Officials: San Antonio should continue managing Edwards Aquifer program, not give it to SAWS

Officials: San Antonio should continue managing Edwards Aquifer program, not give it to SAWS

San Antonio should keep a program aimed at protecting the Edwards Aquifer if voters choose to shift sales tax money that funds the program to instead boost public transit, city officials said Wednesday. Mayor Ron Nirenberg has sought to settle the fate of the Edwards Aquifer protection program for the past several months. He and other local officials want the $40 million raised by the 1/8-cent sales tax to instead pay for better bus service and other initiatives at VIA…

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Hill Country pipeline opponents dealt setback

Hill Country pipeline opponents dealt setback

Opponents of a controversial natural gas pipeline through the picturesque Texas Hill Country lost a legal battle but vow to continue their fight against Houston pipeline operator Kinder Morgan. A U.S. district court judge in Austin on Friday rejected a request for a temporary restraining order that would have halted the $2 billion natural gas Permian Highway Pipeline. The pipeline is being built through the habitat of the golden-cheeked warbler, an endangered songbird, and over parts of the Edwards Aquifer,…

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Where light pollution is seeping into the rural night sky

Where light pollution is seeping into the rural night sky

Artificial light that floods the night sky is thought to be only an urban phenomenon. But when you adjust for population, the picture is dramatically different. The rule of thumb is that if you want to see the Milky Way, you have to venture out to the countryside. That’s where the illumination from streetlights and brightly lit offices that floods cities hasn’t obscured the night sky. But a recent map tracking the artificial lighting seen at night through satellite imagery…

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Resilience along a river

Resilience along a river

It’s a crisp November after-noon and landowner Suzanne Davis is admiring native bald cypress seedlings while cutting back invasive Brazilian verbena along her stretch of the Blanco River. Davis and her husband, Edward, live in Wimberley, where, four years ago, the Blanco River rose more than 20 feet in an hour — over 40 feet at its peak — causing extensive devastation to property and life. “The destruction all around was incomprehensible,” she said. While the couple had to start…

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Taking a look at trends for our land

Taking a look at trends for our land

It should be no surprise that our growing population has put pressure on the land in Comal County. As the second fastest growing county in the nation, we have witnessed the conversion of many acres from open land to developed land. Our experience has been put into the state context with Texas A&M’s Natural Resources Institute’s release of the latest edition of their Texas Land Trends. The report deals with the entire state, but it notes that 74% of the state population lives in…

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Texas Can’t Quit the Aoudad

Texas Can’t Quit the Aoudad

Allen Smith decided long ago what to do about the aoudads that wander onto his family’s land. “The first four I saw, I shot,” he tells me. From 5,000 feet up, in Smith’s Cessna Skymaster, the choices other Texans have made for their land roll out below—the network of oil and gas wells, the reflective surfaces of solar farms, the sleepaway camps, rodeo arenas, and dried-up, gutter-like creek beds. Smith’s family acreage, once dedicated to cattle, is now a refuge…

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NRI publishes Status Update and Trends of Texas Working Lands 1997-2017

The new Texas Land Trends report Status Update and Trends of Texas Working Lands 1997–2017, produced by NRI, has now been published. Land-trends reports have informed private and public landowners and decision-makers for more than two decades. “With this report, we are able to examine new patterns and identify trends following the release of the Census of Agriculture datasets by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service,” said Roel Lopez, Ph.D., director of the NRI. This most recent…

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Report: Austin and San Antonio best in Texas for fighting water pollution with nature-based infrastructure

Report: Austin and San Antonio best in Texas for fighting water pollution with nature-based infrastructure

Amid ongoing problems with water pollution and flooding, cities across Texas are turning to nature-based infrastructure. San Antonio and Austin lead the way, followed closely by Harris County, according to a new report by Environment Texas Research and Policy Center, which ranks local governments across Texas on how well their stormwater policy incorporates nature-based infrastructure, like rain gardens and green roofs. “Nature-based infrastructure, from rain gardens to constructed wetlands, helps keep Texans safe,” said Anna Farrell-Sherman, Clean Water Associate with…

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Comal workshop to provide landowners with information on conservation programs that create a family land legacy

Comal workshop to provide landowners with information on conservation programs that create a family land legacy

On Friday, February 21, the Comal County Conservation Alliance and partners will host a landowner workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Anhalt Dance Hall, 2390 Anhalt Road, Spring Branch, TX 78070. The one-day workshop will highlight conservation easements and how they can help provide a family land legacy, the role of land trust organizations, wildlife and open space valuation, financial tools/resources available, and a panel discussion with landowners. Many landowners are concerned about conserving those special natural…

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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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