WIMBERLEY, (NCT) – The Nature Conservancy of Texas, the Hays County Commissioners Court and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) announced today the purchase of 50 acres near Wimberley that will permanently protect Jacob’s Well, one of the Hill Country’s most iconic natural features.
Jacob’s Well is the largest perennial spring in the Texas Hill Country. Flowing from the Trinity Aquifer, the spring is the second-longest underwater cave in Texas and sustains the flow of groundwater into Cypress Creek, which in turn feeds the Blanco River.
The spring waters from Jacob’s Well feeds the famous Blue Hole swimming area and regional park—known as “the heart of Wimberley”—and recharges the Edwards Aquifer downstream.
Under terms negotiated by The Nature Conservancy, Hays County purchased the property for $1.7 million using $850,000 of county revenue and $850,000 loaned by the Conservancy, which will also hold a conservation easement on the property.
Known as the Westridge Tract, the 50-acre parcel was once slated for high-density development, including a hotel, spa and 65 homes and condominiums, all of which could have adversely impacted Jacob’s Well and the rich diversity of plants and animals it supports.
The 50 acres are adjacent to the 46-acre Jacob’s Well Natural Area, which is owned and managed by the WVWA and which contains the actual well.
As part of this transaction, the WVWA will convey 31 acres of its holdings—including the land containing the well—to Hays County, creating an 80-acre preserve that will be managed by the county.
According to Laura Huffman, state director for The Nature Conservancy of Texas, the willing cooperation of so many conservation-minded organizations made a complex deal relatively simple. “The commitment of Hays County and the WVWA to protecting Jacob’s Well has been incredible,” she said. “Despite the many different moving parts, everybody involved was able to pull together to make this happen. The people of Wimberley, the surrounding Hill Country and all of Texas have been done a great service today.”
“The purchase of Jacob’s Well protects an important part of our ecological and cultural heritage,” said Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley, who noted that the county’s stated goal for the property will be to raise awareness of natural resource values and
the importance of conserving freshwater habitats without causing harm to the site.
David Baker, Executive Director of WVWA, said “We have always held the vision of sharing Jacob’s Well with the community and using this unique place to experience the connection between land stewardship and clean water. The preservation of this land is a tremendous step forward in our communities’ efforts to protect the aquifer recharge area and watersheds that feed Jacob’s Well and Cypress Creek.”
The new protected area will complement the Conservancy’s existing Blanco River Project, launched seven years ago to protect one of the most vital links in
the network of rivers and aquifers in the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion that citizens of San Antonio, Austin and much of the Hill Country rely on.
The property will continue to be used for low-impact educational and recreational activities, all of which will be conducted in accordance with a management plan to be agreed upon by Hays County and the WVWA. WVWA will continue management of the natural area and further develop the aquifer research and environmental education and outreach programs.
Tours of the Jacob’s Well Natural Area are every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. The JWNA education center is located off of Jacob’s Well Road at 221 Woodacre Drive. For more information go to www.jacobswellsrping.org or call (512) 722-3390.