March 8, 2012
By Colleen Schreiber
AUSTIN — Do landowners own the water beneath their land? For most Texas landowners that’s a “well, duh” kind of question. However, that very question has only recently been definitively answered.
Last week the Texas Supreme Court handed landowners one of the most significant wins in recent memory. In The Edwards Aquifer Authority and the State of Texas, Petitioners, v. Burrell Day and Joel McDaniel, Respondents, the court ruled that landowners have an ownership interest in groundwater in place, and that the water beneath the land cannot be taken for public use without adequate compensation as guaranteed by Article I, Section 17(a) of the Texas Constitution.
The unanimous opinion authored by Justice Nathan Hecht says that “Groundwater rights are property rights subject to constitutional protection, whatever difficulties may lie in determining adequate compensation for a taking.”
The case, involving Bexar County landowners Burrell Day and Joel McDaniel, in part, is about whether action by the Edwards Aquifer Authority to issue a permit limiting their pumping from the Edwards Aquifer to 14 acre-feet of water instead of the 700 acre-feet they asked for resulted in a “taking” of private property. The high court ruled that the trial court had incorrectly concluded that the landowners did not have a constitutionally protected property right in their groundwater, and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.
Austin-based attorney Paul Terrill, who represents Medina County pecan growers Glenn and JoLynn Bragg in another takings case, has been battling the EAA on this property rights ownership issue since 1998. Not surprisingly, he finds the ruling “very gratifying” and “absolutely fantastic.” Terrill, who has won the only takings judgment against the EAA for the Braggs (the case is now on appeal), said the Supreme Court’s ruling confirms that landowners whose pumping rights have been taken away or severely restricted have a potential remedy through a takings suit.
“My view has always been that groundwater is a property right and that the water belongs to the landowner. It can be regulated like other types of property, but if that regulation prevents a landowner from using their water, the government must compensate the landowner for taking their property,” remarks Terrill.
Russ Johnson, of McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore, LLP, the lead attorney who successfully argued the Guitar case before the Texas Supreme Court, also applauds the Day decision.
“It was the correct decision. I think the court got it right in virtually all respects,” Johnson says. “In my view this doesn’t change the law. It confirms what most of us have felt the law was anyway.”
One of the key points that the court made clear is that the ruling does not stop a district’s ability to regulate, and in fact the court explicitly recognized the need to regulate, pointing out that, “In many areas of the state, and certainly in the Edwards Aquifer, demand exceeds supply. Regulation is essential to its conservation and use.”
“The Supreme Court, I thought, went to great lengths to make it clear that the ruling did not prevent regulation and that reasonable regulation under the Penn Central Doctrine, even if it diminishes the value of the landowner’s property, is not necessarily compensable,” remarks Johnson.
There are some, however, who believe the ruling means that the EAA will have to change the way it does business and possibly even revamp its regulations. Greg Ellis, former general manager of the EAA and the former executive director of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts, opines that the ruling could potentially make things much more complicated for all groundwater conservation districts. He bases that opinion, in part, on the fact that the court writes, “A landowner cannot be deprived of all beneficial use of the groundwater below his property merely because he did not use it during a historical period.”
“That is going to make life for the EAA pretty tough,” Ellis opines, “because that’s pretty much exactly what the legislature said.” Ellis was referring specifically to the Edwards Aquifer Authority Act, the legislation governing the EAA.
“The purpose of a district, in my opinion, is to prevent harm that the rule of capture would allow and to try to the best of their ability to create sustainable aquifer production. The goal as much as possible should be one of sustainability.”
Terrill says that Ellis’ view is too regulation-friendly and landowner-unfriendly.
“The EAA and other groundwater districts can regulate groundwater production, but if they go too far, they need to compensate landowners for the loss of their property. That is not only fair, the constitution requires it.”
Johnson accuses Ellis and others of using scare-mongering tactics, telling people that this ruling now means landowners have the right to pump aquifers to extinction.
“The groundwater district clique that thinks ownership means the end of the world because they’ll be flooded with litigation and driven out of business or that we’re back to the law of the biggest pump is such a misrepresentation of the decision,” Johnson insists.
“I believe the exact opposite is true. Until last Friday, when clients called me up, I would tell them to get a permit, drill a well and start using their water,” Johnson admitted. “Today I can confidently tell them that they are going to have a protectable right to their groundwater even if they don’t use it.”
Ellis counters, and not surprisingly, it comes back to water marketing.
“Well if you’re T. Boone Pickens and you’re 70-something years old, and you say in an open forum that the plan for water for 50 years doesn’t interest me because I’m not going to be around — then to me that means he wants to sell as much water as he possibly can today.”
