As we came to the only known entrance of Honey Creek Cave in Comal County, we were instantly transported back 200 years -- to a time when there were no cars, no modern buildings and very little pollution. There is even a crystal-clear, babbling spring.
In this meteorologist’s opinion, Honey Creek Ranch is a slice of paradise.
The privately-owned land has recently been placed under a conservation easement, which is a voluntary agreement by the landowner that limits the use of the land in order to protect it from the negative impacts of development.
The more than 600 acres of pristine land sit on top of Honey Creek Cave, the largest cave system in Texas.
Several miles of underground river emerge from the ranch’s namesake and is the primary source of water for Honey Creek, which is a tributary to the Guadalupe River.
The cave also serves as a conduit to the Trinity and Edwards Aquifers.
The land and the entrance to the cave are not accessible to the public. However, members of Bexar Grotto and experienced cavers have been exploring and surveying the cave with the permission of the landowners for more than 40 years.
It was with this knowledgeable group that KSAT meteorologists were given access to Honey Creek Cave — to see the land and the water now protected by the conservation easement.
In order to work our way through the cave, we needed a few things:
- Wetsuits & boat cushions: the water’s a chilly 68°, so the wetsuits kept us warm. It would have been extremely exhausting to swim for several hours, so the boat cushions acted as floatation devices. Water in parts of the cave is more than 20 feet deep!
- Helmets with headlamps: to protect our heads from the jagged ceiling of the cave and to help us see where we were going.
- Kneepads & gloves: to protect ourselves when we had to squeeze into tight spaces throughout the cave. At one point there was only 4 inches of air above our heads!
In our 3+ hour swim through the cave, we could see exactly why this land is being protected.
Honey Creek Ranch is home to several endangered and threatened species, including the golden-cheeked warbler, which was spotted on this trip. So, too, was a Texas blind salamander.
This is not the first time land in this area has received a conservation easement.
In 1981, the Nature Conservancy acquired 1,825 acres in Comal Country. That acreage was transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife to create a 2,294-acre Honey Creek State Natural Area. There has been a push to utilize more conservation easements across the county.
EDITORS NOTE: Special thanks to: Geary Schindel, former president of the National Speleological Society; Kurt Menking, Bexar Grotto member & cave enthusiast; Adam Higgins, KSAT Photojournalist; John K. Young, cave enthusiast and videographer
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