SAN ANTONIO - It is a tranquil, 53-acre plot of land nestled behind the University of the Incarnate Word. The Headwaters at Incarnate Word, a corporation, was created in 2008 by the Sisters of Charity, who are longtime owners of the land in the area.
"I think the people of San Antonio ought to consider this a birthright,” said Howard Homan, board member for the Headwaters at Incarnate Word. “This is the source of the water for the city."
It is the last of an untouched natural habitat, a virtual island surrounded by a bustling city. The land is home to the origins of the San Antonio River and the famous Blue Hole. As a result, it is a location with a prolific past.
"These places are held sacred by our people in order to be able to tell our story,” said Gary Perez, board member for the Headwaters at Incarnate Word.
Perez, who is also a Native American, explained that the headwaters are tied to great cultural importance, dating back thousands of years. The springs, which were once gathering areas for Native Americans, played a large role in the culture.
The Headwaters at Incarnate Word, which is open to all, sits directly behind the University of the Incarnate Word. There is little connection between the two, however, other than the fact that both fall under the umbrella of the Sisters of Charity. Its location also means few know the land even exists.
"It’s kind of hidden. It doesn’t have an address,” Homan said.
The Headwaters at Incarnate Word’s most well-known feature is the Blue Hole. Hundreds of years ago, the water flowing from the Blue Hole was so plentiful, it was said to have shot out of the ground some 20 feet high. The entire area around the springs was underwater.
The organization has pictures showing the Sisters of Charity canoeing through the water in the 1800s. Now, much has changed. There is far less water and trash has become a problem.
The organization said they plan to take the money they receive through the Big Give SA to help continue with the restoration of the park to its original state. That includes removing invasive species and cleaning up trash. There are also plans to convert what is now a soccer field into a learning center.
“We want to make that a center where people also come to visit to learn about restoration,” Homan said.
In the end, they hope to make it a tranquil place for all of San Antonio.
This year’s Big Give SA will take place May 3. Click here for more information.
Copyright 2016 by KSAT - All rights reserved.