The flight of the Texas fireflies

The flight of the Texas fireflies

In a state with more than its share of biting, stinging, and creeping and crawling insects and arachnids with little or no charm to any but their own species, fireflies (or lightning bugs as they are variously known here) have long enjoyed a special place in our hearts, that rarest of varmints—a charismatic insect. To those of us who grew up in suburbia or out in the country in recent decades (or those who grew up in big cities long…

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Landowners, pipeline company meet in court today

Landowners, pipeline company meet in court today

Attorneys for Hill Country landowners along with the city of Kyle and Hays County have prepared for a fight this morning with lawyers for Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline and the Texas Railroad Commission over the route of the proposed natural gas pipeline and whether the commission has lived up to its constitutional responsibility in overseeing Kinder Morgan’s exercise of its power of eminent domain. Kinder Morgan proposes to build the approximately 430-mile Permian Highway Pipeline through the Hill Country, between…

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100 years later, Medina Lake dam still a marvel

100 years later, Medina Lake dam still a marvel

The Medina Lake dam is a huge block of concrete, lodged in a canyon, which impounds a waterway flowing along the border of Bandera and Medina counties. But that description hardly does justice to the enduring edifice on the Medina River, say those behind Saturday’s celebration of the dam’s construction 100 years ago. They see the dam as an engineering marvel that provides water critical to surrounding farmland, safeguards downstream residents from flooding and spawned, among other developments, Lakehills, now…

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Hays County, Kyle, landowner lawsuit against railroad commission questions pipeline oversight

Hays County, Kyle, landowner lawsuit against railroad commission questions pipeline oversight

Two years ago, Heinz Stefan Roesch bought a roughly 30-acre property along RR 1623, outside of the city of Blanco. His whole family is from the Hill Country, he said, and he had been saving all his life to buy something just like it. Last fall, he started hearing about a natural gas pipeline that the company Kinder Morgan was planning, though in the initial routing his land did not fall in its path. In January, he noticed low-flying helicopters…

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One man’s half-century project to heal a Hill Country landscape created a legacy reaching far beyond his fenceline

One man’s half-century project to heal a Hill Country landscape created a legacy reaching far beyond his fenceline

In 1969, a San Antonio fried-chicken tycoon was struck by a life-changing idea: He would find, buy, and heal “the sorriest piece of land in the Hill Country.” Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Bamberger Ranch Preserve sprawls across 5,500 acres of grassy hills and wildflower meadows in Blanco County. When visitors arrive May 5 for the annual family day and picnic, they will repeatedly drive across a perennial stream that cascades through a series of waterfalls and deep pools.…

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Texas House passes bill to spend more than $3 billion to help pay for flood control projects

Texas House passes bill to spend more than $3 billion to help pay for flood control projects

Nearly two years after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas coast, the Texas House approved legislation Thursday that would pull more than $3 billion from the state’s rainy day fund to help pay for flood control projects statewide. The House version of Senate Bill 7 is one of three disaster relief bills Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared a top priority earlier in the legislative session. Sponsored by state Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, it combines the Senate version with a House alternative, creating two funds that would provide…

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Opinion: Through grandmother’s house it goes – Kinder Morgan’s pipeline, that is

Opinion: Through grandmother’s house it goes – Kinder Morgan’s pipeline, that is

Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan would very much like to route a pipeline over the aquifer and through the woods, grandmother’s house be damned. Or condemned, as the case may be. We are talking about KM’s planned Permian Highway Pipeline, a 430-mile-long, 42-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline planned to run through the heart of the Texas Hill Country and over the extraordinarily sensitive Trinity and Edwards Aquifers, the water supply for millions of Texans, including residents of San Antonio. The Trinity Edwards…

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Centuries-old irrigation system shows how to manage scarce water

Centuries-old irrigation system shows how to manage scarce water

It’s spring again, the time of year—for the 300th time in some instances—when New Mexico communities come together to clean the acequias, irrigation channels that carry snowmelt from the mountains to newly tilled farm fields. Each annual cleaning is one more demonstration that at least here, in these close-knit communities arrayed across arid and rugged rangeland, it’s possible for people to share scarce resources to achieve a common goal—in this case, making sure everyone in the group has enough water.…

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Cave explorers discover new 600-foot passage in Natural Bridge Caverns

Cave explorers discover new 600-foot passage in Natural Bridge Caverns

After six hours of trekking through cappuccino-colored muck last week, a team of cavers entered a previously unexplored 600-foot-long passage inside Natural Bridge Caverns. The passage, located 145 feet underground, is full of mineral-rich pools of water bordered by mounds of ice-like crystals. “It is absolutely beautiful and the most spectacular cave ‘ice’ that we’ve ever seen at Natural Bridge Caverns,” said Brad Wuest, president and CEO of the caverns. The team of 14 explorers wedged and wriggled their way…

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Local official opposes state water bill in Austin hearing

Local official opposes state water bill in Austin hearing

Last week Boerne’s Milan Michalec, chairman of Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District, was in Austin speaking against House Bill 1806. Authored by Senator Donna Campbell, HB 1806 was the subject of a public hearing in the Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs committee. It is intended to authorize the San Antonio Water System to sell water into particular, adjacent counties. One of only three of the seven committee members were present for the hearing, Dist. 18 Senator Lois Kolkhorst spoke, objecting…

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