by Mark Reagan
Courtesy Bat Conservation International
San Antonio City Council members voted unanimously Thursday to approve a public-private deal to purchase the Bracken Bat Cave, preventing development.
The 1,521-acre tract of land known as Crescent Hills is directly south of the Bracken Bat Cave—home to an estimated 15 to 20 million Mexican free-tail bats—and sits right in the middle of the bat's flight path. Those bats eat a ton of agricultural pests and mosquitos every night.
The $20.5 million deal is between San Antonio, the Nature Conservancy, Bat Conservation International and Forestar.
San Antonio is pitching in $5 million from the Prop 1 Edwards Aquifer protection fund, which earns the City a conservation easement over the aquifer, bringing total conservation acres owned by the City to more than 127,000 acres.
Bat Conservation International, the stewards of the Bracken Bat Cave, and the Nature Conservancy, which will own the land, have raised $5 million toward the purchase, but still need to come up with $4.4 million. Forestar Real Estate Group is contributing $5 million toward the deal, which earns the developer impervious credits it can use for development in Cibolo Canyon. And some of those credits will also be sold to other developers. Both Bexar County and the Edwards Aquifer Authority put $500,000 apiece toward the purchase. And finally, the U.S. Army is contributing $100,000 toward the deal. The developer, Galo Properties, agreed to the purchase earlier this week.
In addition to protecting the cave, the deal will also protect the Golden-cheeked warbler, an endangered species, and benefit several other endangered species that are downstream from the 1,521-acre tract.
Click here for a more in depth article about the deal.