David Baker visited the cypress lined banks of the Medina River twenty eight years ago and fell in love with the Texas Hill Country. He vowed to make this special region his home and has lived in Wimberley, Texas at Jacob’s Well Spring since 1988. David is an artist and land steward who has two children, Jacob and Jessica, who grew up swimming in the ice cold spring water coming from deep within the earth at Jacob’s Well, the second longest underwater cave in Texas. He built a magical sculptural home on the site of an old barn on the property and established a beautiful preserve and nature retreat to share this sacred site with the community and the people of Texas. He has become an environmental educator and advocate along with his wife, Ellen, who has an acupuncture and healing practice in Austin and manages the Retreat at Jacob’s Well with David.
David grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and began studying art and design in 1977. He won a football scholarship to the University of Missouri at Columbia & later went on to study painting and sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute.
In 1990, David acquired twenty five acres at Jacob’s Well with a dream of unifying the fragmented parcels around the Well into a single preserve.
David founded the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association in the spring of 1996 to protect the quality and quantity of water in Cypress Creek and the Blanco River and now serves as the Executive Director of the nonprofit organization.
David has served as Vice President of Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, was a founding board member of the Hill Country Land Trust and Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, and served for eight years on board of the Hill Country Alliance. David was honored by the State of Texas as the individual winner of the Texas Environmental Excellence Award in 2011.
David and Ellen have created a space at Jacob’s Well that invites people to experience the healing power of nature and art and to discover the deep desire for authentic living. To experience the Retreat at Jacob’s Well is to reflect, remember and renew our connection to ourselves, the land, the water, and our essential role to care for the earth.
Through his passion for the preservation of Wimberley’s watersheds and the bio-diversity of the Texas Hill Country, David has focused on restoring the artesian springs that feed Cypress Creek and the Blanco River watersheds and has brought together the community to permanently preserve over one hundred acres surrounding Jacob’s Well, the primary source of Cypress Creek. Much of land surrounding the spring was slated for high density development and after years of litigation and negotiation the land is now permanently protected.
In 2005, the WVWA purchased and began restoring 120 parcels of land around the spring and has in the last seven years removed over four acres of impervious cover around the iconic Jacob’s Well. In addition, David and WVWA worked with Hays County, conservation partners, and local elected officials to forward a successful 30 million dollar Parks and Open Space Bond initiative in 2007. Through this partnership, Jacob’s Well Spring is now owned by Hays County and the preserve, known as Jacob’s Well Natural Area, is now protected with a conservation easement held by the Nature Conservancy and Save Our Springs Alliance.
The WVWA continues to work with local stakeholders and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment to establish a Watershed Protection Plan for Cypress Creek and the aquifer recharge areas that feed Jacob’s Well. The innovative plan is the first watershed protection plan in Texas to integrate a groundwater protection component along with best management practices and incentives for water quality protection.
The WVWA works locally and regionally as a catalyst to conserve land and establish policies that protect water, aquifer recharge, wildlife habitat, and establish open space and park lands for private landowners, residents and visitors to the region. The WVWA conducts scientific studies and water quality monitoring in partnership with the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority for the Texas Clean Rivers Program. The organization also engages local partners and volunteers to provide environmental education for local youth and participates in regional water policy planning, advocacy and conservation based initiatives. The WVWA has recently launched the Center for Sustainable Living Project to promote the art and science of sustainable living to fulfill the uplifting promise of community health and prosperity through environmental responsibility.