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.
Design is an important tool for rural communities to build upon existing assets and improve the way a community looks, its quality of life, and its economic viability. A grant opportunity exists through the Citizen’s Institute on Rural Design to help your community to design for the future. The deadline to apply is March 5th. Learn More
City and county planners may not know if San Antonians discovered a love for the outdoors first or if new hike-and-bike, greenway and paddling trails have fostered a more active community. Regardless, national and homegrown retailers have noticed the Alamo City's growing demand for outdoor gear and equipment. Read more from SA Express-News.
Demographic trends indicate that a larger percentage of Americans live in urban areas than ever before. As America urbanizes and planning and development tools based on increased density (such as new urbanism, transit-oriented development, mixed use, infill, regionalism and regional blueprints) gain in their application, what does this mean for planning efforts focused on small towns where such tools may not resonate with Americans’ ideals or realities? Read more from Planetizen.
The Lone Star Community area is currently undergoing a transformation, most notably along its major corridors: South Flores, South Alamo, Cevallos, and the San Antonio River. The Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) is exploring ways to evolve from “from an industrial past to a future for arts, entertainment, and creative living spaces.” Learn more about the Lone Star Community Plan and sign up to be involved.
A plan to shape the city's growth and development throughout the next 30 years has been set into motion after Austin City Council unanimously approved the comprehensive blueprint for growth. More from KXAN.com.
What's your vision for your community's future? Join the Smart Growth Network in a national conversation on how neighborhoods and regions could be planned, designed, and developed to meet the needs of current and future generations. A multidisciplinary review team will select 20 to 40 papers on this topic to be published in a compendium for the 2013 New Partners for Smart Growth conference. Submitted papers must be received by June 30, 2012. Learn More
The NADO Research Foundation has released a new report, Regional Approaches to Sustainable Development: Linking Economic, Transportation, and Environmental Infrastructure in Rural and Small Metropolitan America. Regional development organizations (RDOs) working in all types of communities across the country are designing and implementing strategies to create stronger, more dynamic, more resilient regional economies that are based on quality of place. Featuring case studies from California, Michigan, North Carolina, and Utah, this report highlights the opportunities available to RDOs to undertake sustainable development initiatives using a systems-based approach. View Report
The City of Austin will host an “Interact with Imagine Austin” open house as an opportunity for the community to ask questions after reviewing the draft comprehensive plan during the last month. The open house will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Seton Administrative Offices, 1345 Philomena St. Details
"According to housing and location preference surveys, the younger crowd wants to be in the center of things — downtown. They want cafes, restaurants, entertainment, and other young people to socialize with. They want walkable communities with parks; they want bike trails; they want to bike to work; and they want transit.” Read full release from Citiwire.net.
Residents are invited to take the Hays County Parks, Open Space & Natural Areas Master Plan Survey, which will help the County determine interests and priorities of its residents. More information about the planning process and a link to the online survey here.
Comal County is undergoing a Strategic Planning process. All citizens are encouraged to participate and express their priorities for the future. Town Hall meetings will be held May 10th in New Braunfels and May 12th in Bulverde and Canyon Lake. Download a printable flyer about the Town Hall Meetings here. Participate in the online survey here, it’s fast and easy.
CAPCOG has released the long-awaited Regional Growth Assessment. The report includes an analysis of growth in four key areas – water, land use, transportation, and economic development – then makes policy recommendations about what communities in the region should consider if they are experiencing the challenges identified. Water availability is the most prominent issue for the region. Download the report here.
Sprawl is malfunctioning. It has underperformed for decades, but its collapse has become obvious with the recent mortgage meltdown and economic crisis, and its abundance magnifies the problems of its failure. Read full Planetizen article here.
The Central Texas region has been awarded $3,700,000 from the federal Sustainable Communities Partnership, part of the DOT's, HUD's and EPA's coordinated effort to promote sustainable communities through a $98 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. Read more from Evision Central Texas here.
A draft Comprehensive Plan for the City of Dripping Springs will be presented at a workshop open to the public on Thursday, September 30th at 6:00 pm in the Dripping Springs City Hall. The draft plan can be viewed here.
Consolidating planning agencies and establishing county growth management authority top the list of recommendations at the most ECT forum. The third in a series of four forums brought together a diverse group of public and private sector participants to learn innovative regional planning ideas. View the program summary here.
Envision Central Texas announces “Innovate or Stagnate” a regional planning forum set for September 10th in Austin. Learn more here.
Are you keeping up with Imagine Austin? This comprehensive planning process will shape Austin’s future. Meetings are open to the public and there are numerous opportunities to participate. Learn more here
The Hill Country Planning Association is creating awareness about the North Sector Plan, a project of the City of San Antonio. Information about the plan can be viewed here. To learn about upcoming meetings, public input opportunities and to read comments from area conservationists from the Hill Country Planning Association click here.
