Former Boy Scout camp will become next Hill Country swimming hole after Tuesday vote

Hays County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to put up about half the money to buy a portion of the former El Rancho Cima Boy Scout camp along the Blanco River.

The Nature Conservancy pledged the other half of the $13 million price tag in a bid to acquire the 536-acre plot to turn the plot into a reservation-based recreation and swimming area, similar to Hamilton Pool or Jacob’s Well (another partnership between the county and the Conservancy).

The conservation group expects the sale to close on Friday, Nov. 22.

Jeff Francell, the Nature Conservancy’s director of land protection, said it’s important to prevent development on the property, split between Hays and Comal counties northeast of Canyon Lake.

“It’s in the crosshairs,” Francell said. “If you go a couple miles down the road, there’s a 5A high school. We’re very close to the [U.S.] 281 corridor, which is fast expanding between Austin and San Antonio.”

Hays County Commissioner Lon Shell told KXAN he’s heard concerns from neighbors in the area that turning the site into a recreation space will increase the amount of traffic and visitors, damaging the Hill Country escape.

Read more from Chris Davis with KXAN here.