Land do­na­tion would ex­pand nat­u­ral area

Trust for Pub­lic Land plan­ning to do­nate 93 acres to the city.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Jor­dan Gass-Poore jgasspoore@states­ Con­tact Jor­dan Gass-Poore at 445-3602.

SAN MAR­COS — The Trust for Pub­lic Land is plan­ning to do­nate 93 acres to the city of San Mar­cos that would en­large Pur­ga­tory Creek Greenspace, a pop­u­lar, 570acre nat­u­ral area that is man­aged by the city. The city coun­cil may ac­cept the do­na­tion in Jan­uary.

Con­ser­va­tion­ists even­tu­ally hope to con­nect Prospect Park and the ad­di­tional green space, lo­cated off Won­der World Drive, to the San Mar­cos River.

The Trust for Pub­lic Land, along with the Texas Parks and Wildlife De­part­ment, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice and pri­vate donors, pur­chased the 93 acres for al­most $1.4 mil­lion, said Richard Salmon, San Mar­cos grants ad­min­is­tra­tor.

This is the sec­ond phase of ex­pand­ing the city’s largest park­land, a por­tion of what is known as the Barker Tract, with ten­ta­tive plans to ac­quire two other tracts, to­tal­ing more than 600 acres. The land is within the en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive Ed­wards Aquifer recharge zone.

The city pur­chased 107 acres of the tract in Jan­uary 2012 for al­most $1.6 mil­lion with money from var­i­ous pub­lic and pri­vate sources, in­clud­ing $800,000 in bond funds from Hays County in De­cem­ber 2010.

In 1979, the city pur­chased the first 33 acres of Pur­ga­tory Creek Greenspace, pre­vi­ously zoned for multi-fam­ily devel­op­ment, with other por­tions ac­quired over two decades.

Scott Parker, se­nior pro­gram di­rec­tor for the Trust for Pub­lic Land, said the Pur­ga­tory Creek area is im­por­tant to con­serve be­cause of the nine en­dan­gered and threat­ened species who live there, in­clud­ing the golden-cheeked war­bler and black- capped vireo.

“Now is the time for fu­ture growth,” Parker said. “The city can be­gin to cre­ate some­thing as sig­nif­i­cant as Barton Creek Nat­u­ral Area.”

Mag­gie Hutchins, San Mar­cos Green­belt Al­liance board mem­ber, said it’s im­por­tant for the city to have un­de­vel­oped space des­ig­nated for recre­ational use so peo­ple can in­ter­act with and ap­pre­ci­ate their nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

“We want to share the beauty of the area for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” she said. “I hope peo­ple can re­al­ize what a gem San Mar­cos is.”

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