Ellis contends that the state has finally put together a model and a mechanism that recognizes that there is a limited supply of groundwater in the state. Once a GCD establishes its limit, then according to Ellis it is the district’s job to figure out a way to stay below the limit, and he contends that there are only two ways to do that.
“Either stop issuing new permits or keep issuing new permits but make current permit holders cut back in order to make room for the new guy. I promise you, people are unhappy with both results.
“The question that every district is going to have to answer now,” he insists, “is which method creates the least likelihood of liability to the district if there is a taking.”
“The Supreme Court made it clear that they were not ruling that regulation was a taking per se,” he reiterates. “Instead, they really made it clear that by ruling landowners owned groundwater in place they were not undoing the authority of the government to regulate that right. What they were saying correctly was if the government took that right away altogether or severely restricted that right with no good justification, then they could be liable for a taking.”
Ellis and the EAA have always contended that this kind of ruling means the EAA will now be flooded with takings litigation, but again, Johnson wholeheartedly disagrees.
“They’re not going to be deluged with a tsunami of takings claims. The first thing is this decision doesn’t change the law; it clarifies the law — that landowners have a property right that’s protectable.”
He went on to explain that for purposes of “takings” or inverse condemnation, there are a series of “statutes of limitations” that can apply. He also notes that unlike every other groundwater district in Texas, the EAA has what he referred to as a “unique need for extraordinary restrictions” on the exercise of a landowner’s groundwater right. What he’s referring to is the fact that the Edwards Aquifer almost solely supplies the water needed for nearly two million people as well as the criminal provisions the EAA has to abide by because of the Endangered Species Act.
“Those are pretty compelling problems that justify extraordinary or extensive restrictions,” Johnson insists.
In fact, Johnson opines that the only two places in the state where extraordinary restrictions on private property rights are probably constitutionally sustainable are in Harris and Galveston counties (in the subsidence district) and in the Edwards Aquifer region.
“Everywhere else the goal of conserving the resource doesn’t justify preventing people from exercising their right. That’s the fundamental problem that groundwater districts have. They would prefer to be in the ‘let’s conserve this for the future’ camp when the law says they have to recognize the right of their regulated community to produce the resource,” states Johnson.
Johnson also points to the court’s thoughtful analysis of Penn Central, pointing out that to win a regulatory takings case, the balancing analysis — involving a physical invasion of property which doesn’t apply in Day, as well as a deprivation of all economically beneficial use of property and interference with investment-backed expectations — must be considered. In short, what Johnson and others have implied is that to win an actual takings case against the EAA will be extremely difficult.
He acknowledges that there will likely be takings cases that come forth from Chapter 36 districts. In fact, he was about a week away from filing one such case against a district when the Day opinion was rendered. He’s hoping the district will now reconsider its actions.
“There are two types of groundwater districts that unless they change their behavior are going to get sued — those that have gone to historic users and said ‘We’ve done our planning process and we’re using too much water and we need to cut your water by a certain percent,’ and those districts that decide they have a cap that then decide they’re going to award all of that water to a group of historic users and everyone else gets zero. Those kinds of districts will find themselves in lawsuits,” Johnson insists.
More broadly, a district that limits permits for pumping simply for political reasons and/or to stop transport of water out of a district, or to keep landowners from selling their water out of a district, or a district that limits pumping or permit amounts based on something other than sound science may also be facing a takings claim in court.
Johnson notes that in the last legislative session lawmakers revised substantially the desired future conditions process and specifically directed groundwater districts to consider aspects of impacts on property owners and to also consider the total recoverable resources of the aquifer in making their DFC decisions. He’s hopeful now, given the Supreme Court decision and this change in the legislation, that groundwater districts will stop trying to reverse engineer their DFCs to meet their local objectives or pumping demands and prevent folks from producing groundwater when that groundwater is available for production.
The Day opinion also acknowledged the differences between Chapter 36 districts and the EAA, noting specifically that the EAA’s powers and duties are governed by the EAAA, not by chapter 36 of the Water Code. The EAAA does not refer to chapter 36.
How Chapter 36 districts are allowed to regulate is completely different from the EAA. Chapter 36 districts, for example, use several factors including groundwater production capability of the aquifer, well spacing, consideration of historic use, and a district’s approved management plan, while the EAA’s main focus in issuing permits is historic use and timely application for initial regular permits.
In the opinion the court talked at some length about the historic use provision, noting that the Authority argued that historical use is a sound method for establishing permit limits because it recognizes the investment of the landowner in developing that groundwater resource. The court, however, pointed out that “had the permit limitation been anticipated before the EAAA was passed, landowners would have been perversely incentivized to pump as much water as possible, even if not put to best use, to preserve the right to do so going forward.”
