Conservation efforts in Texas turn 50

The Devil's River Courtesy: The Nature Conservancy of Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thursday marks a milestone for a conservation group. The Nature Conservancy of Texas is turning 50.

Throughout those decades, they have saved thousands of acres in Central Texas from development in order to not only protect the land but also our drinking water.

“We are here at the Barton Creek Preserve which is a 4,000 acre preserve which is in a very fast developing part of Austin, Texas,” said Laura Huffman, State Director for The Nature Conservancy of Texas. “What you’re looking at is Texas land as it was historically.”

Land that is just off Bee Caves Road and surrounded by development.

The Nature Conservancy of Texas bought it in the 1990’s to protect two birds from going extinct. But it did so much more.

“Part of what we are protecting is the water quality in Barton Springs which is only about 20 miles away as the river flows,” said Huffman.

Barton Creek runs through the property. And with development on the other side of the hill – the preserve acts as a filtering system for Barton Springs.

“As water runs off from neighborhood with pollutants we provide a sponge where the water can get nice and filtered before it gets to the creek,” said Huffman.

And this type of work is carried on throughout Texas in places like Del Rio protecting the Devil’s River, buying land around Hamilton Pool to protect its water quality, and 100,000 acres in the Davis Mountains outside of Fort Davis where the McDonald Observatory is located.

“We are working with the University of Texas to keep the dark skies dark so that the research out there is protected,” said Huffman.

And what’s learned on Texas soil is also applied in nearly 40 other countries.

“The lessons that we learn out here at Barton Creek to protect the habitat can be transported to Africa where they have similar types of landscapes and what our program is doing in Mongolia in the grasslands can be transferred to the grasslands in Texas,” said Huffman.

Showing conservation is a global effort.

One of the first pieces of property The Nature Conservancy of Texas bought was Enchanted Rock at the urging of Lady Bird Johnson.

It was eventually turned over to the State of Texas to manage. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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