A diverse group of Texans, all with a keen interest in land and water conservation, gathered in Austin February 25 to learn more about the Devils River—the threats it is facing and the future of its flows.
A standing-room-only crowd listened to Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), who spoke eloquently of the rich biological diversity of the Devils River basin with its spring-fed clear waters that cut through deep limestone canyons and wooded riparian corridors.
This 94-mile river, located in a rough-hewn landscape of southwest Texas, originates in Sutton County, flows through Val Verde County, and empties in to Amistad Reservoir. The Devils is considered by many as the most pristine, pure river in Texas, and Mr. Smith lauded the Devils River Conservancy (DRC) as a group working to keep it that way.
The purpose of the conservation community gathering was an awareness and fund raising event for the DRC, a non-profit organization formed in 2011 by Devils River basin landowners. Eight board members direct the work of the DRC primarily in the areas of science, advocacy, and education.
“The DRC is here to stay; our singular mission is to protect and preserve the Devils River and its stream flows and habitat for future generations of Texans,” explained DRC board president, David Honeycutt. “This is the most important conservation story in Texas for our generation, and we have one chance to get it right.”
Attendees at the Austin event came from all parts of the state and represented a broad, diverse group eager to support the DRC mission to treasure, preserve, and protect the Devils River and the lands within its watershed. Four former heads of The Nature Conservancy-Texas chapter were in attendance, as well as other landholders along the Devils, biologists, hydrologists, ranchers, attorneys, real estate professionals, fellow non-profit organizations, and some very generous donors.
A conservation ethic was palatable in the room as images of the Devils River flashed across the screen. The theme of the evening was, “It’s not easy to save a river,” but when all was said and done, it appeared that might be possible after all.