Hill Country Alliance gathers concerned citizens

A get-together introducing the resources of the Hill Country Alliance to concerned area citizens was led by the HCA’s executive director Katherine Romans who discussed Hill Country conservation issues included multiple presentations along with audience participation and questions. Future meetings are in the works.

Speaking before an audience numbering dozens of area residents Thursday, Katherine Romans, executive director of the Hill Country Alliance, offered her agency’s assistance along with cautionary reasons for guarding natural resources.

Romans stated that between 2010 and 2018, Kendall County experienced a 36 percent population hike. She also warned that regional population is expected to double over the next three decades.

Other area representatives gave presentations as well.

Bob Webster, a member of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District, urged residents to increase their understanding with regard to area water resources. Webster explained that Kendall County has only 5 percent of the natural water supply enjoyed by surrounding counties.

The legislature “just doesn’t get it,” Webster said.

Complicating issues further, according to Webster, is an overarching misunderstanding with regard to aquifer systems. While San Antonio “has one big flat stable aquifer,” Webster said that just to the north, Kendall County sits atop a system of multiple aquifers into which rainwater may rush within minutes or seepage may take thousands of years.

Carolyn Chipman Evans, founder and executive director of the Cibolo Nature Center spoke about the importance of Cibolo Creek and the corridor through which it runs.

“Over a million gallons of water a day enter the recharge zone,” Chipman Evans said, emphasizing the need for development to be set back from the waterway and stating that every dollar invested in conservation comes back tenfold.

Speaking on behalf of the Cibolo Conservancy, Brent Evans exlained the ability that conservation projects have to limit development while acting as tax deductible donations.

“Private landowners are doing great conservation work,” Evans said.

Program manager for the HCA, Cliff Kaplan, spoke on the importance of comprehensive and credible county planning – a theme that was later picked up on enthusiastically during a workshop-style activity.

Thursday night’s event came about “because the Hill Country Alliance is concerned about the future of the Hill Country,” Ben Eldredge, newest member of the HCA’s board of directors and also director of education at the Cibolo Nature Center, said. Eldredge added that not only is the HCA concerned about the stress of development on water resources, but that it also wants to help Hill Country communities ask questions such as “What is the best kind of development for the Hill Country region?” “What does the future look like and what safeguards need to be put into place?” and “How can we preserve the best face of the Hill Country?”

“Citizen action can and will make a difference,” was how Evans put it, referring to the evening’s well-attended participation. “It’s neat to see the impetus that we have in the county right now.”

This article by Elena Tucker was published by The Boerne Star on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.