Celebrating 20 Years Preserving Austin’s Natural Legacy for Endangered Species and Future Generations

Apr 29, 2016 - 7:40 pm

Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan-

Celebrating 20 Years Preserving Austin’s Natural Legacy for Endangered Species and Future Generations

Travis County and the City of Austin recognized in the early 1980’s that the region’s unique rugged beauty was home not only to a vibrant and rapidly growing innovative technology hub but also a host of plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth.


After the listing of several endangered species by the federal government in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many questioned how Austin could continue to grow and comply with federal regulations. From 1988 through 1996, a collaboration of concerned citizens, business leaders,  landowners, developers, environmental groups, scientists and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) worked together to create a habitat conservation plan for the Austin Area. This habitat conservation plan led to the USFWS to issue the first multi-species regional permit in the nation for the take of endangered species habitat, the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP).


The Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, BCP, is a series of preserves in western Travis County that was created as the mitigation for the loss of endangered species habitat. The permit, BCCP, sets the goal of protecting a minimum of 30,428 acres of endangered songbird habitat plus 62 caves for these endangered and rare species. The Balcones Canyonlands Preserve system not only provides habitat and protection for the eight endangered species and 27 species of concern throughout seven watersheds in western Travis County, but also provides important air quality, water quality, and open space benefits.


Over twenty miles of trails on the preserve, guided hikes are offered on several sections of the BCP typically not open to the public. Join a hike through the BCP meetup group http://www.meetup.com/bcpfriends/ or register online at www.balconescanyonlands.org

Trails traverse sections of the BCP where one can explore. Trails to explore are:

  • Barton Creek Greenbelt
  • Emma Long Park, Commons Ford Park
  • Mount Bonnell Park
  • Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
  • Hamilton Pool
  • Westcave Preserve.


Today, BCP protects more than 30,700 acres that are the green hills in and around Austin. It has been 20 years since the City of Austin and Travis County worked with the USFWS to create the BCCP. Over the past 20 years the BCCP has been a major economic engine in our community by providing private property owners an easy cost-effective way to mitigate for the removal of endangered species habitat while protecting the most ideal habitat within the preserve. Partners are working to complete the USFWS-issued permit requirements including additional cave protection, and land acquisition and management.  A celebration for the 20th anniversary will be held 2-4pm. More details can be found here: www.austintexas.gov/wildlandevents