The court went on to say, “Neither the Authority nor the State has suggested a reason why the EAAA must be more restrictive in permitting groundwater use than Chapter 36, nor does the Act suggest any justification. But even if there were one, a landowner cannot be deprived of all beneficial use of the groundwater below his property merely because he did not use it during a historical period and supply is limited.”
The East case, known more commonly as the rule of capture, has long been considered the defining case in Texas groundwater law, and many water attorneys fighting for landowners’ rights hang their hat on East. The court, however, wrote that “No issue of ownership of groundwater in place was presented in East, and our decision implies no view of that issue. Instead, riparian law, which East invoked, governs users who do not own the water. Under that law, the railroad would have been liable even if East did not own the water in place. The railroad escaped liability, certainly not because East did own the water in place, but irrespective of whether he did.”
The court instead turned to a quote from the New York Court of Appeals decision in the 1866 Pixley v. Clark case: “An owner of soil may divert percolating water, consume or cut it off, with impunity. It is the same as land, and cannot be distinguished in law from land. So the owner of land is the absolute owner of the soil and of percolating water, which is a part of, and not different from, the soil. No action lies against the owner for interfering with or destroying percolating or circulating water under the earth’s surface.”
The court in Day wrote: “Whatever the New York court may have intended by this statement, we could have meant only that a landowner is the absolute owner of groundwater flowing at the surface from its well, even if the water originated beneath the land of another.”
The court also relied heavily on oil and gas law, noting that while there are differences, it was decided long ago that oil and gas are owned in place, “and we find no reason to treat groundwater differently.”
The Authority argued that oil and gas and water are so fundamentally different “in nature, use, and value that ownership rights in oil and gas should have no bearing in determining those in groundwater.”
The court disagreed, writing that, “Again, the issue is not whether there are important differences between groundwater and hydrocarbons; there certainly are. But we see no basis in these differences to conclude that the common law allows ownership of oil and gas in place but not groundwater.”
Ed McCarthy, of Jackson, Sjoberg, McCarthy & Townsend, LLP, a seasoned water attorney representing the interests of landowners, points out that the Day ruling is important because we now have a definitive statement of the landowners’ rights in Texas common law and a legislative finding of groundwater ownership in place in favor of landowners. In the opinion, the court pointed to the Groundwater Conservation District Act of 1949, which later became Section 36.002 of the Water Code. The court then pointed to the amendment made to 36.002 during the last legislative session, in which lawmakers attempted to more clearly define the ownership issue.
McCarthy also believes that the court did a good job of articulating a distinction between oil and gas law and groundwater law and how we should not look at the strict construction of oil and gas law in terms of permitting oil and gas development with respect to limiting groundwater permitting. For example, the Authority argued that groundwater cannot be treated like oil and gas because “landowners have no correlative rights, not because their rights are different.”
The court, however, said that argument fails.
The court also clearly recognized that groundwater is different from oil and gas in that it is a renewable natural resource but one that must be managed for current and future needs.
The court wrote: “Groundwater regulation must take into account not only historical usage but future needs, including the relative importance of various uses, as well as concerns unrelated to use, such as environmental impacts and subsidence.”
Johnson agrees that it makes sense that the court looked to oil and gas law guidance because the principle common law ownership rule applies to both minerals and water. However, not every water attorney agrees with that line of thinking.
“I personally think that’s a mistake,” Ellis said. “If everyone had the same goal for their groundwater like almost everyone has for their oil and gas, then that would be appropriate. We can measure an oil and gas field and calculate very closely how much can be produced from that field and then we can divide up how much everyone gets paid.
“If everyone wanted to sell their groundwater we might be able to do something like that for groundwater, though remember that the amount of groundwater changes, maybe on a daily basis. The problem is there are a lot of people who don’t want to sell their groundwater; they want to keep it and conserve it for the future. Now, under this ruling I’m afraid they’re not given that opportunity.”
Ellis went on to contend that because the court has ruled that the landowner owns the water in place, that somehow makes the powers of the groundwater districts null and void and we revert back to the old law of the biggest pump because once again “a neighbor can now pump your groundwater out from under your property and there is nothing you can do about it.”
However, it seems clear that groundwater should be regulated considering other factors, that the court is only tying groundwater to oil and gas in the actual ownership issue in that groundwater, like oil and gas, is a property right held in place. Nowhere in the opinion, as Johnson and McCarthy point out, did the court say that groundwater should be regulated like oil and gas. In fact, the court went out of its way to make clear that groundwater districts can still regulate and that local control is the preferred method for groundwater management.
Terrill, too, is of the opinion that the court was right to tie groundwater law to oil and gas, and he uses oil and gas case law to counter Ellis’ and the EAA’s insistence that because of Day there will now be a deluge of takings cases coming forth. He pointed to the fact that the ownership issue in place in oil and gas law for almost 100 years has not had a deluge of takings cases resulting from oil and gas regulation.
Ellis counters that the only reason there hasn’t been a pile of taking cases in oil and gas is because of the pooling rule.
“That (pooling) won’t work for groundwater. We can’t do the same kind of calculation for available water in the aquifer that we do for oil and gas. And, again, we have people who have no intention of selling; they don’t want to see the aquifer emptied out; they want it sustained or maintained as long as possible, so that regulation just doesn’t work for groundwater.”
Ellis also contends that had the court decided not to follow the oil and gas model, had they ruled that there is not a vested right until the groundwater is captured, there wouldn’t be this mountain of takings litigation, which Johnson, McCarthy and Terrill all stress is only a perceived threat at best. That perceived threat, however, was championed last week by the editorial board of the Austin American Statesman in their opinion piece, entitled “Groundwater Ruling Potentially Unleashes Geyser of Future Cases.”
Terrill calls the EAA’s “Chicken Little ‘the sky is falling’” argument and their talk about the horrible consequences that are likely to come from this ruling “nonsense.” He points out, as did the court in its opinion, that out of the 1100-something permits issued by the EAA, only three takings cases were filed – Day, Bragg and another that was settled by the EAA.
Terrill’s Bragg case will most likely be the first groundwater-related takings case to come before the Texas Supreme Court. In 2011 the Braggs received a trial court judgment for a taking against the Edwards Aquifer Authority for roughly $730,000. That case is now on appeal to the San Antonio Court of Appeals, and Terrill says he’s in the process of briefing it now.
However, Terrill points out just how difficult takings cases are to win. Not only that, but these kinds of cases typically carry on for years and years, which means to persevere takes deep pockets.
“Takings cases are hard to win. The deck is stacked in favor of the government, and few lawyers are willing to take on these difficult cases. That’s why you don’t see ads in the phone book or on late night TV from lawyers clamoring to take on the government on a contingency fee basis.”
The court wrote: “While the expense of such litigation cannot be denied, groundwater regulation need not result in takings liability. The Legislature’s general approach to such regulation has been to require that all relevant factors be taken into account. The Legislature can discharge its responsibility under the Conservation Amendment without triggering the Takings Clause. But the Takings Clause ensures that the problems of a limited public resource — the water supply — are shared by the public, not foisted onto a few. We cannot know, of course, the extent to which the Authority’s fears will yet materialize, but the burden of the Takings Clause on government is no reason to excuse its applicability.”
McCarthy points out that Day does not offer a roadmap per se as to how to win a takings case. He explains that in a federal takings case, to have an actual takings, the landowners have to prove a loss of the use of the property. Texas law, however, is unique in that the law allows a takings claim for that same provision but in addition there is a provision in Article 1, Section 17 that talks about injury to the property right. That provision, McCarthy explains, allows a landowner to claim damages for less than a whole taking.
“What has not been developed, and what’s not clear to me, is whether the court is going to allow a takings claim to be brought forth if a groundwater district grants a landowner a permit for irrigation use but won’t do the same for municipal use.”
Johnson agrees that some uncertainty remains, in that the court did not really offer any guidance as to how much regulation is too much.
“Where that line falls for each individual district is uncertain at this point.”
McCarthy says that each takings case will have to be decided on its own merit.
“There is certainly a cleaner set of criteria in the Edwards Aquifer Authority Act because of the detailed provisions and the detailed legislation,” comments McCarthy. “What Chapter 36 districts don’t have is 70 pages of very detailed, very specific, focused legislation. They have a bunch of broad parameters and statements.”
“I want to be clear that I don’t think that GCDs are going to be sued because they are adopting unreasonable regulations. I think they’re going to be sued because someone is going to think that whatever regulation they adopt is unreasonable,” remarks Ellis. “We already have people arguing that we should pump aquifers to extinction, and not allowing that means some landowners will file a takings claim.”
He continues, “I think we’ll probably have to see five or six such cases reach the Supreme Court from different appellate courts before we come up with a better definition of how to work that Penn Central Balancing Test — in terms of what’s appropriate and what’s not. The Bragg case has already gone through that balancing test, and the court found the district liable for $700,000-plus in damages. If that is upheld by the Fourth Court of Appeals, I don’t know where that money comes from or how the EAA could continue to pay out damages like that.
“The Chapter 36 districts who are all defining their own regulatory schemes are almost certainly going to be tested,” Ellis continues. “I think it will take several districts across the state to determine what the limits are. There may be no path for not getting sued.”
McCarthy reminds that to win a takings case will by no means be a slam dunk.
