La Cima preserve bolsters Hays County’s parkland


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SONY DSCOfficials from Hays County, the city of San Marcos and La Cima Development Group gathered Sept. 16 for the ribbon cutting of a 700-acre habitat conservation preserve. The preserve is part of a 2,000-acre mixed-use development planned for San Marcos. Brett Thorne
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The addition of 700 acres of conservation habitat near Purgatory Creek gives the San Marcos area one of the largest urban preserves in the nation, a point that officials celebrated at a ceremony Sept. 16.

Officials from Hays County, the city of San Marcos and La Cima Development Group attended the ceremony, which commemorated the creation of a 700-acre habitat conservation preserve near the intersection of Old Ranch Road 12 and Wonder World Drive.

Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley said the new habitat conservation preserve brings the total size of the contiguous parkland in that area to more than 1,800 acres.

“We now have one of the largest urban preserves in the United States of America right here in San Marcos, Texas,” Conley said. “That’s something we should be very proud of.”

Conley said Hays County has taken advantage of a federal option that allows the county to go directly to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service—rather than the federal government—for permits that certify a development is in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

That ability has saved the county time and money when working with developers, Conley said.

“[This option] creates a perpetual fund in Hays County where we can continue over the next 30 years at the very least to create more preserve lands in Hays County,” he said.

The habitat conservation preserve will eventually be open to the public, but policies and trails need to be hammered out before the public is able to use the area.

County Judge Bert Cobb said the La Cima development was made possible through collaboration by the city, county and developers. The development will change San Marcos and its politics once it is annexed into the city, he said.

Under the developer’s agreement with the city, La Cima will remain outside the city limits until a final plat is submitted to the county. At that time, the city of San Marcos will have the option of annexing the platted property.

“The motto of Texas is “friendship,” he said. “You couldn’t tell that by what you read in the paper. … We have to be opened-armed to people who want to come and cast their lot with Texas. They want to come, and they want opportunity.”

La Cima Manager Bill Ward said he expects construction on the entrance to the neighborhood to begin in January. Construction on the first set of homes, which Ward said will likely start in the $250,000s, will begin in July.