Recent legislation calls for the Public Utility Commission to transport wind energy from central/west Texas through the Hill Country to the I-35 corridor — but at what cost? Many Hill Country landowners have expressed concern about the effects of large transmission towers on or near their property. Entities such as the LCRA, who will be constructing these lines, will have the power to use eminent domain to secure easements. This is an ongoing process in which Hill Country landowners must have a voice.
HCA promotes fair compensation, a thoughtful, inclusive process for landowners and careful planning to minimize the adverse effects of the lines. Below you'll find articles, links to citizen organizations and helpful documents. Scenic Texas says it well: "We believe that growth is inevitable, but ugliness is not.”
Statesman headline 12.2.2012 reads “End of Wind? Some say industry will fade if federal tax credit vanishes in fiscal cliff deal”….. “The state has made a large investment in building transmission lines, which will become operational over the next two years, to bring more of the West Texas wind to the power-hungry parts of the state, including Central Texas. In the future, ratepayers will see a surcharge of $5 or so on their monthly bills to pay the almost $7 billion invested in those transmission lines.” Read more here. Retrace the ongoing issue of transmission lines through the heart of the hill country here.
New objections are being raised to a major transmission project in the Hill Country that state regulators approved nearly two years ago and now is being built. The Kerrville City Council last month passed a resolution asking the Public Utility Commission to suspend work on the 140-mile line, which is part of the state's Competitive Renewable Energy Zone initiative. The CREZ calls for 2,400 miles of new lines. Read full SA Express-News article.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the of availability of the final Lower Colorado River Authority Transmissions Services Corporation (LCRA TSC) Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The Service will issue a 30-year incidental take permit to LCRA authorizing the incidental take of two federally listed species in seven Texas counties. Read More
"This is beautiful country with huge heritage ranches, amazing biodiversity, endangered species and the headwaters of important rivers." "...this is a special landscape, and does this minimal contribution to the grid outweigh the degradation these lines impose?" Read the full story in the New York Times.
"It is past time that the industrial wind energy industry demonstrates that it is competitive on its own," wrote Robert Weatherford, president of Fredericksburg-based Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment, in a letter on Monday to U.S. Rep Mike Conway, R-Midland. The incentive, he wrote, encourages wind developers "to improperly pursue projects in relatively low potential wind areas such as the Texas Hill Country where such development does not make sense" from aesthetic and other perspectives. Read the Texas Tribune story.
Read news on Transmission Lines and Wind Farms and find upcoming events.
Wind Power for a Cleaner America - A report Environment Texas Research and Policy Center
Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment (SOSHE) Comments filed regarding Environmental Impacts, December 2011
Clear View Alliance (CVA) Comments on Environmental Impacts filed December 2011
CWA's Introduction to CREZ – An introduction to Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) from the Clear View Alliance, including a detailed timeline (2009).
Priority Crez Project Map - A map of the CREZ, where the transmission lines will be run.
The Impact of Wind Turbines on Market Value of Rural Texas Land - A presentation prepared for the South Texas Plains Agriculture Wind & Wildlife Conference (2009).
TWA Position Paper on Wind Energy - A position paper from the Texas Wildlife Association on wind energy that discusses the development of wind transmission infrastructure (2009).
Lobby Watch - Texans for Public Justice lobby report on transmission line contracts (March 2010).
TWA Letter to PUC Requesting Reevaluation - A letter from the Texas Wildlife Association requesting that the PUC reevaluate the Hill Country CREZ line segments in light of landowner concern (July 2010).
Clearview Alliance Initial Post-Hearing Brief - A brief developed by the Clear View Alliance following a hearing about the Hill Country CREZ transmission line that discusses several issues in the development of the line (November 2010).
Steel Monopoles vs. Lattice Towers, from Bill Neiman - A presentation from the Clear View Alliance providing evidence about LCRA’s public comment process and plans for transmission line construction.
National Wind Watch – Presenting the fact about industrial wind power
Clear View Alliance - An organization of neighbors working for responsible transmission line planning.
LCRA and CREZ - LCRA website about the CREZ projects.
Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment - Save Our Scenic Hill Country was organized by a group of landowners, business people and other concerned citizens in Gillespie County who are committed to sensible development in our beautiful Texas Hill Country.
Scenic Texas - Dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of our state's visual environment.
Texas Hill Country Heritage Association - THCHA's mission is to protect private property rights and the environment through research, education, publications and programs; to identify pertinent community issues; inform the public and motivate citizens to respond; and to encourage and enhance the role of local governments.
Industrial Wind Action Group - Industrial Wind Action stands ready to assist communities threatened with industrial wind energy projects by providing residents, as well as government officials, the information to make informed decisions.
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Back to Issues
Some water experts believe Hill Country clear-running creeks and streams may soon be a thing of the past if cities are permitted to discharge treated wastewater directly into creeks such as Onion Creek. Water wells may also become contaminated. Read More
"Keeping Rivers Flowing" is a free three-part webinar series designed to inform interested persons about strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries. Drawing on practical experience from here in Texas and around the world, speakers will discuss innovative approaches for ensuring that rivers, bays and estuaries continue to get the flow needed to protect water quality and support healthy fish and wildlife populations. Learn More
There’s a lot of bad information floating around in the Hill Country regarding land management, in addition to a lot of good information. Sometimes it is difficult to sort out the bad from the good. Misinformation can come from a variety of sources – the coffee shop, the feed store, magazine articles, well meaning neighbors and even natural resource professionals. By clarifying some of the common misperceptions, people will be able to make better decisions regarding natural resources. Steve’s writings are timeless. Read more from Steve Nelle and educate your neighbors.
The Bennett Trust will host its first ever land stewardship and education conference April 23-25 in Kerrville. Wyman Meinzer, state photographer of Texas, will deliver the keynote address on the history and legacy of the Edwards Plateau. Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit local ranches, vineyards and orchards to learn more about sustainable practices in horticulture, forage production and wildlife management. Learn More
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has opened their State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) rules making process for public comment. Participation in the rules making process is critical to ensure that the intentions of the State Legislature are carried out in the long-term administration of the State’s SWIFT funds. The HCA has submitted a list of recommendations to the TWDB that will help ensure spring and stream-flow sustainability in the Hill Country.
The Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is hosting a candidates forum for two board of director seats up for election this year. The meeting will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24 at PEC Headquarters, 201 S. Ave. F in Johnson City. The event will also include discussion of a ballot referendum on whether to switch to single-member district elections for board directors. Learn more about the candidates from the San Marcos Mercury. Learn more about the process and forum from the PEC.
Sky has been selected to receive a “Lone Star Land Steward Award” for her work in education and outreach for the Nueces River Authority in Uvalde County. “Sky Lewey is a conservation educator with extraordinary leadership and dedication. A key figure in the efforts to restore healthy riparian function to the Nueces River Basin and beyond.” David Langford, HCA Advisor, and his wife Myrna are also receiving an award for their landowner cooperative in Kendall County. Congratulations HCA leaders! Read more from TPWD.
“With the exception of the lower Rio Grande Valley and small parts of Far West Texas, much of the state has received less than 50 percent of normal rainfall,” reads TWDB’s most recent report. “This doesn’t bode well for the next six months. A dry winter generally portends a dry spring and summer.” Read more from Nextcity.org.
Bat Conservation International has inspired major support to prevent intense development of 1500 acres adjacent to Bracken Cave from the City of San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro, City Councilman Ron Nirenberg, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and others. Find out more about recent negotiations to save the cave and learn about upcoming opportunities to personally visit Bracken Bat Cave and see the bats take flight.
How many times have you heard that the Hill Country was once a great vast grassland with only a modest covering of trees and brush? Although this longstanding myth is deeply ingrained and embraced by many government agencies, biologists, landowners and professionals, it is false and misleading. Learn what the Hill Country was really like prior to 1860 from eye-witness accounts, and why it is important to understand the past. Read and share from Steve Nelle.
