Government Canyon State Natural Area
|Government Canyon State Natural Area|
|Managed by||Texas Parks and Wildlife Department|
|Website : Government State Natural Area|
First opened to the public in October, 2005, Government Canyon State Natural Area (GCSNA) preserves 12,047 acres (48.75 km2) of rugged hills and canyons typical of the Texas Hill Country. It is designated a Natural Area, rather than a State Park, and therefore the primary focus is maintenance and protection of the property's natural state. Accordingly, access and recreational activities may be restricted if the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) deems such action necessary to protect the environment.
The reserve is located in the extreme NW corner of Bexar County, and protects a large, relatively pristine tract of Hill Country terrain, numerous and diverse species of plants & wildlife, part of the upper Leon Creek watershed, and a critical aquifer recharge zone for the City of San Antonio Water System. It includes nesting habitats of the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black-capped Vireo, both of which are classified as endangered. As in much of the Hill Country, White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are by far the most common large mammal on the property. Additionally, wild turkeys, armadillos, skunks, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and fox squirrels are present. Feral pigs, exotic fallow deer, porcupines, rock squirrels, and ringtailed cats may occasionally be encountered. Bobcats, coyotes, grey foxes, and rarely, mountain lions, also inhabit the area, but are seldom seen by visitors. Primary vegetation includes the invasive Ashe Juniper, commonly known as "mountain cedar", several different species of oak, and also sycamore, mesquite, persimmon, mountain laurel, Texas madrone, redbud, maple, wild grape, several different types of brush, prickly pear, yucca, and various grasses. A more extensive list of the fauna and flora present in the park can be found at the GCSNA Ranger Station.
In September, 2009, the City of San Antonio transferred 2,962 acres (11.99 km2) of land to the TPWD for inclusion in the Natural Area, specifically to support long-term protection of the Edwards Aquifer, and thereby increasing the total acreage within the reserve from 8,624 acres (34.90 km2) to 11,576 acres (46.85 km2). Most recently, in April, 2013, an additional 461 acres (1.87 km2) were added to GCSNA through a combination of funding from the City of San Antonio, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and a US Fish & Wildlife Service endangered species grant, which brought the reserve's total to 12,047 acres (48.75 km2).
GCSNA is open to the public 4 days (Fri. – Mon.) each week, weather permitting, and offers 40 miles (60 km) of hiking/biking trails. Entrance fee: $6 per adult; children 12 and under, free. Beginning Friday, October 5, 2012 the Natural Area will allow overnight camping on Fridays and Saturdays. There are regular walk-in (50–60 yards) campsites, and two group walk-in campsites that allow up to sixteen persons per site.
GCSNA urges all visitors to respect the LEAVE NO TRACE set of wilderness ethics: 1) Plan Ahead and Prepare, 2) Travel on Marked Trails Only, 3) Always Dispose of Waste Properly, 4) Leave Behind What You Find, 5) Never Build An Open Fire, 6) Respect Wildlife, and 7) Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
- Texas Parks & Wildlife: City of San Antonio Transfers Almost 3,000 Acres to Government Canyon
- My San Antonio: City gives 3,000 acres of Government Canyon to state
- Leon Springs Business Association: City land to go to Government Canyon
- My San Antonio: City earns praise for land transfer
- My San Antonio: 461 more acres for Government Canyon
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