Doctor’s orders: Support land and water conservation

Doctor’s orders: Support land and water conservation

Humans are a part of nature. We can’t be healthy if the world around us isn’t healthy enough to sustain, nourish and protect us. And without a healthy population, we can’t achieve our full potential for generating strong economies, driving innovation and securing a safe future. Nature is at the heart of it all. Supporting nature and supporting ourselves is one and the same task, and it is a critical task. Right now, Congress has a chance to make big…

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An unlikely environmentalist with an eye on the future

An unlikely environmentalist with an eye on the future

I’m an unlikely environmentalist. I spent most of my working life with a state transportation agency. I was an advocate for investments in safe efficient highways. Suffice it to say, I made few friends among those who worked for environmental groups. Ironically, I often agreed with their positions. I valued clean water and air and open natural spaces. What was frustrating is that they almost never offered any support for my view that safe and efficient highways saved lives and…

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How communities are joining the fight to keep Texas’ night skies big and bright

How communities are joining the fight to keep Texas’ night skies big and bright

In his time as a naturalist at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Scott Whitener loved taking kids on night hikes. Whitener had left his previous job teaching in Fredericksburg partly because he wanted to spend more time outside. On treks up the massive granite dome, he encouraged young people to overcome their nerves as they grew accustomed to the dark, their senses sharpening in the absence of artificial light. A group of high school students from San Antonio made a…

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Hill Country photo contest winners announced

Hill Country photo contest winners announced

The Texas Hill Country is a unique region filled with diverse wildlife, clear springs, sprawling rural landscapes, historic towns, and some of the starriest night skies in the country. Each year the Hill Country Alliance (HCA) holds a photo contest encouraging photographers to capture the Texas Hill Country they would like to protect forever. HCA received over 300 entries in the 2019 photo contest from amateur and professional photographers alike. Submissions, ranging from the starry sky over Enchanted Rock, to…

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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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These are the world’s best stargazing spots

These are the world’s best stargazing spots

FOR MANY CITY people, a clear night sky is a mythical beast. We’ve heard the legends inspired by the constellations and we know sailors used the stars to guide their way home, but urban light pollution means we can’t quite see the heavens ourselves. Enter the International Dark-Sky Association. The U.S. nonprofit, founded in 1988, recognizes parks, reserves, and places across the world that offer the best views of the galaxy we call home. Most are open to campers or…

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Texas voters approve state income tax ban, most other constitutional amendments

Texas voters approve state income tax ban, most other constitutional amendments

Amendments to the state constitution that would make it harder to enact a state income tax, would stabilize funding for state parks and would allow retired law enforcement animals to be adopted by their handlers received widespread support from voters Tuesday. Supporters of one of the most contentious issues on the ballot — Proposition 4 — proclaimed victory within hours of the polls closing, with about three-fourths of voters supporting the proposal in early voting returns. The proposition authored by…

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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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ULI releases report for “Activating the San Marcos Riverfront”

ULI releases report for “Activating the San Marcos Riverfront”

The Urban Land Institute released a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) report regarding land use along the San Marcos River in August. The City of San Marcos, the Greater San Marcos Partnership and Texas State University partnered with the Austin District Council of Urban Land Institute in Fall 2018 to examine land use along the San Marcos River. According to the report, “the Technical Assistance Panel offers recommendations for ways to unlock economic potential by making the river more connected to…

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