Moonlight helps white barn owls stun their prey

Moonlight helps white barn owls stun their prey

Barn owls are skilled nocturnal hunters, swooping across open landscapes to scout out small rodents that scurry below. But scientists have long been puzzled by a trait that seems like it would work against the birds during their nighttime prowls. Some barn owls boast a brilliant white plumage—an unusual feature for an animal that should, in theory, need to remain inconspicuous against the darkened sky. The bellies of Tyto alba, as the common barn owl is formally known, can range…

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In latest development, SOAH disagrees with citizen groups on proposed Vulcan Quarry

In latest development, SOAH disagrees with citizen groups on proposed Vulcan Quarry

External Article – Press Release from Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry State Office of Administrative Hearings administrative law judges Rebecca Smith and Victor Simonds rendered a long-awaited decision Tuesday morning in the contested case hearing against Vulcan Construction Materials. In June 2017, Vulcan submitted an air quality permit application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for a rock crusher at its proposed 1500-acre open-pit limestone quarry between Bulverde and New Braunfels. In late 2018, over 100 individuals, groups, and…

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Underground lakes part of major new discoveries at Natural Bridge Caverns

Underground lakes part of major new discoveries at Natural Bridge Caverns

A 19-hour trip deep into the caves at Natural Bridge Caverns in July led to some major new discoveries, including underground lakes and massive rooms. Brad Wuest and Travis Wuest, who own and operate Natural Bridge Caverns, were joined by Bill Steele on their journey into the uncharted portions of the cave. Travertine Passage is one of the new areas the team discovered during their July trip. “I was descending deeper than anticipated into large, never before seen passage. I could…

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This land is your land: Local property owners in eminent domain battle

This land is your land: Local property owners in eminent domain battle

Few people know much about the issue of eminent domain when it comes to underground pipelines being laid out across the state of Texas. Even fewer people are fighting it. Several Erath County landowners say they are willing to defend their property right, and are willing to go as far as it takes to do so. The steel pipelines are being built not only to transport oil, but also for jet fuel, diesel, natural gas and even electrical lines. Ron…

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The butterfly effect: Native milkweed can save monarchs – if you know how to grow it

The butterfly effect: Native milkweed can save monarchs – if you know how to grow it

Barbara Keller-Willy remembers her reaction when fellow Texas gardeners told her that native milkweed, a plant essential for the survival of the monarch butterfly, was nearly impossible to grow: How hard could it be? It was 2009, and Keller-Willy had just quit her job as an engineering executive. She was spending her time volunteering for local nature and prairie restoration projects. Keller-Willy had been a corporate problem-solver for most of her professional career. Learning that milkweed was resistant to even…

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Wimberley residents want to buy Mount Edith to protect it from developers

Wimberley residents want to buy Mount Edith to protect it from developers

Hill Country residents are worried developers will scar the area’s scenic hill tops, and one town has decided to do something about it. Mostly pickups, SUVS and bikers drive down the scenic main drag of the little town of Wimberley, about an hour’s drive from San Antonio. Councilwoman Christine Byrne said the city has a cool vibe. “Wimberley is kind of a small, rural community right outside of Austin,” she said. “Very artsy. We love our natural spaces. We are…

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The public should have a say before anyone cuts a pipeline through the Texas Hill Country

The public should have a say before anyone cuts a pipeline through the Texas Hill Country

A few weeks ago, construction on the Mopac Expressway near Slaughter Lane in Austin came to an abrupt halt when the workers encountered a larger than normal karst feature. Karst features are essentially holes in the limestone underneath our feet that channel water from the surface into our underground aquifers. They stopped because construction around karst features has to be done carefully to ensure both that surface water can reach the aquifer and that the water isn’t contaminated on its…

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IN DEPTH: Hays County, Travis Audubon demand full, public environmental review in legal challenge to Permian Highway Pipeline

IN DEPTH: Hays County, Travis Audubon demand full, public environmental review in legal challenge to Permian Highway Pipeline

Local opponents of the Permian Highway pipeline have taken a second major legal action to try to push the company developing the project into conducting a full and public environmental review. Hays County, Travis Audubon Society and several private plaintiffs filed a notice of intent July 17 to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Kinder Morgan. The challenge follows months of discussion among elected officials and residents over the impact that the…

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It’s not too early to plan for the Great American total solar eclipse of 2024

It’s not too early to plan for the Great American total solar eclipse of 2024

  • August 22, 2019
  • News

Wednesday (Aug. 21) marked the two-year anniversary of the Great American Solar Eclipse, and if you are eager to view the next celestial sensation to cross the North American skies, get ready for another eclipse treat on April 8, 2024. According to a study led by researchers at the University of Michigan last summer, about 88% of American adults viewed the total solar eclipse in 2017 either directly or digitally. The total solar eclipse could be seen from Oregon to…

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Hill Country Commission awards more landowners major damages in pipeline case

Hill Country Commission awards more landowners major damages in pipeline case

  • August 21, 2019
  • News

A court-appointed panel has awarded a total of more than $3 million to four landowners caught up in condemnation proceedings with Kinder Morgan over the proposed Permian Highway Pipeline. The awards, the largest of which was $1.3 million, paint a stark contrast to Kinder Morgan’s own appraisals of these same properties, none of which exceeded $21,000. Kinder Morgan, who did not produce their appraiser at two hearings last week to defend their figure, has previously indicated their opposition to compensating…

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