“The rules require residential developers to use only drought-resistant plants from a list provided by the city. St. Augustine grass, which tends to be very thirsty, can only be planted in areas where there is 10 inches of topsoil and less than 6 hours of full sunlight per day.” Read more from the American Statesman (subscription required). Learn more about St. Augustine and the impact lawn watering has on our regional water supply from Native American Seed here. KXAN reports “more buyers want homes with smaller yards and less grass to water.” View video here.
The fact is the city’s sprawling suburbs, gated communities and ex-urban neighborhoods are addicted to lawn and landscape watering. SAWS officials say about one-third of all the water we use in the hot summer months is pumped to keep grass alive. Not humans, but grass. Learn More
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has developed a new Interactive 2012 State Water Plan webpage that will let water users statewide take an up-close look at data in the 2012 State Water Plan and how our water needs will change over time. This data will arm communities with important information as they plan for projects to submit for State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) funding. Learn More
It started when the Kimble County Commissioners Court, followed by the City Council, passed resolutions supporting voluntary efforts to protect the Night Skies. This paralleled actions being taken in other Hill Country communities to preserve the awe-inspiring Night Skies and the enjoyment that comes with stargazing, including its attraction for visitors. Read more from the Junction Eagle.
April 22 - Earth Day! - Earth Day Events
April 22 in Austin - Texas Water Journal Forum focusing on current challenges to rural and urban water conservation - Details
April 23-25 in Kerrville - Bennett Trust Educational Program: "Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau" - Details
April 23-27 - 2014 Hill Country Nature Quest - Tour the Hill Country River Region and learn about native plants, birds, butterflies and wildlife - Details
April 25 in Austin - Kent Butler Summit, “Faucets, Toilets, and Automobiles: Balancing Growth and Sustainability in the Barton Springs Aquifer Region” - Details
April 25-27 in Fredericksburg - 4th Annual Wings over the Hills Nature Festival - Details
April 26 in Austin - Native Plant Spring Symposium - Hosted by The Native Plant Society of Texas and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Details
April 28 in Kerrville - Native Bees of Texas - A meeting of the Hill Country Master Naturalist - Free and open to the public - Details
April 30 - Keeping Rivers Flowing: Innovative Strategies to Protect and Restore Rivers - Free three-part webinar series on strategies to ensure the future health of Texas' rivers, bays and estuaries - Details
May 3 in Bandera - 13th Annual Medina River Cleanup - Details
May 6 in Medina - Fruit Tree Management Workshop - Hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 7 in San Antonio - Public Health and the Built Environment - Healthy Communities by Design - Details
May 8 in San Antonio - Urban Wildlife Management Workshop - Details
May 9 in Boerne - Monarch Workshop: Monarch Biology, Ecology & Monarch Larval Monitoring Project Training - Hosted by the Cibolo Nature Center - Details
May 9 in Stonewall - 2014 New Landowner Series: Forage Production, Livestock Production and Handling, Crop Production - Presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Details
May 10 in Wimberley - Grand Opening of the newly improved Jacob's Well Natural Area - Details
May 12 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Hill Country University Center - Details
May 13 in Kerrville - Texas Riparian & Stream Ecosystem Workshop – Upper Guadalupe River - Details
May 13 in Llano - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 14 in Marble Falls - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Details
May 16 in Fredericksburg - Better Lights for Starry Nights: Learn how to save money, preserve our night skies and enjoy some star gazing! - Enchanted Rock State Natural Area - Details
May 16 in Austin - Exploring Conservation Design in Central Texas with Randall Arendt - Details
May 19 in Austin - 2014 Texas Water Summit: Securing our Economic Future - Presented by The Acadamy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas Details
May 28-30 in San Antonio - Southwest Stream Restoration Conference - Details
Photo contest begins March 1st!
Imagine a place where vibrant communities draw strength from their natural assets to sustain their quality of life. A place where citizens care about protecting the special qualities of a region – their region. A place where people and partners band together to envision a better economic future, tackle shared challenges and care for the natural, scenic, and recreational resources that define the place they call home.
~This is a Conservation Landscape
Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.
HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool