Judge rules Golden-cheeked Warbler should stay on endangered species list

Judge rules Golden-cheeked Warbler should stay on endangered species list

A bright-faced songbird of the Texas Hill Country still faces enough threat from population growth and land development in the San Antonio-Austin region to need shelter under the Endangered Species Act, a federal judge in Austin has ruled. Senior U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks sided with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week in a case centered on the golden-cheeked warbler, a 3- to 5-inch migratory songbird that only nests in around 39 counties in Central Texas. The Texas General…

Read More
Public meetings on eminent domain a good start

Public meetings on eminent domain a good start

AUSTIN — There is an information vacuum when it comes to private companies using eminent domain in Texas. Even though eminent domain is a governmental power that is supposed to be used only for the public good, private entities who use eminent domain have very few obligations to operate in the kind of transparent manner that citizens have come to expect from public projects. Transmission line companies must at least present a proposed route to the Public Utility Commission, which…

Read More
Bill would bar new billboards from some Hays County roads

Bill would bar new billboards from some Hays County roads

Legislation filed in the Texas House would prohibit new billboards along segments of three Hays County highways. Local elected officials say billboards disrupt the scenic Hill Country views that attract tourists and homeowners alike in the fast-growing region. The bill, filed Feb. 1 by state Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Driftwood, and supported by two Hays County-based environmental preservation groups, would ban new billboard construction within Hays County along RM 1826, RM 150 between Kyle and RM 12, and RM 967 between…

Read More
State parks a boon to Texas economy according to new report

State parks a boon to Texas economy according to new report

Parks generated nearly $900 million in sales in 2018 AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation today released a new report about the strong and growing economic role state parks have on the Texas economy. The research showed the parks generated more than $891 million in sales activity, had a $240 million impact on the incomes of Texas residents, and supported an estimated 6,081 jobs throughout the state in 2018. The real power in this report is the impact…

Read More
State lawmakers aim to lock in funding for Texas parks, historic sites

State lawmakers aim to lock in funding for Texas parks, historic sites

For nearly a decade, the Texas parks department has hoped to turn a 4,400-acre swath of pristine forest in North Texas into what some hope could be the “metroplex’s playground.” About 80 miles west of downtown Fort Worth, the already-named Palo Pinto Mountains State Park — with a scenic ridge overlooking a lake and more-than-ample space for camping — promises to be a huge recreational draw. But the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has struggled to secure funding from the…

Read More
Central Texas pipeline reignites fight over land rights

Central Texas pipeline reignites fight over land rights

A fight over a pipeline is never only about the pipeline. It’s about the environment, property rights, public safety and a community’s sense of itself. Just such a fight is now brewing in the Texas Hill Country, where company Kinder Morgan plans to lay a part of its 430-mile natural gas Permian Highway Pipeline. The Houston-based company says the time is right for the project. An unprecedented drilling boom in West Texas means there’s more oil and gas coming out of the ground…

Read More
Kolkhurst, Cyrier file bills to constitutionally dedicate funds for state and local parks

Kolkhurst, Cyrier file bills to constitutionally dedicate funds for state and local parks

AUSTIN – At a press conference at the Texas Capitol, State Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and State Representative John Cyrier (R-Lockhart) today announced that they have filed companion legislation (SB 526 and HB 1214) to constitutionally dedicate revenue from the Sporting Good Sales Tax (SGST) to fund the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “As our state population grows, we must promote and protect our public parks and state historic sites. We can all agree that these special places are vital to our economy and to our Texas heritage,…

Read More
Bills seek more protection for Texas landowners in eminent domain cases

Bills seek more protection for Texas landowners in eminent domain cases

A byproduct of the booming Texas economy and energy sector — the increasing number of pipelines and transmission lines crisscrossing the state — has left many property owners at the mercy of private companies that have authority to condemn land, two state lawmakers said Wednesday. They’re proposing changes to state law that would give landowners greater protections, and possibly more money, when companies assert eminent domain to force them to sell. The proposals wouldn’t apply to public entities, such as…

Read More
Why aren’t Texas politicians standing up for Texas landowners?

Why aren’t Texas politicians standing up for Texas landowners?

In 2009 the Bureau of Land Management published a series of surveys in the Federal Register that laid claim to small strips of land between the medial line of the Red River—the invisible line down the middle of the waterway that constitutes the border between Texas and Oklahoma—and the river’s south bank. A mundane turning of the federal bureaucracy, one might think, except that the BLM and Texas landowners south of the river happened to disagree pretty vigorously on where…

Read More
Are pipeline land takings in the public interest if oil, gas headed overseas?

Are pipeline land takings in the public interest if oil, gas headed overseas?

Pipeline companies in Texas and other states have long had the power to take land under the eminent domain principle that projects to transport energy to heat homes, generate electricity and produce fuels are in the public interest. But what if the public is in Europe, South America or Asia? As natural gas and crude oil produced in Texas are increasingly exported, environmentalists, property rights advocates and legal specialists are promoting a novel legal argument to block pipelines, asserting that…

Read More