Last week appears to mark the end of our local concerns about a large 345Kv Transmission Line being built in Mason County. Read more from the Mason County News here.
At its regularly scheduled Open Meeting last week, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) began the last stage of the process that will result in the construction of a high-voltage Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission line stretching from near San Angelo to Comfort. The commissioners are evaluating evidence and considering intervenor-requested adjustments as they determine the final route for this controversial project - Read more
The Scenic City Certification Program is Now Accepting 2011 Applications. Encourage your city to seek this recognition for high scenic stands for roadways and public spaces – Learn more
“…when it’s all said and done, I will know that we did everything we could to preserve the Hill Country’s wide open spaces and our way of life for the benefit of future generations. That keeps me going.” stated Bill Neiman. Read the full article by Lorie Woodward Cantu for Texas Wildlife Magazine, a publication of the Texas Wildlife Association here.
CVA was recognized as a meaningful and significant party in the recently completed PUC hearings in Austin. “Speaking about long-term social and ecological costs must have sounded like Greek” reflects Bill Neiman. Read more here.
The PUC has ordered cost effective alternatives for two CREZ lines, while progress continues on the big one, McCamey D to Kendall. Routing decision should be made before Christmas. Click here to read the latest from SOSHE.
To Hill Country landowners' undoubted relief, the Public Utility Commission will cancel plans to build one controversial wind-power transmission line, as well as a portion of a second. Read full Texas Tribune article here.
In an effort to thwart a proposed electric transmission line that will skirt their town, the people of the tiny town of Clifton, northwest of Waco, sketched out a novel argument Wednesday to the Public Utility Commission: The line would hamper the town's ability to attract artists and inspire art. Read full Statesman.com article here.
An informational meeting for anyone who would like to know more about CREZ transmission lines will be hosted by Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHCE) tonight in Fredericksburg. Click here for details.
A presentation entitled “CREZ Transmission Developments and The Rest of the Truth About Wind Energy” will be featured as the key part of an informational meeting hosted by Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHCE). The meeting will be at 6:30pm on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at the Gillespie County Farm Bureau building. Details
To get a sense of how contentious Monday's hearing about where to build a massive electric transmission line through the Hill Country will be, consider this: It's being held at the Austin Convention Center. That's big enough to hold more than 1,000 people — and there are easily that many with a stake in the outcome. Read full San Antonio Express article here.
When the PUC met Thursday, two of the three acknowledged that alternatives filed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas last week for the Kendall-to-Gillespie and Gillespie-to-Newton sections of the wind energy transmission lines appeared to be cost effective. Those comments were encouraging for opponents of the lines who agree that the ERCOT suggestions are less invasive than the route proposed by the LCRA. Read full Fredericksburg Standard article here.
It seems that every time you drive out of town, a new rural billboard has been built to capture your attention-and spoil the view. Since so many Texas cities (over 200) now prohibit billboard construction, industry growth has moved into the rural areas, exactly where billboards do not belong. Read more from Scenic Texas here.
As an advocate of private property rights, I support the ability of any landowner to make decisions about the disposition of their property. I've always been able to count on the practicality and good sense of those around me to make sure that, no matter what they were doing on their property, it did not infringe upon my property rights. Until now. Read this editorial from Mason County here.
Click here for the most recent update from Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment following ERCOT, PUC, LCRA actions to construct transmission lines through the Hill Country. The next SOSHE meeting is set for November 9th.
There may be a less expensive method to bring wind energy from West Texas than building proposed power lines through the Hill Country. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas released its analysis on alternative routes for the Gillespie to Newton and McCamey D to Kendall to Gillespie transmission line routes Monday. Read full Daily Times article here.
There is no cost-effective alternative to building a transmission line through the Hill Country, according to the state's electrical grid operator. The proposed line would bring West Texas wind power to the state's most populous cities and is being fought by Hill Country landowners, who say the clear-cutting and massive lattice towers that would carry the wires would decimate the most beautiful and ecologically sensitive land left in Texas. Read full San Antonio Express article here.
If two steps forward had been made in the effort to curtail the construction of wind energy transmission lines in the Hill Country, then one step back was taken last Wednesday (Sept.15) when the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in Austin cast votes that would slow down grassroots efforts to lessen the impact of those lines or move them out altogether. Read full Fredericksburg Standard article here.
In this New York Times opinion article, Stanley Fish discusses "Windfall;" a documentary recently appearing at the Toronto Film Festival which looks at the impact windmills had on the small town of Meredith, New York. Read full article here.
"As a people, we get once-in-a-lifetime chances to make a difference by fulfilling our responsibility to the future. The construction of 2,300 miles of really big, industrial transmission lines, on top of 160-foot wide clearcut rights-of-way, fits into the "forever" category." Read Bill Neiman's opinion piece published in the Austin American Statesman here.
Although county authority in this area is limited, this seminar will include a session on bandit signs and control of off premise signs. Scenic beauty is an economic resource and quality of life issue for the Hill Country. Learn more
By the time the first segment of the Hill Country line came before the commission in April, the commissioners told the LCRA to go back to the drawing board on proposed routes. And now, with commission Chairman Barry Smitherman signaling his unwillingness to go forward, the commissioners appear to be on the verge of scotching the line altogether. Read full Statesman.com article here.
Public officials participated in the August 19th PUC Open Meeting in Austin; “CREZ transmission line would have a significant negative impact on the Hill Country which is truly a unique area…” Read the summary from SOS Hill Country here. Senator Fraser continues to push for use of existing rights of way. Read Fraser’s letter to the PUC dated Aug 19th here.
LCRA TSC mailed about 5,100 notice letters to landowners along each of the 75 alternative routes the same day it filed the application on July 28. Newspaper notices describing LCRA TSC's proposed routes began running in area newspapers the week of Aug.2” August 27th is the intervention deadline. Complete LCRA Newsletter can be viewed here.
SaveOur Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHCE)is an organization of more than 500 members in Gillespie, Llano, Mason, Kerr and Kimble counties. They are highly concerned about the negative impacts that the McCamey D – Kendall – Gillespie CREZ line will have on the future of the Hill Country and are asking for a re-evaluation of the need for these lines. Read their letter to PUC here.
Clear View Alliance is hosting sessions with their legal team to help Hill Country landowners unite to fight the destructive impacts of massive transmission lines through our region. Meetings will be held in Harper, San Angelo and Junction. Learn more here.
Five transmission line seminars are scheduled across the state featuring expert information on the electric transmission line process, CREZ, and options for private landowners who may be impacted by proposed transmission line routes. Read details from Texas Wildlife Association here.
The line would connect the approved McCamey D Station to be constructed north of Eldorado with stations in Kendall and Gillespie counties, providing more reliability and a new path for wind power to get to market. Counties that could be impacted by this CREZ project include Schleicher, Sutton, Kimble, Kerr, Kendall, Gillespie, Menard and Mason. Read more here.
With a Twin Buttes to McCamey D route approved earlier this month, LCRA Transmission Services Corporation will present proposed routes for the McCamey D-to-Kendall-to-Gillespie transmission line project to the Public Utilities Commission on July 28. Read full Boerne Star article here.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas on July 1 chose a route for a new transmission line project intended to carry renewable wind power through Schleicher, Irion and Tom Green counties to more populated areas of the state. View route map. Read more.
“People should be angry with our governor, their legislators, the state and the utility companies not only because of the destruction these new power lines will cause, but because it appears this was all done for the age-old reason of greed and power.” Read full Go San Angelo article here.
LCRA Transmission Services Corporation (LCRA TSC) has put on hold further development of an 85-mile transmission line in the Texas Hill Country awaiting further guidance from the state on whether the project still is needed. Read more here.
SOS Hill Country Environment reports several encouraging developments regarding the planning of transmission lines from Gillespie to Newton and also McCamey D to Kendall to Gillespie. Hill Country elected officials continue to question the process and the need for all of the lines. Read more…
Last week, Barry Smitherman, Chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, asked the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to “thoroughly re-evaluate the need for the Gillespie to Newton transmission line” that has been proposed to carry wind energy generated in West Texas to population centers along the I35 corridor. Read full Llano News article here.
The chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas is continuing to press the operator of the state’s vast electric grid to reconsider the need for a new and potentially intrusive transmission line through Burnet and Llano counties. Read full Highland Lakes Newspapers article and supporting documents here.
Kerrville - City Council voted Tuesday to oppose a route proposed by the contractor that calls for a 345-kilovolt line to track Interstate 10 through valuable parcels here, including the city's gateway at Texas 16. Read full SA Express-News article here.
