The Hays County Commissioners Court last week voted 5-0 to adopt the Jacob’s Well Natural Area Management Plan presented by landscape architecture and planning firm RVi of Austin.
The plan, a year in development, will help guide the county in creating a visitor-friendly site while preserving the well and Cypress Creek on the 81-acre property near Wimberley. The country acquired the site with funds from the 2007 voter-approved park bonds, and elements of the plan will be implemented as additional funding becomes available.
Jacob’s Well, a perpetual artesian spring, is considered one of the longest underwater caves in Texas and is the main source for Cypress Creek, which forms the Blue Hole swimming area downstream and flows into the Blanco River.
“Our goals for the site, in addition to protecting and preserving the well itself, are to have a premier educational facility and passive recreational area,” said Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley. “We want children and adults alike to learn about the sensitivity of the Jacob’s Well area and the need to preserve our natural lands and water, and for visitors to the site to enjoy the trails, the natural landscape and Jacob’s Well itself.”
The plan RVi presented to the court includes an education center built into the side of a hill so that it appears to be part of the landscape, removal of unnecessary impervious cover and a fencing structure that changes throughout the area in consideration of different needs. Some existing trails will be improved and new trail areas redesigned to better accommodate foot traffic. An awkward five-way intersection will become a four-way one, and parking for cars and buses will be improved. Visit www.co.hays.tx.us/jacobswell for more information about the natural area and the master plan.
The court also voted to end its three-year contract with the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association early and take over management of the natural area itself. Under the agreement with WVWA, the two entities worked together to develop an operations and management plan for the site.
“WVWA has done a great job of managing the land while Hays County developed its own parks program, and we feel comfortable taking over the duties earlier than we expected,” Conley said.
The county acquired the Jacob’s Well Natural Area site with funds from the 2007 voter-approved park bonds, donations of land and a loan from The Nature Conservancy. Elements of the plan will be implemented as additional funding becomes available – the county plans to seek grants, donations and in-kind donations to help fund the proposed improvements.
The court expects to review and adopt rules and regulations for the Jacob’s Well Natural Area within the next few weeks.