HCA is a passionate community caring for the unique features, spring-fed streams, heritage ranch lands, spectacular beauty and culture of the Texas Hill Country for the benefit of future generations. Join us.

Scenic Beauty: Billboards and Wind Farms

News

January 20, 2011

Mayor Brent Hinckley reports PUC transmission lines decision

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.

January 17, 2011

PUC Carefully Deliberating Fate of Hill Country

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

Is your city a Scenic City?

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

January 5, 2011

Landowners Recount Daunting Experience of Transmission Line Routing Process

“…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.

December 9, 2010

The Clear View Alliance Perspective

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.

December 8, 2010

Save Our Scenic Hill Country CREZ updates

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.

November 11, 2010

Controversial Hill Country Power Lines Canned

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.

Town wages artful opposition to power line

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.

November 10, 2010

What’s A ‘CREZ’ Anyway? Meeting tonight

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.

November 1, 2010

Public Invited to CREZ Transmission and Wind Energy Presentation

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

October 24, 2010

Wind power showdown set in Austin

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.

October 21, 2010

PUC Comments Support Line Alternatives

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.

October 18, 2010

Texas Rural Billboard Proliferation Continues Unchecked

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.

October 16, 2010

Of Windmills, Powerlines and Sand Plants

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.

October 4, 2010

Hill Country Transmission Line updates from SOSHE

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.

September 29, 2010

PUC could save more than $140 million on proposed lines

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.

Hill Country power line seen as only option

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.

September 24, 2010

PUC Reaction Raises Power Line Concerns

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.

September 20, 2010

Windfall in New York

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.

September 10, 2010

How Devotion to Progress Looks Down on Land Stewardship

"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.

September 7, 2010

Sign Seminar, current issues in sign regulation

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

August 30, 2010

Wind transmission lines across Hill Country face holdup at Public Utility Commission

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.

August 20, 2010

Hill Country elected officials urging re-evaluation of transmission lines

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.

August 10, 2010

LCRA Newsletter announces procedural schedule for Hill Country CREZ

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.

August 9, 2010

SOS Hill Country requests re-evaluation of transmission line

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.

Transmission Line Interveners Meetings Tomorrow, August 10th

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.

Transmission Line Seminars Offer Information and Options for Landowners

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.

July 28, 2010

LCRA TSC files application with Public Utility Commission for new transmission line across Hill Country

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.

July 21, 2010

LCRA to propose routes for Kendall transmission lines to PUC July 28

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.

July 13, 2010

PUC selects route for new transmission line that LCRA TSC will build in Schleicher, Irion and Tom Green counties

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.

June 29, 2010

The politics of transmission lines

“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.

June 21, 2010

LCRA TSC suspends further development of Gillespie-to-Newton transmission line

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.

June 14, 2010

Hill Country CREZ project updates

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…

June 9, 2010

Need for high voltage transmission lines questioned by PUC Chairman

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.

PUC: Take another look at the grid

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.

May 28, 2010

Kerrville alarmed by proposed power towers

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.

May 10, 2010

SOSHE meeting Tuesday evening in Fredericksburg

"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.

April 27, 2010

Negotiating Transmission-line Easements in Lieu of Condemnation

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.

April 23, 2010

Utility commission rejects route of line to bring wind power from West Texas

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

April 21, 2010

Get on the Record, Stand Up and Be Counted

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.

April 18, 2010

Up to date news about CREZ from SOS Hill Country Environment

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

April 14, 2010

Public Must Get Involved to Protect Endangered Hill Country Environment

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.

April 1, 2010

Lobby Watch: Political Juice Amped Up $5 Billion Power-Grid Contracts

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...

PUC expected to make decision on wind transmission lines in April

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.

March 28, 2010

Power line plans jolt Hill Country

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.

March 22, 2010

CREZ project Environmental Impact public meetings

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

March 21, 2010

For all its ties to old energy, Texas has the tools to lead the way in plugging in to the sun

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.

March 19, 2010

SOSHCE Updates

Transmission line updates from Save our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHCE). Read here

March 2, 2010

SOS Hill Country Environment member updates as of March 2nd

The latest news on CREZ transmission lines. Click here

March 2, 2010

Hill Country Deserves Protection of Environmental Impact Statement

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.

March 1, 2010

An Open letter to LCRA and PUC

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...

February 26, 2010

Wind power that makes great sense

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.

February 24, 2010

Power Line Concerns Draw More Than 500

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.

February 17, 2010

Gillespie County residents heat up over transmission lines

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.

February 16, 2010

Clear View Alliance exhibits Model of Monstrous Lattice Tower at LCRA Open Houses

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.

February 15, 2010

Wind Energy's Ghosts

Thought provoking and informative article from American Thinker on the long term blight and economic sense of wind generated electricity. Read article here.

