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Building Government Canyon State Natural Area – Texas Parks and Wildlife [Official]


(music)>>SAN ANTONIO HAS GROWN IMMENSELY OVER THE LAST 10, 15 YEARS.>>IN 2010, I THINK WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE AT A MILLION-EIGHT. BY 2030 WE’RE GOING TO BE AT 3 MILLION OR SOMETHING.>>SAN ANTONIO IS A HUGE CITY, GROWING VERY FAST.>>WE THINK THINGS ARE CROWDED NOW? JUST WAIT.>>AS THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO GROWS, IT EXTENDS INTO THE ROLLING TEXAS HILL COUNTRY TO THE NORTH. IT’S AN ATTRACTIVE PLACE TO LIVE, WORK AND SHOP, BUT THE TRANSFORMATION OF THIS LANDSCAPE FROM RURAL TO URBAN COULD THREATEN ALL RESIDENTS OF THIS CENTRAL TEXAS METROPOLIS.>>I WOULD LIKE TO SEE SAN ANTONIO GROW IN OTHER DIRECTIONS, BECAUSE NORTHWARD IS THE ONLY DIRECTION THAT THREATENS OUR PRIMARY SOURCE OF WATER. FOR MANY YEARS, UP UNTIL JUST RECENTLY, IT WAS OUR ONLY SOURCE OF WATER. (thunder, falling rain)>>RAIN FALLING ON THESE HILLS TRICKLES DOWN THROUGH FRACTURED LIMESTONE AND RECHARGES THE EDWARDS AQUIFER. AND WATER FROM THE EDWARDS AQUIFER KEEPS SAN ANTONIO ALIVE.>>GROWTH AND URBANIZATION OVER THE EDWARDS AQUIFER RECHARGE ZONE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT THE AQUIFER WILL BE POLLUTED. BUT IT’S CERTAINLY INCREASED THE RISKS, AND WE ARE SEEING CONTAMINANTS IN THE AQUIFER.>>YOU GO TO A LOT OF CITIES, AND YOU START TALKING ABOUT THE AQUIFER LEVEL, PEOPLE LOOK AT YOU WITH A BLANK STARE. IN SAN ANTONIO EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT THAT IS. WE FOUND THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT THE WATER QUALITY AND QUANTITY WAS SIMPLY TO PURCHASE LAND, PURCHASE WATERSHEDS.>>LESS THAN 20 MILES FROM DOWNTOWN SAN ANTONIO, GOVERNMENT CANYON STATE NATURAL AREA PROTECTS WATER SUPPLIES BY SIMPLY REMAINING NATURAL. BUT THIS PRISTINE WILDERNESS OF MORE THAN 8,000 ACRES WAS ALMOST LOST TO URBAN EXPANSION. A NEW TOWN OF MORE THAN 80,000 PEOPLE WAS PLANNED TO BE BUILT IN GOVERNMENT CANYON.>>I DON’T THINK THERE IS ANOTHER NATURAL AREA OR PARK IN THE SYSTEM THAT HAS THE HISTORY THAT THIS ONE DOES. A LOOSE COALITION OF MANY PEOPLE WITH INTEREST IN OUR WATER SYSTEM CAME TOGETHER AND TOOK ADVANTAGE OF SOME ECONOMIC ISSUES AT THE TIME AND PUT THIS TOGETHER FOR OUR COMMUNITY.>>THE REAL ESTATE BUST OF THE 1980S HALTED DEVELOPMENT PLANS BUT CREATED AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A CITIZENS GROUP WITH A DIFFERENT VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF THIS LAND.>>A GROUP OF 45 DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS FORMULATED WHAT IS CALLED THE GOVERNMENT CANYON COALITION. AND THE GOVERNMENT CANYON COALITION HAD IDENTIFIED THAT THIS WAS A SPECIAL SPACE THAT NEEDED TO BE PROTECTED IN ORDER TO PROTECT A MASSIVE WATERSHED.>>THERE WAS A LOT OF LAND IN BANKRUPTCY, SO WE HAD AN OPPORTUNITY THERE TO BUY LAND FAIRLY INEXPENSIVELY — LESS THAN $500 AN ACRE.>>YOU GET A DOUBLE HIT HERE. YOU GET A CHANCE TO PRESERVE A NATURAL AREA AND YOU GET A CHANCE TO PROTECT SAN ANTONIO’S WATER SYSTEM.