Trending
MOST READ
Best Brunch

Best Brunch

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Dessert & Bakery: La Panaderia

Dessert & Bakery: La Panaderia

Flavor 2014: Los panaderos are in San Antonio. Brothers David and Jose Cacéres have opened the first of what could be many locations of La Panaderia, a concept the... 7/29/2014
Italian: SoBro Pizza Co.

Italian: SoBro Pizza Co.

Flavor 2014: If you build it, they will come. If you build it underneath their apartments, they’ll stop by for gelato, Napolitano pizzas and an excellent wine... 7/29/2014
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Our Picks for the 31st Annual Jazz’SAlive

Our Picks for the 31st Annual Jazz’SAlive

Music: Eddie Palmieri: 9:30pm Saturday. Jazz’SAlive has traditionally made sure to clear at least one headlining space for Latin jazz... By J.D. Swerzenski 9/17/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

News

Prepare the Bat-Signal: Subdivision Plan Encroaches on Globally Significant Preserve

Photo: , License: N/A


Each summer our local weathermen look at the Doppler and tell us to disregard a cloud hanging over the Hill County. No, it’s not sign of some impending rainstorm, but the nightly exodus of at least 10 million bats from their summer home.

Bracken Cave in southern Comal County is widely regarded as the largest bat colony in the world, the summer nesting and breeding grounds for the Mexican free-tailed bat. Each night, a thick column of bats swarms out of the cave to feed before retuning at dawn.

“This is a globally significant site,” said Shanna Weisfeld with the nonprofit Bat Conservation International, which owns the nearly 700-acre nature preserve surrounding Bracken Cave. “We should be careful not to do anything that disturbs it.”

Like, say, create a 3,800-home subdivision bordering the preserve, situated right in the bats’ nightly flight path.

“This is a unique situation, so we have nothing to compare it to,” Weisfeld said. “We simply do not know what could happen to this treasure.”

Galo Properties, the site's developer, did not return several calls for comment.

For thousands of years, BCI estimates, young bats have been born and raised in Bracken Cave, learning to fly and forage in the surrounding area. Each night, those bats eat their bodyweight in insects, some of which are agricultural pests like the corn earworm and the cotton bollworm. A 2006 study of the eight-county region surrounding the cave estimates the bats are worth an annual $741,000 in pest control. In its recently updated Texas Conservation Action Plan, Texas Parks and Wildlife designated the bat a “species of greatest conservation need.”

Building homes, streetlights, schools, and pools next door could forever alter the bats’ flight pattern, BCI worries, contending those bats may instead roost in and around nearby homes instead of the cave.

And building a subdivision in the bats’ flight path threatens to expose residents to rabies, BCI claims; while instances are still rare, bats are the primary source of human rabies infection in North America.

The proposed site also sits atop the Edwards Aquifer’s environmentally sensitive recharge zone, where our main source of drinking water gets replenished with each rainfall. Under a city aquifer protection plan passed in 1995, developments over the recharge zone can only have 15 percent of its land covered by buildings and paved roadway (so-called “impervious cover”).

“We were surprised to see they’re planning such a high-density development because of where they are in San Antonio’s [extraterritorial jurisdiction],” said Annalisa Peace with the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance. While some developers have managed to sneak dense developments through by exploiting a loophole that allowed certain development plans to be grandfathered without the restrictions, it doesn’t appear Galo has taken that route, Peace said. She doubts, given the density of the proposed subdivision (at least 3,800 homes on roughly 1,500 acres), Galo could build within that 15 percent impervious cover cap.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus