Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the early 1930s, Balmorhea State Park is located on 45.9 acres in the foothills of the Davis Mountains southwest of Balmorhea in Reeves County.
San Solomon Spring, which flows into the park's pool and through the canals leading to the restored ciénega (wetland), is the largest in a series of artesian and gravity springs formed by subsurface geologic faults in the Balmorhea area. After leaving the pool, spring waters ebb slowly through the cattails, rushes and reeds of San Solomon Cienega. This desert wetland serves as a home for abundant aquatic life including two small, endangered desert fishes: the Pecos Gambusia and the Comanche Springs Pupfish. Occurring at no other place in the world, the sole remaining population of the pupfish relies upon the springs and canals of the Balmorhea area for survival. Other animals, including resident and migrant birds, depend upon this water and lush vegetation for food, water and shelter. Local farmers rely on San Solomon water to irrigate crops that would otherwise not survive the blistering desert summers. Wildlife observation opportunities at the park include deer, javelina, hawks, barn swallows, waterfowl, ground squirrels, fish, roadrunners and more.
The Balmorhea State Park Cienega Project, which recreated a desert wetland in West Texas, has won a 1998 Texas Quality Initiative Award for "innovation" from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and its cooperative partners. Described as a "classic win-win situation by organizations ranging from the Texas Organization for Endangered Species to the Cotton Council, the Balmorhea Cienega Project conceived by the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) was awarded the TQI award for its unprecedented cooperative effort among the local farming community, and a host of state and federal agencies. The pacesetting project spearheaded by TPW fisheries biologist Dr. Gary Garrett brought together such diverse interests as the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Environmental Protection Agency with the Texas Department of Agriculture, TxDOT, Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Reeves County Water Improvement District #1. Special acknowledgment goes to TPW staff David Riskind, Delton Daugherty, Kelly Bryan, Michael Young, and Tom Johnson.
The cienega now serves not only as an attractive habitat for endangered fish and other aquatic life, birds and other animals, but also as a tourism draw for Balmorhea State Park.
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