BRACKEN, Texas -

The development company that had planned to purchase 1,500 acres of land adjacent to the Bracken Bat Cave and build thousands of homes on it has backed out of the deal.

Now local leaders and conservation groups are seeking ways to purchase the property to turn it into a preserve.

"This is a unique asset in the Hill Country of Texas and we need to do our due diligence to preserve the habitat for bats," said San Antonio District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg.

During the warm season, bats from the Bracken Bat Cave can eat more than 200 tons of insects in a single night. Many of those insects are considered to be agricultural pests.

"It has an impact on the ecosystem far and wide, particularly here in South Central Texas and throughout the Hill Country," said Nirenberg.

Even though the land for planned development is in Comal County, Nirenberg and others are involved because this effects a lot more than just the bats. The acreage is in the heart of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.

"This is ... what will be from here to eternity the area's No. 1 source of drinking water. So as a region, as a state, this makes perfect sense that we be having this conversation about 'Let's preserve the Bracken Bat Cave and the area surrounding it,'" said Nirenberg.

The area is also home to several colonies of Golden-Cheeked Warblers.

Nirenberg said he recognizes that growth is a side-effect of an exploding economy, but that growth can't continue if we don't preserve resources like our water supply.

For a list of recent stories Justin Horne has done, click here.