The future of a Comal County freshwater creek is looking fresher today.

Commissioners at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department voted Thursday to acquire and prevent development at Honey Creek, one of the most iconic streams in the Texas Hill Country.

The department, which has worked closely with other environmental groups on this deal, seeks to preserve a roughly 515-acre tract just south of Honey Creek State Natural Area and the Guadalupe State Park in Comal County. The owners of the land — known now as Honey Creek Ranch — initially intended to sell it for the development of a more than 1,600-home subdivision, which was opposed by residents and environmentalists.

Now, Texas Parks and Wildlife is on track to build a protected park, which could keep the headwaters of Honey Creek preserved as they have been for centuries.

“This south end park access will result in the opportunity for some significant recreational development that we just simply haven’t had in that portion in that state natural area complex,” said Ted Hollingsworth, a land conservation branch manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife. “The tract is also going to be critical for the long-term protection of the water quality and quantity in Honey Creek.”

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The acquisition was made possible, in part, by the Nature Conservancy, a global environmental and conservation organization that negotiated a deal for the TPWD to acquire the land for preservation with no subdivision. The organization, along with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, is working closely with other partners to gather donations for the acquisition, as the owners are now willing to sell the property at a bargain price.

Honey Creek is among the last remaining pristine waterways in the Texas Hill Country. It begins 25 miles north of downtown San Antonio and runs northeast through more than 2,000 acres of Honey Creek State Natural Area and into the Guadalupe River. The water normally gets its flow from Honey Creek Cave — a waterway that runs over 20 miles underground — and some smaller springs at the creek’s headwaters near Honey Creek Ranch.

“Thanks to the brush management and graving stewardship practices its owner has employed, the land is in excellent condition,” said Suzanne Scott, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas. “Unlike many Hill Country grasslands that have been lost to development or degraded due to overgrazing, the property contains healthy diverse grasses that slow runoff and absorb rainwater that flows into a portion of the Honey Creek.”

Land owners Ronnie and Terry Urbanzyk have lived on the ranch since the early 1990s, and beginning in 2018, they began negotiating to develop a $60 million subdivision on their property. Since their intentions to develop were made public, the matter has been a point of contention in the community.

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