“Even if you win, it doesn’t mean you’ll strike it rich. You have to prove devaluation and loss,” he reminds.
He also points out that there are other “perils” associated with a takings case, including the right of reimbursements of attorneys’ fees for the district if they win. That almost obscure point at the tail end of the opinion is one that Terrill has issues with as well.
“There remains a provision that makes it mandatory for a groundwater district to recover attorneys’ fees. Yet, if the landowner wins, the landowner doesn’t get the same rights to recover attorneys’ fees.”
McCarthy says he wishes the court had said more about the need for good science in groundwater management, though he’s pleased that the court recognized that there can’t be a one-size-fits-all kind of regulating scheme.
“There will be bumps in the road in a couple of places,” McCarthy admits. “There will be someone who files a crazy lawsuit, and some of the districts will go nuts and in a knee-jerk reaction those districts will want to change a bunch of things.”
He predicts that during the next legislative session groundwater districts will try to find a legislative fix around Day.
“They’ll be scrambling like hell to get legislation passed to give them powers they want to think they have. “Hopefully, the courts will dispose of the crazy lawsuits,” he continues, “and we will continue to have the good guidance that we need with property rights regulation like we’ve always had.
“I know there are a variety of feelings about that, but it’s like zoning ordinances — they’re there for a reason. The EAA has created a very good market; things are working very well. I don’t think that’s going to blow up.”
Johnson opines that the court ruling most likely will make it easier for water transactions to occur, and he views that as a positive for the state.
“Bottom line, the state needs to develop a massive amount of water to meet its future needs. I think we all know that surface water is going to be very hard to develop in the future, so what we have is an opportunity to put to beneficial use a resource that is underutilized in some areas — that’s not true in the Ogallala and the Edwards — but believe me, in the vast majority of the Carrizo Wilcox and the vast majority of the Gulf Coast Aquifer and a substantial portion of the Trinity, it’s underutilized. The reality is we need to manage the resource, but we can’t manage it in a way that puts it off limits for now in the hope that somehow it will be available in the future. What’s the point of that?”
Terrill says there will always be issues within the Day opinion that attorneys can and will argue about.
“What they can’t argue about anymore is this claim that there’s no property right in groundwater in place.”
“Ultimately, they came to the right conclusion,” remarks McCarthy. “The groundwater districts and the EAA and their attorneys may have won the battle on East, but we won the war.”
The EAA issued a press release with a statement from Luana Buckner, Chairman of the Edwards Aquifer Authority Board of Directors, saying that, “At this time, we are reviewing the Supreme Court’s opinion in detail to further ascertain the implications it may or may not have for the continued effective management and protection of the Edwards Aquifer and the economic interests of those who rely on it as their water source.”
The statement went on to point out that the opinion affirms that the EAA has carried out its responsibilities appropriately and that they are awaiting further legal review of the opinion before commenting further.
Now Day and McDaniel will go back to the trial court and put on their taking evidence and attempt to recover damages from the EAA, a process that will itself take years to complete.
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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
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
“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.
“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
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
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
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
“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.
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
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 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.
“…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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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 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
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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
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.
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
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.
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, beginning January 11, 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
Think of our scenic Hill Country roads as you read this story of rural character preservation from Martha’s Vineyard, Vineyard Gazette.
When you picture a housing development in the suburbs, you might imagine golf courses, swimming pools, rows of identical houses. But now, there's a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity. Read more from NPR.
“Terrell Graham and his wife’s family have owned their ranch in the Texas Hill Country for over 100 years. It’s remained a working farm and cattle ranch, and now Texas state government is stealing their land so private developers can discharge treated sewage from 1,500 new homes into the Lux family’s dry creek bed.” Link to this alarming article by Terry Hall here. Direct discharge permits are an issue of concern for water quality in the Hill Country. The Belterra permit in Hays County was legally challenged and ultimately revised for the better. Highland Lakes residents beat a discharge permit in 2009. And currently The City of Dripping Springs in Hays County is preparing to file for a direct discharge permit into Onion Creek. More on this issue on our Water Quality page.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Texas Water Star Program will hold an Earth-Kind landscaping workshop Feb. 14, 2014, at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. “The Earth-Kind techniques that will be covered are research-proven and are designed to provide maximum garden and landscape enjoyment while showing how to preserve and protect the environment.” Learn More
To understand the level of crisis facing the Lower Colorado River Authority, look no further than the three-page job description the agency has drafted in its search for a new general manager. Read more from Texas Tribune.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries will be stocking 2,400 rainbow trout into the Llano River near Castell, Texas, on December 18, 2013. This site is a recent addition to the popular winter trout program which provides Texans a unique fishing opportunity during the winter months. Read more from TPWD.