On March 31, 2010, Envision Central Texas and more than 250 Central Texans gathered to discuss the challenges facing our region in providing efficient and coordinated infrastructure in a time of limited resources. Read a summary of the forum here.
The Regional Water Quality Protection Plan calls for a system of TDRs or Transfer of Development Rights where developers are allowed to increase density in cities by purchasing the development rights on land that has been designated for preservation in rural areas. Find out how this is working in Washington here. What’s missing in Texas is a county or regional tool for implementing such a program outside the municipalities.
EARIP stakeholders met Thursday and took the first of many steps in the process of establishing a plan to protect federally listed endangered species while balancing the region’s need for water. Read full media release here.
The Central Texas Greenprint for Growth (the "Greenprint") is a tool for balancing sustainable conservation goals with the infrastructure needs of our rapidly urbanizing region. Expanding on the Travis County Greenprint for Growth completed during the fall of 2006, the Central Texas Greenprint was conducted between the spring of 2008 and the summer of 2009 with stakeholders from Bastrop, Caldwell and Hays Counties. Read full Envision Central Texas newsletter here.
In a long overdue move, the US EPA today formally pledged to work in tandem with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to “help American families … gain better access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs,” according to an EPA statement. See full media release here.
From Envision Central Texas: "We need your help getting the word out about the 2009 Envision Central Texas Community Stewardship Awards. As you know, the ECT Community Stewardship Awards offer a special opportunity to recognize and honor the innovative people, projects and processes that are addressing growth in our region in ways that will help ensure our quality of life for generations. The application process began on January 9 and will end on February 20. Click here for details or click here to download the application.
Come to the town hall meeting November 6 at Bee Creek's United Methodist Church, located at 3000 Bee Creek Road in Spicewood to discuss annexing SW Travis County into the Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Conservation District (BSEAGCD). The meeting lasts from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will include information on how groundwater protection can be achieved in this vulnerable area, as well as a session for public input to help assess the area's annexation. Read the details here.
The San Antonio Metropolitan Planning Organization wants to extend its boundaries into Comal County, but "this boundary extension is no small issue," writes Terri Hall for Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF). "It means both counties have less control over their local transportation decisions. Comal County doesn't want to be one vote on a Board of 20, and Bexar County doesn't need the expense or hassle of taking on the Hill Country's transportation costs." Read TURF's full story here.
"Capital Metro's MetroRail is set to begin operation from Leander to downtown Austin on March 30, 2009," writes Leander Mayor John D. Cowman for the Austin American-Statesman. "It's a great interim solution and will work on a temporary basis, but these commuters will be hungry for better access, for a system that connects them to all places they need and want to go — for a system that links our region." Read Mayor Cowman's full commentary here.
"Kirk Watson is attempting what no one had done before," writes Katherine Gregor in the Austin Chronicle. "Central Texas urgently needs a comprehensive regional plan for growth. To date, however, the multijurisdictional politics of multiple cities and counties has daunted any politician or entity trying to coordinate such an effort...Through CAMPO, Watson now is tackling comprehensive transportation and land-use planning for the region as a whole."
Read the Chronicle's full article and interview with Sen. Watson here.
Back to Regional Planning
Back to Issues
Some water experts believe Hill Country clear-running creeks and streams may soon be a thing of the past if cities are permitted to discharge treated wastewater directly into creeks such as Onion Creek. Water wells may also become contaminated. Read More
Sky has been selected to receive a “Lone Star Land Steward Award” for her work in education and outreach for the Nueces River Authority in Uvalde County. “Sky Lewey is a conservation educator with extraordinary leadership and dedication. A key figure in the efforts to restore healthy riparian function to the Nueces River Basin and beyond.” David Langford, HCA Advisor, and his wife Myrna are also receiving an award for their landowner cooperative in Kendall County. Congratulations HCA leaders! Read more from TPWD.
"Keeping Rivers Flowing" is a free three-part webinar series designed to inform interested persons about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries. Drawing on practical experience from here in Texas and around the world, speakers will discuss innovative approaches for ensuring that rivers, bays and estuaries continue to get the flow needed to protect water quality and support healthy fish and wildlife populations. Learn More
Bat Conservation International has inspired major support to prevent intense development of 1500 acres adjacent to Bracken Cave from the City of San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro, City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and others. Find out more about recent negotiations to save the cave and learn about upcoming opportunities to personally visit Bracken Bat Cave and see the bats take flight.
How many times have you heard that the Hill Country was once a great vast grassland with only a modest covering of trees and brush? Although this longstanding myth is deeply ingrained and embraced by many government agencies, biologists, landowners and professionals, it is false and misleading. Learn what the Hill Country was really like prior to 1860 from eye-witness accounts, and why it is important to understand the past. Read and share from Steve Nelle.
“The rules require residential developers to use only drought-resistant plants from a list provided by the city. St. Augustine grass, which tends to be very thirsty, can only be planted in areas where there is 10 inches of topsoil and less than 6 hours of full sunlight per day.” Read more from the American Statesman (subscription required). Learn more about St. Augustine and the impact lawn watering has on our regional water supply from Native American Seed here. KXAN reports “more buyers want homes with smaller yards and less grass to water.” View video here.
The fact is the city’s sprawling suburbs, gated communities and ex-urban neighborhoods are addicted to lawn and landscape watering. SAWS officials say about one-third of all the water we use in the hot summer months is pumped to keep grass alive. Not humans, but grass. Learn More
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has developed a new Interactive 2012 State Water Plan webpage that will let water users statewide take an up-close look at data in the 2012 State Water Plan and how our water needs will change over time. This data will arm communities with important information as they plan for projects to submit for State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) funding. Learn More
It started when the Kimble County Commissioners Court, followed by the City Council, passed resolutions supporting voluntary efforts to protect the Night Skies. This paralleled actions being taken in other Hill Country communities to preserve the awe-inspiring Night Skies and the enjoyment that comes with stargazing, including its attraction for visitors. Read more from the Junction Eagle.
HCA’s March 20th Texas Water Symposium generated a crowd of more than 150 to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the Pedernales River watershed. Landowners, state and local officials and non-profit representatives gathered to explore these issues and the steps being taken to solve them. Learn more from the Fredericksburg Standard. An hour-long version of the event will be aired on Texas Public Radio in select regions Sunday, April 6th at 8pm - Details
Approval of “Prop 6” indirectly transferred $2 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund into this new State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to provide water for “non-rainy” days. But just moving money around doesn’t create water. That’s why what’s happening now at the state’s Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is so important. Read more from Ken Kramer at TexasLivingWaters.org.
Stay informed about your local Groundwater Conservation District (GCD). The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) creates a monthly bulletin full of helpful water conservation information and news. Read the latest edition here. Do you know your local GCD? Do you have a local GCD? If you are unsure, contact HCA and we’ll help you learn.
While we continue to reduce our water use, demands increase every day with new homes of suburbia appearing on the horizon. Each will require more water, with a considerable amount going to establish and maintain hundreds of acres of new turf grass each year. In this region, traditional home lawns typically consume 25 to 35% of the annual treated water. Projecting into the future, new residential yards could require up to 30,000 acre-feet per year by 2040—enough water to meet about 20 percent of Austin’s current demand. Read More
The Texas Wildlife Association provides Distance Learning programs to bring education about our natural world into the classroom via videoconferencing. Discover resources HCA has assembled to help parents and teachers inspire our next generations to be thoughtful stewards of the Hill Country here.
“With growth projected to skyrocket in the Hill Country, GEAA will keep working to make sure that the costs of growth are distributed equitably.” While the SAWS staff recommends new impact fees to fund additional water supplies, development interests are pushing back. Learn More
Do you want to create meaningful experiences that last a lifetime? HCA is offering an Interpretive Guide Training workshop that will help you connect the minds and hearts of your audience to the beauty of nature and the mysteries of history. The four-day workshop will be held April 28-29 and May 5-6. Register now, class size limited. Details
“Intermittent and ephemeral streams provide critical fish habitat out West. They account for 94 percent of Arizona’s streams, according to the EPA, and 88 percent of those in New Mexico.” The same holds true here in the Hill Country as these tributaries feed the Llano, Pedernales, Blanco, Guadalupe and Nueces Rivers. “These streams provide the flow for larger rivers and spawning and rearing habitat for young fish and insects; they also help to determine the quality of downstream habitat for fish.” Read more from the Washington Post.
Today Texans are more aware than ever of the importance of groundwater. As part of ongoing efforts to synthesize and communicate water-related data to scientists, policy makers and the public, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) recently announced its Water Data for Texas website now includes groundwater data. Learn More
The Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is currently seeking public input for projects including new roads in the long-ranch plan. Learn more about transportation planning taking place in Burnett, Travis and Hays counties and attend an open house near you.
Scenic America has just released a handy 4-page reference guide to basic facts and figures about billboards. Download the PDF here. Learn more about scenic issues and billboard in the Hill Country here.
While South by Southwest (SXSW) comes to a close in Austin, Texas' bat season is just beginning. That's right, the Mexican free-tailed bats have begun their northward migration. To celebrate, here's a little "Q&A" to help answer any questions you may have about this awesome spring event. Learn more from Bat Conservation International.
