New Texas conservation area boasts hundreds of springs

New Texas conservation area boasts hundreds of springs

The Nature Conservancy has acquired a conservation easement on 1,640 acres owned by landowner Gary Krause, preserving its unique natural features for future generations, according to a news release. The easement was funded in part by the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program, overseen by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Krause donated part of the value of the easement as a…

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‘When, not if it happens’: Factors favor possible Austin megawildfire event

‘When, not if it happens’: Factors favor possible Austin megawildfire event

All it will take for Central Texas to become the next area engulfed by catastrophic wildfires like those seen in Australia is a dry spring and summer, an errant flame and sustained winds. Travis County fire officials say the likelihood of such a megafire event is just a matter of time. A recent report released by CoreLogic, an online property data service, ranked Austin fifth among metropolitan areas in the nation most at risk for wildfires. The only others in…

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Commentary: San Antonio should vote on aquifer protection, greenway trails

Commentary: San Antonio should vote on aquifer protection, greenway trails

Since 2000, San Antonians have voted every five years to dedicate a portion of our sales taxes to the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program, or EAPP. Residents are rightfully proud of a program recognized internationally as an elegant solution to protecting our primary source of water. Absent adequate regulation to protect the quality of San Antonio’s Edwards Aquifer water supply, we have opted to pay those who own land in the Edwards watershed for the ecological services they provide. Perhaps we…

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Local family dedicates Hill Country ranch to conservation

Local family dedicates Hill Country ranch to conservation

Jason and Ashley Roberts partnered with Colorado River Land Trust to protect their family ranch from future development in the rapidly growing area of San Marcos, Texas. Riding horseback across the wide-open spaces of the Hill Country is one of the most iconic images of Texas. With the rapid growth and development along the I-35 corridor in Central Texas, these open spaces are being threatened by conversion to neighborhoods and shopping centers. Hays County has quickly become one of the…

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San Antonio mayor navigating troubled waters over plan to reroute aquifer protection tax funding

San Antonio mayor navigating troubled waters over plan to reroute aquifer protection tax funding

A plan to improve public transit by rerouting money from a popular program aimed at protecting the Edwards Aquifer has hit rough waters. Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff want to redirect $40 million a year from a 1/8-cent sales tax that pays for aquifer protection, linear parks and creekways to VIA Metropolitan Transit for better bus service and other transit initiatives. San Antonio voters would have the final say, because they have to decide whether to…

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Hill Country Conservancy is now accepting pre-applications for funding of conservation easements through the Hill Country Headwaters Conservation Initiative

Hill Country Conservancy is now accepting pre-applications for funding of conservation easements through the Hill Country Headwaters Conservation Initiative

The Hill Country Headwaters Conservation Initiative (HCHCI), a program of Hill Country Conservancy, the Texas Hill Country Conservation Network and 18 partner organizations, is now accepting pre-applications from landowners located within specified critical river basins. The HCHCI has a $2.1 million pledge, awarded by the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, for the purchase of conservation easements from willing landowners. “Private landowners throughout the Texas Hill Country are caring daily for our precious natural resources, growing our food, and keeping our land beautiful, often without recognition or compensation for…

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As aquifer protection debate continues, Nirenberg offers funding details

As aquifer protection debate continues, Nirenberg offers funding details

Mayor Ron Nirenberg plans to propose using future borrowing to help preserve land over the Edwards Aquifer while shifting the sales tax that currently funds that preservation over to San Antonio’s transit system. In an interview Thursday, Nirenberg laid out more specifics for his plan to continue funding the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program (EAPP). He proposed using an unspecified annual amount of San Antonio Water System funds, which could allow SAWS to pay for preserving more aquifer land over 10…

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San Marcos City Council weighs allocation of $24 million in disaster mitigation funding

San Marcos City Council weighs allocation of $24 million in disaster mitigation funding

City of San Marcos staff have developed a proposal for the use of $24,012,000 in Community Development Block Grant mitigation funding that the city received in 2019 to address flooding risks and prevention. Members of City Council received a presentation on the proposed plan during a City Council meeting Dec. 17. The drafted plan identified as potential categories for funding allocation: improving disaster sheltering, establishing and improving evacuation routes, land preservation, addressing repetitive loss, better warning systems, and increased numbers…

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Nature up close: The largest bat colony in the world

Nature up close: The largest bat colony in the world

Bracken Bat Cave, northeast of San Antonio, is the summer home of about 20 million insect-eating Mexican free-tailed bats. Bats don’t always get the respect they deserve, especially Mexican free-taileds which, even among some bat researchers, are considered the rats of the bat world because they live so closely together in colonies often numbering in the millions, such as those featured in last week’s Moment of Nature. In 1976 I was looking for a Master’s thesis topic. I wanted to…

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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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