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Discover the important efforts to preserve Hill Country species

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For centuries the beautiful Texas Hill Country has nurtured and protected plants and animals. But changing land-use patterns have put many of these at risk.

The Balcones Canyonlands Plan (BCP) strives to provide a way to continue that legacy through a cooperative arrangement with landowners, developers and those who work to protect endangered species. The plan is designed to protect 8 endangered species and 27 other plants and animals that are at-risk.

The BCP is a multi-agency conservation effort which operates under a regional 10(a) permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW). Though this permit was issued to the BCP's two managing partners, the City of Austin and Travis County, several other organizations own and manage Preserves dedicated to the BCP. These organizations include Travis Audubon Society, the Lower Colorado River Authority, The Nature Conservancy of Texas and numerous private land owners.

The BCP's goal is the acquisition and management of at least 30,428 acres. By Summer, 2002, acreage dedicated to the Preserve totaled 26,323 acres. The City of Austin's holdings totaled 13,034 acres and Travis County's BCP acreage totaled 2,289 acres.

"One of the values that I see to the BCCP program, and one that I think has made a difference for landowners, is that it offers them an alternative," says former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson. "An alternative to going through the lengthy, sometimes difficult, and goodness gracious knows sometimes painful process to be able to do certain things with their land."

Mayor Will Wynn says that this program is an important way to enable this region to continue to thrive.

"It's a very important mutually beneficial plan," he said.

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Produced by Dale Cornibe.

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