Conceptualized in 2009, Bandera Corridor Conservation Bank (BCCB) is a cooperative of conservation-minded landowners and private entrepreneurs with the common desire to protect some of the most scenic and naturally diverse portions of the Texas Hill Country. The conservation bank is a programmatic instrument with the aim to formalize land protections and management of native wildlife habitats occurring in the Bandera Canyonlands around and between The Nature Conservancy’s Love Creek Preserve and Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Lost Maple State Natural Area. Key to the concept were the initial ranch owners joining in unison as the foundation of a conservation corridor was established between Love Creek and Lost Maples.
Project Description & History
BCCB was first established with the dedication of four conservation easements protecting 2,100 acres on four contiguous ranches in May 2012, with plans to continue expanding of the project to reach or exceed their 10,000-acre goal. The project area, known as the Bandera Canyonlands, is an approximate 55,000-acre ecoregion of scenic Hill Country splendor and high natural diversity located along the southern edge of the Edwards Plateau including portions of the headwaters for the Medina and Sabinal rivers. The corridor contains vital nesting habitat for both the golden-cheeked warbler (GCW) and black-capped vireo (BCV). Since placing their first round of conservation easements in 2012, BCCB has placed several easements across neighboring ranches, totaling more than 3,400 acres under permanent conservation and management to date.
Bandera Corridor Conservation Bank was created as a cooperative model to offer interested landowners within the targeted areas an opportunity to provide permanent conservation at no out of pocket cost. Through protections established by the BCCB easements, blocks of contiguous, high-quality wildlife habitat are preserved across participating properties before the real estate market causes fragmentation of both habitat and ownership. Since most natural habitat in Texas occurs on private lands, it is imperative to find incentive-driven conservation models that attract willing landowners. The conservation bank model embraces the landowner steward and rewards them for their long-term conservation efforts.
Golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, endemic brook salamanders and other species native to the Edwards Plateau benefit through preservation of intact native habitats. In addition to wildlife, plant life will thrive throughout the area including the Uvalde bigtooth maple, a number of rare endemic Hill Country plants such as the Tobusch fishhook cactus, Watson’s milkpea, canyon rattlesnake-root, canyon mock-orange, sycamore-leaf snowbells, and many other plants benefit through preservation of habitat corridors.
Estimates project that more than 4,000,000 residents throughout Bandera Corridor Conservation Bank’s 13-county market area will be positively impacted by the project’s conservation of open space, spring-fed waterways, plants, and wildlife by 2050. BCCB believes the cooperative model of the conservation bank, its success over the past seven years, and continued interest from surrounding landowners can support positive educational outreach opportunities for nature tourism, birding, land conservation, and Hill Country stewardship, just to name a few.