New bill will help preserve family farms

New bill will help preserve family farms

A bill introduced today to help more farm families continue their livelihoods after the death of a loved one has the full support of the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Preserving Family Farms Act of 2019 is sponsored by Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.). “Farm and ranch families often face a significant financial burden when they have to pay estate taxes,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farm families should be able to pay based on how their land…

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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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When a developer uses a cow or two to dodge property taxes, guess who pays: Homeowners

When a developer uses a cow or two to dodge property taxes, guess who pays: Homeowners

We finally know what Texas lawmakers meant when, at the end of this year’s legislative session, they crowed about relief from property taxes. Developers who keep a cow or two on a few urban or suburban acres are paying less in back taxes when they cash in and build a shopping center or another subdivision, thanks to a new state law. Yes, the Legislature also poured more money into schools, allowing local districts to lower their tax rates. But that…

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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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Q&A+water: Katherine Romans

Q&A+water: Katherine Romans

Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance In this issue’s Q&A, Texas+Water Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Todd Votteler, interviews Katherine Romans, Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance, a regional nonprofit focused on protecting the water, land, communities and night skies of the Texas Hill Country. She has more than a decade of nonprofit and legislative experience in natural resource issues and holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Romans serves on the board…

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Hill Country landowners say Kinder Morgan is lowballing them. Special courts are agreeing.

Hill Country landowners say Kinder Morgan is lowballing them. Special courts are agreeing.

Kay Pence owns a ranch in the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg. About a year ago, she got a call from the pipeline company Kinder Morgan. The caller told her the company planned to run a section of its 430-mile Permian Highway natural gas pipeline through her property. Pence didn’t like that. “This is going to sound overreactive, but you felt violated,” Pence says. “They have access to your property, and there was nothing you could do.” In Texas, pipeline…

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One Water: Projects In Motion

One Water: Projects In Motion

Ian Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at New Braunfels Utilities, knows his city is growing, fast. And that with that growth means looking at new ideas to manage resources. “I really struggled with [One Water] because … it was just kind of this out there concept,” Taylor explained at the Texas Water Symposium held on November 21, 2019 in San Marcos. “I had trouble trying to figure out how to nail it down and figure out how you apply this thing.…

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NIGHTS OVER TUCSON: How the Tucson, Arizona, LED conversion improved the quality of the night

NIGHTS OVER TUCSON: How the Tucson, Arizona, LED conversion improved the quality of the night

Can a lighting retrofit in a growing metropolitan city save energy, maintain safety standards, and protect the starry night sky? __ Tucson, Arizona, is a major metropolitan city in the southwest United States. The city has a long-standing commitment to best lighting practices that protect the night. In fact, people who move to the area often remark on how bright the stars appear to shine. But as the city has grown, so has its light pollution. With major astronomical observatories…

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Pipeline opponents focus on ESA: Agencies put on notice to comply with law or be sued

Pipeline opponents focus on ESA: Agencies put on notice to comply with law or be sued

Opponents of Kinder Morgan’s routing of its Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) have put two federal agencies on notice – either comply with existing federal law or face legal action. In one of the latest challenges to the 435-mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline, which is planned to cross the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer, the focus has turned to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Last month, the T.R.E.A.D. Coalition (Texas Real Estate Advocacy & Defense Coalition), along with the cities…

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Update: Southwestern Travis County Groundwater Conservation District passes with almost 75% of the vote

Update: Southwestern Travis County Groundwater Conservation District passes with almost 75% of the vote

Update: The Southwestern Travis County Groundwater Conservation District passed unofficially with 74.78% of the vote, or 9,715 in favor to 3,276 opposed. Included on the ballot were all seven members of the newly elected board of directors: Juli Hennings, Jim Urie, Tricia Davis, James Dower, Tim Van Ackeren and Rick Scadden, board president. “It’s wonderful that 75% of the voters support confirmation of the SWTCGCD,” Scadden said in a text. “This represents the culmination of many years of hard work…

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