On Tuesday, August 10, 2010, the Hays County Commissioners Court to approve $1.7 million to purchase 50 acres of land that had been slated for high density development directly adjacent to Jacob's Well. Commissioners approved the allocation of $850,000 of parks and open space bond funds and agreed to borrow $850,000 from The Nature Conservancy in order to purchase 50 acres of environmentally sensitive land. The additional property will double the size of the current 46 acre Jacob's Well Natural Area. The combined acreage will be protected by a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy and will serve as the first county owned nature preserve in western Hays County.
Jacob's Well is one of the most remarkable springs in the country and the area surrounding it is now protected as the Jacob's Well Natural Area. This natural wonder is believed to be the longest underwater cave in Texas and is the primary source of water to the Cypress Creek which flows downstream through the city of Woodcreek and Wimberley, through the famous Blue Hole swimming area and into the Blanco River.
The Wimberley area has been targeted for many years by developers, many of whom ignore the impact their activities will have on this vital resource.
"Today I'm asking the county to move forward and protect Jacob's Well. We are coming together in partnership with the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) and The Nature Conservancy to preserve this great spring," said Commissioner Will Conley, who sponsored the meeting agenda items.
The court also voted to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between WVWA and Hays County to partner on the management and stewardship of the preserve lands. The WVWA will work to expand education and research programs at the Jacob's Well Natural Area and will retain a permanent presence on the site.
The purchase will stop any future development on the land and protect a very sensitive recharge area above the Well. The historic acquisition by Hays County and The Nature Conservancy will settle two lawsuits filed by the developers against WVWA and the City of Woodcreek.
In the presentation to the court, Jack Hollon, President of WVWA said, "Nature sends signals with drought and dry times and won't allow us to wait on acting to protect Jacob's Well. The county should move forward now and protect this natural treasure." David Baker, the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association Executive Director, gave an in-depth presentation of the history of Jacob's Well and the two decades of dedicated efforts to protect the headwaters of Cypress Creek. "Jacob's Well is the heart and soul of the Wimberley Valley and the crystal clear spring water is essence of what makes the Texas Hill Country so beautiful." said Baker.
The WVWA offers free public tours of Jacob's Well Natural Area every Saturday morning at 10:00 am. For more information call 512-722-3390.