Comal County is in the process of developing a Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP) to serve the needs of its growing constituency for responsible economic development, sufficient public infrastructure, and open space recreation opportunities. The RHCP would provide for conservation of the Protected Species in Comal County, and allow “one-stop shopping” for landowners and public entities to deal with complex endangered species issues, thereby providing more options and more certainty about future land uses. Participation in the RHCP would be 100% voluntary. Comal County residents, business owners and property owners are encouraged to participate in the planning process by submitting comments, participating in public meetings or hearings, or by becoming a conservation partner.
Comal County is located in the Balcones Canyonlands region of the Edwards Plateau in the heart of central Texas, and includes habitat for a diverse community of native wildlife and plants. The terraced limestone hills in the area support dense woodlands and open savannas of live oak, Ashe juniper, and honey mesquite, and are home to the federally endangered golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) and black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla), in addition to a number of other rare and common terrestrial species. Spring fed waterways dissect the hills and provide recharge to the Edwards Aquifer. A wide variety of aquatic species, several of which are federally threatened or endangered, occur in Comal County and depend on the quality and quantity of water collected by these drainages.
Comal County is located between two major metropolitan areas: the City of Austin and the City of San Antonio. The area has experienced rapid population growth over the past decade. Current projections estimate that the population of Comal County will almost quadruple by 2040. Land development has and will continue to accompany population growth. Already, the rural character of the County is losing ground to new subdivisions, commercial property, and other developed land uses. The platting and construction of residential subdivisions is quickly fragmenting the large and contiguous patches of juniper-oak woodland habitat that are most valuable for endangered wildlife.
Most of the rapidly growing communities in central Texas recognize the need to conserve habitat for endangered species and protect water resources. Several conservation or land protection programs are under development or are currently operating in the region. However, the operating areas or missions of these programs either do not include Comal County or do not adequately address the growing conservation needs of the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo in the area between Austin and San Antonio and a significant “conservation gap” exists in the area for endangered terrestrial wildlife species.
This plan will seek to complement, but not duplicate, the existing efforts of the Edwards Aquifer Authority in Comal County to develop a Recovery Implementation Program for Edwards Aquifer Species. The County recognizes that a coordinated effort would be the most efficient and effective way to meet the varied needs of both people and sensitive wildlife.