The innovative partnership supporting Wild Basin.

Wild Basin is co-owned and co-managed by Travis County and St. Edward’s University, and is a treasured resource for our entire community.

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve protects 227 acres of beautiful Texas Hill Country native habitat. The preserve hosts multiple rare and vulnerable species, including the endangered Golden-cheeked warbler. It is also home to St. Edward’s Wild Basin Creative Research Center, a field research station located just 10 miles from campus.

Wild Basin

About the beautiful Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. 

Did you know that Wild Basin is part of and serves as a gateway to the magnificent and much larger Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP)? The BCP is one of the nation’s largest urban preserves, covering more than 32,000 acres – about 50 square miles. The BCP provides valuable habitat for seven endangered species and 27 species of concern found on the preserve.

All of the stewardship work at Wild Basin is conducted in alignment with the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan. Wild Basin and Travis County staff remove non-native invasive species, conduct wildfire fuel mitigation, monitor the populations of protected species, and monitor water quality to help keep Wild Basin healthy.

Wild Basin Founders

From left to right, the founders of Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve: Margaret Hessin, Lucille Stegman, Flora (Esther) McCormick, Janet Poage, Flo Macklin, Martha Hudson, and Willa Mae Hardesty.

Austin’s first nature preserve, founded by seven extraordinary women.

Wild Basin owes a debt of gratitude to seven visionary women, who were members of a 1970s environmental group called Now or Never. The organization was established to preserve a natural area for science classes and teacher training. When the master plan for West Lake Hills was completed, it became evident that Loop 360 would be built. The Audubon Society noted that the beautiful and ecologically important area north of West Lake Hills, known as the Wild Basin, was worthy of preservation. The insightful members of Now or Never adopted the establishment of Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve as their bicentennial project. They worked for years to build support for protecting Wild Basin. Travis County took up the cause and purchased land with grants from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to assemble the preserve, finally completing it in 1976. Wild Basin became Austin’s first nature preserve and was dedicated to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve 20 years later in 1996.

Ferns in the water

The Creative Research Center staff.

Barbara Dugelby, Ph.D., Director

Darren Proppe, Ph.D., Research Director

Natalie Hester, Director of Development

Sarah Reyna, Administrative Coordinator

Elvis Ingram, Wild Basin Security Officer