Wild Basin was founded by seven visionary women who were members of a 1970's environmental group called "Now or Never". This group was established to preserve a natural area and to use this area as an outdoor laboratory for science classes and teacher training. When the master plan for West Lake Hills was completed, it became evident that Loop 360 would be built. The Audubon Society noted that the beautiful area north of West Lake Hills, known as the Wild Basin, was worthy of preservation. The insightful members of "Now or Never" adopted the establishment of Wild Basin Preserve as their Bicentennial Project.

Martha Hudson, president of "Now or Never", and Janet Poage, Chairman of the "Committee for Wild Basin Wilderness", first approached the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) about the possibility of making Wild Basin a state park. TPWD said Wild Basin was too small for a state park. The founding women then talked to city officials, the Capital Area Planning Council, the Nature Conservancy, County Commissioners, Mrs. Dolph Briscoe (then the governor's wife), and anyone else who would listen. They were determined to secure funds to purchase the land. In 1975, Travis County allocated $175,000 to buy the property, providing the City of Austin would allocate an equal amount. The U.S. Department of Interior agreed to consider a matching funds grant if the county and city would jointly provide $350,000.

In August 1975, the City of Austin put $1.6 million into the purchase of land to lengthen the Barton Creek Greenbelt west of Loop 360. At this point, the city's support for Wild Basin Wilderness was dropped. Without the city's support, the federal and county moneys were withdrawn. Undaunted, the seven "little old ladies in tennis shoes" persevered. They continued to pursue the County Commissioners endorsement. Finally, the County Commissioners agreed to sponsor an application for matching Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR) funds if the "Committee for Wild Basin Wilderness" could raise $175,000. Only governmental units, like the county, could apply for federal BOR funds, that's why the County Commissioners involvement was so important.

By having every imaginable fund-raiser, with overwhelming community support, Wild Basin was able to raise $80,000 in three months. Over the next three years $284,000 cash and over $370,000 worth of donated land were given to Travis County for the establishment of Wild Basin. $654,000 in matching funds were granted to buy the land. The 227 acre preserve was completed in the early 1980's when Davenport Ranch donated 12 acres and the U.S. Government matched the donation to purchase the remaining holes in the preserve.


The Wild Basin Creative Research Center, in its role as an interdisciplinary laboratory of St. Edward's University, exists to protect and maintain its urban wilderness, and to promote the importance of environmental education, research, conservation and preservation. Collaboration between Wild Basin and St. Edward's enables the creation of programs and initiatives that serve to fulfill the mission.