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50 Acres Near UIW Remain Natural, Undeveloped With New Conservation Easement

Blue Hole spring
Brian Kirkpatrick
Texas Public Radio
The Blue Hole is the headwaters spring for the San Antonio River, and it sits within the 50 acres that have now been set aside for conservation.

There's another 50 acres close to downtown that will now never be paved over or developed. An agreement was finalized on Monday to permanently set aside the property extending from the University of the Incarnate Word to Olmos Drive, next to Olmos Dam.

"Within those 50 acres is the Blue Hole: the headwaters spring for the San Antonio River," Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas CEO Doug Dillow said.

Dillow’s organization partnered with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and The Headwaters at Incarnate Word to secure a conservation easement for that 50 acres.

"That conservation easement guarantees that the property will not ever be developed outside of a natural area," he said.

The history there runs deep.

"Mr. Brackenridge sold it to the Sisters, and this was an instrumental part of helping them get established in the area," Dillow said.

He’s talking about George Brackenridge, the namesake for the sprawling nearby park, who sold his home and 280 acres of land to the Sisters in the late 19th century. Beyond establishing a university on the property, the Sisters had other work there.

"They set up their missionary work and service work here. They had cattle on this particular area. So initially, it was more of a working farm," he said.

Now bounded in the west by the Olmos Dam and by neighborhoods north and south that keep it landlocked, it's become an undeveloped inner-city gem. A few trails have been built, but more are to come.

"It's their intent to establish trails, maintain trails and maintain the access for the public to use the property,” Dillow said.

There is also talk that it could eventually be joined by walking trails coming from Brackenridge Park and beyond.  

Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii