© 2022 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Conservation Deal Saves Bracken Bat Cave On Halloween

Jon Alonzo


Friends of the Bracken Bat Cave can breathe a little easier today, now that a threatened encroachment by a high-density housing development is officially over.

That's because the real estate deal closed Friday, transferring the land from Galo Properties to the Nature Conservancy.

Defendants of the Bracken Cave have been working on this deal for more than a year.  The effort was spearheaded by San Antonio City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, who took up the challenge to visit the cave right after he was elected in 2013.

"Yeah, I brought my son. And during the entire 15 to 16 months of this process, he's asked me every single night, 'Have we saved the bats yet?' So it was really thrilling to go home two weeks ago and tell him that we did, finally," Nirenberg said. 

Oct. 16, Nirenberg announced that the City of San Antonio, along with Bexar and Comal Counties, the U.S. Army, the Edwards Aquifer Authority, and numerous private donors had agreed to back the Nature Conservancy’s purchase of the property so that the housing development could be stopped.

The deal also will protect the adjacent Golden-cheeked warbler habitat and the Edwards Aquifer. Councilman Joe Krier:

"This land was already permitted to have 3,500 homes - which is to say 3,500 sewer connections - constructed on it. So 3,500 less sewage connections is a big step in protecting that land and that portion of the Aquifer," Krier said. 

Laura Huffman of the Nature Conservancy says it’s rare that growing urban areas get a chance to do this kind of complex conservation.

"It was hard and it took an unbelieveable number of partners to get the funding right. But the manner in which this was approached was positive, it was upbeat, and everybody knew what right looked like from the very beginning. And it was just a matter of putting enough partners together that we could afford to do the transaction," Huffman said. 

The parties signed on the dotted line Friday afternoon. Plans from here include a visitors center so more people can come and learn about the largest bat colony on the planet.

The Bracken Bat Cave now has a live webcam that streams the nightly flight of the bats from the cave. 

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.