Clean, fresh water is essential to the well-being of nearly every living thing on the planet. Without it, businesses can’t function, families can’t cook a safe meal, economies can’t grow and nature can’t flourish. The quality and quantity of this precious resource will in large measure determine who, in future generations, will thrive—and literally, who will survive.
Since our founding in 1951,The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 5,000 miles of rivers, lakes and streams, and over 119 million acres of land worldwide. We know one of the best ways to protect freshwater resources on a whole-system scale is to protect the land that is crisscrossed by miles and miles of rivers, lakes and streams. In order to achieve that, the Conservancy works side-by-side with landowners, families, local governments and businesses to ensure the protection of land and water in important watersheds and surrounding aquifers.
Our work in Texas offers a good example. We’ve protected 838,000 acres of land across the Lone Star State, including more than 200 miles of stream and river habitat within five of Texas’ most critical springs. Our work benefits nearly a dozen different waterways around the state: the Devils, Blanco, Brazos, Frio, Nueces, Sabinal and Pedernales rivers; Barton, Independence and Love creeks, and Caddo Lake. We are committed to freshwater conservation for a simple reason: Conserving water for tomorrow is the greatest legacy we can leave for future generations.
Check out these images of our freshwater conservation work in Texas.
Photo: Young boy wearing snorkel explores the shallow waters of the Conasauga River in Tennessee. Photo credit: © George Ivey/TNC
Fed by powerful freshwater springs, the Devils River and Dolan Creek comprise what many consider to be Texas’ most pristine river.
Photo: The Devils River at Dolan Falls Preserve © Ian Shive
On the arid western border of the Texas Hill Country, halfway between Del Rio and Sonora in Val Verde County, lies one of the jewels of The Nature Conservancy: Dolan Falls Preserve. The preserve consists of 4,965 acres and is bolstered by an additional 157,994 acres that is either owned in fee or under Conservancy conservation easements along the Devils River. It is located at the intersection of three biological regions: the Edwards Plateau, Chihuahuan Desert and Rio Grande Plain brushland. This combination of terrain creates a landscape of outstanding beauty and diversity supported by the pristine waters of Dolan Springs, Dolan Creek and the Devils River.
Clive Runnells Family Mad Island Marsh is part of an expansive coastal wetlands system.
Photo: Clive Runnels Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve © Ian Shive
Clive Runnells Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve is part of an expansive coastal wetlands system which, 60 years ago, stretched nearly unbroken along the mid- and upper-Texas Gulf Coast. The preserve’s upland prairies represents a portion of the remaining two percent of the original tallgrass coastal prairies once found across Texas and Louisiana. It lies along the Central Flyway, one of four principal North American migratory bird routes.
Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake are renowned for their recreational value.
Many of the bald cypress trees at the Fred and Loucille Dahmer Caddo Lake Preserve are estimated to be more than 400 years old. Photo: © Paul Keith/paulkeithphoto.com
Formed by Big Cypress Bayou, Caddo Lake and its wetlands are made up of mixed bottomland hardwood forests and shallow bald cypress swamps covering more than 30,000 acres along the border of northeast Texas and northwest Louisiana. The Nature Conservancy in Texas became involved in efforts to conserve Caddo Lake in 1990 when the organization received two land donations that were combined to create the Fred and Loucille Dahmer Caddo Lake Preserve in 1997.
Freshwater conservation is vital to the Bandera Canyonlands.
Photo: A leaf alongside growing moss on the limestone terraced formations at the Love Creek Preserve. © Ian Shive
In Texas’ western Hill Country, crystal clear water flows from myriad springs, etching a path through deep, cool canyons and supporting a wide variety of native plants and wildlife across the Edwards Plateau. From late October to mid-November, these rocky cliffs are adorned with some of the most dramatic displays of autumn color found in Texas. These scattered remnant stands of bigtooth maples – often called the “lost maples” for their rarity throughout most of Texas – display brilliant, contrasting shades of yellow, orange and red as temperatures drop and days shorten. Love Creek flows through the Conservancy’s 1,400-acre preserve for 2 ¼ miles, giving it its name. The preserve protects a representation of one of the most diverse habitats in the nation and some of the most scenic land in Texas.
Click here for more images of our freshwater work in Texas!