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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
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 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.
The developer of The Reserve at Fair Oaks Ranch now plans to buy Canyon Lake water to supply the proposed 635-home subdivision after project opponents expressed fears that using groundwater would deplete the Trinity Aquifer. More from SA Express-News.
The historic Herff Homestead at the Herff Farm at the Cibolo will open to the public for the first time since its restoration was completed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, sponsored by the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm. Learn more
If the City of Austin continues with its plan to shut down Decker Power plant, Decker Lake, a little known lake that has fed the power plant for more than 50 years, could end up serving as the city's new reservoir. Read more from State Impact.
The United States Senate has the opportunity before the end of the year to provide a powerful boost to charitable organizations working to preserve our beautiful Hill Country. Read more from the Hill Country Land Trust.
“Bexar County Commissioners reviewing their own 2015 proposed budget, were told by county planners on Tuesday that the biggest challenge they face now and in the coming years is the startling rate of population growth in the far reaches of the county, well beyond the reach of city services with expectations that county government will meet infrastructure, public safety and social needs.” Read the full story in the Rivard Report.
Open to youth ages 8-18, the Picture Your World weekend workshops teach photographic composition and technique through hands-on demonstration, and constructive critique. Participants will produce a visual memory of their day and begin a creative portfolio while experiencing the wonders of the natural environment. Learn more
Bruce Melton discusses how Texas' changing weather patterns are affecting our water supply and HCA's Sharlene Leurig discusses the newly formed Austin Water Resources Task Force water in two upcoming meetings of the Austin Sierra Club, September 9 and November 11. Learn more
Fredericksburg SHINES (FBG SHINES), a local organization dedicated to educating the public about sustainable living, will host their second annual Fredericksburg fall tour of homes to spotlight local examples of sustainable, green-living practices. Learn more
The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA) has announced completion of a helpful low impact development publication. This manual was designed for developers, landscape architects, and all of those who live on, or are planning to build over our fragile aquifer recharge areas. The manual is available for download on the GEAA website.
The population of Travis County is expected to grow 50% by 2035 for a total of 1,500,000 people. Planning for growth outside of the city limits is critical for the county to continue to thrive in a sustainable manner. As such, Travis County needs your feedback to ensure the County's first comprehensive, long-range Land Water and Transportation Plan reflects local values and priorities. Click here to learn how you can help Travis County plan for future growth.
“Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers — always a backup source during the region’s periodic droughts — are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are both historic and unsustainable.” Read more from the Washington Post. Now California lawmakers are overhauling the state's longstanding "pump-as-you-please" groundwater policy under a package of bills lawmakers recently sent Gov. Jerry Brown. Read about California’s new groundwater rules in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Also read “Desperately Dry” in the New York Times.
Hill Country preservationists are calling on state officials to act after Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest truck stop operator and diesel fuel retailer, broke ground on an environmentally sensitive site in Junction only a few hundred yards from the banks of the North Fork of the Llano River. Read more from the Rivard Report.
A landowner workshop has been planned for all interested in, or potentially impacted by, the proposed substation and transmission line planned for the Blumenthal area, September 6 near Fredericksburg. Learn more
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has withdrawn its June 2014 proposed rule change that would have allowed billboards along federal highways to be taller. After receiving public comments from more than 900 Texans and 15 organizations in opposition to taller billboards, the agency advised today it is removing the item from consideration on the August 28 Texas Transportation Commission agenda. Learn more
Efforts to limit the nighttime glow in and around Fredericksburg were buoyed this month as the council approved an outdoor lighting standards ordinance, which will primarily affect new residential and commercial development. A complete draft of the ordinance can be found on the city’s website, www.fbgtx.org. Learn about Hill Country attorney-astronomer, HCA Night Sky team member Ken Kattner who records skies from home observatory and advocates for proper lighting in the Hill Country here.
SAWS presented plans for a 142 mile pipeline from Burleson County to San Antonio at a recent community forum at UTSA. Learn more and watch a video from SAWS news here. While the plan promises 50,000 acre feet of non-Edwards water annually, a Texas Public Radio segment points out that perhaps not enough questions have been raised. Are there consequences related to costs to the community and impacts on San Antonio’s conservation ethic worth exploring? Click here to read and listen to “The Source: Some Critique On A SAWS, Vista Ridge Deal." Decisions will be made by SAWS in September and SA City Council could take this up in October.
“Innovative Strategies and Hard Choices for a Secure Future” will be moderated by Robert Rivard and hosted at the Historic Pearl Stable in San Antonio. A stellar line-up of speakers includes: Berto Guerra, Bill West, Andy Sansom and Karen Guz. Learn more and mark your calendar today.
“The routes will connect destinations beyond Dripping Springs and will take advantage of opportunities to reach the proposed Violet Crown Trail and other regional trails and parks planned for Central Texas.” Read more and get involved. The City of Dripping Springs is soliciting input.
Look to the sky for your water supply—and learn how to capture and use it at the fifth annual Rainwater Revival, which returns to Dripping Springs on October 25. The popular and free edu-fest event is put on by the Hill Country Alliance. “We began our part-educational, part-fun fest in Dripping Springs in 2010, and after two years there we took the event on the road to other parts of the Hill Country,” said Event Chair Karen Ford. “We’re happy to be coming ‘home’ to share the latest information about rainwater conservation and harvesting at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. Learn more
“The population growth has had some obvious impacts, For one, there are a lot more straws, big and small, taking from the groundwater supply.” David K. Langford tells the audience at a recent private lands summit hosted by the Texas Wildlife Association. Read more from Livestock Weekly.
The Native Plant Society of Texas Native Landscape Certification Program is a series of courses that teaches best practices for native plant landscape and habitat preservation. Targeted audiences are homeowners, native plant enthusiasts, landscape architects, architects, landscape designers and nurserymen, Master Naturalists, teachers, citizens, Master Gardeners, engineers, and more. Learn more and register.
Depending on whom you ask, San Antonio might either be on the cusp of securing its water future at a relatively low cost, or it is pinning most of its hopes on a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that could diminish the water supply for fast-growing Central Texas and wouldn’t deliver what San Antonio expects. Read more from the Texas Tribune
“It’s through photographs like these that we help share the importance of protecting our Hill Country environment, and one of the reasons our calendar has been so popular with both area residents and nature lovers worldw
September 17 in Lakeway - Water Matters by Central Texas Water Coalition - Details
September 18 in Austin - The Barstow Speakers Series: Wat're the possibilities? Strategies to Reduce the Strain on the Colorado River - Details
September 20 in Fredericksburg - Fredericksburg Shines 2nd Annual Sustainability Green Homes Tour - Details
September 22 in Kerrville - Monthly meeting of the Texas Master Naturalists - Topic: Hill Country Land Trusts, Speaker: Bill Lindemann, Vice President of Hill Country Land Trust - Details
September 25 in Fredericksburg - Hill Country Alliance Leadership Summit - Details
September 26 in Kerrville - 2014 New Landowner Series: Back to Basics, Home Gardening, Chickens, Natural vs. Organic - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
September 26-28 in Belton - Renewable Energy Roundup - Details
September 27-28 in Boerne - Texas Hydro-Geo Workshop - Details
September 28 in Austin - 7th Annual Celebration of Children in Nature - Hosted by The Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin and the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center - Details
October 1 in Austin - No Land, No Water: Tools & Strategies for Conserving Land to Protect Water Resources - Presented by Texas Agricultural Land Trust - Details
October 8 in San Antonio - Water Forum V: A regional forum on our future - Details
October 16 in Boerne - Hill Country Agri-land workshop - Details
October 17-19 in Alpine - Society for Ecological Restoration Annual Conference: Ecological Restoration in the Southwest - Details
October 24 in Utopia - Stars over Utopia - Learn how to protect our night skies and do some stargazing - Details
HCA's 2015 Calendar is coming soon! Check back for availability.
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