>>THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO WASN’T INTERESTED. AT THE TIME I HAD CITY COUNCIL PEOPLE TELL ME, “IT’S RIDICULOUS. NOBODY GOES OUT AND BUYS LAND TO PROTECT THEIR AQUIFER.” TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DIDN’T HAVE MONEY. THE EDWARDS UNDERGROUND WATER DISTRICT, WHICH IS NOW THE EDWARDS AQUIFER AUTHORITY, DIDN’T WANT TO BE IN THE LAND MANAGEMENT BUSINESS. EVENTUALLY WE REALIZED THAT WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT A PARTNERSHIP.>>IT IS AN UNUSUAL PARTNERSHIP, AND I THINK THAT IS WHAT MAKES GOVERNMENT CANYON A LANDMARK, MODEL PROJECT IN TEXAS.>>THE PARTNERS PURCHASED THE INITIAL 4,700 ACRE TRACT IN 1993. GOVERNMENT CANYON STATE NATURAL AREA WAS BORN.>>GOVERNMENT CANYON IS RIGHT HERE…>>IT’S JUST A GREAT PARTNERSHIP BECAUSE WHEN YOU HAVE DIFFERENT EXPERTISE COMING TO THE TABLE, NO ONE PERSON HAS ALL THE ANSWERS…>>…AND YOU ALSO HAVE DIFFERENT MONEY COMING TO THE TABLE, TO MAKE RESEARCH POSSIBLE, TO MAKE MANAGEMENT BETTER AND MORE EFFECTIVE, AND ALSO TO BUY SOME OF THE SURROUNDING LANDS.>>AMONG THOSE LENDING THEIR EXPERTISE TO GOVERNMENT CANYON IS A CAVE SURVEY TEAM GATHERING DATA.>>TODAY WE’RE AT THE BAT CAVE, TO RETRIEVE DATA THAT WAS COLLECTED OVER A YEAR’S TIME PERIOD. WE’VE BEEN RECORDING RELATIVE HUMIDITY AND TEMPERATURE DATA EVERY THREE HOURS FOR THE PAST YEAR. WE’RE GOING TO DOWNLOAD THE DATA INTO THIS LITTLE DEVICE AND THEN TAKE IT BACK AND PUT IT IN THE MAIN COMPUTER. WE HAVE A LARGE BAT COLONY HERE AS WELL AS SOME ENDANGERED KARST INVERTEBRATES AND BY GETTING THE INFORMATION OVER SEVERAL YEARS WE’D BE ABLE TO BETTER MANAGE THE CAVE FOR THOSE ANIMALS AND JUST THE CAVE IN GENERAL.>>SOME WERE INSTALLED UP IN THE CEILING CLOSE TO WHERE THE BATS ARE ROOSTING, AH, TO REALLY GET SOME GOOD DATA ON THE HABITAT IN THE CAVE, THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE CAVE.>>IN ORDER TO MANAGE ANY PIECE OF PROPERTY, YOU REALLY HAVE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR RESOURCES ARE.>>AT GOVERNMENT CANYON, THE RESOURCES ARE HISTORICAL AS WELL AS BIOLOGICAL. EVEN THE NAME APPEARS ROOTED IN AREA HISTORY.>>AS FAR AS WE KNOW, IT’S CALLED GOVERNMENT CANYON BECAUSE IT PROVIDED THE ARMY WITH A PATHWAY TO THE OUTPOSTS WEST AND NORTHWEST OF HERE.>>FOOTPRINTS OF THE EARLIEST INHABITANTS CAN STILL BE SEEN HERE, BUT THE AREA’S HISTORY AND BIODIVERSITY CAN ONLY BE PROTECTED IF KNOWN AND UNDERSTOOD. RESEARCH IS CRITICAL TO PRESERVING GOVERNMENT CANYON.>>THE THINGS THAT WE ARE SURVEYING FOR ARE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES.>>HERPETOLOGIST CAREY GUFFEY CHECKS HIS TRAPS, NEVER SURE JUST WHAT HE’LL UNCOVER.>>ALRIGHT, THIS IS A TEXAS PATCH NOSE. LET HER CALM DOWN AND GRAB HER SO I CAN MEASURE HER. THEY’RE BITERS, THEY LIKE TO GRAB YOU WHEN THEY CAN. MEAGAN, YOU WANT TO HELP ME MEASURE?>>ANIMALS CAUGHT ARE RECORDED AND RELEASED, BUILDING A VALUABLE FOUNDATION OF DATA ABOUT WHAT LIVES HERE BEFORE THE NATURAL AREA IS OPEN.