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Visitors get a glimpse of Yegua Knobbs

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    The hikers admire the scenery before starting the bird-watching tour. Photos by Julianne Hodges
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    This sign shows the way to one of the knobs, or rounded hills that give the preserve its name.
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    A caterpillar inches across the path.
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    The Menon family make their way through a dense forest.
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    The preserve is about 300 acres and features hills, fields and woods.
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    As the Menon family explores the preserve during the tour, Sasi (left) points out something to the rest of the hikers.
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    A dragonfly stops on a thistle flower.

On Saturday, May 18, the Yegua Knobbs Preserve was opened to the public for a rare chance to see the protected space. The Open Preserve Day was previously scheduled for May 11, but was postponed due to rain and mud. Fortunately, the rain stayed away this time—give or take a scattered shower.

Yegua Knobbs is a 302-acre preserve with hills, woods, pastures, trails and ponds about six miles north of McDade. The preserve is filled with unique habitats and geology. Usually, the preserve is closed to the public, other than for led hikes and educational events for groups upon request. This is in order to protect the area’s unique ecosystems and cultural resources.

Open Preserve Day began first thing in the morning with a guided bird-watching hike, led by George Kerr from the Travis Audubon Society. Hikers learned about the local birds, bugs and plants that populate the preserve while exploring the forest and climbing the area’s distinctive knobs, or rounded hills.

That afternoon, local Elgin archaeologist Cristin Embree gave a presentation on learning about people from the past through the tools and litter they leave behind. She spoke about how the geography of the region, including its natural resources of clay, shaped the area’s history throughout the last few centuries.

Yegua Knobbs is owned and maintained by Pines & Prairies Land Trust, a non-profit organization dedicating to protecting natural and cultural resources in Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Lee and eastern Travis counties. In addition to the Yegua Knobbs Preserve, Pines & Prairies Land Trust also owns Billig Ranch near Paige and the Colorado River Refuge in Bastrop. They also work with landowners through conservation easements, agreements in which the landowner can set limits on development of their property and therefore help preserve the land.