Key Watershed Parcel for San Antonio, TX

March 14, 2001
Press release

SAN ANTONIO, Texas--Today, San Antonio Mayor Howard Peak joined the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, in celebrating the City's purchase of 1,034 acres known as the Windgate Ranch, located approximately 20 miles northwest of the city. During a brief ceremony on the property, the Mayor dedicated the property for the benefit of San Antonio's citizens as permanently protected open space. The City acquired the property with TPL's assistance in December 2000, using funds from the "Proposition 3" sales tax initiative approved by voters in May 2000. The acquisition is the first of several proposed land purchases that will serve to protect the Edwards Aquifer utilizing Proposition 3 funds.

The 1/8th cent sales tax increase will provide $45 million for the purchase of sensitive recharge lands located over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone - the sole supply of drinking water for the City of San Antonio - as well as valuable park space for use by the citizens of San Antonio. This public finance initiative was the only initiative approved by San Antonio voters, of four City initiatives on the ballot. Under this initiative, the City of San Antonio plans to acquire and protect between 6,000 to 9,000 acres of land over the Edwards Aquifer.

"More than 20,000 acres over the recharge zone are being developed or are planned for future urban development," said Mayor Howard Peak. "Today marks an important step in securing irreplaceable land that will not only protect our valuable water supply, but provide beautiful natural park space for our citizens to enjoy."

The Windgate Ranch lies over the Edwards Aquifer's contributing and recharge zones. In addition, the northern portion of the property provides potential critical habitat for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. The property also hosts to a number of native plant species including live oak, Spanish oak, ashe juniper, agasita, red bud, mountain laurel and many varieties of grasses and wildflowers.

The Trust for Public Land is working with the City of San Antonio to identify additional properties for acquisition under the Proposition 3 Initiative. "The Trust for Public Land is very pleased with its partnership with the City of San Antonio," said Valarie Bristol, director of the Texas State Office of the Trust for Public Land. "Our mission, as a national land conservation organization, is to use our skills and resources to assist public agencies in achieving their land conservation goals. We are very happy to have built a successful partnership with the City, and look forward to continuing to work with them on their goal to protect the Edwards Aquifer for all of San Antonio."

The Trust for Public Land was founded in 1972 to conserve land for people. TPL's land conservation projects range from community gardens and playgrounds to regional parks, historic landmarks, and wilderness areas. In its 28 years of operations, TPL has added more than 1,250,000 acres of land valued at more than $2.02 billion to our nation's common wealth of public open space. Through these efforts, TPL has been able to pass on $288 million in savings to communities in which it has worked.

In San Antonio, TPL has been actively working since 1994 to protect the Edwards Aquifer. In partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA), TPL acquired 4,717 acres, creating the Government Canyon State Natural Area in northwest San Antonio. In 1996, TPL facilitated a no-cost transfer, from the Housing and Urban Development Department to TPWD, of an additional 1,121 acres. In 1999 TPL acquired another 805 acres, gifted the property to TPWD, and transferred a water quality easement to SAWS. Funding for this acquisition came from SAWS and through a capital campaign supported by several local and statewide foundations. In June 2000, TPL acquired 400 additional acres within the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone as the latest addition to Government Canyon State Natural Area. This acquisition was funded by TPWD, SAWS and through another capital campaign supported by several local and statewide foundations, as well as corporate and individual donors.