There is a 4-acre cave preserve in Cedar Park that is not quite ready for explorers. However, if locals can hang tight there is a lot of educational experience to gain from this acquired property.
The caves are part of the Wilcox Cave Preserve, donated by Fox River Austin Properties to the Texas Cave Management Association last month. The nonprofit intends to open up the caves to the public during certain times of the year to teach visitors about caves.
“We like to use preserves as an educational opportunity, not just to lock them up and throw away the key,” Jim Kennedy, a Texas Cave Management Association board member, said.
The property has three caves, two that are home to the tooth cave ground beetle, also known as the Rhadine Persephone.
“Most of the caves are for crawling and squirming around,” Kennedy said. “Like most of Central Texas, these aren’t the kind you just can walk around.”
Because of this, only those who have the right kind of equipment will be allowed to access the caves once the preserve is open.
“You need a climbing helmet with a lamp, sturdy clothing, hiking boots, gloves and knee pads,” Kennedy said. “We always recommend a small pack with things like granola bars, water and extra batteries.”
Kennedy said the preserve is located at the end of West Park Street but his association doesn’t want to reveal the exact location.
“Too many people will vandalize them if we give the exact address and they are archeological habitats,” he said.
The Wilcox tract was named after Bertha Wilcox, who previously owned a home that remains on the property. Texas Cave Management Association might use the home as a rental or even as their headquarters.
“We are still discussing the goals and the purposes of the preserves,” Kennedy said.
The nonprofit will begin fundraising soon.
“We are going to need to build some fencing around the property,” Kennedy said. “It is being encroached on by two retail operations.”
According to Kennedy, the association will start applying for grants in order to raise some money. They also are accepting donations.
“Most of our preserves we like to keep at least the surface open,” he said.
There is talk on building a trail for the public to use around the preserve, but conversations are still in the early stages.
The Texas Cave Management Association was the first organization in Texas dedicated to the preservation of caves and underground resources. They own nine cave preserves across Central and Southwest Texas, including Avery Ranch Cave in Austin; Robber Baron Cave, San Antonio; Ezells Cave, San Marcos; and the Deep and Punkin Cave Preserve, Edwards County.