>>ONCE THE PARK OPENS TO VISITORS WE’LL BE ABLE TO SEE WHAT IMPACT IF ANY VISITORS HAVE ON THESE PARTICULAR ANIMALS.>>THE STUDIES CONTINUE, BUT SCIENCE HAS ALREADY SHAPED A MASTER PLAN WHICH KEEPS ALL PARK DEVELOPMENT LOW IMPACT, INCLUDING OVER 40 MILES OF TRAILS.>>MOST OF THE TRAILS IN THE NATURAL AREA ARE FOLLOWING OLD RANCH ROADS. SOME OF THOSE ROADS WERE COMPLETELY OVERGROWN. WE’RE TRIMMING BACK BRANCHES AND CUTTING PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS OUT OF THE PATHWAY.>>WHAT WE’RE WORKING ON TODAY IS THE MULTI-USE EQUESTRIAN TRAIL, SO THERE’LL BE HIKING, BIKING AND EQUESTRIAN ACTIVITIES ON THIS. TRAIL WORKDAYS WOULD NOT HAPPEN IF IT WEREN’T FOR OUR VOLUNTEER WORKFORCE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR COMING OUT.>>MY PLEASURE.>>IT’S ONE OF THE REGULAR ACTIVITIES THAT’S BEEN GOING ON FOR YEARS WHERE PEOPLE CAN COME OUT AND GET THEIR HANDS DIRTY.>>AS TRAILS EMERGE, OTHER FACILITIES TAKE SHAPE. THE INTERPRETIVE BUILDINGS SEND A CONSERVATION MESSAGE BY DESIGN.>>THE METAL POSTS THAT ARE HERE, IT’S OLD PIPE. THESE CISTERNS WILL COLLECT RAIN WATER OFF OF THESE ROOFS. OUR RESTROOM FACILITIES WILL RUN OFF OF RAIN WATER. WITH US BEING SO CLOSE TO THE RECHARGE ZONE, IF WE DON’T LEARN TO PROTECT THESE RESOURCES, WHO IS GOING TO PROTECT THEM?>>EVEN BEFORE OPENING DAY, THE EDUCATIONAL MISSION OF GOVERNMENT CANYON IS BEING FULFILLED.>>WE BROUGHT FIFTEEN GIRLS FROM THE MARTINEZ STREET WOMEN’S CENTER, AND WE’RE CAMPING. MOST OF THESE GIRLS HAVE NEVER CAMPED BEFORE, SO IT’S A TOTALLY NEW EXPERIENCE FOR ALL OF THEM. HAVING THIS EXPERIENCE THAT SO MANY PEOPLE NEVER GET TO HAVE, INNER CITY KIDS OR NOT, IS A GIFT.>>IT LOOKS LIKE THE MOON WITH A MAN SITTING ON IT, THE MAN’S SITTING ON THE MOON!>>OVER JUST ONE WEEKEND AT GOVERNMENT CANYON, THE NATURAL WORLD HAS MADE A FEW NEW FRIENDS.>>WE WENT WALKING TO THE WOODS TO GO SEE HOW NATURE WAS LIKE, AND WE TOOK PICTURES OF DIFFERENT THINGS.>>THEY HAD ASKED US IF THE NATURE COULD TALK WHAT WOULD THEY SAY, AND I PUT “YOU CAN SEE ME AND ADVENTURE ME, JUST DON’T MESS ME UP.” (music)>>BECAUSE OF A UNIQUE CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP, GOVERNMENT CANYON WILL ALWAYS BE A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE FIND ADVENTURE AND WHERE NATURE WILL BE SAFE.>>FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS WE JUST NEED SOMETHING THAT’S NATURAL IN THIS WORLD.>>AND FOR THE FUTURE OF A GROWING SAN ANTONIO, THIS NATURAL AREA COULD NOT BE MORE IMPORTANT.>>EVEN IF A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY DOESN’T ACCESS THE PROPERTY FOR RECREATIONAL REASONS OR EDUCATION, THEY STILL REAP THE BENEFITS OF HAVING GOVERNMENT CANYON IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD TO PROVIDE WATER QUALITY PROTECTION.>>WE TALK ABOUT THE SCIENCE, WE TALK ABOUT THE WATER, THE ONE THING THAT ALWAYS SEEMS TO GET OVERLOOKED IS GETTING OFF THE CONCRETE AND HAVING REFLECTIVE SOULFUL TIME, IT’S JUST AN INCREDIBLE JEWEL FOR SAN ANTONIO. (water flowing)

Stephen Childs

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