Every once in a long while, something goes right and victory gets pulled out of the jaws of defeat at the last minute.
Yesterday was one of those times. After a protracted – and do I ever meanprotracted – up-and-down-back-and-forth battle with developers and their political allies, the acquisition of a critical 55-acre land parcel adjacent toJacob’s Well Natural Area wasfinalized yesterday by the Hays County Commissioners’ Court.
A few months back, the acquisition seemed like a done deal. But political maneuvering as well as concerns of those fearful of county government involvement ground the whole process to a crawl following the recent midterm election. The 4-1 vote to finalize came after a12-hour court session.
The acquisition, by the county and the Nature Conservancy, increases the buffer area around the preserve and critical wildlife habitat. It brings an end to the threat from plans for a residential development that would have placed 65 condominiums and a hotel within 700 feet of the Well. The developers got $1.7 million, which was at least less than what they started out asking for in what was basically a hostile shakedown attempt.
Lack of objectivity disclaimer here: I’m on the steering committee/board for public outreach at JWNA. It’s a few blocks from my home, and since the neighborhood I live in is one of many threats to the survival of the Well, I feel it’s my obligation to give as much of my free time as possible to saving the place. We all make our stands somewhere, and this is where I’ve made mine.
The threats are still there, too many to count. The Hill Country region isGround Zero for the raging water wars in Texas. Quite frankly, theodds are stacked against conservation. There is the archaicRule of Capture, and development and the scramble by water miners to suck the state’s aquifers dry are not slowing down.
But today at least, there’s reason for some thanksgiving.