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News Archive - February 2011

February 26, 2011

Uvalde pipeline bill more trouble than it's worth

A bill has recently been filed to lift the ban on building a pipeline to transport water from Uvalde County. Read more here

February 22, 2011

Kerrville seeks rehearing for CREZ route; LCRA scheduling meetings for affected landowners

The Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHE) continues to monitor developments related to energy, wind farms and transmission lines through the Hill Country. Learn more here.

Growth and How it Affects Our Water

“There is little or no understanding of a term that is familiar to ranchers called 'carrying capacity'. On a ranch or a pasture, it means the numbers of animals, including livestock and wildlife, which can be maintained without damaging the desired rangeland vegetation...I think towns, cities, counties and regions also have a sustainable carrying capacity for people.” Read this insightful article by Mike Mecke here.

February 21, 2011

Growing pains come with rise in population

As civic leaders in San Antonio and surrounding communities began digesting new census figures released Thursday, the implications of the region's 25 percent population increase were both gratifying and sobering. Read full article from SA Express-News here.

February 17, 2011

Blanco Citizens organizing to protect Blanco State Park

Hill Country residents value parks. In response to concerns about the possibility of Blanco State Park shutting down because of TPWD funding cutbacks, citizens are meeting and organizing in Blanco County. A meeting is set for Feb 22nd at the Blanco Courthouse. More about the meeting and the citizen’s call to action here. Blanco County News story here.

Our Water is Our Future – Citizens unite in opposition the Uvalde water pipeline

The Keep Our Water Association has launched campaign in response to an ongoing movement by private investors to pass legislation that will allow the transport Edwards water away from the rural western region. The mission: To protect and preserve the wellbeing of the western portion of the Edwards Aquifer and those citizens and businesses that are affected by it. Learn more here.

Hays County Groundwater Conservation District to vote on important water permits

HTGCD Meeting – Monday, February 21st at 1:00 pm - Dripping Springs City Hall. The HTGCD board will be voting to allocate new water pumping permits for a development in Woodcreek North. Details

Riparian Management Workshops will be the last offered for this year

Managing healthy Riparian areas is one of the single most proactive thing we can do for hill country water resources. Sky Lewey of the Nueces River Authority (and HCA President) is offering spring workshops. Space is limited, if you’ve been thinking about taking one of these classes now is the time to register. Learn more about this issue and see a schedule of workshops on the HCA Riparian Management issue page. See the schedule of workshops.

February 16, 2011

Registration is open for the 2011 Farm and Range Forum

Update: POSTPONED UNTIL FALL

February 15, 2011

LCRA's sale of small water systems brings backlash from communities

What began in the 1990s as an effort by the Lower Colorado River Authority to bail out failing, far-flung sewage and water systems, eventually became a utility and infrastructure spree as the LCRA extended its clout, transforming the development of the Hill Country in the process. But in November, the LCRA announced that it would sell 32 systems it still controlled because they collectively cost about $3 million more to operate than they raise in rates. Read full Statesman.com article here.

The Changing Face of Water Rights

The State Bar of Texas’ water rights conference is coming up February 24 – 25th at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa. Anyone interested in becoming better educated about water law, groundwater management, state water planning, environmental flows is welcome to register. Program details and registration here.

Feburary 14, 2011

HMI Announces Texas Workshops

Discover how to work with nature to increase profits and improve the environment. Holistic Management International (HMI) is a terrific organization worth getting to know. Check out their Texas workshop schedule including one in San Antonio here.

February 10, 2011

S.A. still aboard effort to build Austin rail link

San Antonio officials will continue to pursue a passenger rail line that one day could connect the Alamo City to Austin, a transit project that's already been in the works for more than a decade. Read more from The San Antonio Express-News here.

