AUSTIN (KXAN) – A Central Texas nonprofit announced Thursday it received a 367-acre land donation in Hill Country to be saved and protected from development.

Scott Shannon of Scott Shannon Ranch donated a conservation easement, roughly the size of Zilker Park, along U.S. Highway 290 between Johnson City and Fredericksburg, which will be permanently protected, the Hill Country Conservancy said.

“This is an important milestone for the Hill Country region, where unincorporated growth is rapidly encroaching upon open spaces and sensitive natural areas,” Carolyn Stephens, Marketing & Outreach Manager for HCC, said.  

Scott Shannon Ranch contains 1.4 miles of Towhead Creek, which drains into Flat Creek nearly a mile above its confluence with the Pedernales River. The City of Austin gets approximately 23% of its water from the Pedernales River, so the area is in vital need of conservation, according to the HCC.  

The Conservancy also said the Scott Shannon Ranch contains prime farmland soil, critical for long‐term agricultural viability for Texas and increasingly rare within the Edwards Plateau.

The region hosts several Species of Greatest Conservation Need. It is within the southern migration route for the rapidly-declining Monarch butterfly—providing Monarchs and other pollinators with abundant milkweed and other nectar plants.   

“My hope is that the second phase of our work will begin at some point soon and I’ll be giving this property to Hill Country Conservancy when I pass on,” said Shannon in the release. “That’s my real dream for the property to build a center on the property and use Scott Shannon Ranch as a headquarters to host Hill Country Conservancy star parties and educational programs.”