres bordering the spring-fed flows of Honey Creek, the 1,825 acres forming the heart of the natural area was acquired by the Conservancy in 1981, when it was known as the Honey Creek Ranch, and was conveyed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department four years later.
Since then, the creek and its surroundings has been allowed to return to a natural state and the property is a Hill Country jewel lined with cypresses and sycamores fed by free-flowing waters and gathering blue-green pools.
It is especially rich in native flora and fauna—many species of trees and grasses call the property home, as does abundant wildlife ranging from deer and turkeys to rare golden-cheeked warblers. The varied aquatic species ranges from the Guadalupe bass — Texas' state fish — to the endemic Honey Creek Cave salamander.
The Conservancy's legacy of the past, however, continues unabated today in seeking to preserve natural treasures for future generations to enjoy.
To learn more about The Nature Conservancy's work in Texas, including other places we help protect, visit nature.org/texas.