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By car: There is no street address. [GPS 29.4697, -98.4710] To drive here, from Hildebrand Ave. take the entrance ramp to Rt. 281 North; but do not get on Rt. 281! Take an immediate right turn off of the entrance ramp into the University of the Incarnate Word. Next, at the stop sign, turn left and stay left until you pass the baseball fields on your right. On the left, you’ll find us at the picnic tables near our tool shed, with its “Welcome to the Headwaters” banner.
What is this place? The Headwaters Sanctuary is 53-acres of mostly urban forest, one of the last and largest in central San Antonio. [GPS 29.4697, -98.4710] The Sanctuary contains the historic “source” of the San Antonio River: the San Antonio Spring, more widely known as the Blue Hole. The Sanctuary is both a federal and state protected archeological district, with evidence of human occupation going back nearly 12,000 years. There are many layers of fascinating history here. The Headwaters Sanctuary was set aside by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in 2008 to protect the historic land and its famous waters. They established an Earth care ministry – Headwaters at Incarnate Word – to protect, restore, celebrate, and otherwise take care of the Sanctuary for the benefit of all. The Sanctuary is privately owned, but open to the public for appropriate use and enjoyment.
What do volunteers do? As stewards of the land, we and our beloved volunteers do many things to help heal this land. We remove invasive plants to make room for a variety of native ones, which improves ecological health. We do this with hands, handsaws, root wrenches and chainsaws. We haul the cuttings into piles by the trails. We run the brush cuttings through a wood chipper to make mulch. We use the mulch on our trails – a form of recycling! We manage existing trails and “build” new ones. We grow native plants from seed in the greenhouse, and plant them in the Sanctuary. Sometimes we just pick up trash. When you come, we could be doing any or all of these things depending on who shows up, what their interests are, and what needs to be done in the Sanctuary that day. We also enjoy time together in nature. We learn something new about ecological restoration, the natural and cultural heritage of the Sanctuary, and how we can all be better stewards of the Earth.
We look forward to welcoming you in person to the Headwaters!