Febrary 9, 2011

Ranchers lock horns over groundwater

A piece of legislation proposed in Austin has a cattle raisers group and the Coastal Bend Groundwater Conservation District locking horns on the issue of water rights. The dispute starts with the rule of capture, which has been the law of the land on water rights since a Texas Supreme Court ruling in 1904. In essence, “rule of capture” means if there’s groundwater beneath your land and you can get to it, that water is yours. As Texas gets deeper into the 21st century, though, groundwater is beginning to be a much bigger issue, with the state’s population booming and the finiteness of water as a natural resource becoming crystal clear. Read full Warton Journal Spectator article here.

Top 10 Blanco Historic Preservation Needs

"The office of the Blanco Historic Preservation Commission (BHPC) is to protect the historical, architectural, and archaeological resources that make Blanco very unique." Click here to read the Blanco County News article regarding the top ten needs of the BHPC in the creation of a local historic district in Blanco.

February 8, 2011

The Saga of the Hill Country PGMA

"The fate of these unprotected areas – including southwestern Travis County adjacent to BSEACD – is anybody’s guess at this point…” Read the full article here and the entire issue of The Aquifer Bulletin published by the BSEACD here. This resource includes timely articles about groundwater resources.

February 7, 2011

More land-use authority a must for Texas county commissioners

"County taxpayers all over the state are on the hook in varying degrees for the cleanup of unregulated subdivisions built without the most basic of amenities — roads and running water. Commissioners courts stood by helplessly while the subdivisions went up and were equally helpless when the developer left." Read more from Statesman.com here.

February 6, 2011

Counties continue to wish for more land-use authority

Residents of unincorporated areas outside Austin's city limits often call Travis County officials to complain about bars, dance halls, industrial operations and other places that create unwanted noise, light or odors. But there's little the county can do. Residents get what one county staffer called the "standard spiel" — an explanation of how the Legislature hasn't given counties regulatory authority over land use. Read full Statesman.com article here.

February 4, 2011

Local Environmental Groups Laud Resolution Adopted by SAWS

At their meeting Tuesday, SAWS voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that ended a five year long legal dispute between SAWS and the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, the Helotes Heritage Association, the City of Grey Forest, the San Geronimo Valley Alliance, and the Hill Country Planning Association. Learn more

February 3, 2011

3K Ranch will be Hill Country 'island' as future state park or natural area

More than 3,700 acres of pristine Hill Country plant and animal habitat became part of the state park system last week when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission accepted the 3K Ranch, a gift from the Albert and Bessie Kronkosky estate. Read more from the Boerne Star here.

Lawmakers File "Complete Streets" Bill

Lawmakers today filed a bill they hope will help drivers, cyclists and pedestrians safely share the roads. Read more from The Texas Tribune here.

District wary of senate bill

The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District board of directors has unanimously adopted a resolution that strongly opposes a move by either the state legislature or the courts to create a vested right for landowners to own the groundwater under their property before it is captured. Read the full article from the Bastrop Adviser here.

February 2, 2011

“Texas Water: Whose Water is it?”

The Kerrville Area League of Women Voters will sponsor a series of forums on the availability of water now and in the future for our area. Click here to learn about the series.

USDA-NRCS and University of SC Release Wildlife Habitat Conservation Video Series

Wildlife Habitat for Good is a new video series filmed in the Palmetto State that illustrates the benefits of wildlife habitat conservation and restoration. Learn more here.

CREZ Maps posted on LCRA.org

The route chosen by the PUC on January 20th for the McCamey D (renamed Big Hill) to Kendall project is expected to be energized in December 2013. The 140-mile route crosses Schleicher, Sutton, Kimble, Kerr, Kendall and Gillespie counties and is estimated to cost between $330 million and $350 million. Click here to view maps and read more.

SEP-HCP Biological Team meets Friday the 4th at the Helotes Nature Center

Join wildlife experts to review progress, the public is welcome. Learn about the meeting here, learn more about the Southern Edwards Plateau-Habitat Conservation Plan (SEP-HCP) here.

February 1, 2011

The Power of Water

A new website and amazing video of the Canyon Lake Gorge… “ The Flood Event of 2002 the Power of Water carved a gorge into the landscape below the Canyon Lake Spillway”. Check it out.

Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance success in Texas

Partnerships in the Texas Hill Country achieve on-the-ground success. The Hill Country Conservancy, The City of Austin and Hays County partner for Dahlstrom Ranch and The River Systems Institute leads ongoing long-term conservation along Cypress Creek. Learn more


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The Latest News

Support HCA today by bidding on an Art Barrel and make plans to head to Dripping Springs Saturday for the Rainwater Revival!

The bidding is now open for the Rainwater Revival’s art barrels – professionally designed and decorated rain collection barrels sure to add a delightful yet purposeful accent to your yard. Funds from the auction support rainwater collection and conservation program grants to Hill Country schools. Learn more

The Balcones Canyonlands Preserve – A western Travis County asset worth learning about

Driving through western portions of Austin, maybe you’ve noticed scenic, tree-covered hills spreading across the landscape and wondered when they will become a new shopping area or residential development. While growth is inevitable, it is also important to preserve land for the environmental benefits it provides. Learn more

Protecting the Hill Country begins with an informed, engaged citizenry

Water is a hot topic in Texas – and it’s getting hotter. Register for Trib + Water to stay informed. This bi-weekly newsletter is brought to you at no cost by The Meadows Center for the Environment and The Texas Tribune.

The Vista Ridge Pipeline - a regional game changer

“The project is much too important and costly for San Antonio not to have a full and complete understanding about the reliability of the groundwater supply.” Read more from this open-letter by Dr. Curtis Chubb, rancher and groundwater expert, published in the Rivard Report. Citizens have the opportunity to address the San Antonio City Council each Wednesday at 6:00 pm. The Alamo Group of the Sierra Club has created a clearinghouse of articles and reports to keep you informed. SA City Council is likely to vote on the project Thursday, October 30th.

San Antonio invests 5 million in Bracken Cave!

“This historic decision puts us within reach of purchasing the entire tract of land and protecting the habitat Bracken’s bats have used for thousands of years.” Read more from Bat Conservation International. “San Antonio is one of the fastest growing cities in the county, in part because of the vast natural resources of the region. It’s our responsibility to ensure we protect and conserve what makes this region incredibly special.” Councilman Ron Nirenburg, quoted in the Rivard Report.

The many reasons millennials are shunning cars

There's a lot of evidence that millennials don't drive as much — or care as much for cars in general — as previous generations their own age did. They're less likely to get driver's licenses. They tend to take fewer car trips, and when they do, those trips are shorter. They're also more likely than older generations to get around by alternative means: by foot, by bike, or by transit. here's still a lot of dispute, however, over exactly what these trends mean. Read more from the Washington Post.

Summit addresses Hill Country issues

"Everything from urban development to dance hall preservation was on the agenda at the Hill Country Alliance 2014 Leadership Summit, held Thursday at the Nimitz Hotel Ballroom." Read the full article from the Fredericksburg Standard.

Keeping Open Spaces Open

“We are reaching a point in Texas where simply standing on common ground is not enough. The lives of urban and rural Texans are irreversibly intertwined, so we must all join forces to create and define initiatives and policies that conserve the common good, while protecting the heritage of private landowners.” Read more of David K. Langford's guest blog for the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.

Harvest that Rain!

Most food growers rely on tap water to keep their plants alive during dry weather, but gardeners are discovering that chemicals in tap water harm the soil organisms that plants depend upon to absorb nutrients. As a result, more and more gardeners are storing rainwater. Read more from Sustainable Food Center.

Bracken Bat Cave needs your help

For the past year, San Antonio City officials, Bat Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and many other organizations and community leaders have been searching for a solution to avert a 3,500-home development over the Edwards Aquifer and adjacent to Bracken Cave Preserve. Next week, San Antonio's city council will meet to vote on whether to invest $5 million from their Edwards Aquifer Protection Program toward the purchase of the property and a conservation easement to protect aquifer recharge. Learn more from BCI.

Citizens Rule the Night at City Council

City Council chambers filled Wednesday evening with more than 100 people who signed up to speak for or against the proposed SAWS-Vista Ridge Consortium water agreement. Individuals were given two minutes to express their views, while group representatives were allotted five minutes. Read more from the Rivard Report.

When private property rights clash with the public good

“I have never understood why in Texas zoning laws are good for city mice but not for country mice, especially as we lose more and more of the open land that is necessary to our survival as a species every year, but that is the way it is and there seems to be no way to change it until Texans get tired of seeing our state gobbled up by strip malls and truck stops and march on the state capitol armed with shotguns and pruning hooks.” Read this personal story about the Hill Country, by Lonn Taylor, featured in The Big Bend Sentinel. Learn more about County Authority in Texas here.

Public Meeting: Vision for FM 150, October 16 in Driftwood

The public is invited to learn more about the process to develop a Roadway Character Plan for FM 150 from near Arroyo Ranch Road northwest through the Driftwood to RR 12 in Dripping Springs at an October 16 meeting. Hays County Commissioners Will Conley and Ray Whisenant are hosting the meeting to share information about the roadway and gather ideas from the public about what this important cross-county road needs to look like as changes are phased in to improve mobility and safety. Details

Have You Thought about the Hill Country Soundscape?

“..the effects of human endeavors all around the planet can be gauged by listening to the sounds of different habitats. Wild, urban, rural — they all can be interpreted.” Read more from Bernie Krause in “Call of the Wild,” featured in Sun Magazine. Find out what neighbors are doing through the Noise Pollution Clearning House.

Texas A&M reports loss of farms, ranches and forests

“Through Texas Land Trends, we have been able to raise awareness that ‘Yes, we have a lot of land in Texas,’ but we are losing it at a faster rate than most other states in the country, and that loss is having profound impacts on our agricultural base, our water resources and our native wildlife habitat,” Fitzsimons said. Read more about Land Trends.

The Oak Hill “Y” – A gateway to the Hill Country

A community workshop will be held October 9th from 6–8 pm as part of a “Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process,” a planning approach that invites the surrounding communities and neighborhoods to influence the design, so that it reflects their cultural and historic values and aesthetic preferences. Learn more about the event hosted by the CTRMA and TxDot. Explore http://Fix290.org for more information.

HCA's 2015 Calendar is Available for Sale!

HCA has released their 9th Texas Hill Country Calendar. Once again, this calendar delivers stunning photography while remaining an informative resource on Hill Country conservation. The stunning photographs featured throughout the 2015 calendar were chosen from nearly 400 submissions to HCA’s 2014 Photo Contest. Learn more

San Antonio a Step Closer to Controversial Pipeline

San Antonio is one step closer to buying some of the most expensive water ever sold in Texas, just as the deal is drawing more critics. Read more from Texas Tribune.

Be a citizen scientist for Wildlife Field Research

at Cibolo Nature Center & Farm on Oct. 6-11 Volunteers interested in learning about Hill Country wildlife and contributing to its scientific study are encouraged to become citizen scientists during the Wildlife Field Research “bio-blitz” taking place Oct. 6-11 at the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. Wildlife Field Research is open to participants of all ages and skill levels. Learn more

In Cities Across Texas, Activists Battle Billboard Companies

The Highway Beautification Act will be 50 years old next year. As envisioned by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, it was supposed to protect the natural landscape from billboards. Ever since its passage, scenic activists and billboard companies have been at war over the views along American highways. More from NPR.

SAWS Board to Vote on Water Deal, UTSA Panel to Follow

The San Antonio Water System Board will vote Monday on a $3.40-billion landmark water deal that would pipe in 50,000 acre-feet of water to San Antonio annually as soon as 2019, enough to meet 20% of the growing city’s future water needs. Read more from the Rivard Report.

Questions answered by SAWS Monday night

Monday’s vote by SAWS is step one, San Antonio City Council will ultimately consider and vote on the Vista Ridge Pipeline Project. Who is this water for? Where will it ultimately go? Who will ultimately pay and what are the long-term financial implications? Show up at UTSA Monday night for a balanced panel discussion. Get educated and get involved. Event details

Community groups question the rush to approve SAWS Vista Ridge Pipeline

“The 522 page draft contract for this $3.4 billion deal was posted on-line on September 23rd, giving the SAWS Board and the public less than a week to review a deal that will have far reaching implications for our community, including an estimated 16% rate hike for SAWS customers.” Read more from GEAA. As Margaret Day of the Alamo Sierra Club points out “to be sustainable, aquifer drawdown should be no greater than recharge.” Read this opinion piece from the Alamo Sierran Word.

The time is now to speak up in Travis County

Travis County is seeking public comments by Wednesday, Oct 1st on their Land, Water and Transportation plan. Read the plan, take the survey and/or send your comments via email. Meanwhile, CAMPO is taking comments until Oct 6th on a variety of projects including a study to construct a major tollway across sensitive preserve lands. “Traffic solution costly, harmful to environment” Read “City to oppose proposed tollroad” in the Austin American Statesmen.

Public Forum on Trinity Aquifer, Oct. 7

The League of Women Voters of Comal Area invites the public to attend “The Trinity Aquifer: A Shared Resource/ A Shared Responsibility,” to be held October 7 in Canyon Lake. “If you drink water in Comal County, you are likely to be drinking Trinity water, or you soon will be. It is up to all of us to learn more about this resource, no matter where in Comal County we live.” Learn more

Evaporation – a loss for humans and wildlife in Texas

It's no secret that drought has been a major factor in the declining water levels of our lakes and reservoirs here in Texas. But there is another factor that has has received very little attention - evaporation. Read more from Texas Living Waters.

New streetlights to make for darker skies

The stars may seem a little brighter over Kerrville next year. The Kerrville Public Utility Board last week set aside about $734,000 to upgrade 2,000 city street lights to “full cut-off,” high-efficiency LED lamps that won’t shine light upward. Read More from the Kerrville Daily Times.

Water Crisis: Time to Get Serious!

Last week’s “Water Crisis” event hosted by The Hays County Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) drew a huge crowd and continues to create a lot of meaningful conversations about how rural lands west of I-35 will be developed. Learn more

Big changes for the Cibolo Nature Center (and FARM!)

Even as Cibolo Nature Center staffers celebrate a major milestone with the completed restoration of the historic Herff farmhouse, they're setting ambitious new goals. Read more from SA Express-News.

It Will Take an Insane Amount of Rain Before the Highland Lakes Recover

Central Texas is having a pretty decent year, rain-wise. We’re sitting just below normal. But these big rain events all have something in common: They really haven’t fallen where we need them most. “The watershed that helps our water supplies isn’t here in Austin; it’s way up into the counties to the north of us." Read more from State Impact.

Trend Of Land Fragmentation, Rural Loss Continues In Texas

Land fragmentation has been a growing problem for Texas, and by all appearances it isn’t going to slow any time soon. The state’s population continues to grow rapidly, and those residents have an insatiable appetite for land. Read more from Livestock Weekly.

No Land. No Water.

As the current drought reminds us, water continues to impact the sustainability and growth of Texas' economy. Unfortunately, land is disappearing faster than in any other state, threatening the water resources on which our economy depends. Land conservation is a cost-effective water resource protection strategy. Join TALT October 1st in Austin.

Fall Camping Workshops Announced for Outdoor Families

With cool weather around the corner, the Texas Outdoor Family program has scheduled outdoor recreational workshops statewide though the beginning of December. The workshops offer a low-cost weekend trip where families can un-plug, reconnect with nature, and learn the basics of camping. Read more from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Aquifer is No Quick Fix for Central Texas Thirst

Water marketers who want to sell to cities say there’s plenty of groundwater, however landowners and conservationists warn that this precious resource could drain in a few decades. What’s the long-term impact on the Colorado River as the groundwater table declines? Who exactly is this water for and what are they willing to pay? Read this excellent article by Neena Satija, Texas Tribune.

Where is the Hill Country?

ACC Professor Don Jonsson takes an interesting look at various degrees of consensus about what geography is included in the “Hill Country.” His data shows Luckenbach as generally the mean center of the region and the Pedernales River Basin 100% Texas Hill Country. View his project findings, map and summary. HCA has a plethora of helpful Hill Country map resources available online and as well as an interactive map viewer.

Wild Pigs!

Landowner groups and Wildlife Coops – Here’s something worth passing along to your member lists. Wild Pigs are an issue throughout the Hill Country region. Here’s an opportunity to learn from the comfort of your own ranch/home computer. Dial in September 18th to from noon to 1:00. Find out how to access this webinar made possible by the Texas Wildlife Association.

"I’m a NIMBY and proud"

“The effects of population growth on traffic are easy to understand. More people equal more cars on the road. More cars on the road equal more congestion. Duh! The real culprit is the rate at which new people are moving here.” Read one bold Austinite's views (who happens to also be a Real Estate Developer) about the real issue facing Austin (and the Hill Country) population. Ed Wendler, Special to the Austin American Statesman.

CARD Hosts a Community Water Meeting September 11

to host a free community meeting this Thursday to discuss why water is an increasingly critical issue, and how we can all be part of improving the outlook. Speakers include Andy Sansom, Executive Director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Steve Clouse, Chief Operating Officer of San Antonio Water Systems, Ray Whisenant, Hays County Commissioner, Peter Newell, Water Resources Engineer at HDR Engineering, and Bech Bruun of the TWDB. Details

What’s all this fuss about a Parkway through Oak Hill?

The Fix 290 Coalition, a group of over 40 organizations and businesses and 2,800 petition signers, have been advocating for a “parkway" concept to move traffic through Oak Hill and protect the original character and unique natural environment of the area for more than a decade. The City of Austin is now asking for a study of this community driven “parkway” alternative to TxDot’s traditional elevated/frontage road model. Read more from Fix290.

HCA Transmission Line Workshop Generates Crowd

On Saturday, September 6th the Hill Country Alliance hosted a landowner workshop for those landowners potentially impacted by the LCRA's proposed Blumenthal substation and transmission line project. The workshop featured an update from the LCRA on the status of their application to the Public Utility Commission, and a panel discussion of landowner rights during the transmission line routing and construction process. To read a more detailed summary of the event and access speaker presentations, click here.

A Tale of 2 Water Districts: 1 Aquifer, 2 Strategies

A decade ago, prospective water marketers easily secured the rights to pump more than 20 billion gallons of water annually from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Central Texas’ Burleson County. The company now holding those rights, BlueWater, is negotiating a $3 billion deal to send much of that water to San Antonio. Read more from The Texas Tribune.

More news

Upcoming Events

October

October 23 in Boerne - 2014 Boerne Water Forum: Community Growth and Water Quality ARE Compatible - Details

October 24 in Utopia - Stars over Utopia - Learn how to protect our night skies and do some stargazing - Details

October 25 in Dripping Springs - HCA's 5th Annual Rainwater Revival! - Details

October 25 in Wimberley - A Whole Farm Approach to Improving the Water Cycle, presented by HMI - Details

October 29 in Austin - Great Places and Healthy People, presented by Congress for the New Urbanism - Details

October 30 in Austin - Balcones Canyonland Preserve Infrastructure Workshop - Details

November

November 3 in New Braunfels - 2014 ASACC & Lone Star Rail District Legislative Session Luncheon with State Representatives Donna Howard, Ruth Jones McClendon and Doug Miller - Details

November 11 in Austin - Meeting of the Austin Sierra Club - Austin Water Resources Planning Task Force with Sharlene Leurig - Details

November 15 in Johnson City - Sneak Peak Fundraiser at the Hill Country Science Mill: A fun foray into the (not-quite-finished) science museum - Details



See more upcoming events


2015 HCA Calendar

One sale now!- Purchase Online

Check out the top photos from our 2014 HCA Photo Contest


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



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