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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Texas Comptroller’s Office Partners with the University of Houston – Clear Lake to Perform Western Chicken Turtle Surveys

Texas Comptroller’s Office Partners with the University of Houston – Clear Lake to Perform Western Chicken Turtle Surveys

The Texas Comptroller’s Natural Resources program has contracted with the University of Houston – Clear Lake (UHCL) to conduct range-wide surveys in East Texas for the western chicken turtle. The partnership will inform an upcoming Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decision for the species and develop information that local resource managers can use to sustain economic development while conserving natural resources. The historic range of the western chicken turtle includes wetlands across East Texas, a region that supports numerous industries…

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Energy company develops ultrasonic device to keep bats away from Texas windfarms

Energy company develops ultrasonic device to keep bats away from Texas windfarms

An energy company is taking steps to protect bats from windmills. Research shows hundreds of thousands are killed every year. There’s new technology to keep this from happening. The Mexican free-tailed bats fly in the millions at their peak. They’re the state’s official flying mammal and they claim spots all over Texas. In their millions, they will pollinate flowers and grow new plants and keep pests off farmer’s crops. This species is also at risk of colliding with a growing…

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Record-breaking vote shows consensus and need for more Texas state parks

Record-breaking vote shows consensus and need for more Texas state parks

To my wife’s dismay, I was going to cook the Thanksgiving turkey over a campfire at Tyler State Park with the guidance of my son’s most recent Boy’s Life magazine. We have a big map of Texas on the wall of our family room. We’re on a mission to visit all 90 or so state parks, and about 30 push pins show the ones we’ve visited so far. At Monahans Sandhills State Park, we rode sleds down rolling dunes of…

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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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In a first, researchers find CWD prions in deer semen

In a first, researchers find CWD prions in deer semen

  • January 10, 2020
  • News

For the first time, researchers have documented chronic wasting disease prions in semen from white-tailed deer at U.S. deer farms, according to a recently-published paper. While further work is needed to determine if the prion-containing semen could infect another animal, the finding could have major implications for the captive cervid industry, which relies heavily on shipments of semen for artificial insemination. A variety of state and federal regulations seek to prevent spread of the disease by prohibiting transfers of CWD-positive live deer or carcasses. However, no restriction is…

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A river worth saving: Who will protect the unheralded Llano?

A river worth saving: Who will protect the unheralded Llano?

The Llano River is an ecological gem in Texas Hill Country, supporting dozens of native and rare plants and animals. But due to weak state environmental protections, the Llano — along with other waterways in Texas — is increasingly facing pressure from industry and development. On a February day in 2018, Bill Neiman walked me along the perimeter of a Pilot Flying J truck stop in Junction, Texas, five miles upstream from his farm. Semis revved and hissed in the…

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Big money is building a new kind of National Park in the Great Plains

Big money is building a new kind of National Park in the Great Plains

A privately funded, nonprofit organization is creating a 3.2 million-acre wildlife sanctuary — American Prairie Reserve — in northeastern Montana, an area long known as cattle country. But the reserve is facing fierce opposition from many locals because to build it, the organization is slowly purchasing ranches from willing sellers, phasing out the cows and replacing them with wild bison. Those private properties are then stitched together with vast tracts of neighboring public lands to create one giant, rewilded prairie.…

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Cookie-cutter suburbs could help spread sustainable yards

Cookie-cutter suburbs could help spread sustainable yards

Yards in Austin, Tex., look like most across the country: sprawling expanses of short, uniform grass. But when intense Texas droughts set in, dead brown patches deface the Kelly green monochrome. Instead of repeatedly replanting these patches with the typical sod, the homeowner association of one Austin neighborhood, Travis Country, offers another option: filling in the brown spots with less-thirsty native species. As Cynthia Wilcox, the association’s grounds committee chair, puts it: “When your grass gets big dead spots, stop…

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Val Verde County white-tailed deer tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

Val Verde County white-tailed deer tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

  • December 20, 2019
  • News

AUSTIN – Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected in a free-ranging, 5 ½ year-old white-tailed doe between Del Rio and Amistad Reservoir, making it the first confirmed case of the disease in Val Verde County. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) are implementing a containment strategy designed to limit the spread of CWD from the affected area and better understand the distribution and prevalence of the disease. “Because eradication is thought to…

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