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The Cow Creek Watershed is at the heart of what makes the Texas Hill Country special culturally and ecologically. Located on the outskirts of the growing Austin-Round Rock metropolis, Cow Creek and the surrounding watershed provide an important refuge for people and wildlife. Nestled in the eastern edge of the Hill Country, Cow Creek’s isolated canyonlands are home to plant and animal species unique to this part of the world, such as the twisted leaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) and the Texabama croton (Croton alabamensis). Undeveloped land within the watershed provides beautiful views, protects the flow and quality of water in Cow Creek, and protects habitat for the flora and fauna of Central Texas. By extension, the quality of the watershed affects the drinking water of the inhabitants of Austin and other cities in the metropolitan area who rely on Lake Travis for their water supply. Residents and neighbors also value the watershed’s remark­ably dark skies and quiet soundscape, particularly when compared to other areas in the region.

In an effort to conserve the Cow Creek Watershed (CCW) into the future, a group of landowners and stakeholders from the within the CCW, formed a working group to help educate and plan.  Data collected from stakeholder meetings by the working group were used to establish priorities within the watershed for conservation, to include water, cultural, and ecological resources.  The Cow Creek Watershed Conservation Prioritization Report highlights the working group’s priorities and provides strategies for continued work and conservation into the future for this 36,000-acre watershed.  An interactive model with mapping capabilities was also created to use as a tool to assist private landowners and stake holders with future conservation decisions.

Project Goals

Use the best data and analysis methods available for efficient use of hydrological, cultural, and ecological resources associated with conservation in the Cow Creek Watershed.

Create an informative, compelling tool that identifies areas of highest conservation value in the watershed, and supports and catalyzes action by stakeholders, decision makers, and conservation practitioners.

Provide operational resources that allow stakeholders to respond to conservation opportunities as they occur.