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Texas bat cave preserved in deal with real estate developer

When it comes to new construction in undeveloped areas, there is often the issue of balancing growth and nature. In a place like Texas - where employment is up and the population is booming - there is great potential for residential and commercial real estate development. This is great news for the state's economy, but sometimes growth can conflict with our natural resources and treasures.

In a preserve outside San Antonio resides the largest bat colony in the world. Bracken Bat Cave shelters up to 20 million Mexican free-tail bats, which benefit the ecosystem by consuming about 100 tons of insects each night during the warm months. A developer that owned land near the preserve had planned on building about 3,500 homes, but conservationists worried that a new housing development would threaten the bat colony. Bats are attracted to the lights of homes and neighborhoods, and bat experts predicted that a nearby residential area would create a danger to the creatures as well as a public nuisance to homeowners.

Recently, conservation groups, private donors and the city of San Antonio raised $20 million to buy the land from the developer and create a larger natural area in order to leave the bat cave in peace. It's good when an area's commercial and residential real estate markets are thriving, but just as important is finding solutions that respect and protect natural wonders for future generations to enjoy. This deal shows that it is possible for developers to work with lawmakers, conservation groups and residents in efforts to keep the environment's best interests in mind.

Source: National Public Radio, "The World's Biggest Bat Colony Is Saved From City Sprawl," Eileen Pace, Nov. 1, 2014

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