Fighting to save the bats of Bracken Cave


Bat Conservation InternationalBy Ellen Andrews

When we think of land conservation battles, we generally imagine the stereotypical greedy land developer who shamelessly disregards pleas from conservationists in order to make money. Bat Conservation International, our current Natural World beneficiary, and The Nature Conservancy are teaming up to prevent just such a situation from occurring in Comal County, Texas.

A housing development initiative has been proposed very near to Bracken Cave, home to almost twenty million roosting Mexican free-tailing bats. Galo Properties is contracted to build 3,500 single-family homes near the cave on land owned by Stratford Land, whose senior director of investments said in response to the conservationists’ concerns about the bats, “There’s bats all over Central Texas, and we don’t think they are any more at risk.” Development of this land would speed up the process of urban sprawl, which has a huge impact on the ecosystem as a whole, but more immediately, it may have a large impact on this great population of bats, which are a key species to the local ecosystem.

The difference in this story from the one that we generally imagine is that Stratford Land and Galo Properties are willing to allow some portion of the land to go toward conservation efforts, which may be used to act as a buffer area for the bats between natural and developed systems—but at a price. This is where Bat Conservation International comes into the picture, in a very save-the-day kind of fashion. They are teaming up with The Nature Conservancy and hopefully the city, state, and even federal government to acquire the funds to purchase this land. The land is valued at $18.5 million, but the price is being negotiated at somewhere between $25 and $37 million.

If you are a member of Foundation Beyond Belief, you can help make this initiative a success by supporting Bat Conservation International through your monthly membership donation. Click “Manage Donation” on the right side of the page to adjust your donation allocation.

You can read more about the Bracken Cave negotiations here. To learn more about Bat Conservation International, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.