“A geological wonderland”
The Narrows is an ecologically fragile, beautiful Texas property. Several endangered species make their home in these unique cliffs and the surrounding ranch lands. The Narrows provides habitat for the endangered bird species, the Golden-cheeked warbler and Black-capped vireo. The globally rare plant, the Canyon mock-orange, can be found on the Narrows, as well as the rare wild Smoke tree, maidenbush, and chatterbox orchid. The upper part of this canyon (called the Narrows) is no more than 10 feet wide at its narrowest point. At this point, the river cuts through an exposed coral reef dating from the Late Cretaceous period (shortly before the extinction of dinosaurs). It is a product of water erosion through relatively soft limestone. According to a report compiled by the Southwest Association of Student Geological Societies, these bluffs contain a sequence of rocks showing the gradual emergence of an ancient reef out of the ocean. Fossils of more than 29 types have been found. Though the Blanco often dries up during hot summertime, there are swimming holes formed by potholes in the canyon. There are four waterfalls, water from subsurface aquifers seeps out through the walls, supporting garden-like beds of maidenhair fern, shield fern, and chatterbox orchid. At one point, the canyon walls have eroded leaving an isolated limestone tower. Geologists brought to the site by J. David Bamberger think it may once have been a cave that collapsed and that the potholes were formed in the cave. Not surprisingly, the property also contains at least one cave big enough to crawl into. This tract was purchased in 2000 by a group of partners, who shared a goal of conserving the uniqueness of a canyon between sheer bluffs up to forty feet tall formed by the Blanco River in the Texas Hill Country. The property includes a 1000-foot-stretch known as the "Narrows," as well as an additional 3000 feet of river frontage. The joint owners donated a conservation easement to TLC, in November 2001, ensuring that the ranch will never be further subdivided. Due to the conservation ethic of a group of private landowners, this property will be protected forever from development and preserved for its conservation value. For this, the Texas Land Conservancy is deeply grateful for the foresight of these private landowners.
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