The Texas Tribune examines Texas’ major rivers, all of them threatened by drought, climate change and rapid population growth. Link to the full series and interactive map here. Or, link directly to the story related to a specific Hill Country basin; Colorado, Devils, Guadalupe, San Saba. This valuable series will continue so stay tuned for more revealing reporting from the Texas Tribune.
The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) is now soliciting applications and essays for the 2014 Kent S. Butler Memorial Groundwater Stewardship Scholarship Essay Contest through Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The essay contest is open to high school juniors, seniors, and immediate graduates who reside in the Austin, Eanes, Dripping Springs, Hays Consolidated, Del Valle, and Lockhart school districts. Learn More
Neighbors are keeping a watchful eye to make sure the agreement LCRA made as they began expanding waterlines along 290 and then along Hamilton Pool Road stays put. Read the story in Impact News here. Read the full MOU in question here. More insight can be found at www.HPRMatters.com.
A Hill Country Christmas tradition started by President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) and his family more than four decades ago will continue this Sunday, Dec. 15, in Stonewall. Johnson’s descendants are expected to join with visitors for the 44th Annual LBJ Christmas Tree Lighting and Evening Tours at the LBJ State Park and Historic Site, off U.S. Highway 290. Details
Government Canyon State Natural Area in west Bexar County, which is typically only open to the public Fridays through Mondays, will be open daily from Dec. 20 through Jan. 6 throughout the upcoming holiday season. Additional camping nights during the Christmas holidays will be offered. Learn More
Topics include conservation easement negotiation and amendment, bridge financing and other conservation funding issues, Texas water policy, legal issues, endangered species, conservation easement appraisals, conservation on agricultural lands, public-private partnerships for conservation, and much more. Learn More
"The lighting systems are visible for miles around and produce a substantial amount of sky glow and light pollution... It is essentially impossible to mitigate the impact these types of facilities have on the surrounding areas.” This is a significant issue in the Hill Country but it is one that is fairly easy to correct with some cooperation and good neighbor lighting. Learn about Recommended Practice (RP) from the International Dark Sky Association.
Our region is not focused as it once was on Envision Central Texas, a program that was admired nationally for its collaborative nature and “growth centers” concept. Other regions are moving in this direction. Utah for example, is launching a program with a similar focus, “centers would allow people to live, work and play in the same area, and drive less and walk or bike more. It would save billions in roads that would not need to be built, conserve water, reduce air pollution, preserve open space and cut traffic congestion.” Read more from the Salt Lake City Tribune.
As native landscapes disappear, wildlife disappears, and important ecological processes that insure outcomes such as clean drinking water, climate change buffers, and flood control also disappear. Read more from Healthylandandethic.com.
The climate is changing, and Texas is growing. For a bird’s eye view of these developments, NASA has put together a ‘State of Flux‘ image gallery that shows how climate change, urbanization, and natural disasters have changed certain geographic features in Texas, and across the world. The gallery puts two satellite images side-by-side to show the changes. Read more from State Impact Texas.
On Sept. 1, 2013, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) began serving the citizens of Texas under a new management structure with three full-time Board members. Between that time and the successful passage of Proposition 6 on Nov. 5, both the new Board members and agency staff have been hard at work preparing to implement the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and to respond to other new legislation. Read More
Tune in as Evan Smith from the Texas Tribune hosts a conversation with two Hill Country legislators, Senator Donna Campbell and Representative Jason Isaac. Learn More
Mirroring trends seen elsewhere in the nation, Texans living in urban areas are driving less, according to a report from think tank TexPIRG. The reports authors say the decreased driving trend means that policymakers should be shifting infrastructure funding priorities away from road projects and into alternative modes of transportation. Read full article from Austin Business Journal.
Big Bend National Park is one of the darkest place in the U.S. but the Hill Country is quickly losing the night, “...much outdoor lighting used at night is wildly inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded, and, in many cases, completely unnecessary.” Read this story published in the December issue of Men’s Journal featuring HCA Night Sky Team member and frequent guest speaker Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory.
In a series of three guest blogs, Sharlene Leurig, Water Program Director for Ceres, examines the details of Proposition 6, the water project financing measure approved by Texas voters on November 5th. Proposition 6 amends the Texas constitution to appropriate $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to seed a new water infrastructure loan fund directed to water supply projects included in the State Water Plan. Click here to read.
Across the Hill Country, other aquifers, which provide vital spring water for many rivers, are very low and many of their springs and seeps have dried up. These aquifer-fed springs are not only key to local ranchers, but to maintaining river flows in the upper Nueces, Guadalupe and Colorado river basins. Read full article by Mike Mecke in Ranch and Rural Living Magazine.