Meet Dr. Katherine Lieberknecht. She is a professor in the University of Texas School of Architecture who proposes the revolutionary idea that stormwater runoff can – and should – be managed as a water resource, rather than as nuisance to be drained “away as “efficiently” as practical. Read more from Waterblogue.
Across the parched American West, the long drought has set off a series of fierce legal and political battles over who controls an increasingly dear treasure - water. Read more from the New York Times.
The Hill Country Alliance has set an April 30 deadline for local schools to apply for grants of up to $1,000 to develop or continue water catchment and conservation programs. The auction of “art barrels” during the Alliance’s annual Rainwater Revival, held in November, funds the grants. Learn more...
Last month, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club praised staff at the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) for recommending to their Board that the focus of future water supplies for the city should rest on nearby brackish groundwater, rather than the importation of fresh groundwater from locations distant of the city. Unfortunately, the SAWS Board, sensing pressure from the business community, has backpedaled against that recommendation to reject all three of the groundwater proposals. Read more from the Texas Living Waters Project.
Property is a thing. Happiness is an ideal, a story of the future created by the imagination. The American dream, even when it takes material form, is a wish the heart makes in its pursuit of happiness. It is an act of the imagination made vivid by the life and liberty that allow us to pursue it with hope. Read and share one of our timeless favorite pieces by Betty Sue Flowers.
The San Antonio Water System board voted unanimously Tuesday to fund Phase I construction of a brackish water desalination plant in southern Bexar County – the most ambitious water diversification project in the city’s history – and enter negotiations with the Vista Ridge Consortium to provide San Antonio with an even greater supply of new water via a privately-owned regional pipeline, a second diversification project of unprecedented scope and cost. Read more from the Rivard Report.
Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region. Join us Friday, April 25th for a day of learning at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center. Click here to learn more and register online.
Nominations are now being accepted for the Preservation Texas, Most Endangered Place list. Some wonderful places in the Hill Country already grace this list including the Spettel Riverside House in Bandera County, The Old Llano County Jail, Hamilton Pool, Scenic Loop-Boerne Stage Corridor and statewide, Texas Dance Halls! The deadline is fast approaching, March 21st, take it upon yourself to nominate an iconic Hill Country treasure. Learn More
April 16 in Canyon Lake - Billboards in Comal County: TxDOT will present findings from a recent inventory of billboards in Comal County - Presented by the League of Women Voters, Comal Area - Details
April 17 in Austin - TWDB will hold two Board meetings to discuss innovative water solutions for Texas and financial assistance for water projects - The public and interested stakeholders encouraged to attend and provide public comment - Details
April 19 in Boerne - Streamside Management: Restoring and Maintaining Riparian Areas - Details
April 22 - Earth Day! - Earth Day Events
April 22 in Austin - Texas Water Journal Forum focusing on current challenges to rural and urban water conservation - Details
April 23-25 in Kerrville - Bennett Trust Educational Program: "Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau" - Details
April 23-27 - 2014 Hill Country Nature Quest - Tour the Hill Country River Region and learn about native plants, birds, butterflies and wildlife - Details
April 25 in Austin - Kent Butler Summit, “Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region” - Details
April 25-27 in Fredericksburg - 4th Annual Wings over the Hills Nature Festival - Details
April 26 in Austin - Native Plant Spring Symposium - Hosted by The Native Plant Society of Texas and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Details
April 28 in Kerrville - Native Bees of Texas - A meeting of the Hill Country Master Naturalist - Free and open to the public - Details
April 30 - Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers - Free three-part webinar series on strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries - Details
May 3 in Bandera - 13th Annual Medina River Cleanup - Details
May 6 in Medina - Fruit Tree Management Workshop - Hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 7 in San Antonio - Public Health and the Built Environment - Healthy Communities by Design - Details
May 8 in San Antonio - Urban Wildlife Management Workshop - Details
May 9 in Boerne - Monarch Workshop: Monarch Biology, Ecology & Monarch Larval Monitoring Project Training - Hosted by the Cibolo Nature Center - Details
May 9 in Stonewall - 2014 New Landowner Series: Forage Production, Livestock Production and Handling, Crop Production - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 10 in Wimberley - Grand Opening of the newly improved Jacob's Well Natural Area - Details
May 12 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Hill Country University Center - Details
May 13 in Llano - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 14 in Marble Falls - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 16 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Enchanted Rock State Natural Area - Details
May 16 in Austin - Exploring Conservation Design in Central Texas with Randall Arendt - Details
May 28-30 in San Antonio - Southwest Stream Restoration Conference - 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