HCA is a passionate community caring for the unique features, spring-fed streams, heritage ranch lands, spectacular beauty and culture of the Texas Hill Country for the benefit of future generations. Join us.

Hill Country Alliance News

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.

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

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

Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers - Starts April 30

"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

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.

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.

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.” Read more from Nextcity.org.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

More News

Upcoming Events

April

April 22 - Earth Day! - Earth Day Events

April 22 in Austin - Texas Water Journal Forum focusing on current challenges to rural and urban water conservation - Details

April 23-25 in Kerrville - Bennett Trust Educational Program: "Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau" - Details

April 23-27 - 2014 Hill Country Nature Quest - Tour the Hill Country River Region and learn about native plants, birds, butterflies and wildlife - Details

April 25 in Austin - Kent Butler Summit, “Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region” - Details

April 25-27 in Fredericksburg - 4th Annual Wings over the Hills Nature Festival - Details

April 26 in Austin - Native Plant Spring Symposium - Hosted by The Native Plant Society of Texas and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Details

April 28 in Kerrville - Native Bees of Texas - A meeting of the Hill Country Master Naturalist - Free and open to the public - Details

April 30 - Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers - Free three-part webinar series on strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries - Details

May

May 3 in Bandera - 13th Annual Medina River Cleanup - Details

May 6 in Medina - Fruit Tree Management Workshop - Hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details

May 7 in San Antonio - Public Health and the Built Environment - Healthy Communities by Design - Details

May 8 in San Antonio - Urban Wildlife Management Workshop - Details

May 9 in Boerne - Monarch Workshop: Monarch Biology, Ecology & Monarch Larval Monitoring Project Training - Hosted by the Cibolo Nature Center - Details

May 9 in Stonewall - 2014 New Landowner Series: Forage Production, Livestock Production and Handling, Crop Production - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details

May 10 in Wimberley - Grand Opening of the newly improved Jacob's Well Natural Area - Details

May 12 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Hill Country University Center - Details

May 13 in Kerrville - Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop – Upper Guadalupe River - Details

May 13 in Llano - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details

May 14 in Marble Falls - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details

May 16 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Enchanted Rock State Natural Area - Details

May 16 in Austin - Exploring Conservation Design in Central Texas with Randall Arendt - Details

May 19 in Austin - 2014 Texas Water Summit: Securing our Economic Future - Presented by The Acadamy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas Details

May 28-30 in San Antonio - Southwest Stream Restoration Conference - Details



See more upcoming events


Photo Contest

Photo contest begins March 1st!
Details


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



Hill Country View
Listen and Learn



Maps

Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.

HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool

 
Website Development by
Website Development By
Edit PageUploadHelp