Shock Treatment - Negotiating Transmission Line Easements

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.

February 7, 2010

Wind-generated electricity will require wide swaths of land

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

The Latest News

Conserving private lands conserves water

Former President and Texas native Lyndon B. Johnson once said: “Saving the water and the soil must start where the first raindrop falls.” In Texas, where about 95 percent of the land is privately owned, and 83 percent of that land is rural farms, ranches and forests, it is essential that all Texans understand the interconnection of land and water to ensure the healthy stewardship of both, according to natural resource professionals. Read more from TAMU.

Genuine Land Stewardship

The topic of land stewardship has gained a great deal of public attention during recent years. This is a good trend since it helps focus greater awareness to the importance of how the land is treated, and the people who carry out responsible land care. However, land stewardship to some extent, has become a catchphrase; feel-good words; frequently used but seldom clearly defined. In some ways, land stewardship is becoming an over-used slogan; thus the need to clarify its true meaning and character. Read more by Steve Nelle.

Why Water is Not the New Oil

The legislative session is gearing up, and increasing groundwater production will be the objective of at least a couple of bills. Groundwater will be an important asset for Texas' future water portfolio, but should maximization be the goal? That's one of the questions Our Desired Future is meant to provoke. Read Sharlene Leurig’s recent op-ed in the Texas Tribune.

Scientists Seek Public Help to Track Monarch Butterfly Milkweed Habitat

“Where have all the monarchs gone?” This is becoming an oft repeated query, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists are asking for citizen help in answering the question. Since monitoring of overwintering monarch butterfly populations 1993, the WWF has documented a significant decline that reached an all-time low in the winter of 2013. Biologists recently launched a project to explore Texas milkweed and determine where it is, how much is out there and are the monarchs using it. Read more.

Hamilton Pool Road targeted for 1600 homes

A TCEQ Public Meeting will be held Monday night, December 15th at 7 pm at Star Hill Ranch to hear concerns about the wastewater treatment plant to service this large, dense proposed development. Community members encourage participation as this development will profoundly change the Hamilton Pool Road neighborhood. View the meeting notice here. You can learn more about this project and other issues affecting the Bee Cave and Hamilton Pool Road community at www.HPRmatters.com.

Can we start thinking of water as a crop?

Water is not traditionally thought of as a crop, but Water As A Crop® and its partners are hoping to change that. This organization promotes the idea that water falling on private, rural land can be effectively conserved and marketed in a manner similar to crops. In exchange for implementing conservation practices, rural landowners receive financial incentives to reimburse their costs. These conservation practices benefit investors and landowners and preserve water for rural and urban communities alike. Read more from Texas Water Resource Institute.

Now it’s time to implement SWIFT

You’ve been hearing about SWIFT for months; TWDB is now ready to implement this revolving loan program for water supply projects. The first round of applications are due February 3rd. Conservation is the least expensive and most efficient strategy of all which is why SWIFT legislation requires that not less than 20 percent of this program (hopefully more) is spent on conservation and reuse. Learn more

US cities increasingly embracing water conservation

Los Angeles is a city that is notorious for its use of water- importing it from hundreds of miles away and delivering stormwater to the Pacific Ocean through the Los Angeles River, which largely has been converted to a concrete ditch. The story that is less often told is how this city of 3.8 million, and cities across the country, have begun implementing conservation practices that have shrunk their water footprint and changed the way we look at stormwater. Read more here.

Travis County OKs Land Water and Transportation Plan

Despite the fact that Texas counties have very little real control over how unincorporated land is developed, Travis County is giving it its best effort, as Commissioners approved a comprehensive Land Water and Transportation Plan on Tuesday. Read more from Austin Monitor.

How Underground Sensors in Texas Will Help NASA Predict Drought and Floods

Stanley Rabke’s family has lived and worked on their Hill Country ranch since 1889. Generations of Rabkes have struggled with the extremes of Texas weather, but one storm sticks out in Stanley’s memory: it came after the drought of the 1950s. Learn about the Bureau of Economic Geology research the Rabke’s are participating in. Read the full story from Mose Buchele at State Impact.

Comal Commissioners Support Trinity GCD Bill

Comal commissioners are supporting proposed legislation to create the “Comal Trinity Groundwater Conservation District.” “The GCD is necessary because the Trinity, a major source of well water in the Hill Country area west of Interstate 35, already has dropped some 87 feet in the last 15 years” Read more from the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung.

CCGCD provides rainwater harvesting resource videos

Storing and using the rainwater that falls on your roof can improve the quality of your drinking water and free you from the restricted use of water for your landscape in time of drought. The Cow Creek GCD has provided several video examples to show how it's done.