Second in five part series by Texas Tribune: "Like any natural resource, the precious groundwater that flows under Texas’ land does not follow political boundaries. The state is home to nine major and 21 minor aquifers, some of which stretch across the entire state and have segments with wildly different hydrologic properties. Yet at a time when thirsty cities and industries are clamoring for groundwater more than ever, the resource is regulated by nearly 100 entities drawn along political boundaries such as county lines, in part because groundwater is considered a private property right in Texas." Read more from Texas Tribune.
Bob Webster, a staunch advocate of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District tapped to fill vacancy on Board of Directors. Webster, the "public" at nearly all of the GCD meetings, is the host of The Garden Show on KTSA AM 550 San Antonio and serves as an advisory board member of the Hill Country Alliance. Learn more from the Boerne Star.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries and State Parks divisions have partnered with other private groups to develop habitat enhancement projects to improve fishing opportunities at Inks Lake the past three years. More from TPWD.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is the only state agency with a dedicated sales tax. Under state law, a portion of the sales tax on sporting goods is meant to go for parks. But lawmakers consistently divert some of that money to balance the state budget. Read more from StateImpact.
The mayor of Del Rio told San Antonio Water System trustees Monday that his city would use every legal means to block a proposed plan to pipe billions of gallons of water from Southwest Texas to San Antonio. The proposal, made by the V.V. Water Co., would send enough water for more than 150,000 households per year from drought-weary Val Verde County to SAWS by 2018. Red more from SA Express-News.
The mood was grim among folks from Bay City, Eagle Lake and other coastal communities today as the Lower Colorado River Authority board voted 8-7 in favor of an emergency proposal that will likely cut off water to rice farmers for the third year in a row. Read the full article from the Texas Observer. View Sierra Club's comments and press statement for the November 19 LCRA meeting.
Unlike surface water, which is owned and allocated by the state, groundwater belongs to the landowner and is regulated by nearly 100 different conservation districts across Texas, all of which set their own rules. The recent drought, along with major court decisions, has led to what some say is the most uncertain time in state history for those who depend on and manage groundwater in Texas. Read the first of this five-part series from the Texas Tribune.
The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter recently released an updated version of its popular report on desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater and surface water. Desalination: Is It Worth Its Salt? is a basic primer on desalination written for the general public. The report explores the environmental, energy, and economic issues surrounding desalination and provides an overview of desalination activities in Texas. Read More
Now leading one of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s top five most-visited parks, Doug Cochran sees challenges and opportunities in managing Enchanted Rock State Natural Area’s 1,600-plus acres, which includes the iconic, 640-acre granite dome outcropping. Read the full article from the Fredericksburg Standard.
With groundwater and surface water treated as two independent water supplies under Texas law, it can be tricky to plan for our future generations. Citizen involvement is essential to achieving fair policy to sustain our water supply, a shared resource. A great place to learn is the Texas Living Waters Project - Tune in.
Attendees of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association's annual conference gathered at Austin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for a rainwater harvesting tour and discussion. The tour was hosted by Quality Control Steel who donated a 3000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank to the school. Learn More
The case for County Authority is made once again on the edge of Austin and Bee Cave. With little county power to deal with intensity and location of development, planning can be left to the utility. More than a hundred residents showed up at City Hall to express concerns about water, traffic and quality of life issues. Learn More
Americans favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, with 56 percent of respondents preferring smart growth neighborhoods over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation. Read More
Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to the state water plan is groundwater regulation. Almost every region in Texas plans to look below the surface for more water supplies. But many water suppliers, including those that serve Austin and San Antonio, are battling for the right to pump groundwater outside their own jurisdiction. Read more from the Texas Tribune.
The Texas Water Journal, an online, peer-reviewed journal about Texas water issues, will present the inaugural Texas Water Journal Forum, “Water, Politics and Drought,” Nov. 21 in Austin. Learn More
Environmental leaders call on water board to focus Prop 6 money on conservation and avoid projects harmful to rivers. “The State of Texas has consistently declined to implement common sense approaches to to maintain in-stream flows to the bays and estuaries - to the point where coastal ecosystems are now in peril,” said Annalisa Peace, Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance.” Read the story from Environment Texas.
As water becomes scarcer in Central Texas and the thirst for it is on the rise, property owners in Rollingwood are requesting permission to drill a well and pump 913,400 gallons of water per year for their home. More from Hays Free Press.
“We’re dealing with so many water challenges in the state, particularly here in the Hill Country. There are a lot of unknowns like how to solve the complex water problems and rainwater harvesting is just a simple thing people can be doing to take the stress off of our aquifers.” Read the full Boerne Star article.
