WIMBERLEY, Texas — More than 2,000 acres of land with Blanco River waterfront property has been closed off to the public for decades.
The Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts owned the "El Rancho Cima" land for 60 years.
But now, thanks to an opportunity for Hays County to purchase a piece of that land, 533 acres could be open to the public for hiking, biking and swimming.
The land, off of FM 32 just outside Wimberley, includes more than a mile of waterfront property and the scenic Devil's Backbone Ridge.
"History for us, is definitely being made here," said Wimberley Valley resident Susan Nenney at a public meeting about the park plans on Wednesday night.
The Boy Scouts listed the land for sale in 2016, after the historic floods of 2015 wiped at least one of their buildings away. Originally, it was listed for more than $25 million for the entire 2,382 acres.
Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell wanted to try and buy the land for conservation then, but attempts to raise money weren't successful.
However, someone did eventually buy the property and split it up into smaller tracts of land, leaving a chance for Hays County to purchase land after all.
"I'm expecting and hoping that someday someone does look back and say, 'Man, I'm really glad some people thought about that; it's a really neat place,'" said Shell. "The thought that we can preserve that much land as open space in a county that's under such development pressure is just fabulous news for us."
"We're going to protect this before it gets obliterated into one-acre lots," said Nenney.
The county is working in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, using $10 million in bond money set aside for conservation.
It will operate much like Jacob's Well, Shell said at the meeting on Wednesday night, with limited number of swimmers allowed per four-hour period, and open for swimming May through September.
They also plan on using existing structures from the Boy Scout camp and doing limited work on the property to protect the golden-cheeked warbler population.
There will be a park ranger on the grounds at all times, and seasonal access to hike and bike trails, depending on the warblers' mating season.
The project will take several years in development, Shell said, and won't be open to the public during that time.
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