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SPOTLIGHT REPORT


Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve provides a safe-haven for endangered species


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Photo: Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve sign

Nestled in the hills of West Austin, Wild Basin Preserve is a place for Austinites to play. But it's not just a wild playground, it's a preserve created to protect two endangered birds.

"One of the reasons that Wild Basin was selected -- this little valley of Bee Creek -- is because it's a nesting ground for two endangered species," said Kiki Corry of the Wild Basin Preserve. "One of them is the black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler."

Photo: Waterfall at Wild Basin Wilderness PreserveThe purpose of a preserve differs from a park. It's a place where the delicate balance of nature is protected especially the land so that these birds that winter in South American will have a place to nest and raise their young.

The small birds move to Central Texas in the early spring to raise their young and they look for old-growth cedar with shaggy bark to build their nests. They also need live oaks and red oaks.

"Those caterpillars that hang down out of the trees those are their favorite food," said Esther McCormick, one of the preserve's founders. "They take the silk that the caterpillars are hanging down on and they use that to tie their nests up."

The combination of hard woods, space and their favorite food makes Central Texas one of their favorite spring destinations.

Photo: Tour at Wild Basin Wilderness PreserveThe preserve was created in the early 1970s by a group called Now or Never. At that time Loop 360 was not built yet but plans were on the books. The founders of Wild Basin were convinced that if the highway was built it would mean major development in the area and less area for bird habitat.

"Once the county said if you raise a certain amount then we'll match it," McCormick said. " They were going 'Ha, Ha, there's no way these ladies will do it."

But the seven women were determined and they set out to raise the money needed through fashion shows, auctions, anything that would help them raise the money needed. In three months they raised $80,000.

Now the preserve is a major environmental education center in Austin. school groups, tourists and Austinites are invited for wildlife education walks, Indian lore and more about this special place on the edge of the Texas Hill Country.

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