At Davis Mountains Preserve, explore a ‘sky island’

 

“You don’t need an understanding of biodiversity or ecosystems to be struck by how unique the Davis Mountains are when you drive into them,” says Laura Huffman, State Director of the Nature Conservancy in Texas.

A few years after the purchase of that first chunk of preserve land, the Nature Conservancy established the nearly 5,000-acre Madera Canyon Preserve a few miles away. Then, in 2004, it bought the 10,000-acre strip of land that separated the parcels, creating a contiguous preserve of 33,000 acres.

Today, through subsequent land acquisitions and conservation easements, the Conservancy protects more than 100,000 acres of rugged canyonlands in the area. Besides preserving a piece of West Texas’ ranching culture, it helps keep the skies dark around the nearby McDonald Observatory, run by the University of Texas.

“We were concerned about fragmentation and subdivision of ranches,” Huffman says. “That’s a concern that has driven our work around Texas. And we want to make sure the dark skies stay dark. When you’re standing at those telescopes (at McDonald Observatory), most of what you can see has been protected by the Nature Conservancy.” Read more from MyStatesman.com