"Transmission Line Easements in Lieu of Condemnation”, 6:30 May 11th, learn more about this and other related news from Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment here.
Save our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHCE) will be hosting the presentation “Negotiating Transmission-line Easements in Lieu of Condemnation”, May 11th in Fredericksburg. The presentation is open to the public. Click here for details.
A final decision on the route of an electric line intended to carry wind power from West Texas through the Hill Country took a tumble Friday after the state agency nixed the options before it. Read full Statesman.com article here
Hill Country residents have another chance to tell our stories regarding the LCRA high-voltage transmission lines. Your personal story can be put on the record as part of the scoping meetings hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Read more here.
Hearings continue April 23rd regarding the Fredericksburg to Lampasas line. US Fish and Wildlife begin Hill Country public meetings regarding the Environmental Impact Statement. Mason County in the News and SOSHE schedules a meeting for May 11th in Fredericksburg. Details here
Common sense tells us that clear-cutting a path through the Hill Country’s heart and erecting 18-story towers to hold high-voltage transmission lines will have environmental impacts. Even the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), the utility power player, isn’t disputing that. In fact because LCRA knows that the damage is unavoidable, they have been working to find a way around the requirement to protect endangered species: they are trying to obtain an Incidental Take Permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by developing a Habitat Conservation Plan. Read full Clearview Alliance Op-ed here.
From Texans for Public Justice: The Texas Public Utility Commission awarded almost $5 billion in electrical-grid contracts to energy companies. The contractors' PACs and executives, in turn, pumped almost $5 million into state elections over the past five years. Grid contractors also spent up to $45 million on Texas lobbyists during this period. Read more...
After a string of hearings, open houses and debates, the Public Utility Commission is preparing to make decisions in April on the hotly contested routes for the transmission lines bearing West Texas wind power to the central part of the state. Read full Statesman.com article here.
A sense of bitter resignation permeates the Hill Country over proposals for new electric transmission lines now advancing through state and federal regulatory processes. Read full SA Express article here.
Friday, March 19th The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will hold five public meetings in Texas as it begins work on a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) related to the building of new transmission lines in parts of central and west Texas The meetings will take place in San Angelo, Junction, Comfort, Lampasas and Fredericksburg. Dates and locations will be posted on this page. More here
As the nation's largest energy consumer, leading emitter of carbon dioxide emissions and vanguard of the traditional energy industry, Texas might seem an unlikely candidate for the world's solar market leader. But with the combination of an expansive solar resource, recent success with wind power, extensive natural gas installations, competitive electricity markets and commitment to add transmission capacity, Texas might become just that. Read full Statesman.com article here.
Transmission line updates from Save our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHCE). Read here
The latest news on CREZ transmission lines. Click here
Organizations across the Hill Country are asking state and federal agencies to ensure that protecting the Hill Country environment is a primary consideration as sites are selected for the high-voltage transmission lines soon to be built throughout the region. Read full media release here.
The LCRA is finished with this last round of open houses but people in the Hill Country still have many concerns. It’s not too late to send in your comments. Read this open letter from one landowner and learn more. Read more...
You might be wondering, however, what exactly a “small wind system” is and whether you should consider bolting one to your roof. Read all about it in Gazette.com's article here.
More than 500 citizens from Gillespie County gathered at Pioneer Pavilion Thursday for a transmission line open house held by the Lower Colorado River Authority. Read full Fredericksburg Standard article here.
A new website is launched offering a “plea for common sense” in the Hill Country and information about LCRA plans. The site encourages landowners to sign a petition urging specific action. Click here.
To illustrate the impact that lattice towers will have on the Hill Country viewscape, Clear View Alliance members (CVA) worked all last week to build a surprise for those who attend the Lower Colorado River Valley Authority (LCRA) Open Houses on transmission line routes in the coming weeks. Read full CVA article here.
Thought provoking and informative article from American Thinker on the long term blight and economic sense of wind generated electricity. Read article here.
The Trans-Texas Corridor threatened to take massive amounts of land for transportation purposes before the project was scrapped. Now, with wind turbines sprouting up across Texas, the need for transmission lines sets the stage for more condemnation of private land. Read more here.
The vast wind farms of West Texas promise to put a dent in the demand for coal-fired electric plants. But delivering that green energy to where it's needed most — the state's biggest cities — will leave scars on some of the most coveted land. Read full SA Express article here.
Back to Scenic Beauty
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 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