Coleman’s Canyon Could Double Jacob’s Well Conservation Lands

If funded, the Coleman’s Canyon parcel will more than double contiguous, conserved, open space at Jacob’s Well Natural Area.

Many Texans (and even world travelers) have visited Jacob’s Well, a hill country jewel known for its deep, crystal-clear spring water. But fewer have heard of Coleman’s Canyon, an area north of the popular recreation area. The lands of Coleman’s Canyon help feed both the springs and the Edwards Aquifer, as it lies atop the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. Owned by the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA), this property is not yet open to the public for recreational use but could be in the near future. In order to secure funding to develop the site and add it to the existing open spaces of Jacob’s Well Natural Area, Siglo Group was commissioned by the WVWA to conduct research and initial mapping related to the environmental, ecological, and cultural value of the site.

(Left) Developed parcels (<20 acres) surround Coleman’s Canyon, dominating the Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone. (Right) Springs, waterways, karst features, and beautiful woodlands are all emblematic of open space in Central Texas.

The property is located in the center of a high priority conservation cluster identified by the 2017 “Blanco and Upper San Marcos Watershed Strategic Conservation Prioritization,” a Siglo Group project that was sponsored by the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. Much of the conservation cluster contains parcels under 20 acres in size, thus the 168-acre Coleman’s Canyon parcel is one of the County’s best conservation opportunities. Through the lens of this larger landscape analysis, it is clear that protecting Coleman’s Canyon in perpetuity will aid in alleviating development pressure outside of its borders. Conserving this land will also protect valuable natural resources and allow residents and visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Texas Hill Country.

The density of karst features, springs, waterways, and wildlife habitat within and adjacent to Coleman’s Canyon make this a very important priority for conservation as well as a potential amenity for the public.

Siglo Group documented and assessed site scale features including the Wimberley Bat Cave among its karst sites, 46 acres of Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat, unique invertebrate species, 14 acres of riparian vegetation, and 63 acres of water quality buffers. The acquisition of Coleman’s Canyon, if acquired by Hays County, would more than double the amount of protected acreage in the Jacob’s Well Natural Area, which in turn would protect the karst aquifer recharge zone including both the surface and groundwater that flows into Jacob’s Well, while creating more recreational opportunities through expanding and connecting the Wimberley Bat Cave with Jacob’s Well Natural Area. Preserving the environment at the source protects watershed, habitat, and the local economy.

Amenities for public use include a 5k trail, opportunities for nature-based recreation, camping, views over the canyon, and a connection to Jacob’s Well Natural Area.

Adding this property to the Jacob’s Well Natural Area, would add high priority facilities envisioned in the County plan such as Cypress Creek access, multi-use trails suitable for a 5K trail run, camping opportunities, and amazing opportunities to interact with the flora and fauna of Central Texas. When fully restored and open to the public, Coleman’s Canyon would offer high quality habitat that could facilitate groundbreaking watershed-level scientific research and environmental education.

The area is home to many pollinator plants, such as this antelope horns milkweed ( Asclepias asperula)

Siglo Group’s work will be used to help leverage available county funds to purchase and restore the property. In late June 2020, mapping and research findings described above were presented to Hays County by WVWA with the project being scored highest on funding priorities for the county. If funded, Coleman’s Canyon could soon become a highlight of the Hill Country, offering countless recreational experiences to those looking to reconnect with nature.