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Gay Ruby Dahlstrom Preserve now open to the public

The project the late Gay Ruby Dahlstrom worked for almost a decade over is now complete and open to the public as a nature preserve and conservation easement.

Hays County, the Hill Country Conservancy and the Dahlstrom family announced the opening of the Gay Ruby Dahlstrom Preserve. The nature preserve is located in Buda on the Dahlstrom Ranch spanning 384 acres of undeveloped land.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said the county fully supported the project and invested more than $5 million into it.

“The county wanted the preserve to benefit the environment, residents and hopefully the school children,” Jones said. “This is a lot of natural land that is uninterrupted by development and we are glad to see it open.”

The preserve opened in May with guided tours, but the family has expanded access to the area this month. Visitors can pay $3-5 for a day pass and tour through the land through the Hays County Parks Department. Additionally, visitors can hike a 3.15-mile walking trail. The trail includes .75 miles that is American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. 

“The family needed to make the land profitable,” Jones said. “They didn’t want it to fall into development for homes and businesses. There’s only one spot on the preserve where you can even see a house in the distance.”

According to the Hays County Parks Department, the park will only allow 60 guests per day in order to limit traffic and human impact on the land, much like the rules applied to the Jacob’s Well Natural Area.

Dahlstrom was a longtime resident of the county, moving here with her family in 1937. Dahlstrom was a wife and mother, and she was an entrepreneur who codeveloped educational software for Kapstrom Inc. Dahlstrom also had a hand in redeveloping the Buda Mill and Grain property in Downtown Buda.

Dahlstrom’s impact on the community is seen as overwhelmingly positive. Before her death in 2014, Dahlstrom wanted to leave the area better than she found it which is how the idea for an open-to-the-public conservation easement began.

Dahlstrom’s son and three daughters will carry on the legacy of the preserve in her name.

More information about accessing the preserve and reservations can be found at

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