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‘Alarm bells went off when people in this area first found out’

"They thought they were doing something really cool from the beginning and quickly learned that a lot of people around here don't feel the same way."

Photo Credit: Roy Creek Canyon

A Central Texas landowner and other conservationists fear a resort development that could forever alter an untouched area.

What’s happening?

The Mirasol Springs luxury and residential complex will be located on 1,400 acres, with a 70-room eco-friendly hotel plus 30 cabins and 39 residential lots. Although about 1,000 acres will be converted into a conservation easement, the site threatens Roy Creek Canyon, Texas Monthly reported.

Part of the area, perhaps “one of the last remaining ecosystems” in the state, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has belonged to the Lew Adams family since the 1940s. The creek and springs feed the Pedernales River, which dried up in each of the last two summers. Uphill, Mirasol Springs has a permit to pump 100,000 gallons from the river every day except during droughts, according to Texas Monthly.

“What are we going to do with this place if the stream dries up? What’s the value then?” Adams said. “All the cypress trees will start to decline; this whole deciduous forest, which depends (on the springs), could be in danger.”

He and others are also concerned about pollution caused by visitors and sewage.

Why is this important?

The Lower Colorado River Authority, which approved the Mirasol Springs contract, implemented water restrictions in February due to a severe drought. Lakes Travis and Buchanan were reduced to a combined 847,000 acre-feet of water, or about 42% of their capacity. They have recovered after the recent storms to 1,047,153 acre-feet, but are still only 39.4% and 71% of capacity.

“Alarm bells went off when people in this area first heard about Mirasol Springs,” said Christy Muse, co-founder of the Hill Country Alliance. “To their credit, the people of Mirasol paused and wanted to hear what the locals had to say. They thought they were doing something really great from the beginning and quickly learned that a lot of people around here don’t feel the same way.”

Muse is “obsessed” with what will happen to the area once it is developed due to drought and rising global temperatures, Texas Monthly reported, pointing to the “dry line,” where dry air from the western United States United meets the humid air of the east. has moved 140 miles east in the last 100 years, leaving the Austin area in the dust.

“There are a lot of things about this that I personally like, but the site they chose is so fragile that it makes things really challenging and not just for Roy Creek,” he said. “The conservation community in this area is implementing every strategy we can think of to benefit water recharge and flow in Pedernales, and taking water out of the river that accounts for 25 percent of the flow into Lake Travis just doesn’t seem logical. “.

What is being done with the development?

A representative for the development told Texas Monthly that it will collect rainwater from all rooftops on the property and that deed restrictions will prohibit herbicides, pesticides, non-native plants, septic systems and private wells. And after public outcry in 2022, the site was reduced, with houses decreasing by 55.

Still, it’s not enough for those who appreciate and appreciate the Hill Country and its iconic springs. This is because the only way to preserve these natural features is to leave them in perfect condition, partly by not pumping out groundwater, which feeds the springs.

Although officials have said Mirasol Springs will not pump groundwater unless the LCRA contract changes and later that it would do so only a quarter of the time, it has called for pumping 27.6 million gallons per year, almost as much like its surface water. allocation (35 million gallons, according to the Statesman.

“Roy Creek is not necessarily unique at first glance,” hydrogeologist Doug Wierman told Texas Monthly. “There are a lot of these hidden springs in the Hill Country, but as the land is divided, developments are added, and more groundwater is pumped, they are disappearing.”

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