With what has been described as the worst drought in recorded history punishing parts of Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott found a way to keep watering his yard without risking fines or incurring huge monthly bills: He drilled his own well. Austin has no power to stop landowners from drilling water underneath their own terrain in pro-property-rights Texas. It can only monitor the proliferation of private wells, which Jason Hill, an Austin Water Utility spokesman, said officials are doing “vigorously.” More from the Texas Tribune
Henly is not so much a town as a collection of farmers and ranchers along U.S. 290 between Dripping Springs and Johnson City. Community life revolves around volunteer fire department barbecues and services at the Henly Baptist Church. The unincorporated town, which has more livestock than people, doesn’t have so much as a traffic light or a gas station. More from Statesman.com.
Texas Green Network is hosting an event in Austin, November 21st to examine next steps related to Prop 6. What does this mean for conservation? How do these funds get prioritized? How does this affect the business community? Details
“Parks and recreation won big on the ballot this week,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger. “At a time when many parks are suffering and natural areas are quickly being eaten up by sprawl, millions of Texans put their money where their mouth is and made a big investment in green spaces, water quality, ball fields, bike trails and in our overall quality of life.” Read the full story.
Scenic Texas announces the appointment of three new Hill Country board members. The new appointments are Kathleen Krueger, Former Mayor Pro-Tem, New Braunfels; Paul Robert Goebel, Associate Dean at Texas Tech University, Lubbock; and Chris Cornwell, former PepsiCo Food Scientist, Canyon Lake. Learn More
Texans overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment Tuesday to jump-start financing for water projects in the state: Proposition 6. The plan will take $2 billion in surplus state money (from the Rainy Day Fund) to start a low-interest loan program for water projects in Texas. The measure had widespread support from both sides of the aisle as well as business and environmental groups. It passed with over 73 percent of the vote. More from State Impact.
It might have been a clear, crisp fall day in Boerne, but inside the Boerne Civic Center it was raining a solid schedule of rainwater harvesting information at the 4th annual Rainwater Revival. This Hill Country Alliance (HCA) event brought together a full day’s schedule of rainwater experts and professionals to teach and demonstrate a sure way to end all your water woes. Read the full story in the Rivard Report.
The new CAMPO website features a pretty bluebonnet-lined Hill Country road on the cover, what are we doing to protect this vision? A new video featuring CAMPO leaders kicks off a new public input vehicle - Mind Mixer. What’s important to you as we grow this region? Quality of life, clean water, natural resource protection, open spaces, rail and bike options? Let CAMPO know.
The choice for cities facing water shortages now or in the future is clear: invest in expensive new water supplies or invest in programs to reduce water use, including outdoor water use. Several smart Texas cities chose the latter. San Antonio Water System provides rebates to customers who agree to reduce their turf grass and to replace it with plants from an approved drought-tolerant plant list. More from texaslivingwaters.org.
Now is the time because current enhanced tax incentives expire Dec 31. Rules regarding amount of the deduction and the number of years you can take the deduction are about to change. Contact your local land trust for more information. Learn about conservation easements and land trusts working in the Hill Country here.
March 7 in Fredericksburg - 2014 New Landowner Series: "Fredericksburg, Introduction, Neighbor Relations, Tax Valuations, Well and Septic Permits, Grazing and Hunting Leases" - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
March 17-23 - National Wildlife Week! "Wildlife and Water: From the Mountains to the Rivers to the Oceans" - National Wildlife Week gives families, educators and community groups the chance to connect kids with wildlife and explore the world around them Details
March 20 in Fredericksburg - Texas Water Symposium - The Pedernales: "Challenges and Opportunities Facing an Iconic Hill Country River Basin" - Details
March 20 in Boerne - Hill Country Water: Myths and Truths - Presented by Cow Creek Groundwater District Directors Milan J. Michalec and Bob Webster - Details
March 21-22 in Bandera - First event in the Bandera County Water Awareness Series - Workshop free and open to the public - Details
March 22 in Johnson City - Master Gardeners of Blanco County host Invaders of Texas Workshop - Details
March 26 in Sequin - Agriculture and Rural Development Workshop - Details
March 26-28 in Fort Worth - Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference - Details
March 29-30 in Stonewall - LBJ 100 Cycling Weekend Details
April 3 in Junction - Multi-County Wildlife Program - Presented by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
April 4 in Kerrville - 2014 New Landowner Series: "Live Oak Wilt, Home Use Pesticides, Turf, Tree and Landscape Maintenance, Rainwater Harvesting" - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
April 11 in Houston - Scenic America 2014 Conference: How scenic beauty supports economic development, livability and tourism - Details
April 23-25 in Kerrville - Bennett Trust Educational Program: "Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau" - 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
Photo contest begins March 1st!
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
Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.
HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool