Wild Mercury Preserve, a living natural laboratory, just 1.5 miles west of Kendalia fronting on FM 473 for 3,690 feet is one of the finest examples Edwards Plateau restorations efforts in Texas. The Preserve is only 30 miles from central San Antonio and 50 miles from downtown Austin. This 138-ac jewel is also close to many of the Hill County’s amenities like Boerne, Guadalupe River State Park, Blanco, Sisterdale, and Fredericksburg.
138 Acres or 56 Hectares
The Property is named after the endemic native rare Hill Country plant called Wild Mercury or Argythamnia which is found in abundance with over 800 individuals documented here. The Preserver is owned by Dr. David and Patricia Davidson who spent two years in early 1990’s looking for the right property with the right combination of water, soil, and habitat within close proximity of San Antonio. Restoration and management efforts on Wild Mercury Preserve once acquired have been put in place modeled after the 40 years of efforts on “Selah”, a private preserve just 40 miles away owned by a nonprofit established by David Bamberger. Idea still in place today is to understand and demonstrate the restoration of a Hill Country Ranch into a better ecosystem functioning property. Ten Years of Ecological Restoration on a Texas Hill Country Site published in Ecological Restoration in December of 2008 by the Davidsons describes their efforts and lessons learned on Wild Mercury Preserve. It is safe to say that there has never been this type of opportunity to own a private Preserve that is this far along on natural diversity succession.
The property is a mosaic of hills, valleys, savannahs, hay fields, and riparian woodlands connected by a series of roads and hiking trails. There is an entrance off FM 473 that leads by all-weather road to the historic headquarters where evidence of the old pioneer ranching days still can be seen in the stonework, historic house, walls, and outbuildings all in need of restoration. Past the old headquarters is a newer usable Preserve office and house. All the buildings and ruins are surrounded by large mature live oaks providing the perfect place for a new owner’s home and amazing habitat for birds and native wildlife.
Ross Creek a tributary of Rawls Creek eventually drains into the Guadalupe River to the south provide seasonal waters through the eastern and southern part of the ranch. Large Oaks, Pecans, Elm and many native trees and plants line this amazing riparian area. Near the south end of the property there is a string of massive native Cypress Trees demonstrating the prolific water resources on the ranch.
There is an amazing database of biological information gathered over the last 20 years from Wild Mercury Preserve including plants, birds, herps, mammals, and insects. Native plants were propagated and distributed with much effort and cost over the years where today you can find over 175 species of native plants on the Preserve. Through mechanical control Cedar thickets have been reduced significantly and open Savanna habitat has increased 500% providing more opportunity for native plants to thrive and expand. The owner has 20 photo points that are used to demonstrate the plant succession into these more natural diverse plant communities.
The combination of natural diversity and the landowner’s commitment to conservation provided the opportunity for this land to be enrolled in a Conservation Easement held by the Cibolo Conservancy Land Trust that limits subdivision but allows the development of a 10,000 sq/ft home within a 2 ac Building Envelope. Hunting, recreation, haying, and managed agricultural uses are allowed. The property also has a Wildlife Exemption and implements many of the qualifying practices through a Wildlife Management Plan.
There is an historic headquarters with several outbuildings and a substantial rock home in need of restoration. There is also a Preserve headquarters office and home and a series of roads providing access to the property. A 12-ac hay meadow is actively mowed. Water is provided by a water well at the Preserve headquarters.
Wild Mercury Preserve has been carefully managed for enhancing natural habitat for decades which has resulted in a wide diversity of native wildlife. Whitetail deer and Axis deer populations have been reduced which has had a positive impact on the diversity of native plants but also creating great hunting opportunities. The Preserve is known for a diversity of bird species which include nesting Golden-Cheeked warbles and a host of other songbirds and hummingbirds. Butterfly lists has been kept by the owners on the Preserves as have mammal, herp and bird lists. This is a nature enthusiast dream! Hiking trails that wonder the ranch allows you excellent access to view a wide variety of wildlife species.