421 Acres Added to Gvt. Canyon Natural Area (TX)

February 4, 2005

SAN ANTONIO, TX, 02/03/2005?- The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has added 421 acres of significant endangered species land to the Government Canyon State Natural Area in San Antonio, increasing the site's total acreage to 8,622 acres. Acquiring this parcel is part of a 12-year effort by local agencies, residents, conservation groups, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to protect land located over the Edwards Aquifer, which is the primary source of drinking water for the City of San Antonio. Government Canyon provides a remarkable recreation destination for area residents.

The property, known as Canyon Ranch, is crucial to the completion of the state natural area because it is situated between two properties previously acquired by TPL. The property is also extremely important for the protection of nine federally-listed endangered invertebrate species, including three small eyeless beetles, a small eyeless harvestman, and five other small spiders, including the Madla's cave spider.

"TPL is pleased to be a partner in the effort to preserve Canyon Ranch," said Amy Wanamaker, TPL Project Manager. "It is a treasure trove of native plants and wildlife."

Approximately 70 percent of the property will be owned by TPWD. The City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Water System will each own 15 percent of the property. The entire 421-acre site will be managed by TPWD.

"This is an example of how, working together, we can do great conservation projects for the people of Texas that we could not have achieved alone," said Walt Dabney, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's director of state parks.

Canyon Ranch was purchased by TPL through a $3.5 million U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grant. This grant was matched by local funding made possible by the City of San Antonio's Proposition 3 Program, which authorized a 1/8 cent sales tax increment to locate and purchase undeveloped land in the recharge and contributing zones of the Edwards Aquifer as a means of protecting the Aquifer from pollution.

"We are appreciative to all of the folks that have worked so hard to make this happen," said Bob Pine, Administrator for the Austin Ecological Services Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Preserving Canyon Ranch will not only safeguard the Edwards Aquifer but will also help a number of endangered species."

U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and U.S. Representatives Henry Bonilla and Pete Sessions were extremely supportive of the federal grant.

This acquisition is also part of the Edwards Aquifer Land Acquisition and Park Expansion Program for permanent protection of the city's drinking water. TPL has pursued projects associated within the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone since 1990, protecting more than 11,500 acres over the Aquifer.

"We are so delighted to have acquired this property to protect the Edwards Aquifer," said former San Antonio City Council member Bonnie Conner, who represents District 4 as a member of the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board of Directors. "This is a significant accomplishment made possible by the citizens of San Antonio through their vote in 2000."

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 45 states. In Texas, TPL has protected more than 26,000 acres for communities, including areas in and around Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations and businesses to achieve its land for people mission. For more information please visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org ?