Yegua Knobs Mesa Land Protected (TX)

February 26, 2004
Texas

BASTROP, Texas, 2/25/04 - The Trust for Public Land (TPL) recently transferred 302 acres of forested uplands connecting Bastrop and Lee Counties to the Pines and Prairies Land Trust (PPLT) to further protect the region's clean air, and conserve habitat for the endangered Houston toad. The land will be dedicated to scientific research and low-impact public recreation opportunities.

"TPL is thrilled to be a part of the effort to conserve this environmentally and culturally significant site," said TPL project manager, Amy Wanamaker. "The landscape in Bastrop and Lee Counties continues to rapidly change due to growth in central Texas. We look forward to protecting more of these special places through our continued partnership with the Pines and Prairies Land Trust."

The tract encompasses two of the "Yegua Knobs," seven unique sandstone-capped mesas that rise 250 feet above the surrounding terrain between the towns of McDade and Lexington. Blanketed in post oak and pine forests, the hills form part of the divide between the Colorado and Brazos River drainages. These hilltops offer views over the surrounding area and were mentioned in different folklore accounts by the famous Texas writer, J. Frank Dobie as well as in historical accounts as far back as when Texas was part of Spain.

"This property's beauty and solitude will inspire our communities to value this region's natural wonders," said PPLT President Carrie Knox. "People and wildlife will benefit from this anchor preserve for generations to come."

Purchase of this tract was made possible by a settlement following legal actions against Alcoa's aluminum smelter in Rockdale for violations of the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit was lodged by the citizens' group Neighbors For Neighbors, national groups Environmental Defense and Public Citizen, the US Department of Justice, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. A federal court decreed that some of the settlement funds be used to protect air quality and extend existing Houston toad habitat of the Lost Pines and Post Oak Savannah areas of Bastrop and Lee Counties. The Bastrop County portion of the tract sits within potential Houston toad habitat as designated by the USFWS in 2000.

The Knobs lent their name to an important area spring that nurtured the community of Knobbs Springs in Lee County. With three churches and two cotton mills, Knobbs Springs grew to 300 people by 1900. The town flourished up until the First World War. Today, the community still attends the Knobbs Springs Baptist Church, founded in 1860. The area figured in the story of the infamous McDade Christmas Day massacre in 1883.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 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 our 'land for people' mission.

Pines and Prairies Land Trust was founded in 2001 to help landowners protect themselves from unwanted development and to preserve the best open spaces of the region for current and future generations. PPLT developed a conservation easement on a 670-acre ranch in Paige in 2003, not far from the Knobs. This conservation easement allowed the landowners to "keep it country" by specifying how much and what kind of development can occur on the property after they are gone. Please contact PPLT at 512-308-1911 or visit their website at www.pplt.org