“The Cibolo” Saves More Ground
By Brent Evans
For over thirty years the Cibolo Center for Conservation, aka the Cibolo Nature Center, aka “The Cibolo”, has been a steward of the fragile Upper Cibolo Watershed, protecting water quality and biodiversity of the watershed through stewardship, leadership, education, and research. The Cibolo Creek recharges both the Trinity and Edwards aquifers, the predominant sources of drinking water for the greater San Antonio region and provides other essential ecosystem services.
The Upper Cibolo Watershed runs along the Cibolo Creek, extending North from Boerne to the headwaters on Upper Cibolo Creek Road, and downstream past the Cibolo Nature Center and Cibolo Preserve, for another 2 miles. This lower stretch is significant, pouring over a million gallons of water a day into the aquifer below. Underground caves riddle through neighboring properties, making them the most environmentally sensitive areas in the region.
The Cibolo identified adjacent sensitive lands that feed the Cibolo and Menger Creeks and has worked over the years with landowners, partners, and the City of Boerne to protect these fragile and ecologically valuable lands.
Recently six acres belonging to the heirs of Victoria Herff Heard on Old San Antonio Road has been purchased by The Cibolo, with another seven acres planned in the future. Like many conservation projects, the latest purchase was made through a partnership between private property owners, a non-profit organization, and a philanthropic trust. In this case the Heard Family decided to sell the land at a reduced price to facilitate the conservation effort. The CB and Anita Branch Trust invested in the enterprise, and Carolyn Chipman Evans, CEO of The Cibolo, worked with the family, along with Cibolo’s tireless Land Protection team of staff and board members. All this generosity of time and energy culminated in land that will enlarge the Herff Farm and protect Menger and Cibolo Creeks. This beautiful piece of property is also a sensitive bird habitat that will hopefully spur more conservation projects along the creeks.
Meanwhile this summer, the Cibolo Preserve continued to be the best neighbor a nature center could ever have. This natural habitat laboratory located next door to the Cibolo Nature Center expanded its acreage to 653 acres by purchasing an additional 8.5 acre property (a tract near the Heard property and referred to as “El Nido”) to further protect and preserve the Cibolo Creek watershed. Once the private ranch of land steward Bill Lende, the Cibolo Preserve was founded in 2008 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Preserve supports a unique plant and animal environment and supplies critical groundwater recharge to the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers. The Preserve’s research partners include the University of Texas at San Antonio College of Sciences, the US Geological Survey, and The Cibolo.
Protection of the Cibolo Creek has increased substantially in recent years. In summary, just upstream from the Heard property, The Cibolo permanently protected the 62-acre Herff Farm, purchased in 2007 through a conservation easement with the Texas Agricultural Land Trust. Just downstream from the 6-acre Heard property purchased this summer by The Cibolo, the Cibolo Preserve acquired another 8.5 acres of land. And just downstream from there, the 45-acre parcel called “Suitsus,” was generously donated to The Cibolo by the Jerry Knippa family, and is now protected by a Conservation Easement held by the Cibolo Conservancy Land Trust. Additionally, The Cibolo owns and protects the 26-acre Cibolo Bluffs downstream from the Cibolo Preserve. With 653 acres owned and protected by the Cibolo Preserve, 138 acres owned and protected by The Cibolo, and 100 acres leased from the City of Boerne for the Nature Center campus, the total contiguous acreage protected along Cibolo Creek stands at 891 acres. Impressive progress has indeed been made.
Never has Hill Country land been more valuable economically or culturally, and the pandemic has helped many residents realize just how important it is that the public have access to natural areas. If you or someone you know is interested in creating a legacy with their property, we would like to talk to you. Please contact Brent Evans, Executive Director, Cibolo Conservancy – firstname.lastname@example.org (210) 601-4599 or Carolyn Chipman Evans – email@example.com (210) 364-0857