Edwards Aquifer Protection Program and sales tax funding questions answered

Edwards Aquifer Protection Program and sales tax funding questions answered

A dialogue has emerged on the relative merits of programs apparently now competing for a future share of the City sales tax. This has included confusing statements about the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program (EAPP). As chair of the Conservation Advisory Board, the recommending body to City Council for the program, I’d like to clarify by addressing key questions. What does EAPP do and why is it important? In policy science jargon, the EAPP is an elegant response to a wicked…

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Former Boy Scout camp will become next Hill Country swimming hole after Tuesday vote

Former Boy Scout camp will become next Hill Country swimming hole after Tuesday vote

Hays County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to put up about half the money to buy a portion of the former El Rancho Cima Boy Scout camp along the Blanco River. The Nature Conservancy pledged the other half of the $13 million price tag in a bid to acquire the 536-acre plot to turn the plot into a reservation-based recreation and swimming area, similar to Hamilton Pool or Jacob’s Well (another partnership between the county and the Conservancy). The conservation…

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Nirenberg calls for shifting sales tax to VIA Transit, away from Aquifer Protection

Nirenberg calls for shifting sales tax to VIA Transit, away from Aquifer Protection

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined other local leaders this week in calling for  a one-eighth-cent sales tax to be redirected towards funding mass transit – and away from popular water quality protection and trailway programs. Voters would need to approve the new appropriation of the existing tax, and City Council’s OK is is required to set the ballot language for the November 2020 election. The Advanced Transportation District board, comprising VIA Metropolitan Transit board members, would first call for…

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Hill Country Land Trust to celebrate two decades

Hill Country Land Trust to celebrate two decades

The Hill Country Land Trust wants to get the word out about its conservation easement program as development from the east encroaches on area counties. The trust (HCLT) will mark its 20th anniversary with a “Conservation Celebration” on Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Gilbriar Gazebo. In those two decades, HCLT has worked in partnership with private landowners to protect agricultural land, waterways and wildlife habitat. Those attending the event will meet Tiffany Osburn, an archeologist with the Texas Historical Commission…

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Saving Part of the Former Boy Scout Ranch

Saving Part of the Former Boy Scout Ranch

An old saying tells us to invest in land because they aren’t making any more. That saying could be updated to say: Invest in undisturbed natural land because each day there is less of it! Unfortunately, the updated version is very true, which is why we need to take advantage of opportunities to protect such undisturbed natural land when they become available. Such an opportunity now exists in the former Boy Scout Ranch, El Rancho Cima. For more than sixty…

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Hays County plans to transform El Rancho Cima into public park along Blanco River

Hays County plans to transform El Rancho Cima into public park along Blanco River

HAYS COUNTY, Texas — It’s something many Wimberley residents have been aching for: a public park with waterfront access. Hays County has the ability to secure 533 acres of El Rancho Cima El Rancho Cima is a nearly 2,400 acre property County might use land for public park Now, that dream could finally come to fruition. Hays County has the ability to secure 533 acres of El Rancho Cima, with land on both sides of the Blanco River. This purchase would give the public…

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East Bay water district considers buying giant cattle ranch that straddles four counties

East Bay water district considers buying giant cattle ranch that straddles four counties

The Alameda County Water District is considering shelling out $72 million for a fourth-generation, 50,500-acre cattle ranch — touted as the largest potential land sale in the state — to preserve water quality, officials say. Much of the property lies in watersheds that feed into critical water supply facilities for millions of Bay Area residents, including Lake Del Valle, Calaveras Reservoir and Alameda Creek. While no final decisions have been made, district officials and experts say the rare opportunity to…

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City reaches milestone for cave site restoration

City reaches milestone for cave site restoration

City staff members have completed a draft land management plan to protect the city’s natural resources at the William H. Russell Karst Preserve, the 191-acre Southwest Austin site previously known as the Blowing Sink Research Management Area. The natural features of the land, which was formerly used as a livestock ranch, have been subject to decades of abuse, posing a threat to the Edwards Aquifer as well as several vulnerable wildlife species. Serving as a formal agreement among Austin Water, the Parks…

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Conservation easements like on Cherry Springs Ranch push back against development

Conservation easements like on Cherry Springs Ranch push back against development

“It’s huge,” said Frank Davis, the Hill Country Conservancy’s chief conservation officer. He’s referring to the recent conservation easement on the 1,038-acre Cherry Springs Ranch in Spicewood. “Spicewood is right in the path of future development, and Cherry Springs Ranch, it’s pristine Hill Country land,” Davis said. “It’s something hard to find as we keep developing out to the west (of Austin). Straddling the Burnet-Blanco county line, Cherry Springs Ranch has a range of landscapes, including lush, vegetated grottoes. Seventy-seven…

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‘History is being made’: Plans to turn former Boy Scout property into public park along Blanco River in Hays County

‘History is being made’: Plans to turn former Boy Scout property into public park along Blanco River in Hays County

WIMBERLEY, Texas — More than 2,000 acres of land with Blanco River waterfront property has been closed off to the public for decades. The Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts owned the “El Rancho Cima” land for 60 years. But now, thanks to an opportunity for Hays County to purchase a piece of that land, 533 acres could be open to the public for hiking, biking and swimming. The land, off of FM 32 just outside Wimberley, includes more than a mile…

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