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Hill Country Alliance News

August 30, 2014

California’s water crisis and new groundwater rules are worth learning about

“Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers — always a backup source during the region’s periodic droughts — are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are both historic and unsustainable.” Read more from the Washington Post. Now California lawmakers are overhauling the state's longstanding "pump-as-you-please" groundwater policy under a package of bills lawmakers recently sent Gov. Jerry Brown. Read about California’s new groundwater rules in the Fort Worth Star Telegram here.

Green Spaces Alliance's Picture Your World Youth Photography Project 2014-2015

Open to youth ages 8-18, the Picture Your World weekend workshops teach photographic composition and technique through hands-on demonstration, and constructive critique. Participants will produce a visual memory of their day and begin a creative portfolio while experiencing the wonders of the natural environment. Learn more

Fredericksburg SHINES Hosts Second Annual Sustainability-Green Home Tour

Fredericksburg SHINES (FBG SHINES), a local organization dedicated to educating the public about sustainable living, will host their second annual Fredericksburg fall tour of homes to spotlight local examples of sustainable, green-living practices. Learn more

August 29, 2014

Travis County Wants Your Feedback - Land Water and Transportation Plan Ready for Review

The population of Travis County is expected to grow 50% by 2035 for a total of 1,500,000 people. Planning for growth outside of the city limits is critical for the county to continue to thrive in a sustainable manner. As such, Travis County needs your feedback to ensure the County's first comprehensive, long-range Land Water and Transportation Plan reflects local values and priorities. Click here to learn how you can help Travis County plan for future growth.

August 26, 2014

Truck Stop in Hill Country Threatens Llano River

Hill Country preservationists are calling on state officials to act after Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest truck stop operator and diesel fuel retailer, broke ground on an environmentally sensitive site in Junction only a few hundred yards from the banks of the North Fork of the Llano River. Read more from the Rivard Report.

Workshop Will Feature Discussion of Proposed Blumenthal Substation and Transmission Line

A landowner workshop has been planned for all interested in, or potentially impacted by, the proposed substation and transmission line planned for the Blumenthal area, September 6 near Fredericksburg. Learn more

Texans Speak Up for Beautiful Highways: TxDOT withdraws proposal for taller billboards

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has withdrawn its June 2014 proposed rule change that would have allowed billboards along federal highways to be taller. After receiving public comments from more than 900 Texans and 15 organizations in opposition to taller billboards, the agency advised today it is removing the item from consideration on the August 28 Texas Transportation Commission agenda. Learn more

The City of Fredericksburg takes steps to protect the night sky

Efforts to limit the nighttime glow in and around Fredericksburg were buoyed this month as the council approved an outdoor lighting standards ordinance, which will primarily affect new residential and commercial development. A complete draft of the ordinance can be found on the city’s website, www.fbgtx.org. Learn about Hill Country attorney-astronomer, HCA Night Sky team member Ken Kattner who records skies from home observatory and advocates for proper lighting in the Hill Country here.

August 25, 2014

SAWS proposing Burleson County pipeline – questions raised

SAWS presented plans for a 142 mile pipeline from Burleson County to San Antonio at a recent community forum at UTSA. Learn more and watch a video from SAWS news here. While the plan promises 50,000 acre feet of non-Edwards water annually, a Texas Public Radio segment points out that perhaps not enough questions have been raised. Are there consequences related to costs to the community and impacts on San Antonio’s conservation ethic worth exploring? Click here to read and listen to “The Source: Some Critique On A SAWS, Vista Ridge Deal." Decisions will be made by SAWS in September and SA City Council could take this up in October.

August 19, 2014

Save the date for the October 8th Water Forum: Securing our Water Future

“Innovative Strategies and Hard Choices for a Secure Future” will be moderated by Robert Rivard and hosted at the Historic Pearl Stable in San Antonio. A stellar line-up of speakers includes: Berto Guerra, Bill West, Andy Sansom and Karen Guz. Learn more and mark your calendar today.

The City of Dripping Springs is planning for a “World Class Trail”

“The routes will connect destinations beyond Dripping Springs and will take advantage of opportunities to reach the proposed Violet Crown Trail and other regional trails and parks planned for Central Texas.” Read more and get involved. The City of Dripping Springs is soliciting input.

August 18, 2014

Rainwater Revival Returns to Dripping Springs on October 25

Look to the sky for your water supply—and learn how to capture and use it at the fifth annual Rainwater Revival, which returns to Dripping Springs on October 25. The popular and free edu-fest event is put on by the Hill Country Alliance. “We began our part-educational, part-fun fest in Dripping Springs in 2010, and after two years there we took the event on the road to other parts of the Hill Country,” said Event Chair Karen Ford. “We’re happy to be coming ‘home’ to share the latest information about rainwater conservation and harvesting at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. Learn more

August 16, 2014

Lack of Shared Dream Challenges Management of Rural, Open Space

“The population growth has had some obvious impacts, For one, there are a lot more straws, big and small, taking from the groundwater supply.” David K. Langford tells the audience at a recent private lands summit hosted by the Texas Wildlife Association. Read more from Livestock Weekly.

NPSOT Native Landscape Certification Program - Register Now for 2014 Fall Classes

The Native Plant Society of Texas Native Landscape Certification Program is a series of courses that teaches best practices for native plant landscape and habitat preservation. Targeted audiences are homeowners, native plant enthusiasts, landscape architects, architects, landscape designers and nurserymen, Master Naturalists, teachers, citizens, Master Gardeners, engineers, and more. Learn more and register.

San Antonio Mulls $3 Billion Water Supply Project

Depending on whom you ask, San Antonio might either be on the cusp of securing its water future at a relatively low cost, or it is pinning most of its hopes on a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that could diminish the water supply for fast-growing Central Texas and wouldn’t deliver what San Antonio expects. Read more from the Texas Tribune

August 14, 2014
Hill Country Alliance Announces Winners of Photography Contest for 2015 Calendar

“It’s through photographs like these that we help share the importance of protecting our Hill Country environment, and one of the reasons our calendar has been so popular with both area residents and nature lovers worldwide,” said Milan J. Michalec, board president of HCA. Read More

August 13, 2014

Our Desired Future at the Legislature and in the Field

“The 2013 Legislative Session may have been all about water, but it's clear from the Committee testimony that 2015 will be the year of groundwater. Across Central Texas, groundwater is the next big play. But is it really the only alternative to drought-stricken reservoirs?” Learn more about the work of Sharlene Leurig as she travels Texas uncovering and telling the stories of our water.

August 12, 2014

TPWD to Host Public Meeting on Kronkosky State Natural Area tomorrow (August 13)

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will host a public meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 13 regarding the kinds of facilities and recreational uses being considered for the Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area. The meeting will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Boerne Public Library. Learn more

Subdivision on subdivision violence in the Texas Hill Country

"This is often the case -- and is happening more and more in the increasingly crowded Hill Country suburbs of Austin: Recent transplants bristling at the prospect of new development next door. It's probably true that a new subdivision will ruin Hill Country views -- but weren't those views also ruined with the previous subdivision and the one before that? Wells could very well go dry, the night stars will surely be more obscured, roads will see more traffic, and waterways may be polluted: Obviously the risk of those things coming to pass only increases with more development. Thus, subdivision on subdivision violence." Read the full story from Statesman.com.

During Drought, Once-Mighty Texas Rice Belt Fades Away

“This is the state’s youngest land – a vast accumulation of sediment, slowly left behind during ages of floods. From the high Hill Country, the Colorado River carried dirt down to the flatlands, extending Texas’ coastline over millions of years. The region was literally created by water.” Read the full story from State Impact.

Hill Country Land Trust Celebrates 15 Years

The Hill Country Land Trust (HCLT), headquartered in Fredericksburg, Texas, is celebrating 15 years of land conservation work. In 1998, a group of like-minded people including Trudy Vars Harris, Terry Hershey, and others from the Fredericksburg area started meeting as a group with the goal in mind to conserve and protect the Hill Country from the break up of family lands, loss of wildlife habitat, and degradation of water resources and scenic views. Learn more

August 6, 2014

Enchanted Rock International ‘Dark Sky’ Status!

Copper Breaks and Enchanted Rock, which were awarded the highest “Gold-tier” night skies status by IDA, join Big Bend National Park and the City of Dripping Springs as the only locations in Texas to have earned the coveted Dark Sky Places recognition. Learn more

August 5,2014

CARD Hosts a Community Water Meeting September 11

Today the supply of water for our area is adequate. But we know additional growth is bringing many more people and businesses. As responsible, foresighted citizens, we must consider how we can assure a reliable supply of water for our own future, and for those who follow us. To help us all learn more about the risks facing our community and our future, CARD will host a free Community Meeting September 11 in Wimberley. Details

LCRA Accepting Applications for Regional Councils

LCRA is accepting applications through August for membership on its four Regional Councils, groups of volunteers who provide an important link between LCRA and the communities it serves. Regional Council members meet several times a year to discuss regional topics involving LCRA services in their communities. Members pass along information from council meetings to their local communities to provide a clear, accurate understanding of issues related to LCRA. Read more

Limits to outdoor watering become a permanent part of the Texas landscape

Cities across Texas have adopted water conservation policies that limit outdoor lawn irrigation as a way to reduce water waste and stretch existing water supplies. The City of Fort Worth is among the most recent to adopt no more than twice per week lawn watering as part of their “always-in-effect” water conservation policy. Read more from Texas Living Waters.

August 1, 2014

LCRA and City of Mason award $24,000 to Odeon Preservation Association for LED lighting

The Odeon Preservation Association (OPA) will be able to purchase and install LED stage lighting for Mason’s historic Odeon Theater with the help of a $24,000 community development grant. Learn more

July 29, 2014

The Source: Calls For Development Freeze Over Recharge Zone

Water conservation advocates are calling on the San Antonio Water System to cease permits for service to new developments over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone until a plan for growth can be established. The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance wants to ensure less ground cover for the area that refills our water supply. Read more from TPR.

July 28, 2014

Westcave Roundtable to feature Water 101 discussion by HCA's own Charlie Flatten

The next Roundtable scheduled at the Westcave Preserve will feature HCA's own Charlie Flatten and Katherine Romans in a discussion of the Hill Country Alliance and Texas water issues. Charlie will be discussing the basics of water in our state -- from climate and weather, to policy and planning. Expect an overview of Texas’ historical water use and the mechanics of how water is regulated, tips for good conservation and stewardship of our precious resource. This event is free and open to the public. Details

July 23, 2014

"Destination Junction" Community Meeting All Invited

The South Llano Watershed Alliance invites all persons interested in protecting and restoring the confluence of the North Llano River and South Llano River to attend a community meeting on Thursday, July 31st at 6pm in the Kimble County Courthouse. Topics to include: Strengths of our Water Resources, Fundamentals of Hill Country Rivers, creating a Land of Living Waters Nature Center and Effective Water Quality Protection Measures for Development in the Hill Country. Learn more

Can brush control program enhance water supplies?

“A state program meant to encourage old-school range management and new-school water saving methods has become the subject of a peculiarly Texas controversy. The State Soil and Water Conservation Board will decide Monday how to disburse millions of dollars to clear brush from ranches in the name of boosting water supplies. Money has already been set aside for projects to begin this summer.” Read more from Asher Price at Statesman.com

Call for 2015 Rainwater Revival Exhibitors!

HCA is currently looking for Rainwater Harvesting and related businesses and organizations to exhibit at the 2015 Rainwater Revival! This one-day “edu-fest” is the perfect opportunity to meet one-on-one with citizens interested in water conservation, rainwater harvesting and native landscaping. Become an exhibitor today.

July 22, 2014

Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workshop Just added for August at Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center

Do you want to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime? HCA is offering an Interpretive Guide Training workshop that will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. Register now, class size limited. Details

Water-saving program a point of contention

“A state program meant to encourage old-school range management and new-school water saving methods has become the subject of a peculiarly Texas controversy. The State Soil and Water Conservation Board will decide Monday how to disburse millions of dollars to clear brush from ranches in the name of boosting water supplies. Money has already been set aside for projects to begin this summer.” Read more from the Austin American Statesman.

Cibolo Conservancy sets Aug. 6 workshop to help families protect land, get tax incentives

A workshop exploring how families can legally protect and preserve the legacy of their land – and be eligible for tax relief at the same time – will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm auditorium. Details

July 21, 2014

To protect aquifer, limit SAWS service

“Now that San Antonio Water Systems is considering acquisition of new water supplies from the Vista Ridge project, the prospect that these supplies will be used to expand development over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone looms large. By approving these utility service agreements, SAWS opens up new areas of highly sensitive aquifer lands to high density development.” Read an open letter to SAWS by Annalisa Peace as published in the San Antonio Express News.

July 18, 2014

Conservation Groups Encourage Input on State Water Funding Rules

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has proposed agency rules to govern the use of a new state water project fund approved by voters last November with the passage of Proposition 6. State conservation groups are encouraging Texans to take the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed rules. Hearings on the rules begin next Thursday, July 24 in San Antonio, with additional public hearings set for August 13 in San Angelo and August 21 in Fort Worth. In addition TWDB is taking comments via email and postal mail or through a portal on the agency’s website. Read more from Ken Kramer. A guest commentary was published in the San Antonio Express News today by Luke Metzger of Environment Texas. Read “State Water Fund Rules a Big Deal.”

July 16, 2014

Texas Tribune Q&A with Karen Ford

“There are two schools of thought. One is we are not going to build our way out of this, and I’ve heard other people say we’re not going to conserve our way out of this. I have to take issue. I think we really are going to have to adopt as a citizenry a new water ethic in the way we think about and use water. And the way we look at our landscapes. And the way we value our large landscapes and understanding the role that they play in our water supply.” Read More

July 15, 2014

AgriLife Extension sets Living Waters Conference for August 19 in Junction

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will conduct the Living Waters Conference beginning at 8 a.m. Aug. 19 at the Texas Tech Junction Center, 254 Red Raider Lane in Junction. “This is a well-rounded program that centers on topics relating to watersheds, riparian areas and best management practices for managing cattle, horses and feral hogs along these fragile environmental areas.” Details

Plans for Texas 45 Southwest bring quest to document historical sites

“Environmentalists eye the proposed road’s path over the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. Fans of the tollway note how it would provide an alternative to congested roadways. History enthusiasts, though, see what’s not on the map. They see land that the Spanish first traveled in the late 1600s, that stagecoaches traversed beginning in the mid-1800s, and they worry that the proposed tollway — and the additional development it would likely bring — would erase that rich past. That little-heard concern about growth has prompted the Travis County Historical Commission to begin a survey of properties in Southwest Travis County.” Read more from Andra Lim at Statesman.com here.

How to Inspire Millions More Americans to Ride Bicycles

“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users — busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians and, of course, bike lanes,” said David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.” Read the full story from the Rivard Report here.

Proposed Truck Stop along the Llano River draws concerns

Hill Country conservationists including HCA have expressed concerns over a proposed Pilot Flying J truck stop to be constructed close to the North Llano River in Junction. “The South Llano Watershed Alliance (SLWA) is a non-profit organization of landowners and interested stakeholders whose mission is to preserve and enhance the South Llano River and adjoining watersheds by encouraging land and water stewardship through collaboration, education, and community participation. Since our inception in 2009, SLWA has partnered with other local, state, and federal agencies and organizations to develop and participate in programs that to date have brought in nearly $3 million in research and restoration efforts in the local community.” Read the SLWA letter of concern urging for more time for due diligence.

LCRA and PEC Award $25,000 to Old Blanco County Courthouse for Masonry Repair

The Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society will be able to repair masonry and stone on the building’s exterior, thanks to a $25,000 community development grant. The Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative provided the grant to repair and replace mortar and stone in critical areas of the old courthouse on Blanco’s downtown square. Details

July 14, 2014

HCA's Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workshop Returns October 14-17 in San Antonio

Do you want to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime? HCA is offering an Interpretive Guide Training workshop that will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. Register now, class size limited. Details

Water Planners Focus on Bigger Texas, Not a Hotter One

After Texans overwhelmingly approved spending $2 billion in public funds on new water infrastructure projects last November, Republicans and Democrats alike hailed the state’s ability to solve its water woes in the wake of explosive growth and debilitating drought. But as state water planners prepare to spend that money and address Texas’ water needs in the coming decades, they are only planning for a bigger Texas — not a hotter one. More from the Texas Tribune.

July 8, 2014

Travis County attempts to guide surging growth in unincorporated areas

"One difficulty is that the county has little say in what ultimately gets built on unincorporated land." This issue is felt in Bexar, Kendall, Comal, Hays, Burnet, Bandera and all of the rapidly expanding counties throughout the Hill Country. Read the full story in the Austin American Statesman. Learn more about the County Authority issue here.

July 2, 2014

Taller billboards could be coming to Texas

Billboards designed to get people’s attention could be getting taller. In a proposal the Texas Department of Transportation has rolled out, drivers on interstates, major roadways and rural areas could see signs as high as 65 feet tall. “It may seem like a small thing coming from a city, but it’s really a big deal and can really negatively impact your experience of Texas Hill Country,” said Katherine Romans with the Hill Country Alliance. Comments can be submitted through July 14th. Read the full story from KXAN. Learn more about Billboards in the Hill Country from HCA here.

July 1, 2014

GEAA making a difference in and around San Antonio

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA) has consistently opposed utility service contracts for new developments in the Edwards Aquifer watershed. Of particular concern are contracts for sewer service, which allow for much higher density development and have the potential to pollute the Aquifer with high volume sewage leaks. Find out how you can get involved and influence the upcoming SAWS board agenda, July 17th. Learn more from GEAA.

Who Stole the Water?

As the water crisis in Texas continues to escalate, it is becoming a topic of national interest. This article illustrates that the prospect of dried up springs, streams, and lakes in our Hill Country and the bays of Texas is provoking anger far and wide. One thing to note, “waste” is NOT permitted under the rule of capture, although the article alludes that it is. The author Paul Solotaroff, holds back nothing; ecology, water rights, politics, greed, all part of the story. Read more from Men’s Journal.

June 30, 2014

Rainwater harvesting communities find fertile ground in Hill Country

As communities all over Texas search for alternative sources of water amid an ongoing drought, some homeowners have shown more interest in adding a rainwater tank to their property or using barrels, sometimes enticed by government tax breaks or rebates. But building an entire neighborhood where rainwater harvesting is the main supply strategy is a relatively new concept. The TerraScena development in Dripping Springs is one of just a handful underway in the area. Read more from the Austin American Statesman.

Here’s 5 Challenges to Texas Water That Might Surprise You

"Beyond those two big-ticket items — how to pay for water supplies and how to regulate water underground — there are some other smaller challenges the state faces when it comes to water. At a hearing by the House Natural Resources Committee Thursday, several state agencies told lawmakers about the water challenges they’re dealing with." Read more from State Impact.

June 24, 2014

Green Spaces Alliance Hires New Executive Director

Julia Murphy has been tapped as the next Executive Director of Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas. As the creator of the San Antonio Bikes program at the City of San Antonio's Office of Sustainability, Julia has managed a number of important initiatives as the city is changing its image from a fat city to a fit city and a stronger environmental conscience. Read more

Ensuring sufficient water supplies in Texas

As the current drought sweeping Texas and the Southwest continues, state leaders work to create rules and procedures for wisely administering the $2 billion in water infrastructure loan funds approved overwhelmingly by legislators and voters in 2013. Investments made through this program are critical to the future of Texas and will come none too soon, particularly those investments related to water conservation. Read more from the Houston Chronicle.

Comprehensive rating system released for developing sustainable landscapes

The most comprehensive system for developing sustainable landscapes, the SITES v2 Rating System, has been released by the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ program for use by landscape practitioners, developers, policy-makers and others that work in land design and development. Learn More

TPWD announces wildlife management area seminars

The Kerr and Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Areas are planning on opening their doors for a series of workshops on a wide range of wildlife topics. The three-part series will be organized with a combination of lectures and outdoor field-trips. These outings are free and open to the public, though a reservation is appreciated. Workshops run August through October. More details can be found here.

June 23, 2014

Texas Watershed Steward Workshop, July 17 in Dripping Springs

The AgriLife Extension will be hosting a free, one-day educational workshop designed to help watershed residents improve and protect their water resources by getting involved in local watershed protection and management activities. Learn more

Keeping Rivers Flowing, final webinar this Wednesday

“Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers,” is a 3-part webinar series designed to inform people about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas’ rivers, bays and estuaries. If you missed session one and two, you can find them posted on the Texas Living Waters website. Mark your calendars and register now for the final session on Wednesday, June 25th. Great work by our friends at Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.

First Home Powered by the Sun in Mason

Mason County Habitat for Humanity completed the first Solar PV (photovoltaic) system powered home in the city of Mason. The house was constructed to the latest green building standards and to the 2102 building code energy requirements. Read more from Mason County News.

June 20, 2014

Rainwater harvesting: simple idea, big benefits

Installing a rainwater collection system costs about the same or less than drilling a well but offers multiple advantages, making it the more economical and environmentally-friendly choice in the long run. Most importantly, rainwater collection systems do not deplete underlying aquifers the way wells do, making them much more reliable sources of water. Read more from the Hondo Anvil Herald.

June 19, 2014

The ebb and flow of a sustainable water plan

As the drought in Texas has intensified over the last several years, the water plan has taken on new prominence. A new report from the Texas Center for Policy Studies examines whether the planning process is producing useful results, and, if not, how it can be improved. Read more from Mary Kelly.

TxDOT considers new heights for billboards – public hearing Tuesday

“There [are] two big areas that are going to be impacted, all areas that are outside of cities because counties don't have any regulatory authority over signage... and cities who have not adopted a height regulation,” Lloyd said. “There are many cities in Texas that have no height regulation on billboards because the state is the controlling entity.” Read more from Impact News. The public hearing will be held at 9am on Tuesday, June 24th at 125 E. 11th in Austin. Scenic Comal County, a group formed to advocate for local billboard control is urging Hill Country residents to speak up. Read more from the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. More links and references about Hill Country billboards can be found here.

June 18, 2014

Don't count your El Niño before it hatches

Much has been said in recent weeks and months about the development of an El Niño system this fall that could bring a "wetter than average" season to Texas and the Hill Country, possibly ending our region's recent drought. The latest satellite images have led some to urge caution in an overly optimistic El Niño forecast. Find more details in this AgriLife article.

June 17, 2014

Texas Today: A Sea of the Wrong Grasses

This article from 2010 contains timeless insight about exotic grasses in our landscape. "With the elimination of a few native weeds, wildflowers and bunchgrasses in a pasture overcome with an exotic grass, comes elimination of a few bugs that live only on a single wildflower, a few weed seeds, and a few quail nesting sites." When you extrapolate that across Hill Country, you start seeing fewer butterflies, insects, quail, native wildflowers, grasses and other species- declines that compound year after year. A worthwhile reminder of the importance of natives. Read more

Better Lights for Better Nights Conference

The City of Dripping Springs, in partnership with the International Dark Sky Association Texas (IDA Texas), will host the Better Lights for Better Nights Conference on Friday, August 15, 2014 at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park Events Center. Details

June 13, 2014

TWDB Board to approve financial assistance at Board meeting on June 18

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) will hold a Board meeting to approve financial assistance for numerous water projects across the state. Projects to be considered for financial assistance include emergency water supply and water supply projects, wastewater treatment plant improvements, a new wastewater treatment plant and an agricultural conservation center. Learn more

Hill Country Alliance Urges Texas Water Development Board to Make Conservation Priority in Funding State Water Projects

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) soon will announce draft rules and priorities for how SWIFT funds will be spent. In advance of that announcement, the Hill Country Alliance (HCA) convened a roundtable discussion in Blanco on June 4th where HCA board, advisory team and other water and land stewardship experts discussed a range of solutions that could save money and provide water to see the state through future severe droughts. Read more

Rainwater Revival call for sponsors and exhibitors

HCA is currently accepting sponsor and exhibitor applications for the 5th annual Rainwater Revival to be held October 25th in Dripping Springs. Help HCA promote rainwater harvesting as a viable Hill Country water supply. Rainwater collection professionals and enthusiasts will gather for this “edufest” designed to teach and inspire the practice of rainwater collection. This event will be open to the public and free to attend. Learn more and get involved.

June 12, 2014

TWA On-Demand Webinar Previews on iTunes U

The Texas Wildlife Association has collaborated with the Texas Education Agency to create On-demand youth webinars. This educational tool for teachers and parents is a great resource for teaching our next generation about taking care of the natural world. Learn more

June 11, 2014

Smart Growth Online

Around the county, communities are choosing healthy solutions for how our cities and towns respond to population growth. Smart Growth Online is a great resource for the latest trends in green infrastructure, urban agriculture, walkable and transit oriented developments and innovative development practices. The next generation is demanding a better way than traditional sprawl patterns. Find helpful articles, events and resources here.

June 9, 2014

Severe drought calls for conservation throughout basin

There is nothing more important to our communities than a reliable water supply – our homes, our businesses, our very lives, depend on it. As we enter the seventh summer of this severe drought – and despite the recent rain in Central Texas – it is more essential than ever that everyone in the lower Colorado River basin do their part to conserve water. Read more

SARA Announces Inaugural Environmental Film Fest

The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) has announced it will host the agency’s first Environmental Film Fest to help commemorate National Rivers Month in June. Learn more

Our Texas Drought, What’s Happening?

“If we want to have a Texas similar to the one our parents enjoyed, with good clean water, reasonably priced food, healthy rivers and quality bays, we are going to have to do the right thing starting at home and then carry those ideals to our counties, towns, and to Austin in particular. WATER IS LIFE!” Read more from Mike Mecke, published in Ranch & Rural Living Magazine.

Guarding San Antonio’s Eternal Water Future

“The path to a secure water future – and thus, our economic prosperity – was largely written when this area was first settled over the Edwards Aquifer centuries ago. Sound planning will be necessary to ensure clean and abundant water for generations to come and to maintain the aquifer as a primary strategic economic and environmental asset.” Read more from San Antonio Councilman Ron Nirenberg published in the Rivard Report.

June 5, 2014

Debate over Substation near Fredericksburg

“(Public reaction) is ranging from really high negative feelings, just outrage. I’ve talked to some landowners that were in tears,” Katherine Peake, an area landowner who also serves as president of the Hill Country Land Trust, said. “I’m convinced it’s needed. It’s just how can we minimize the impact of the lines and the substation?” Read more from the Fredericksburg Standard

June 3, 2014

Three Hill Country Schools Win Rainwater Revival Grants to Fund Water Conservation Projects

Impressed by the quality of proposals for its rainwater harvesting and conservation grant program, the Hill Country Alliance is awarding three – instead of the planned two – $1,000 grants to Hill Country schools to help teachers and students design and implement water-saving techniques. Read more

ASR and Texas water resources: A tool whose time has come?

With booming water demands and shrinking supplies, water resource managers in Central Texas and beyond are increasingly considering ASR -- aquifer storage and recovery -- as a tool for generating reliable groundwater supplies. While ASR is becoming more common throughout the rest of the U.S. and around the world, Texas has been slow to adopt the technology. Is it time for that to change? Read more

Rainwater harvesting ‘soaking in’ as way to conserve Texas’ water resources

After a long dry period, many parts of the state have finally received some badly needed rain, and those with rainwater harvesting systems have been reaping the rewards of this belated gift from Mother Nature, said Texas A&M AgriLife water resources experts. Read more

May 30, 2014

Austin Rides to the Front

Did you know that Austin’s green lanes, or cycle tracks, like the one you see on Guadalupe along The Drag or on Blue Bonnet Lane were inspired by the Netherlands and Denmark, where one-third to one-half of residents travel by bike daily? The improvements to Austin’s bike-friendly infrastructure and culture, including its recent designation as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, is featured in this month’s Planning Magazine, the magazine for the American Planning Association.

May 29, 2014

Milan J. Michalec elected President of the Cow Creek GCD

“I’m honored for the vote of confidence given by my fellow directors,” Michalec said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to maintain, and more importantly, to advance the reputation of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District as one of the most forward-thinking and effective districts in Texas. Read more from the Boerne Star.

May 28, 2014

Meet Andrew Murr

Former Kimble County Judge, Republican Andrew Murr won the Republican nomination for House District 53 last night. This seat includes Bandera, Crockett, Edwards, Kerr, Kimble, Llano, Mason, Medina, Menard, Real, Schleicher, Sutton counties, a district represented by Harvey Hilderbran since 1988. Andrew’s an 8th generation Texan, descendant of a pioneering family of one of our brave defenders of the Alamo, and grandson of former Governor Coke R. Stevenson. Learn more

Award-winning rainwater capture system crowning achievement of retiring Bandera High teacher

Congratulations to Brad Flink, who’s RWH project was honored by the Texas Water Development Board with its Texas Rain Catcher Award. HCA’s Rainwater Revival grant program provided support to document this project and create a model for other campuses. The stormwater retention and reuse system created by students is capable of holding 84,000 gallons for irrigating the Bulldogs' baseball field. Read more from Zeke MacCormak and the SA Express News.

May 27, 2014

Support for Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development (LID) is a comprehensive approach to site planning, design, and pollution prevention that attempts to minimize downstream impacts of land development by matching the pre-development runoff condition and creating a more sustainable and ecologically functional landscape. Read more

Lawn alternatives gain popularity but ‘carpet grass’ remains norm

At a glance, Boerne shows up as an emerald dot on a NASA map of lawns. The area’s cultivated green St. Augustine or “carpet” grass also figures as a fraction of Duke University data in which 40.5 million acres are said to be covered by lawns across the nation. Accompanying that NASA-sponsored lawn-map is a statistic claiming that more than 7 billion gallons of water are used every year to maintain lawns. Lawns are, according to that site, “the single largest irrigated crop in America in terms of surface area.” Read part one of the two-part series from Boerne Star.

EPA Releases EnviroAtlas Ecosystem Mapping Tool

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released EnviroAtlas, a web-based interactive tool that integrates over 300 separate data layers, helps decision makers understand the implications of planning and policy decisions on our fragile ecosystems and the communities who depend on goods and services from these ecosystems. Learn more

Landowners in transmission line study area encouraged to send input by this Friday, May 30

A proposed transmission line and substation will affect Gillespie, Blanco and Kendall Counties. LCRA is requesting input using its “Project Questionnaire.” by this Friday. Read this helpful “Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions” fact sheet from Braun and Gresham. Learn more about the recent public meeting, links for additional information and what to expect next here. “We can insist on guarantees from LCRA and CTEC that once located, the lines and the substation will be built with regard for minimum aesthetic and environmental impact.” Read this letter to the editor from Hill Country neighbors.

Thinking about becoming a Master Naturalist?

The Hill Country Master Naturalists are now recruiting for their Fall Class. With a mission to “develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.” HCMN works in Bandera, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr, Edwards, Real, Kimble, Mason and Menard Counties. Learn more about how to apply. There are several other Master Naturalist programs in the Hill Country. Find a chapter near you.

Managers Discuss Hill Country’s Water Resources And The Drouth

The Trinity Aquifer and the Upper Guadalupe River are major components of the hill country’s available water supply. While these water resources typically do not receive as much attention as the more prominent Edwards Aquifer, for example, with the rapidly growing population in this part of the state their importance has never been more crucial. Read more from Livestock Weekly.

May 22, 2014

Electric Project Open House Draws Large Crowd

An estimated 200 people attended an open house May 15th in Stonewall to learn more about the proposed Blumenthal substation and 138-kV transmission line project that will affect that area. Representatives from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), Central Texas Electric Cooperative (CTEC) and the consulting firm Power Engineers, were on hand to answer questions and receive input regarding the study area. Learn more

Environmental and economic protection through water supply development

Recent rainfall in Austin delivered more water to the Gulf, but little to lakes Travis and Buchanan, the area’s water supply reservoirs. With near average rainfall the last two years and the lakes continuing to fall, a historic flood or an extremely wet year is necessary to replenish central Texas water supplies and avoid the unthinkable. Read more from Tom Hegemier of the Central Texas Land Water Sustainability Forum.

Western Hill Country Ranch honored by TPWD

Congratulations to Ruthie and Johnnie Russell for being recognized by TPWD as a Lone Star Land Steward. The Russell’s chose to enact a conservation easement on their property because of growing pressure of land fragmentation. “Ranchettes make it difficult to conserve land on the scale necessary to keep habitat intact and ecological systems functioning” Ruthie said. Read more from the Texas Agricultural Land Trust and enjoy a great video about the Sycamore Ranch here.

Wildscape proves to be sustainable landscape alternative

“As the drought deepens, as water rationing becomes the norm, as human population booms and as indicator wildlife populations drastically decline, people are stuck wondering what kind of world we will leave to the next generations,” Read more from George Cates of Native American Seed, published in the Boerne Star.

May 20, 2014

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Awarded Grant to Support Landowners in the Pedernales River Watershed

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) was recently awarded $100,000 in grants to protect the Texas state fish, Guadalupe Bass, in the Pedernales River basin. TPWD will be working with the Hill Country Alliance to identify willing landowners for habitat conservation work within the Pedernales catchment- an area totaling more than 800,000 acres in the heart of the Hill Country. Funds will be available on a competitive basis for cost-share projects, and will benefit the whole health of the river system. Learn More

Comfort Heritage Foundation Recognizes David K. Langford

David K. Langford has been honored by the Comfort Heritage Foundation for his local stewardship and the book, Hillingdon Ranch: Four Season, Six Generations. Read More

Seeing Stars in Dripping Springs

As Texas booms, the state is less and less able to brag that the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas. In the big cities and the sprawling suburbs, and even in Far West Texas near the McDonald Observatory, light pollution is increasingly limiting our ability to enjoy the night sky. But the Hill Country town of Dripping Springs is showing that the starry skies can be preserved or restored even as the state grows. Associate Editor Forrest Wilder writes about the growing dark skies movement and how unlike many environmental woes—climate change, for instance, or the extinction of species—light pollution is eminently reversible. More from the Texas Observer.

May 19, 2014

Judge’s Corner: Judge makes his stance on groundwater

Water is not only a property right, it is essential to the health and welfare of all Texas citizens. For that reason, groundwater conservation districts are authorized by Texas law to protect this resource of our great state. There are now 100 such districts throughout the state. These local boards are to oversee, regulate, limit, and conserve the groundwater resources of Texas for the public’s benefit now and in the future. More from Statesman.com.

May 13, 2014

Landowners in Gillespie, Blanco and Kendall Counties

An open house will be held this Thursday, May 15th regarding a new LCRA electric substation and transmission line project in the Blumenthal area east of Fredericksburg. The meeting will be held at the Stonewall Chamber of Commerce from 5:30 – 7:30. Learn more and let your neighbors know.

San Marcos to offer rebates for rainwater harvest systems

The City of San Marcos Public Works Department is implementing a new program to help its customers conserve water. Through this program water customers can receive rebates for purchasing and installing rain barrels and large rainwater tank systems. Private home systems may qualify for up to $5,000, while commercial, institutional and multi-family systems may receive as much as $20,000 in rebates. Learn More

May 9, 2014

Enlightening New Report on Texas Water Planning

A report issued by the non-profit Texas Center for Policy Studies (TCPS) finds that the current water planning process in Texas tends to over-estimate future water demand and under-estimate the potential for making better use of existing supplies. “This report shows that, with more reasonable demand projections and better use of conservation and drought management, the demand/supply gap in 2060 is less than one-half that predicted by the current 2012 State Water Plan issued by TWDB. Read more and download the report from TCPS. Read more from the Texas Tribune, “How Much Water Will Texas Really Need by 2060?”

Fair Oaks Ranch project raises water concerns in Comal County

The Reserve at Fair Oaks Ranch is exactly the kind of proposed development that Rep. Doug Miller long has cited in calls to create a groundwater conservation district in Comal County - “What is happening in Fair Oaks is a prime example of what I'm trying to prevent — potentially unregulated and unmanaged groundwater pumping on a large scale." - Read more from SA Express-News.

Keep Rivers Flowing

“Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers,” is a 3-part webinar series designed to inform people about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas’ rivers, bays and estuaries. If you missed session one, presentations delivered by Myron Hess, Andy Sansom and Brian Richter are posted on the Texas Living Waters website. Mark your calendars and register now for the next two sessions scheduled for May 28th and June 25th. Great work by our friends at Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.

May 6, 2014

Hill Country Alliance Adds New Staff to Focus on Water Policy and Landowner Outreach Programs

The Hill Country Alliance is pleased to welcome two new full-time staff members, Charlie Flatten and Katherine Romans, who will respectively manage the organization’s water policy and landowner outreach programs. Read More

Water Development Board’s ombudsman will help towns navigate the process

Senator Troy Fraser and Carolos Rubinstein visited Fredericksburg last week to introduce TWDB’s new “rural ombudsman” Doug Shaw. “We hope underground aquifer storage becomes commonplace, as it is less intrusive than new reservoirs and it suffers less evaporation….But everyone will have to pitch in to begin thinking about and using water in more efficient ways.” Read more from the Fredericksburg Standard.

Wind farm and transmission line updates from SOSHE

Final CREZ lines have been completed, a public meeting will be held in Stonewall May 15th regarding the Blumenthal Substation and new transmission line, The first major wind farm in Central Texas is now online in Mills County. Learn more from the most recent Save Our Scenic Hill Country (SOSHE) newsletter.

Bandera High School Among TWDB’s Texas Rain Catcher Award Winners

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) announced recently that Bandera High School is among the winners of its annual Texas Rain Catcher Award, a rainwater harvesting competition and recognition program. The award recognizes excellence in the application of rainwater harvesting systems in Texas, promotes the technology, and educates the public. Learn More

May 5, 2014

Strong Towns Curbside Chat Thursday, May 8th, 6–7:30pm at the LBJ Museum in San Marcos

Meet Chuck Marohn, President of Strong Towns for a candid talk and conversation about the future of America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods. “The current approach to growth emphasizes investments in new infrastructure to serve or induce new development. This approach uses public dollars inefficiently, destructively subsidizes one type of development over another and leaves massive maintenance liabilities to future generations.” Event Details

Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop

The Texas Water Resources Institute’s Texas Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education Program will host a workshop from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. May 13 in Kerrville for area residents interested in land and water stewardship in the Upper Guadalupe watershed. Learn More

April 30, 2014

May tour of Night Sky events scheduled in the Hill Country

HCA is hosting Night Sky educational programs the week of May 12–16 in Fredericksburg, Llano, Marble Falls and at the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The HCA Night Sky Team welcomes Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory back to the Hill Country to teach and inspire about proper lighting for the night sky. This is one of our most widely popular educational programs; we are discovering a growing regional consensus about the importance of protecting our starry Hill Country sky. Learn More

April 23 2014

CASE CLOSED: Disappointment for Hill Country Aquifer Protection

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) recently halted a process that could have created groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) in some of the fasted growing areas of the Hill Country. TCEQ Executive Director Richard Hyde successfully petitioned the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) with a motion to dismiss the case that had been underway since 2010 to create GCDs in Western Travis and Western Comal counties. The request was granted January 27, 2014, and the case is now closed. Read More

April 21, 2014

Common Misperceptions Regarding Land and Wildlife Management in Central Texas

There’s a lot of bad information floating around in the Hill Country regarding land management, in addition to a lot of good information. Sometimes it is difficult to sort out the bad from the good. Misinformation can come from a variety of sources – the coffee shop, the feed store, magazine articles, well meaning neighbors and even natural resource professionals. By clarifying some of the common misperceptions, people will be able to make better decisions regarding natural resources. Steve’s writings are timeless. Read more from Steve Nelle and educate your neighbors.

Join HCA at Upcoming Bennett Trust Education Program: Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau

The Bennett Trust will host its first ever land stewardship and education conference April 23-25 in Kerrville. Wyman Meinzer, state photographer of Texas, will deliver the keynote address on the history and legacy of the Edwards Plateau. Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit local ranches, vineyards and orchards to learn more about sustainable practices in horticulture, forage production and wildlife management. Learn More

TWDB opens SWIFT for public comment

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has opened their State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) rules making process for public comment. Participation in the rules making process is critical to ensure that the intentions of the State Legislature are carried out in the long-term administration of the State’s SWIFT funds. The HCA has submitted a list of recommendations to the TWDB that will help ensure spring and stream-flow sustainability in the Hill Country.

PEC Candidate Forum April 24th in Johnson City

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is hosting a candidates forum for two board of director seats up for election this year. The meeting will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24 at PEC Headquarters, 201 S. Ave. F in Johnson City. The event will also include discussion of a ballot referendum on whether to switch to single-member district elections for board directors. Learn more about the candidates from the San Marcos Mercury. Learn more about the process and forum from the PEC.

Hays County makes pitch for agency to secure, divvy up water

When it comes to water, Hays County’s cup overfloweth. That’s why county commissioners Monday pitched the idea of a regional corporation of governments that would reserve and divvy up water — a job that now mainly falls to individual cities or utility districts — to their counterparts in Travis and Williamson counties. Read more from the Austin American Statesman.

April 17, 2014

City Wastewater Discharge May Threaten Clear-running Creeks and Water Wells

Some water experts believe Hill Country clear-running creeks and streams may soon be a thing of the past if cities are permitted to discharge treated wastewater directly into creeks such as Onion Creek. Water wells may also become contaminated. Read More

April 16, 2014

Sky Lewey, HCA Board Member receives Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Award

Sky has been selected to receive a “Lone Star Land Steward Award” for her work in education and outreach for the Nueces River Authority in Uvalde County. “Sky Lewey is a conservation educator with extraordinary leadership and dedication. A key figure in the efforts to restore healthy riparian function to the Nueces River Basin and beyond.” David Langford, HCA Advisor, and his wife Myrna are also receiving an award for their landowner cooperative in Kendall County. Congratulations HCA leaders! Read more from TPWD.

Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers

"Keeping Rivers Flowing" is a free three-part webinar series designed to inform interested persons about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries. Drawing on practical experience from here in Texas and around the world, speakers will discuss innovative approaches for ensuring that rivers, bays and estuaries continue to get the flow needed to protect water quality and support healthy fish and wildlife populations. Learn More

To Deal With Drought, Texas Needs to Manage Growth

“With the exception of the lower Rio Grande Valley and small parts of Far West Texas, much of the state has received less than 50 percent of normal rainfall,” reads TWDB’s most recent report. “This doesn’t bode well for the next six months. A dry winter generally portends a dry spring and summer.” More from Nextcity.org.

April 14, 2014

Amazing rally for Bracken Bat Cave

Bat Conservation International has inspired major support to prevent intense development of 1500 acres adjacent to Bracken Cave from the City of San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro, City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and others. Find out more about recent negotiations to save the cave and learn about upcoming opportunities to personally visit Bracken Bat Cave and see the bats take flight.

April 10, 2014

The Great Grassland Myth of the Texas Hill Country

How many times have you heard that the Hill Country was once a great vast grassland with only a modest covering of trees and brush? Although this longstanding myth is deeply ingrained and embraced by many government agencies, biologists, landowners and professionals, it is false and misleading. Learn what the Hill Country was really like prior to 1860 from eye-witness accounts, and why it is important to understand the past. Read and share from Steve Nelle.

Georgetown moves to limit residential lawns and landscaping to save water

“The rules require residential developers to use only drought-resistant plants from a list provided by the city. St. Augustine grass, which tends to be very thirsty, can only be planted in areas where there is 10 inches of topsoil and less than 6 hours of full sunlight per day.” Read more from the American Statesman (subscription required). Learn more about St. Augustine and the impact lawn watering has on our regional water supply from Native American Seed here. KXAN reports “more buyers want homes with smaller yards and less grass to water.” View video here.

April 7, 2014

The High Cost of San Antonio’s North-South Water Divide

The fact is the city’s sprawling suburbs, gated communities and ex-urban neighborhoods are addicted to lawn and landscape watering. SAWS officials say about one-third of all the water we use in the hot summer months is pumped to keep grass alive. Not humans, but grass. Learn More

April 3, 2014

TWDB launches Interactive State Water Plan Website

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has developed a new Interactive 2012 State Water Plan webpage that will let water users statewide take an up-close look at data in the 2012 State Water Plan and how our water needs will change over time. This data will arm communities with important information as they plan for projects to submit for State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) funding. Learn More

April 2, 2014

A more “Night Skies” friendly community

It started when the Kimble County Commissioners Court, followed by the City Council, passed resolutions supporting voluntary efforts to protect the Night Skies. This paralleled actions being taken in other Hill Country communities to preserve the awe-inspiring Night Skies and the enjoyment that comes with stargazing, including its attraction for visitors. Read more from the Junction Eagle.

April 1, 2014

Symposium explores land, water connection

HCA’s March 20th Texas Water Symposium generated a crowd of more than 150 to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the Pedernales River watershed. Landowners, state and local officials and non-profit representatives gathered to explore these issues and the steps being taken to solve them. Learn more from the Fredericksburg Standard. An hour-long version of the event will be aired on Texas Public Radio in select regions Sunday, April 6th at 8pm - Details

March 28, 2014

You Can’t Say They Don’t Care What You Think – Public Input on HB 4

Approval of “Prop 6” indirectly transferred $2 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund into this new State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to provide water for “non-rainy” days. But just moving money around doesn’t create water. That’s why what’s happening now at the state’s Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is so important. Read more from Ken Kramer at TexasLivingWaters.org.

Groundwater Levels on the Decline

Stay informed about your local Groundwater Conservation District (GCD). The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) creates a monthly bulletin full of helpful water conservation information and news. Read the latest edition here. Do you know your local GCD? Do you have a local GCD? If you are unsure, contact HCA and we’ll help you learn.

March 27, 2014

A fun way for students to learn about life sciences from TWA

The Texas Wildlife Association provides Distance Learning programs to bring education about our natural world into the classroom via videoconferencing. Discover resources HCA has assembled to help parents and teachers inspire our next generations to be thoughtful stewards of the Hill Country here.

Financing the Cost of New Development

“With growth projected to skyrocket in the Hill Country, GEAA will keep working to make sure that the costs of growth are distributed equitably.” While the SAWS staff recommends new impact fees to fund additional water supplies, development interests are pushing back. Learn More

March 26, 2014

HCA's Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workshop Returns

Do you want to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime? HCA is offering an Interpretive Guide Training workshop that will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. The four-day workshop will be held April 28-29 and May 5-6. Register now, class size limited. Details

EPA proposes greater protections for streams, wetlands under Clean Water Act

“Intermittent and ephemeral streams provide critical fish habitat out West. They account for 94 percent of Arizona’s streams, according to the EPA, and 88 percent of those in New Mexico.” The same holds true here in the Hill Country as these tributaries feed the Llano, Pedernales, Blanco, Guadalupe and Nueces Rivers. “These streams provide the flow for larger rivers and spawning and rearing habitat for young fish and insects; they also help to determine the quality of downstream habitat for fish.” Read more from the Washington Post.

March 19, 2014

TWDB's Water Data for Texas website now includes groundwater data

Today Texans are more aware than ever of the importance of groundwater. As part of ongoing efforts to synthesize and communicate water-related data to scientists, policy makers and the public, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB)recently announced its Water Data for Texas website now includes groundwater data. Learn More

March 17, 2014

Build Smart Water Now

While we continue to reduce our water use, demands increase every day with new homes of suburbia appearing on the horizon. Each will require more water, with a considerable amount going to establish and maintain hundreds of acres of new turf grass each year. In this region, traditional home lawns typically consume 25 to 35% of the annual treated water. Projecting into the future, new residential yards could require up to 30,000 acre-feet per year by 2040—enough water to meet about 20 percent of Austin’s current demand. Read more...

CAMPO Planning – Now is the time to get involved

The Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is currently seeking public input for projects including new roads in the long-ranch plan. Learn more about transportation planning taking place in Burnett, Travis and Hays counties and attend an open house near you.

New Billboard Fact Sheet

Scenic America has just released a handy 4-page reference guide to basic facts and figures about billboards. Download the PDF here. Learn more about scenic issues and billboard in the Hill Country here.

March 16, 2014

The Bats are on their way back to the Hill Country

While South by Southwest (SXSW) comes to a close in Austin, Texas' bat season is just beginning. That's right, the Mexican free-tailed bats have begun their northward migration. To celebrate, here's a little "Q&A" to help answer any questions you may have about this awesome spring event. Learn more from Bat Conservation International.

Stormwater Management Can Be “Green” Too

Meet Dr. Katherine Lieberknecht. She is a professor in the University of Texas School of Architecture who proposes the revolutionary idea that stormwater runoff can – and should – be managed as a water resource, rather than as nuisance to be drained “away” as “efficiently” as practical. Read more from Waterblogue.

West's Drought and Growth Intensify Conflicts over Water Rights

Across the parched American West, the long drought has set off a series of fierce legal and political battles over who controls an increasingly dear treasure - water. Read more from the New York Times.

March 14, 2014

SAWS Backpedals on Right Choice – Still Considering Groundwater Importation Project

Last month, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club praised staff at the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) for recommending to their Board that the focus of future water supplies for the city should rest on nearby brackish groundwater, rather than the importation of fresh groundwater from locations distant of the city. Unfortunately, the SAWS Board, sensing pressure from the business community, has backpedaled against that recommendation to reject all three of the groundwater proposals. Read more from the Texas Living Waters Project.

March 11, 2014

HCA’s Rainwater Revival calls for grant applications to fund water conservation and catchment programs at Hill Country schools

The Hill Country Alliance has set an April 30 deadline for local schools to apply for grants of up to $1,000 to develop or continue water catchment and conservation programs. The auction of “art barrels” during the Alliance’s annual Rainwater Revival, held in November, funds the grants. Learn more...

March 10, 2014

SAWS: Yes to Desal Plant, Maybe to Pipeline

The San Antonio Water System board voted unanimously Tuesday to fund Phase I construction of a brackish water desalination plant in southern Bexar County – the most ambitious water diversification project in the city’s history – and enter negotiations with the Vista Ridge Consortium to provide San Antonio with an even greater supply of new water via a privately-owned regional pipeline, a second diversification project of unprecedented scope and cost. Read more from the Rivard Report.

March 7, 2014

Registration is open for the Annual Kent Butler Summit

Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region. Join us Friday, April 25th for a day of learning at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center. Click here to learn more and register online.

Texas’ Most Endangered Places

Nominations are now being accepted for the Preservation Texas, Most Endangered Place list. Some wonderful places in the Hill Country already grace this list including the Spettel Riverside House in Bandera County, The Old Llano County Jail, Hamilton Pool, Scenic Loop-Boerne Stage Corridor and statewide, Texas Dance Halls! The deadline is fast approaching, March 21st, take it upon yourself to nominate an iconic Hill Country treasure. Learn More

‘Art and Conservation’ to feature landowner-artist partnerships to promote Hill Country conservation

Hill Country-area artists and landowners are invited to join together to promote conservation of the region’s natural resources during “Art and Conservation: Our Hidden Treasures,” a collaboration between the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm and the Hill Country Council for the Arts. Learn More

Meet TWDB's new Agricultural and Rural Texas Ombudsman

"The ag ombudsman is helping us spread the word to rural communities about the SWIFT and the benefits it will offer to those communities," says TWDB Chairman Carlos Rubinstein. "His effort is a critical part of our SWIFT outreach and our outreach on many other programs." Read More

March 6, 2014

American Dream and the Economic Myth

Property is a thing. Happiness is an ideal, a story of the future created by the imagination. The American dream, even when it takes material form, is a wish the heart makes in its pursuit of happiness. It is an act of the imagination made vivid by the life and liberty that allow us to pursue it with hope. Read and share one of our timeless favorite pieces by Betty Sue Flowers.

Learn about Fredericksburg SHINES

Promoting Solar, Electric Vehicle charging stations, Zero Waste, Bicycling, Water Efficiency… Fredericksburg SHINES is striving to make Fredericksburg become the most sustainable community in Texas! Read their most recent newsletter and get involved.

Medina Lake Water Well Meeting March 17

The Medina Lake Preservation Society (MLPS) has invited officials from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to speak with LakePlex citizens about drought assistance availability for communities and individual well owners. Details

March 4, 2014

Gravel pit proposed near Guadalupe River

Commissioners seemed to agree they don’t have much chance of preventing the pit, even though it is in the 100-year floodplain, where land modifications require the county’s approval. The county must approve the proposal if the company submits plans to the county indicating the new pit won’t cause sedimentation in the river. Read more from Sean Batura at the Kerrville Daily Times.

Hill Country Water: Myths and Truths

Cow Creek Groundwater District Directors Milan J. Michalec and Bob Webster will present a program about Groundwater in the Texas Hill Country on Thursday evening, March 20. This informative program focuses on the many misconceptions people have about our groundwater, the aquifers that contain it, and the laws that regulate it's withdrawal and use. Learn More

San Antonio’s Water Future: Who is Running SAWS?

Who is in charge at the San Antonio Water System as major water supply policies are about to be set for the next decade and beyond? The answer, for the moment, is evident only to a handful of senior SAWS executives, board trustees, city officials and business leaders. Read more from the Rivard Report.

March 3, 2014

Symposium Will Explore Issues Facing Iconic Pedernales River, March 20 in Fredericksburg

The first Texas Water Symposium of 2014 will feature a conversation between Hill Country landowners and water experts about the Pedernales River. As Central Texas grapples with population growth, land fragmentation and changing land uses, understanding the impact of land and water management on the health of our rivers and their associated catchment areas is essential. Find out more.

California’s Drought: Cheap Water, But No Free Lunch

Droughts are too often viewed as local disasters. The historic drought gripping California, which grows more than 90% of the country's almonds, broccoli, grapes and tomatoes, reminds us that in today's global economy, the economic repercussions of water scarcity ripple far beyond any single state. In California, as in Texas, drought has provoked a conversation on how to invest in more secure water supplies--but for both states, drought is just a preview of water shortages that are likely to persist, and which are driven by the choices we make around water use. In both states, systemic water scarcity requires a serious examination of how we manage water and how we value it. Read more from HCA Board Member, Sharlene Leurig.

Drought Fuels Rising Tide of Texas Water Conservation

San Antonio and Austin are separated by roughly 80 miles and receive an average of about 32 inches of rain each year. They sit just east of the 100th Meridian, which is often considered the divide between east and west where the plentiful rainfall greening the east quickly becomes the arid desert of the interior west. Read more from Climate Central.

Scenic American to host National Conference April 11th in Houston

Speakers will highlight real life examples from around the country where initiatives such as investing in scenic roadways and tree lined parkways, promoting corporate visual responsibility, defining design standards and prohibiting new billboards has created increased market value for real estate, expanded tourism and enhanced neighborhood livability and quality of life. Learn More

February 26, 2014

Councilman Nirenberg asks key questions about San Antonio water and growth

How are the city’s current policies affecting water quality and supply? How do the city’s growth strategies impact our water security measures? Do these efforts complement or conflict with each other? And most importantly, how are ratepayers impacted? A full transcript of Nirenberg’s keynote to the Resilience Conference are posted on the Rivard Report. His must read request to Council related to the Edwards Aquifer and Water Supply Planning can be read here.

Hays County Water Security – At What Price?

Hays County is gambling one million tax payer dollars a year on our water future. Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) believes our elected officials need to show the taxpayers of Hays County that this is a sound bet, not wasted tax money that will never hold water. Read more from CARD.

Austin blogger series takes a hard look at water, drought and sprawl

“We look at the climate science that warns that Austin faces serious water supply problems, and at the roles played by transportation planning and suburban sprawl in that crisis…Is the CAMPO 2040 Plan smart planning, or does it more closely resemble a real estate Ponzi scheme?” Read more from Roger Baker.

Latest twist in the Lerin Hills saga near Boerne in Kendall County

"The MUD needs the pipeline to get Canyon Lake water to Lerin Hills, where 1,475 homes — plus businesses, parks and a school — are proposed.” Read the article from SA Express-News.

February 25, 2014

Hill Country Land Trust Adds Skilled Board and Committee Members

The Hill Country Land Trust (HCLT), a non-profit land conservation group headquartered in Fredericksburg, Texas, recently welcomed several new board and committee members: Steve Nelle, Jill Nokes, Kassi Sheffer, Floyd Trefny, Mike Krueger and Ernest Smith. The Hill Country Land Trust is delighted and proud to add such prestigious and hard-working individuals to their all-volunteer board. Learn More

Texas Stream Team Paddlers launched at the Meadows Center

The Meadows Center for Water & the Environment at Texas State University is inviting kayakers and canoeists to join the Texas Stream Team, a citizen science program that has been monitoring the quality of Texas waterways since 1991. Learn more about opportunities for students, educators, outdoor enthusiasts to get out on the river and work on one of the most important issues of our time: Water.

The Hill Country Alliance Photo Contest kicks off March 1st

What’s your view of Hill Country Stewardship? HCA is seeking photographs that tell the story of our region’s stewardship ethic for publication in its 2015 calendar. The Texas Hill Country is a cherished place, yet it is threatened by land fragmentation, over-allocated rivers and aquifers, incompatible land development practices and a lack of understanding about appropriate stewardship. Read More

February 21, 2014

Bennett Trust Land Stewardship educational program set April 23-25 in Kerrville

State photographer Wyman Meinzer has been selected as the keynote speaker for the Bennett Trust Land Stewardship educational program, “Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau,” to be hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service April 23-25 in Kerrville. Read More

February 20, 2014

January Driest in Decades – Severe Drought Continues

The amount of water flowing into the Highland Lakes in January was the lowest for that month since the 1950s. The lower Colorado River basin is in its seventh year of a severe drought, and the Highland Lakes remain near historic low levels...Lakes Travis and Buchanan, the region's major reservoirs, now hold about 762,000 acre-feet, or 38 percent of capacity. Read more from the LCRA.

February 18, 2013

Farm Bill Update: The Agriculture Act of 2014 and Conservation

With the enactment of the Agriculture Act of 2014, known to most of us as the Farm Bill, landowners have more certainty about the availability of federal funds for conservation on farm and ranch lands. The Farm Bill provides up to $57 billion dollars over the next five years to support a variety of rural land conservation activities, including the dedication of conservation easements, and eliminates some of the complexity of the varied conservation programs. Read more from Braun & Gresham.

Public Invited to Outdoor Adventure Showcase at LBJ State Park

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site presents a day of family fun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, featuring adventure and hands-on experiences for all ages. Representatives from a dozen central Texas state parks and state natural areas will be on hand to showcase the area’s rich natural and cultural resources. Learn More

February 17, 2014

Success Stories of Trails in Texas

The National Park Service, Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program is working on trail projects throughout Texas including urban trails in Austin and San Antonio and the Llano River Biodiversity trail at Texas Tech University in Junction. Learn More

TWDB solicits public comments

Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is hosting a discussion about the implementation of historic legislation creating the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). This discussion is the third of several meetings that TWDB is hosting related to prospective rulemaking for House Bill 4, 83rd Texas Legislature. Learn More

February 14, 2014

Globe At Night – Get Out and Observe the Night Sky!

The Globe at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone. This hands-on learning activity is designed for schools, students, communities and families. The more participation we inspire in the Hill Country the better data we’ll have for our region. It’s easy, learn more at www.globeatnight.org

Water Blues

“How much IS too much?” Is the rate of growth northwest of San Antonio undermining the good efforts of land conservation investment over the aquifer recharge area? These tough questions are explored in the new documentary film project, Water Blues. View clips by location or issue and pass along to others.

February 13, 2014

Hill Country Land Trust Acquires 685 Acre Easement in Gillespie County

“A wonderful diversity of native plants is found on this property, and many years of excellent wildlife and range management by the owners is evident,” says HCLT President, Katherine Peake. “But even more exciting to us is that this property contains habitat of the Golden-cheeked Warbler. We consider this easement one of HCLT’s crown jewels.” Read More

February 12, 2014

For Central Texas Educators: Groundwater to the Gulf

Every year, water experts from over 13 agencies in Central Texas combine forces to take 50 teachers to the aquatic hotspots in and around Austin. We go caving, canoeing, hiking, and splash in streams--all in the name of science. It is the most fun, free way to earn 22 continuing education credits. Dip your hands into local water topics and try activities that help bring those topics back to your classroom. Visit the Groundwater to the Gulf Registration page for more details including photos from years past, registration link, and sponsor info. Learn More

February 11, 2014

Dripping Springs Named The First International Dark Sky Community In Texas

The stars at night remain big and bright deep in the heart of the Texas – thanks to the hard work and dedication of Texas Hill Country residents. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) announced today it has designated the first International Dark Sky Community in Texas. “Dripping Springs joins a select club as the world’s sixth Dark Sky Community,” said IDA Ex-ecutive Director Bob Parks. Read More

February 10, 2014

Exploring Conservation Design in Central Texas – Rescheduled 5.16.2014

Randall Arendt will be back in Austin May 16 for this full day of Conservation Development education. The program also features a low impact development presentation by Karen Bishop of the San Antonio River Authority and a panel discussion with city planners, land developers, and landscape architects to discuss key opportunities and challenges to implementing conservation design in Central Texas. Learn More

Multi-county new landowner series to address all phases of agricultural production

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is accepting applications for its 2014 New Land Owners Series (NLOS), which will take place in Blanco, Kendall, Kerr and Gillespie Counties in Texas Hill Country. Participants in the program will hear from Extension experts in various fields about best management practices they can implement on their own property. The series will consist of 6 program meetings, beginning March 21. Learn More

Kudos to SAWS, but Day case is the real problem, not GCDs

“Kudos are due to SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente for choosing a closer-to-home strategy that, along with continued efficiency improvements, will help the City meet its water needs far into the future. Here is hoping that the SAWS board and the Mayor give full support to this sensible approach. But, in the press release announcing the decision, SAWS expressed concern about the role of groundwater districts…” Read more from Mary Kelly, Texas Center for Policy Studies. Hill Country GCD’s need to protect spring flow.

February 7, 2014

A Water Primer from our friends at the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA)

“Springs occur where groundwater from saturated aquifers escapes to the surface, usually amid exposed and broken rock along fault lines, such as the 300 mile “spring line” along the Balcones Escarpment in Central Texas... Springs form the headwaters of some of Texas’s rivers and streams, and many provide crucial seasonal or year-round flow.” Learn more about water in Texas from this recent issue of Texas Wildlife.

Water Woes Common,But is That Any Comfort?

“…mine are not views of water issues as seen through a politician’s, chambers of commerce’ or developers’ rose colored glasses. Water is too critical and too big an issue to play games with in giving the citizens the facts”. Read more from the Hill Country’s Mike Mecke, published in Ranch and Rural Living Magazine.

February 3, 2014

Who Controls Texas’ 2 Billion Water Fund?

“The chairmanship is a posting that could easily tumble into cynicism, to the knowing feeling that despite legislative assurances that portions of the water money will be used for the sort of conservation project that Delia, the 9-year-old girl, favors, most of it will benefit the engineering, real estate and lobbying firms that have the most to gain from massive water projects.” Read the full story in the Austin American Statesman.

Severe Drought Has U.S. West Fearing Worst

Pay attention to what’s happening in California - "17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. 'I have experienced a really long career in this area, and my worry meter has never been this high,' said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies." Read more from the NY Times here.

Families Learn Life Changing Values at Cibolo Nature Center Farm

“This place – along with other sanctuaries for nature and people – gives me hope that we can live in harmony with our surroundings, if we work together to learn about our history and the wonders of the natural world, and embrace the communities in which we live.” Read Cheyenne Johnson’s story recently published in the Rivard Report here.

January 29, 2014

House Approves Farm Bill

In a striking show of bi-partisanship, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to support the 2014 Farm Bill. The final vote was 251 - 166. The legislation will generate more than one billion dollars for saving endangered farm and ranch lands. The bill is expected to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President shortly. More from Land Trust Alliance.

Bandera County Water Awareness Event – March 21 - 22

Bandera County Water Awareness Series will hold it’s first event March 21-22 at the Mansfield Park Recreational Hall. The free workshop is open to anyone interested in water related issues in the Bandera region. Learn More

Rio Grande Water Users Fear Groundwater Pumping Project

A controversial groundwater pumping plan that opponents argue could threaten the lower Rio Grande's already depleted supply is highlighting a conundrum in Texas water law. Texas rivers and springs are considered the property of the state, while water flowing below ground belongs to individual landowners. But many of the state's surface water resources, from Barton Springs to the Guadalupe, Colorado and Brazos rivers, are fed in large part by groundwater. Read the full story from the Texas Tribune.

January 28, 2014

New Braunfels river rules deemed unenforceable

For six years, New Braunfels has tried to keep rowdy tubers from tossing trash into its rivers with a series of ordinances barring them from floating through town with coolers larger than 16 quarts or from carrying disposable bottles and cans. Now, a judge has sunk the effort, the latest blow to the city's attempts to regulate water recreation that can draw tens of thousands of tourists to the Comal and Guadalupe rivers on any busy summer weekend. More from SA Express-News. “Support the Ban” activists are urging an appeal; Learn how to be involved here.

Farm Transfer Tools: Promoting Sustainable Practices

“Many landowners, whether retiring from a lifelong career of farming or inheriting land from parents who farmed, want to leave a legacy of conservation and sustainable agriculture. As a landowner, you may be looking for ways to pass on the farm to a farmer and/or new owner who shares this vision. For retiring farmers and off-farm landowners alike, there are many ways to do this, depending on the value and priorities of the particular landowner.” An excellent resource from NCAT.

January 27, 2014

Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution

The State Comptroller’s Office released “Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution” earlier this month. The report demonstrates the value of conservation investments and innovation in water research and technology. A website was also launched to compliment the report and provide ongoing education about water use- some great thoughts here worth reading: http://www.txwaterreport.org.

Chemical Spill in West Virginia shows the vulnerability of our water supplies

The disastrous chemical spill that contaminated West Virginia's water supply reinforced the value of harvesting rainwater to provide distributed sources of safe water. Read More

Dealing with Drought

In this exclusive premiere of the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) mini-documentary “Dealing with Drought,” diverse Edwards Aquifer permit holders share their stories of resilience and conservation practices. More from the Rivard Report.

January 24, 2014

Under the surface - The legislature was looking in the wrong place when it tried to solve the state's water crisis

“Local conservation districts, democratic institutions that allow regional interests to control their own fate, should be permitted to continue their work. But they must be empowered by the Legislature to do their jobs properly, which will never happen as long as private property rights are allowed to trump all other considerations.” Read the full story from Texas Monthly.

Energy demonstration project now underway at TTU-Junction

Last fall the Llano River Field Station (the Station) at the Texas Tech University (TTU) Center in Junction received a grant for $230,000 from the Office of the Texas Comptroller for an alternative energy demonstration project. The renewable energy devices have been installed and are now generating electricity for two buildings on the Junction campus. Learn More

January 23, 2013

Water, Local Control Issues Paramount in HD-53 Race

The bulk of the western Texas Hill Country lies in House District 53, Representative Harvey Hilderbran’s seat since 1992. Three candidates are running in the Republican Primary. “Murr acknowledged the diversity of the region: “Different growing regions, different sources of income and use of the land, but overall the perspective, the composition, the people remain the same. They’re conservative and independent-minded.” Read the Texas Tribune story here.

January 22, 2014

Hays County rainwater fund proposed

On January 21st the Hays County Commissioners Court discussed creation of a Hays County Rainwater Initiative Fund, the Hays “RAIN” Fund. The proposal authored by Commissioner Ray Whisenant would create a revolving loan fund that would be available to Hays County citizens for installation of systems to collect, store and use rainwater that would result in a reduction in the use of groundwater. Learn More

San Antonio Seeks Ownership of Its Wastewater

A bid by San Antonio's water utility to declare ownership of the sewage it treats and releases has sparked a regional tug-of-war — one that could become more common as Texas' thirsty water users struggle to protect their supplies. Read more from the Texas Tribune.

San Antonio named a “Promise Zone”

Five U.S. communities have been designated “Promise Zones” by HUD and USDA including San Antonio’s east side. These communities will benefit from a comprehensive approach to development that will enhance and connect local assets ranging from schools to housing to jobs. Learn More

Groundwater Desalination: An Under-Projected Source of Supply?

The challenges and opportunities in brackish groundwater desalination as a source of future water supply in Texas have been receiving considerable attention lately. With a Joint Interim Committee on Desalination, Senate Natural Resources Committee interim charges that include desalination, and a new Texas Desalination Association, this area will continue to be a hot topic. Read more from the Texas Center for Policy Studies blog.

Zero Net Water

Imagine a water management strategy that would accommodate growth and development without unsustainably pumping down aquifers or incurring the huge expense and societal disruption to build reservoirs or transport water from remote supplies to developing areas. Welcome to the concept of Zero Net Water. Read more from waterblogue.com.

January 20, 2014

The Edward Aquifer HCP is one of four conservation partnerships honored by the Interior Secretary

The Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) is one of four organizations to receive the Department of Interior's Partner in Conservation Award. EARIP's Habitat Conservation Plan, approved in 2013, was created to ensure that the Comal and San Marcos springs will continue to flow and that species such as the fountain darter and Texas blind salamander will survive even if Texas experiences yet another significant drought. Learn More

January 16, 2013

Cibolo Nature Center & Farm to offer five-part sustainable landscape program

Sustainable residential landscapes can have a positive impact on the environmental health and human well-being of an entire region, promoting clean air and water, fertile soils and other essential aspects of daily life. To help homeowners create and maintain landscapes that are both beautiful and sustainable, the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm will offer a five-part workshop on Landscape for Life from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays from Feb. 18 through March 18. Find out more.

The United (Watershed) States of America

A Hill Country governed by Watersheds? This interesting blog takes a look at John Wesley Powell’s 1879 proposal; What if western states were brought into the union they be formed around watersheds, rather than arbitrary political boundaries. This idea rested on the observation that because of an arid climate, a statewide organization decided by any other factor would lead to water conflict down the road...hmmm. Read More

January 13, 2014

Devils River faces threats from groundwater pumping and export

Many eyes are on SAWS in the weeks ahead as decisions are made about regional water supply, i.e. bringing in water from outside of Bexar County. One of the three proposals being considered is from a water marketer seeking to pump and pipe 150,000 acre-feet of water per year from the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer in Val Verde county to San Antonio, San Angelo and other western cities. The Devils River Conservancy and numerous others have sprung into action in opposition to water export in the region that could have serious consequences to inflows of the Devils River, Amistad Reservoir and the Rio Grande below. Get facts here. Read HCA comments to SAWS and the City of San Antonio here. "Opposition Grows to Val Verde Water Plan." Read more from SA Express-News here.

January 10, 2014

Wimberley Citizens and HEB seek common ground

Important commitments for rainwater harvesting, night sky lighting, drainage and other considerations, make this new HEB in one of the Hill Country's most charming communities more tolerable. City Council meets Thursday, January 16th, learn more from Hays County's Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development here.

Rainfall and Recharge Reality for the Laurels Ranch, Kendall County

“Groundwater resources are not only reflective of water levels in wells, but also of the health of seeps, springs, creeks, and rivers. As of today, many, if not most, of these resources in the Texas Hill Country are in pitiful condition, if not completely dry.” Read the details from David K. Langford.

Developer decides not to purchase land near Bracken Cave

All of the advocacy outreach opposing the Crescent Hills project adjacent to Bracken Bat Cave has paid off, Stratford Land officially declined to purchase the property. “Meanwhile, a coalition of conservation groups and local officials worried about the impact of development on the bats and the land remains interested in buying the 1,545-acre parcel and still is trying to raise money.” Read more from the San Antonio Express here. GEAA is helping rally support for this conservation opportunity, read GEAA’s recent outreach communication here and find out how you can help.

Bennett endowment to provide ongoing AgriLife Extension land stewardship programming

“We are excited about helping landowners protect their piece of Texas. In doing so, we believe other parts of the state will also benefit.” The first educational efforts to be made through the Bennett endowment will be the “Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau” conference, April 23-25 in Kerrville. Learn More

2030 District Points San Antonio Towards Sustainability

It’s full steam ahead for San Antonio 2030 District organizers after January 10th's successful district launch party. Architecture 2030 is a nonprofit that challenges cities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from building operations via energy-saving design and planning tactics. Read the full story from the Rivard Report.

January 9, 2014

The Hill Country Land Trust Welcomes Its First Executive Director

The Hill Country Land Trust (HCLT), a non-profit land conservation group headquartered in Fredericksburg, Texas, announced recently that Martha Zeiher has been named its first executive director, effective January 1, 2014. Learn More

January 8, 2014

Regional Premier of WATERSHED: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West, January 15

Enjoy the regional premier of the movie WATERSHED, to be followed by a panel discussion featuring international water policy experts. The evening will feature discussion of drought and water policy in Texas and around the world. Sponsored by the Paramount Theatre and the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. Learn more and purchase tickets here.

January 6, 2014

Cibolo Nature Center & Farm to present three-part seminar for wildlife tax valuation

Landowners who have an agricultural tax valuation on their property and are interested in managing their land for wildlife are invited to attend a three-part seminar in January to prepare a management plan and application for a wildlife management tax valuation from the State of Texas, sponsored by the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. Learn More


More News

The Latest News

California’s water crisis and new groundwater rules are worth learning about

“Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers — always a backup source during the region’s periodic droughts — are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are both historic and unsustainable.” Read more from the Washington Post. Now California lawmakers are overhauling the state's longstanding "pump-as-you-please" groundwater policy under a package of bills lawmakers recently sent Gov. Jerry Brown. Read about California’s new groundwater rules in the Fort Worth Star Telegram here.

Green Spaces Alliance's Picture Your World Youth Photography Project 2014-2015

Open to youth ages 8-18, the Picture Your World weekend workshops teach photographic composition and technique through hands-on demonstration, and constructive critique. Participants will produce a visual memory of their day and begin a creative portfolio while experiencing the wonders of the natural environment. Learn more

Fredericksburg SHINES Hosts Second Annual Sustainability-Green Home Tour

Fredericksburg SHINES (FBG SHINES), a local organization dedicated to educating the public about sustainable living, will host their second annual Fredericksburg fall tour of homes to spotlight local examples of sustainable, green-living practices. Learn more

Travis County Wants Your Feedback - Land Water and Transportation Plan Ready for Review

The population of Travis County is expected to grow 50% by 2035 for a total of 1,500,000 people. Planning for growth outside of the city limits is critical for the county to continue to thrive in a sustainable manner. As such, Travis County needs your feedback to ensure the County's first comprehensive, long-range Land Water and Transportation Plan reflects local values and priorities. Click here to learn how you can help Travis County plan for future growth.

Truck Stop in Hill Country Threatens Llano River

Hill Country preservationists are calling on state officials to act after Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest truck stop operator and diesel fuel retailer, broke ground on an environmentally sensitive site in Junction only a few hundred yards from the banks of the North Fork of the Llano River. Read more from the Rivard Report.

Workshop Will Feature Discussion of Proposed Blumenthal Substation and Transmission Line

A landowner workshop has been planned for all interested in, or potentially impacted by, the proposed substation and transmission line planned for the Blumenthal area, September 6 near Fredericksburg. Learn more

Texans Speak Up for Beautiful Highways: TxDOT withdraws proposal for taller billboards

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has withdrawn its June 2014 proposed rule change that would have allowed billboards along federal highways to be taller. After receiving public comments from more than 900 Texans and 15 organizations in opposition to taller billboards, the agency advised today it is removing the item from consideration on the August 28 Texas Transportation Commission agenda. Learn more

The City of Fredericksburg takes steps to protect the night sky

Efforts to limit the nighttime glow in and around Fredericksburg were buoyed this month as the council approved an outdoor lighting standards ordinance, which will primarily affect new residential and commercial development. A complete draft of the ordinance can be found on the city’s website, www.fbgtx.org. Learn about Hill Country attorney-astronomer, HCA Night Sky team member Ken Kattner who records skies from home observatory and advocates for proper lighting in the Hill Country here.

SAWS proposing Burleson County pipeline – questions raised

SAWS presented plans for a 142 mile pipeline from Burleson County to San Antonio at a recent community forum at UTSA. Learn more and watch a video from SAWS news here. While the plan promises 50,000 acre feet of non-Edwards water annually, a Texas Public Radio segment points out that perhaps not enough questions have been raised. Are there consequences related to costs to the community and impacts on San Antonio’s conservation ethic worth exploring? Click here to read and listen to “The Source: Some Critique On A SAWS, Vista Ridge Deal." Decisions will be made by SAWS in September and SA City Council could take this up in October.

Save the date for the October 8th Water Forum: Securing our Water Future

“Innovative Strategies and Hard Choices for a Secure Future” will be moderated by Robert Rivard and hosted at the Historic Pearl Stable in San Antonio. A stellar line-up of speakers includes: Berto Guerra, Bill West, Andy Sansom and Karen Guz. Learn more and mark your calendar today.

The City of Dripping Springs is planning for a “World Class Trail”

“The routes will connect destinations beyond Dripping Springs and will take advantage of opportunities to reach the proposed Violet Crown Trail and other regional trails and parks planned for Central Texas.” Read more and get involved. The City of Dripping Springs is soliciting input.

Rainwater Revival Returns to Dripping Springs on October 25

Look to the sky for your water supply—and learn how to capture and use it at the fifth annual Rainwater Revival, which returns to Dripping Springs on October 25. The popular and free edu-fest event is put on by the Hill Country Alliance. “We began our part-educational, part-fun fest in Dripping Springs in 2010, and after two years there we took the event on the road to other parts of the Hill Country,” said Event Chair Karen Ford. “We’re happy to be coming ‘home’ to share the latest information about rainwater conservation and harvesting at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. Learn more

Lack of Shared Dream Challenges Management of Rural, Open Space

“The population growth has had some obvious impacts, For one, there are a lot more straws, big and small, taking from the groundwater supply.” David K. Langford tells the audience at a recent private lands summit hosted by the Texas Wildlife Association. Read more from Livestock Weekly.

NPSOT Native Landscape Certification Program - Register Now for 2014 Fall Classes

The Native Plant Society of Texas Native Landscape Certification Program is a series of courses that teaches best practices for native plant landscape and habitat preservation. Targeted audiences are homeowners, native plant enthusiasts, landscape architects, architects, landscape designers and nurserymen, Master Naturalists, teachers, citizens, Master Gardeners, engineers, and more. Learn more and register.

San Antonio Mulls $3 Billion Water Supply Project

Depending on whom you ask, San Antonio might either be on the cusp of securing its water future at a relatively low cost, or it is pinning most of its hopes on a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that could diminish the water supply for fast-growing Central Texas and wouldn’t deliver what San Antonio expects. Read more from the Texas Tribune

Hill Country Alliance Announces Winners of Photography Contest for 2015 Calendar

“It’s through photographs like these that we help share the importance of protecting our Hill Country environment, and one of the reasons our calendar has been so popular with both area residents and nature lovers worldwide,” said Milan J. Michalec, board president of HCA. Read More

More News

Upcoming Events

September

September 6 in Fredericksburg - HCA Landowner Workshop: Discussion of the Blumenthal Substation and Transmission Line - Details

Sepbember 8-12 in Austin - 6th International Workshop on Catchment Hydrological Modeling and Data Assimilation - Details

September 9 in Kerrville - “Drought Impact in Kerr County & How to Improve Our River’s Health” by Tara Bushnoe, UGRA’s Natural Resource Coordinator, at the Riverside Nature Center - Details

September 11 in Wimberley - Community Water Meeting, hosted by CARD - Details

September 12 in Kendalia - 2014 New Landowner Series: Wildlife and Range Management, Brush Work and Sculpting - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details

September 20 in Fredericksburg - Fredericksburg Shines 2nd Annual Sustainability Green Homes Tour - Details

September 22 in Kerrville - Monthly meeting of the Texas Master Naturalists - Topic: Hill Country Land Trusts, Speaker: Bill Lindemann, Vice President of Hill Country Land Trust - Details

September 26-28 in Belton - Renewable Energy Roundup - Details

September 27-28 in Boerne - Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop - Details

September 28 in Austin - 7th Annual Celebration of Children in Nature - Hosted by The Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin and the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center - Details

See more upcoming events


2015 Calendar

HCA's 2015 Calendar is coming soon! Check back for availability.

Check out the top photos from our 2014 HCA Photo Contest


Imagine a place where vibrant communities draw strength from their natural assets to sustain their quality of life. A place where citizens care about protecting the special qualities of a region – their region. A place where people and partners band together to envision a better economic future, tackle shared challenges and care for the natural, scenic, and recreational resources that define the place they call home.
~This is a Conservation Landscape



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