San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 13th, 2009
Dahlstrom Ranch park plans don’t include shooting range

by BRAD ROLLINS
Managing Editor

The Dahlstrom Ranch Steering Committee on Tuesday presented preliminary plans for the environmentally sensitive 2,275-acre property near Buda. And there isn’t a shooting range in sight.

Hays County, the city of Austin and the Hill Country Conservancy are negotiating the $9.9 million purchase of a conservation easement on the historic ranch southwest of the intersection of FM 1626 and RM 967. As part of the arrangement, the county is seeking to lease in perpetuity a 350-acre section of the ranch called Howe’s Pasture to allow for public access; the remainder of the ranch will be protected from future development but not regularly opened to the public.

“Rather than 8,000 to 9,000 homes and assumed traffic and water quality degradation, we’re going to see this preserved,” Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton said. Development will be limited to the existing building and a possible lodge the Dahlstrom family intends to build.

Earlier this year, a commissioners court-appointed committee identified the Dahlstrom Ranch as a possible location for a countywide firearm shooting range. That proposal drew protests from advocates who envision the ranch as an unspoiled natural space without frequent gunfire, prompting Barton to declare in June that the firing range wasn’t going to happen.

Overseen by Kathryn Nichols of the National Parks Service, the steering committee instead recommends that public access to the park emphasize nature experiences and environmental education through hiking, wildlife viewing and picnicking. The plan they put together for a first phase calls for 2 miles of trails, with 3/4 of a mile being ADA accessible, restrooms, an entry station and pavilion, covered picnic tables and cave gates and kiosks. The committee estimates the work will cost $418,000.

San Marcos Mercury Managing Editor Brad Rollins writes about Hays County for the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published.

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