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Lisa O'Donnell [00:00:01] Fish and Wildlife issued this regional habitat conservation plan, this regional permit, to cover incidental take of not only the warbler, but the vireo and cave invertebrates, and, you know, there were a couple of plants in there as well.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:00:13] And that, that permit was issued in 1996, and it was predicated upon having this preserve system that was at least, you know, 30,000 acres, or more.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:00:25] Originally, when the scientific advisory committee said that, you know, that they were taking a look at how much area they needed to protect all of these species, they recommended 125,000 acres.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:00:39] And I remember being in the meeting when they presented that to the politicians, and it didn't go over particularly well.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:00:47] And so what they ended up doing was, that's where the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge came in, was, okay, the City of Austin and Travis County would do this 30,000-acre preserve and then the refuge would do their acquisition boundaries are around 40,000, I think.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:01:10] Even so, those two things together, it's still, you know, about half of what the scientific advisory committee had actually recommended.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:01:19] Part of the reason that they recommended something as big as that was to allow a buffer between the preserve and the development.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:01:30] And so since I've been with the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, we just would have this tremendous growth and development, you know, into western Travis County. And we've actually got aerial photos that kind of document that and show it from '96, 2006, 2016.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:01:50] And so I've watched the transition from preserve that's fairly intact with the surrounding forest, to essentially an urban preserve, you know, where we're getting surrounded more and more.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:02:05] And so with that, you see more trespass. You get people that are worried about fire, that are cutting trees down along the boundaries.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:02:14] And that was the reason why the scientific advisory committee wanted this buffer, because they knew things like that would happen along that wildland / urban interface.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:02:25] And so we don't have that buffer, essentially.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:02:29] But, I mean, the good part about the preserve system was that we protected the best habitat within Travis County. We're also losing, you know, it allows the loss of over 70% of the habitat in Travis County. But in exchange for protecting, you know, the best.

Lisa O'Donnell [00:02:49] And so it's quite a privilege and an honor to try to, to try to do that, and to try to make our preserve system the best it can be, given all the things happening around it.