Just a short shot from San Antonio and an even shorter skip from Boerne 3,800 acres of Texas wilderness sits waiting to be explored. Will the new park ever be born?
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received the property in 2011 - a gift from the Albert and Bessie Kronkosky Foundation of San Antonio.
Now TPWD staff is evaluating the Kronkosky State Natural Area to see what's out there.
And there's a lot to see, according to James Rice, the newly-appointed superintendent of the new parkland.
A Peek Inside: Rare and Endangered
Preliminary baseline surveys have turned up habitat for the golden-cheeked warbler, stands of big tooth Maples, and the rare Madrone tree.
But, Rice was most excited about the endangered Sycamore-leaf snowbell. He says the white-tail deer crave the shrub, that sprouts small clusters of delicate white flowers.
What makes this spot choice has a lot to do with the fact that Red Bluff Creek and Pipe Creek both run through it, sometimes underground, other times slipping through the rocky soil to amble along shady creek beds, pooling up from time to time, much to the delight of ring-tailed cats, raccoons, screech owls, coyotes, opossums, and the nefarious feral hog.
Rice also said they are counting up the milkweed plant. Apparently, migrating monarch butterflies have a singular taste for milkweed.
The Kronkosky SNA was originally delivered as ranch land, fronted by a main residence, ranch manager's residence, three garages and two barns, and is located on Hwy. 46, 8 miles southwest of Boerne.
TPWD is about 18 months or so away from completing the master plans that include possible development of campsites, roads, trails, etc. Then come the cost estimates. That's also where the biggest hurdle comes: the money.
If parkland is given to the people and no one ever sees it, is it still a park?
The Texas legislature is considering two bills that would fund the 84 parks currently in operation. And TPWD says there currently are no plans to close parks.
But, there are parks that have not seen the light of day, so to speak. They are undeveloped, like the Kronkosky SNA, and are not open to the public. The list includes: The Davis Hill Natural Area near Houston; Chinati Mountains State Park, between Presidio and Marfa; and Palo Pinto Mountains State Park near Fort Worth. Will Texans ever be able to explore these parks? Some speculate there aren't enough funds to develop and open these properties for use.
State Representative Lyle Larson of San Antonio says the Sporting Goods Sales Tax was supposed to go to Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Historical Commission, but since it was created in 1993 only a small percentage of the revenue has actually been used for parks. The rest, Larson says, went to pay for unrelated budget items.
Larson is proposing legislation to restrict the use of those revenues, and restore funding to Texas parks.
What a great gift that would be for Texans…and a great birthday gift for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, turning 50 on August 23, 2013!
Speaking of which: If you love parks and love sharing the adventure, log onto www.lifesbetteroutside.org - TPWD’s 50th anniversary site. There you can share photos, videos and your story about "what's made life better outside in Texas."