The collection includes business records, correspondence, financial records, maps, outreach efforts, educational programs, ephemera, and press clippings from the formation of the preserve to present day.
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Wild Basin was founded by seven visionary women who were members of a 1970s environmental group called Now or Never, which was established to preserve a natural area for science classes and teacher training. When the master plan for West Lake Hills was completed, it became evident that Loop 360 would be built. The Audubon Society noted that the beautiful area north of West Lake Hills, known as the Wild Basin, was worthy of preservation. The insightful members of Now or Never adopted the establishment of Wild Basin Preserve as their bicentennial project.
Martha Hudson, president of Now or Never, and Janet Poage, chairman of the Committee for Wild Basin Wilderness, first approached the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) about the possibility of making Wild Basin a state park. TPWD said Wild Basin was too small for a state park. The founding women then talked to city officials, the Capital Area Planning Council, the Nature Conservancy, County Commissioners, Mrs. Dolph Briscoe (then the governor's wife), and anyone else who would listen. They were determined to secure funds to purchase the land. In 1975, Travis County allocated $175,000 to buy the property, providing the City of Austin would allocate an equal amount. The U.S. Department of Interior agreed to consider a matching funds grant if the county and city would jointly provide $350,000.
In August 1975, the City of Austin put $1.6 million into the purchase of land to lengthen the Barton Creek Greenbelt west of Loop 360. At this point, the city's support for Wild Basin Wilderness was dropped and the federal and county funds were withdrawn. Undaunted, the seven little old ladies in tennis shoes, as they called themselves, persevered. They continued to pursue the county commissioners endorsement. Finally, the county commissioners agreed to sponsor an application for matching Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR) funds if the Committee for Wild Basin Wilderness could raise $175,000. Only governmental units, like the county, could apply for federal BOR funds, which is why the county commissioners involvement was so important.
With overwhelming community support, the committee raised $80,000 in three months. Over the next three years, $284,000 cash and more than $370,000 worth of donated land were given to Travis County for the establishment of Wild Basin. Matching funds of $654,000 were granted to buy the land. The 227-acre preserve was completed in the early 1980s when Davenport Ranch donated 12 acres and the U.S. government matched the donation to purchase the remaining holes in the preserve.
Source: Wild Basin Website
22 Linear Feet
Records that detail the formation and management of the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve in Austin, Texas.
Arranged in six series:
I. Establishment and Land Acquisition: covers all aspects of the grassroots campaign to establish the preserve.
II. Administrative: records detailing the management and business of the organization, subdivided into 6 sub-series: 1. Governing Board: minutes, correspondence, and committee reports 2. Financial: subdivided into subgroups a. Audits, Taxes, and Statements; b. Travis County; c. Donations, d. Grants.
III. Outreach: records on the Basin's work with the public, subdivided into 4 sub-series: 1. Education and Scholarship: records of the Basin's work with schools and the public in addition to scholarly works published utilizing Basin research. 2. Events 3. Newsletter 4. Ephemera: including brochures, stationary, and promotional products
IV. Biological and Geological Features: records related to the bountiful wildlife of the Basin, field observations, and the geological history of the area.
V. Historical Collections: compiled from multiple sources, these records present an overall history of Wild Basin, divided in 3 sub-series: 1. Narratives: stories and timelines written by Wild Basin founders and staff 2. Press Clippings 3. Scrapbooks
VI. Media: audio/visual materials produced by and for the organization, divided into 2 sub-series: 1. Photographs 2. Audio/Visual Moving Images
These records were originally created and retained by various founders of Wild Basin, notably Janet Poague and Margaret Hessin. They were maintained and expanded through the years by subsequent Basin staff who kept the collection at the Wild Basin Preserve.
This collection was relocated to the Munday Library at St. Edward's University in the fall of 2020 under the supervision of Basin Director Barbara Dugleby and Archivist Travis Williams.
Any items not selected for retention were returned to Wild Basin in spring 2021. These items included duplicate copies of materials and various personnel and financial records that did not have any bearing on the collection's overall historical narrative.
This collection was processed by Travis Williams (Archivist and Special Collections Librarian) in the spring of 2021.