The Balcones Canyonlands area in western Travis County provides habitat for a number of rare and endangered plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth. Above ground are unique woodlands, wetlands and grasslands. Below ground is a honeycomb network of caves, sinkholes and springs containing highly specialized animals adapted to these unique environments. Still deeper are a series of aquifers, including the Edwards Aquifer that is the primary drinking water source for over 1.5 million central Texas residents.

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For centuries, the Texas Hill Country supported a thriving community of wildlife including species such as the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. Unfortunately, changing patterns of land use and urban expansion fragmented habitats and populations of these species declined. When scientists and community leaders came together to create a plan that would protect this natural heritage while allowing economic growth and development to continue, the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan  (or BCCP) was created.

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In addition to providing landowners with locally managed solutions to address endangered species concerns, the BCCP called for the creation of a system of habitat preserves known as the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (or BCP). The BCP was created to protect eight federally listed endangered species, including two songbirds and six invertebrates. In addition to protecting these especially vulnerable animals, the Preserve protects habitat for other native plants and animals of the Texas Hill Country and contributes to clean air, clean water and quality of life for all Central Texas residents.

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The Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP) is managed under the terms and conditions of the BCCP, a regional permit issued under section 10(a) of the Endangered Species Act granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and jointly held by Travis County and the City of Austin. A number of cooperating partners own and manage lands dedicated to the Preserve, including several private landowners, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the Nature Conservancy of Texas, and the Travis Audubon Society.

The managing partners have acquired a total of over 31,780 acres in western Travis County since 1996, exceeding the minimum acreage requirement, making it one of the nation’s largest urban preserves. While this large and once very daunting goal has been met, the BCCP partners still have some work before them. This includes strategic acquisitions to address the minimum acreage requirements for each of seven individual macrosites, the acquisition of key tracts to provide a preserve configuration essential to species recovery, and the protection of 62 named caves.

For more information about the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, please contact us.

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Contact Us

PO Box 1748
700 Lavaca street, Suite 540
Austin, Texas 78767
Phone: (512) 854-9437

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