Austin is spending $30 million of bond money to buy more than 3,000 acres of land to preserve open space for a 34-mile hiking trail and to protect the Barton Springs recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer.

The deal for the land in neighboring Hays County includes some of the most sought-after sites for housing and related development in Austin’s fast-growing southern suburbs. Hays County is also considering a $9 million conservation land deal in the area. The Austin City Council approved the purchase in December and closed on the transaction last week.

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