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Texas Hill Country Could Lose Its Native Wildlife to Urban Sprawl

As the growing metropolis of central Texas expands from Austin to San Antonio, the native species, from birds to plants, are under threat of losing their habitat forever.

By 2050, National Geographic predicts that about 9.4 million will reside in the stretch between Austin and San Antonio, roughly 125 miles of pure urban development. The boom currently happening in the Hill Country is great for the Texas economy, but is detrimental to the native wildlife in the area unless action is taken to protect not only species, but geological zones, such as the Edwards Aquifer.

Texas State University’s research professor of geography and executive director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment Andrew Sansom told National Geographic, “It’s under assault right now like no other place I’m aware of.” The species under attack? Golden-cheeked warblers (pictured above), the Government Canyon Bat Cave meshweaver, Texas wild rice, Texas blind salamander, and even the Edwards Plateau itself.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via Nat. Geo.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via Nat. Geo.

The Hill Country’s rich history and environment is due in large part to the Edwards Plateau and Aquifer, which has provided a much-needed water source for natural and human populations alike. Because the water sources are exposed in multiple spots on roadways from Austin to San Antonio, the water itself is in danger of becoming polluted as “the aquifer is often exposed at the surface. As rainfall and rivers replenish it, pollutants such as spilled gasoline can slip in as well.”

So what can be done? Well, the only true solution for now, as National Geographic puts it, is to make sure “efforts to protect endangered species by protecting their habitats…stay ahead of construction crews.” The Hill Country isn’t the only place the loss of wildlife is becoming a problem, but the spotlight rests on it because “it’s a functional laboratory for what’s happening all over the world.”

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Texas Hill Country Could Lose Its Native Wildlife to Urban Sprawl