The Balcones Canyonlands Wildlife Refuge celebrates its 30th anniversary this Saturday

Since 1992, the federally protected land north of Lake Travis has attracted thousands of visitors.

MARBLE FALLS, Texas — Not far from the hustle and bustle of city life, an hour from the heart of Austin, down a winding dual carriageway, there is an unexpected oasis: the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refugewith thousands of pristine acres of land protected by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

This Saturday, October 22, the public is invited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hard-fought effort to conserve the land and protect it from development.

Covering nearly 50 square miles of rolling hills, grasslands, and rock formations, Canyonlands sits on the edge of the Texas Hill Country northwest of Lago Vista.

This national wildlife sanctuary protects two rare songbirds: the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo by providing them with a breeding and nesting site.

But there is much more here, both above and below ground, including caves that stretch for miles beneath the hills, creating a dark world where rare and unusual species such as blind salamanders and other exotic life forms survive and thrive.

Ten miles of hiking trails meander through the trees, open to all.

“You can hike from sunrise to sunset 365 days a year,” says Kelly Purkey, who oversees the wildlife sanctuary. “During the pandemic we were the only gig in town so a lot of people found us. It was kind of nice because a lot of people didn’t know we were here. But now they do.”

Just in case you haven’t discovered this remarkable place yet, you can attend a free public celebration of Balcones Canyonlands’ 30th birthday on Saturday, October 22 from 12-2pm at the refuge’s Doeskin Ranch in Bertram, Texas, come . It will be a celebration of 30 years of conservation in a country as timeless as time itself.

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Laura Coffey

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