Mason County community ready to do battle

Residents are concerned that a sand quarry would destroy the tranquility of the rural community. Because mines typically operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a quarry would bring noise and heavy truck traffic to the area…and because Pontotoc is emerging as a destination for wine tasting, local vintners fear that noise and dust from a mine would bring an end to a growing ecotourism business that has brought visitors to its tasting rooms. Read more from the San Antonio Express News.

GEAA announces low impact development manual

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance has published "Watershed Stewardship for the Edwards Aquifer Region, a Low Impact Development Manual." The 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. Information about techniques that encourage infiltration of clean stormwater on site, and how plantings and landscaping can be used to mitigate stormwater pollution are outlined. Download the manual for free here.

Texas’ Courts Legal Treatment of Groundwater is Fluid

Groundwater rights have been hotly debated in Texas for as long as there has been the ability to pump it. Unlike surface water, which is owned by the state and held in trust for the public, Texas courts have ruled that groundwater is the surface owner’s vested private property. This vested right can be regulated by Groundwater Conservation Districts. Read more from Texas Living Waters.

Depleting the Water, 15 minutes you shouldn’t miss

This 60 Minutes segment on Groundwater Depletion in California’s Central Valley explores California’s drought and the depletion of it’s Central Valley aquifer due to agricultural over-pumping. With dwindling reservoirs here in Central Texas and ever growing population projections, numerous proposals are under consideration to pump and pipe groundwater to the I-35 Corridor and beyond. What can the Hill Country learn from California’s “groundwater overdraft?”

HCA honored by Hays County Master Naturalists!

HCA has been recognized as an "HONORARY MEMBER” in the Hays County Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist for exemplary service and commitment to the community and natural resources of the State of Texas. Thank you Dixie Camp and the HCMN for many years of collaboration, we look forward to many more. Read more about the award and learn about the Master Naturalist program here.

HCA to co-host Workshop on Riparian Function in the Pedernales Basin

The Hill Country Alliance, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and The Nature Conservancy, will host a workshop on the nature and function of stream and riparian zones in the Hill Country. The workshop will feature presentations on riparian plants, basic hydrology, and techniques for ensuring healthy riparian function. The workshop will take place from 8am-4pm on Friday, December 5th. A variety of continuing education credits are available. Details

The Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

This amazing natural area is devoted to protecting the habitats of hundreds of species of native flora and fauna, grasslands, wooded hills and canyons, and vital watersheds. Thousands of school children visit and participate in hands-on learning experiences here. Learn more about this resource and how you can help protect it. Friends of Balcones Canyonlands

Landowners Appeal Party Status to State District Court

"The regulatory process, including groundwater districts' permitting process for huge commercial projects like this one, must afford the same due process to landowners who do not wish to sell their groundwater as it provides to private water marketers who derive their water rights from landowners who do choose to sell water." Read more

Prince Charles says people’s connection with countryside is dying

"Prince Charles has warned that the majority of people have 'lost any real connection with the land' as he outlined his concerns about the future of the countryside. He stressed the benefits to the wider economy of the countryside's 'ecosystem services' - with meadows and other grasslands storing millions of tonnes of carbon, providing homes for pollinating insects, supporting the agricultural economy and areas of beauty attracting visitors to boost local tourism." These issues translate here in the Texas Hill Country, read more from The Guardian.

Maps illustrate seriousness of California’s water shortage

“Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned.” Take a look at these maps that illustration how serious water shortages are in California, it’s essential to learn this lesson and protect healthy aquifers here in Texas, particularly here in the Hill Country.

Texas A&M Study Trumpets Texas State Parks’ Economic Benefit

"The take-away message from this study," Dr. Crompton says, "should be that the state park system is an important contributor to the Texas economy, particularly in rural areas and that the state’s net investment in parks is returned many times over as visitors travel to enjoy the outdoors and leave their dollars behind." Many of state’s most popular parks are right here in the Texas Hill Country. More from TPWD.

Rainwater Catchment Program

Ranchers and Landowners Association in collaboration with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District will be hosting a rainwater catchment program November 15th in Bandera. Topics will include the state of Bandera County water, rainwater harvesting systems, and rainwater harvesting impact on appraisals. Details

Living With Karst: The Benefits and Challenges of Living in a Cavernous Environment

Do you live in karst? About 25% of the US and the planet’s land surface is karst. Karst areas are the world’s most diverse, fascinating, resource-rich, yet problematic terrains. They contain the largest springs and most productive groundwater supplies on Earth. They provide unique subsurface habitat to rare animals, and their caves preserve fragile prehistoric material for millennia. They are also the landscapes most vulnerable to environmental impacts. Their groundwater is the most easily depleted and polluted. Learn more about the importance of Karsts during a free webinar from SNS, November 18. Details

Next Steps for San Antonio’s Vista Ridge Project

Last week, the San Antonio City Council unanimously voted to move forward with the Vista Ridge Project that plans to bring 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater from Burleson County to the city. Because of our many concerns with this project, the vote was a disappointment, but last Thursday’s Council deliberation did stir some positives worth discussing. Read more from Texas Living Waters.

