Part Four – By Brent Evans
“If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.” – Lyndon B. Johnson.
The last decade has seen some serious conservation activity. In 2006 the Kendall County Partnership for Parks was founded, with a mission of promoting the preservation of our natural heritage the development of recreational opportunities.
The first County Park was opened with their help in 2007, the 25 acre James Kiehl River Bend Park on the Guadalupe River. The KCPP provided help with a grant from the Kronkosky Foundation, including infastructure and a professionally generated management plan. The county’s second park was acquired in 2007, the 405-acre Joshua Springs Park and Preserve. KCPP assisted with gathering community input and professional advice to develop a master plan, contributed to the infrastructure, and helped open in 2012. Kreutzberg Canyon Natural Area, 117 beautiful acres located along the Guadalupe River, was purchased in early 2009. The KCPP commissioned a professional Habitat Assessment and Wildlife Management Plan, and the park opened August 15, 2011.
In 2006, the City of Boerne adopted its “Dark Skies” ordinance to preserve the night sky.
In 2007 the 62 acre Herff-Rozelle Farm was purchased by the Cibolo Nature Center, with plans to protect the natural area, restore the historic compound, and develop agricultural and educational programs for the public. An “Inspiration Garden” has been created to demonstrate how to grow food in your own backyard. The homestead pioneer home has been restored. Farmers Market is held on Saturday mornings, the 1 ½ acre garden is now fenced, and restoration projects have been repairing land damaged by pipe lines.
In 2013, the Upper Cibolo Creek Watershed Protection Plan was created by the City of Boerne and dozens of local stakeholders, focusing on 77 square miles of drainage area surround the upper 23 miles of Cibolo Creek. Under the leadership of Ryan Bass, sources of pollution were identified, and management strategies were examined. The future of our water quality depends on this kind of local government and citizen partnership.
In 2014, Cibolo Nature Center had over 300 citizen scientists participate in their research events, and reached over 11,450 people in their monarch outreach events. The CNC also presents classes in Beekeeping, now an accepted practice for Wildlife Valuation plans in Kendall County.
Today, the Greater Boerne Area Chamber of Commerce advertises: “Beautiful landscapes, an ideal climate, a thriving local economy and proximity to San Antonio combine to make Boerne a prime spot.” And, growth is inevitable. Kendall County has been declared the 2nd fastest growing County in Texas, and the 5th fastest growing in the nation.
We cannot depend on local, state, or federal government to do most of the job of conservation, when 97% of Texas is privately owned. There are now 1,600,000 acres of Texas protected by land trusts and private landowners.
This year the Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan was announced. The SEP-HCP is an incentive program that encourages landowners with endangered species on their property to place that land into a conservation easement in exchange for payment from developers. The US Fish and Wildlife Department provides oversight.
A land trust is a nonprofit conservation organization involved in protecting land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical, open space or educational value. Land trusts work with landowners across the state to conserve lands by accepting donations of land, outright purchase of land, and by negotiating private, voluntary conservation agreements (termed conservation easements). These land trusts then have the obligation and responsibility for stewarding those lands and easements they hold in perpetuity. Most land trusts are connected to local communities and are very familiar with local issues and needs. Founded in 1998, the Cibolo Conservancy Land Trust now protects over 20 square miles of the Hill Country.
Interested in doing some of your conservation work on your private land? Thomas Hall, Estate Planning Attorney, will present the best practices in estate planning to legally protect and preserve the legacy of land at Boerne’s Cibolo Nature Center auditorium on August 26th at 6 pm. Members: $15; non-members: $20. Come discover how you can continue the tradition of conservation of our wonderful local natural resources. Call (210) 249-4616 for registration and details.