July 2017 Director’s Notes: Hill Country Summers
Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a ranch wedding along the Nueces River in Uvalde. Nothing says ‘Hill Country’ like looking out across a pasture to watch the full moon rise over a distant hill, just as a band strikes up the first lines of a classic two-step, and the smell of smoked brisket wafts along the evening breeze.
Sitting between a Texas legislator and a rodeo cowboy at dinner that night, listening to stories of the ranches, rivers, and cattle roping adventures of days gone by, I was struck by the deep roots and family ties that define this part of Texas. The hard scrabble existence that shaped this country and strong family legacies continue today.
And yet, we see change coming to our region. With a coalition of stewards and stakeholders as diverse as the landscapes of the Hill Country. we can ensure a vibrant future for the natural, cultural, historical, and economic resources of this special piece of Texas.
If we were looking for a slow moment to catch our breath this summer, it doesn’t seem to be coming; HCA is busier than ever. We are treating invasive plant species in the upper reaches of the Pedernales and South Llano rivers, working with local communities to protect our starry night skies, tracking the upcoming special legislative session, wrapping up an analysis of existing research about the Guadalupe River, and launching a new collaboration that will bring together the many groups working to protect the Texas Hill Country. It is fun and inspiring work!
Here’s just a snapshot of our recent successes:
- We joined forces with the Hill Country Conservancy, the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, Texas Tech Field Station and many more to apply for more than $10 million in dedicated funding for landowners in the Llano, Pedernales, Blanco, Onion Creek and Barton Springs watersheds. Our Regional Conservation Partnership Program pre-proposal was chosen to move on to a full application this fall.
- We hosted two service learning projects to connect residents with hands-on opportunities to have a positive impact on river health along the South Llano River. Volunteers treated invasive Chinaberry trees and caged native Pecan trees.
- We are participating in the planning for a possible Travis County 2017 bond election to pay for parks, open space, drainage, and roadway projects. This bond would create new resources for conservation easements in Travis County.
- We’re partnering with the Cibolo Conservancy to host a Conservation Easement Workshop on August 25th in Boerne to provide an opportunity for landowners and land trusts to meet.
- And of course, we’re planning for the fall, launching our bigger, better Rainwater Revival + Hill Country Living Festival, planning for our Annual Leadership Summit, and getting things lined up for a series of Wild & Scenic Film Festival showings. We hope to see you at some of these fun and informative events!
As always, we depend on supporters like you to continue our work for the future of the Hill Country. Don’t hesitate to reach out and join us!
Homepage thumbnail image: Leo Tynan
Lewey wedding: Katherine Romans
Chinaberry removal: Daniel Oppenheimer