A brief glance at the The Texas Nature Conservancy’s Instagram account will have you scheduling a visit to one of the 38 nature preserves and conservation properties they protect. However, adorable sea turtles on Padre Island are only a small piece of the Nature Conservancy’s efforts in Texas. For more than 50 years they have worked to protect over 900,000 acres in the State of Texas through partnerships with private land owners, government entities, and other non-profits. Here is how they are protecting Texas and, more specifically, the city of Austin and how you can help.
What They Do
The five county metropolitan area of Austin has a population of over two million and continues to grow. While the team at the Austin chapter of the Nature Conservancy is surely aware of the traffic problems, their focus is on a different threat. With rapid development in the city of Austin, green space is getting harder to find. The Nature Conservancy works hard to protect the Barton Creek Habitat, Pedernales River, Enchanted Rock, and Hamilton Pool and partners with the Waller Creek Conservancy, amongst others. With large-scale tree planting efforts and community engagement they hope to continue to bring nature back to the city, creating more green space for the community to utilize and appreciate.
The Pedernales River Project is one of their big projects that directly impacts the city of Austin. This river crosses through five protected areas and supports both human and wildlife communities. The Nature Conservancy is working with partners to preserve and recruiting scientists to study the area. By creating a network of support and investigation, they can protect the watershed, conserve water, and understand wildlife to ensure its safety. The Hill Country is one of the most desirable areas to live in Austin because of how beautiful it is. However, that development can cause pollution and over use of groundwater, which is trouble.
“In Austin, we’ve done some great work over the years to protect water at the Edwards Aquifer, Pedernales River, Hamilton Pool and other iconic areas through land protection efforts with city, county, state and other major partners. We’re also undertaking some exciting research at Waller Creek to track the progress of watershed, trail, and park improvement efforts being done by the City of Austin, the Waller Creek Conservancy, and The University of Texas. These groups are doing wonderful work to reintegrate nature into the city, and that’s what The Conservancy is all about—creating new and innovative ways for people and nature to thrive together,” Texas State Director for The Nature Conservancy, Laura Huffman stated.
Each April The Nature Conservancy hosts the City Nature Challenge – Bio Blitz alongside the Waller Creek Conservancy. This event is designed to get the community engaged with nature and understanding the importance of conservation on every level. The work of preserving the environment can’t be done by the Nature Conservancy alone. It is a team effort.
How You Can Help
Volunteering for The Nature Conservancy means that you are directly helping the environment where you live, getting in touch with nature and maybe getting your hands a little dirty. If all of the above sound great (how can you say no?!?) you can find more information on their website.
The milestones of the Texas Nature Conservancy are proof that when you donate, the magic happens. And you can donate easily online.
The Nature Conservancy hosts an annual photo contest. To submit a photo or vote on the amazing photography from nature lovers around the world, visit their website.
The Nature Conservancy encourages “citizen scientists” of all ages and abilities to submit observations via iNaturalist! Take some time and learn more about this super cool network of nature loving peeps and see how the collection of information is making a world-wide impact!
There are countless treasures in Texas that are protected by The Nature Conservancy, many of which you can visit for free! Check out these beautiful places outside of Austin the next time you are planning nature seeking road trip.
Roy E. Larson Sandyland Sanctuary
Located on the West Coastal Gulf Plain, you’ll find six miles of hiking trails for photography, bird watching, and nature exploration. Entry is free, but leave Fido at home as dogs are not allowed.
No matter how you intend on getting back in touch with nature, make it a priority to get in touch with the Nature Conservancy. Here’s how to do it:
Featured photo via The Nature Conservancy Facebook.