SH 130 key road in Travis County’s plans for growth

While much of the plan is dedicated to the preservation of farmland, watersheds and nature preserves, other parts focus on encouraging building more dense, urban-like centers in the county’s unincorporated and undeveloped areas. Read more from Community Impact.

Texas Water Development Board adopts rules for SWIFT

On November 6, 2014, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) adopted a set of rules needed for fully implementing SWIFT in the lone star state. These rules will determine how projects eligible for SWIFT will be prioritized for funding. Now that the rules are official, public water providers are encouraged to submit an abridged application as the first step to receiving funding. More from TWDB.

Share your thoughts about regional issues

HCA is interested in learning how you feel about the challenges facing the Texas Hill Country. Please take two minutes to fill out a brief public opinion survey by Monday, November 10th and you may win a two night stay at the Cool River Cabin along the beautiful Llano River. Take the survey here.

Don’t miss Chuck Marohn from Strong Towns November 20th

CNU Texas Chapter is bringing Chuck back to Texas for a three hour workshop on sensible transportation and infrastructure planning. “We advocate for a model of growth that allows America's places to grow financially strong and resilient,” Strong Towns. Chuck was a huge hit at HCA’s Summit, catch him November 20th in Austin. Learn more

The 2014 Rainwater Revival was a great success!

Yes! Rainwater harvesting is a doable, practical, affordable and great tasting way to provide water for homes, gardens and businesses. That was the message heard by the more than 750 people who came out to Dripping Springs to celebrate and learn at HCA's day long edu-fest. Attendees enjoyed 63 booths filled with helpful information and demonstrations, live music, great food and 13 speakers who discussed a range of rainwater harvesting and water conservation related topics. Thanks to all who participated and we'll see you next year! See photos from this year's event here.

Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer District Announces Precinct 2 Directorship

Blayne Stansberry has been announced as the unofficial winner of of the Precinct 2 Directorship for The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. She and Director Craig Smith (Precinct 5, uncontested this election) will serve 4 year terms and join current directors Mary Stone (Precinct 1), Blake Dorsett (Precinct 3) and Robert (Bob) Larsen (Precinct 4) on the Board. More from BSEACD.

Join us November 20th at Schreiner University for the Texas Water Symposium

Balancing Rural and Urban Water Needs: How Local and Regional Planning Activities Ensure Long-Term Supplies. Join State Representative-Elect Andrew Murr as he moderates a discussion with SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott; Hydro-geologist, Region J consultant, John Ashworth and GBRA director/former CCGCD president, Tommy Mathews. Difficult decisions lie ahead as urban areas demand more water, rural areas experience loss of spring flow and our region faces increased challenges brought by population growth and drought. Are Central Texas’ water planning processes on track to balance the needs of its rural and urban users and protect the natural water resources that sustain our ecologic and economic health? Learn more

LCRA Submits Blumenthal Transmission Line Application to the PUC

On October 31 the LCRA formally submitted an application with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) for the construction of a 138-kV transmission line project in Blanco, Gillespie and Kendall counties. Potentially impacted landowners should receive notice in the mail in the coming days. That information is also posted on the LCRA website. Potentially impacted landowners are encouraged to review the application documents, including the updated map, and participate in the PUC process. Landowners have until December 15 to become formal interveners in the PUC review process. More information and instructions on accessing LCRA TSC’s complete CCN application are available here.

San Antonio Approves Historic Water Project

Last week, the San Antonio City Council “unanimously voted in front of a packed chamber to approve a controversial pipeline that would bring in groundwater from 142 miles away. The $3.4 billion project would pipe in 16 billion gallons of water each year from Central Texas' Burleson County.” Read the full story as well as related stories leading up to this vote in the Texas Tribune.

Bamberger Foundation supports a new garden

The Community Gardens Program recently announced that the Bamberger Foundation will be funding a new urban garden in San Antonio. The garden will emulate many of the practices set forth by J. David Bamberger at the award winning Bamberger Ranch Preserve in Johnson City. 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. There'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


December

December 15 in Boerne - GMA 9 Joint Planning Meeting - Details

December 17 in San Antonio - Public Hearing on Edwards Aquifer Protection Program - Details

January

January 24 in Bastrop - "The Rural-Urban Coalition for Local Control," first annual meeting hosted by the League of Independent Voters of Texas - Details

February

February 5 in Junction - Save the date: Stakeholder meeting for the Upper Llano River Watershed Protection - Details

February 13-15 in Austin - Urban Riparian Symposium - 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



Hill Country View
Listen and Learn



Maps

Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.

HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool

 
Website Development by
Website Development By
Edit PageUploadHelp