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The Texas Hill Country

About Hill Country, Texas

The Texas Hill Country is in the eastern part of the Edwards Plateau Ecological Region covering approximately 24 million, predominantly limestone hills and mountainous acres.  Covered by relatively shallow soils, the area is dominated by Ashe juniper, oak (sp), persimmon, agarita, sumac, hackberry, mesquite and prickly pear.  Good fertile soils can be found in the flatter areas, valleys, and river bottoms, with principal rivers being the Guadalupe, Llano, San Marcos, and Pedernales Rivers.  This rugged semi-arid elevated region of central Texas sits above the Balcones escarpment, a geological fault zone located north of a line from Del Rio to San Antonio, then northward west of I35 to Waco then westward to San Angelo then south to the Pecos River.  

Historically, grazing by bison and frequent natural and man-made fires maintained the Hill Country as a largely grassland savannah. Ashe juniper or cedar was restricted to the overgrazed areas along rivers and streams, and in areas of shallow soils and steep canyons where fires did not occur frequently. As European settlement increased, fencing of livestock, specifically cattle, sheep, goats caused extensive overgrazing and rangeland abuse.  The land was not allowed to rest to allow the grass to recover thus the encroaching brush became a major food source further exacerbating its spread.  By the turn if the twentieth century, habitat mismanagement had caused the hill country savannah to change from a grassland to a brushland.  Many of the more desirable woody species were readily grazed by sheep, goats, cattle, and an increasing deer herd. These animals have selective foraging habits, eating the more desirable plants first leaving the less desirable plants for last.

So today, the Texas Hill Country is generally dominated by many poor-quality grass, forb and woody plants, primarily cedar which has become the dominant plant species.  In many areas throughout the hill country, this beautiful, once diverse, and healthy landscape has become a "cedar break" with very little plant diversity.  White-tailed deer populations and highly competitive exotic mammals such as Axis, Fallow and Sika Deer often exceeding range carrying capacity continue to contribute to habitat disintegration while also directly negatively impacting native wildlife species as food and cover.  Since before the beginning of the 21st century, range and wildlife management has greatly improved; however, human encroachment has increased exponentially thus detrimentally impacting, primarily from habitat fragmentation the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

Get More Information on Hill Country TX

To learn more about Texas Hill Country, read our area guide. Contact West & Swope Ranches online or call 844-888-3384 to discover Hill Country real estate.

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