Letter from the Director: HCA in the era of Coronavirus

Letter from the Director: HCA in the era of Coronavirus

Dear Hill Country Neighbors, It’s hard to start a letter addressing the unprecedented reality we find ourselves in. The Covid-19 outbreak has shown us just how critical our Hill Country community is to the work of the Hill Country Alliance. There is no replacement for the riparian management workshops, landowner potlucks, Hill Country Living Festival, star parties, Texas Water Symposia and myriad other team meetings, community gatherings, and in-person conversations that HCA is a part of every single day. While…

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New financial program available for Texas communities

New financial program available for Texas communities

A new financial assistance program will soon become available to assist in the funding of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects. On Nov. 5, Texas voters approved Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF). In conjunction with the constitutional amendment, the legislature made a one-time transfer of $793 million from the Economic Stabilization or “Rainy Day” Fund to the FIF via Senate Bill 500 and passed Senate Bill (SB) 7, which outlines…

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Is it okay to visit Texas Parks during the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Is it okay to visit Texas Parks during the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Earlier this month, I went shopping at H-E-B and bought more food than I needed. But I wasn’t stocking up my bunker; I was buying supplies for a camping trip at Big Bend National Park. Back then—a whole couple of weeks ago—the new coronavirus still felt relatively abstract. I was planning to spend spring break with my boyfriend, a teacher, under the West Texas stars, hiking along the Rio Grande, and climbing the classic South Rim trail to gaze at…

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Rural Texas hospitals should be staffing up to face coronavirus. Many can’t afford to.

Rural Texas hospitals should be staffing up to face coronavirus. Many can’t afford to.

At a time when most hospitals are ramping up capacity to treat a massive number of patients who may become infected with COVID-19, rural hospital administrators say financial hardships could force them to do the opposite. Before the contagious new coronavirus arrived in Texas, rural hospitals already faced a bleak financial forecast. Demographic shifts, high shares of uninsured patients and cuts to the facilities’ Medicare payments have for years led hospital administrators to abandon small-town markets where they could not…

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Eastern monarch butterfly population plunges below extinction threshold

Eastern monarch butterfly population plunges below extinction threshold

The yearly count of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico, released today, shows a decrease of 53% from last year’s count and is well below the threshold at which government scientists predict the migration could collapse. Scientists estimate that 6 hectares—about 15 acres—is the extinction threshold for the migratory butterflies’ survival in North America. The latest count, conducted by World Wildlife Fund Mexico, found overwintering monarchs occupying just 2.83 hectares, or 7 acres. Read more from Tierra Curry, of the Center for…

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These Texas organizations are helping people during the pandemic — and here’s how you can, too

These Texas organizations are helping people during the pandemic — and here’s how you can, too

As schools close and thousands of people across the country are being laid off due to the new coronavirus pandemic, many Texans are finding themselves stuck at home with no income or access to necessary resources like food or medical supplies. In response to growing concerns around the nation, President Donald Trump recently signed a bill mandating 12 weeks of paid leave for people quarantining or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms that applies only to companies with less than 500 employees. The…

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Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Our natural world provides innumerable benefits to human health and economic prosperity. As wildlife and their habitats disappear, these benefits are compromised. Nationwide, experts have identified more than 12,000 Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including over 1,300 here in Texas. The majority of these are at-risk fish and wildlife — like the Texas horned lizard, Pronghorn, and American bumblebee. Unfortunately, America lacks a dedicated funding stream to conserve vulnerable fish and wildlife. We are in danger of losing the ecological…

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Portman, bipartisan colleagues introduce the Great American Outdoors Act

Portman, bipartisan colleagues introduce the Great American Outdoors Act

U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Richard Burr (R-NC) today introduced S. 3422, the Great American Outdoors Act – landmarklegislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog across the federal land management agencies and to provide mandatory and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Notably, the legislation includes Portman, Warner, Alexander, and King’s Restore Our Parks legislation to help address…

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Chronic Wasting Disease discovered at deer breeding facility in Kimble County

Chronic Wasting Disease discovered at deer breeding facility in Kimble County

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been discovered in a 5 ½-year-old white-tailed deer in a Kimble County deer breeding facility, marking the first positive detection of the disease in the county. The tissue samples submitted by the breeding facility as part of routine deer mortality surveillance revealed the presence of CWD during testing at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in College Station Feb. 6. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the findings on Wednesday,…

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Hill Country residents challenge the state to stop quarry

Hill Country residents challenge the state to stop quarry

Comal County residents are suing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to stop the construction of a quarry they say will pollute the air with a lung-damaging contaminate. Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry and Friends of Dry Comal Creek filed a lawsuit in Travis County court on Monday to overturn TCEQ’s permit for a Vulcan Materials Co. rock-crushing facility. The facility will be a piece of a proposed limestone quarry, which Vulcan plans to place on a 1,500 acre site in…

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