Going dark to reconnect to the night sky

Going dark to reconnect to the night sky

  • March 13, 2019
  • News

For those who missed it, Feb. 19 brought a super snow moon, the biggest and brightest supermoon of the year. Social media and national news sites lit up with spectacular photos of the event, with an unusually large full moon rising above the horizon. Although reminding us of the beauty of the night sky, similar events can also highlight the spread of light pollution, which dramatically limits celestial views and deprives us of those awe-inspiring encounters with the night sky.…

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How a Central Texas community is preparing for wildfires before an emergency happens

How a Central Texas community is preparing for wildfires before an emergency happens

  • March 13, 2019
  • News

Last month, the Lubbock Avalanche Journal reported that though wildfire season typically begins in March, West Texas is seeing wildfires even earlier in the year. As a result, lots of communities have a plan of action for wildfires. But how many Texas communities perform a dry run before an emergency actually happens? So far, only one, the Comanche Trail neighborhood near Lake Travis, has done such a drill. “I’m on the top of a hill, so I worry about a…

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Final draft of Austin Strategic Mobility Plan passes Environmental Commission

Final draft of Austin Strategic Mobility Plan passes Environmental Commission

  • March 13, 2019
  • News

Following a presentation on the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan at the March 6 meeting of the Environmental Commission by Annick Beaudet, the assistant director of Austin Transportation, commissioners began asking about some of the environmental aspects of the plan. While questions about tree canopy removal in order to widen streets made a predictable appearance, issues of air quality, right-of-way and autonomous vehicles were also raised. Commissioner Mary Ann Neely noted that Austin is uncomfortably close to being in violation of air quality…

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Landowners work to “heal” Sandy Creek after flood

Landowners work to “heal” Sandy Creek after flood

An effort to restore Sandy Creek has taken root in Llano County. About 25 landowners, conservationists and other volunteers attended the Sandy Creek Riparian Restoration Field Day March 2 on private property (County Road 316) adjacent to Sandy Creek to assess land and put so-called revegetation efforts into practice. “People like myself and other professionals, we really didn’t think about rivers. They were just part of the landscape,” said Steve Nelle, a Natural Resource Conservation Service retiree. “We didn’t know…

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San Marcos joins growing list of local governments opposed to Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline

San Marcos joins growing list of local governments opposed to Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline

The list of local governmental bodies that have passed resolutions opposing Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline just got longer. San Marcos City Council unanimously voted on March 5 to oppose the 430-mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline set to be routed through the center of Hays County. In addition to expressing the city’s opposition to the project, the resolution—almost exactly like the resolutions recently passed by the Hays County Commissioners Court and Kyle City Council—demands immediate state legislative action that would…

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SOAH Judge Rules in Favor of Quarry Opponents

SOAH Judge Rules in Favor of Quarry Opponents

An extremely vocal coalition of area ranchers, business people, ex-military personnel and retired professionals convinced Administrative Law Judge Rebecca Smith to grant them “affected-party” status at a March 6 hearing to determine who has the right to challenge a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) air permit that would allow Vulcan Construction Materials to turn the old Eric White Ranch near FM 3009 and SH-46 into a 1,500-acre open-pit limestone quarry. Residents packed Comal County commissioners historic courtroom where they…

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Commentary: We must act now to save our state parks

Commentary: We must act now to save our state parks

More than 30 million visitors have taken in the majesty of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Last year alone, more than 10 million visited the Louvre in Paris with such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa. Imagine for a moment the absurdity of locking these treasures away from public view because their buildings fell into disrepair. Yet that is exactly what’s happening to many of our state parks because funds intended for their upkeep have been diverted elsewhere,…

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Why native plants matter

Why native plants matter

Restoring native plant habitat is vital to preserving biodiversity. By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals. Over the past century, urbanization has taken intact, ecologically productive land and fragmented and transformed it with lawns and exotic ornamental plants. The continental U.S. lost a staggering 150 million acres of habitat and farmland to urban sprawl, and that trend isn’t slowing.…

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Quarry hearing scheduled for Wednesday

Quarry hearing scheduled for Wednesday

Property owners and other stakeholders trying to keep Vulcan Construction Materials from developing a 1,500-acre open-pit limestone quarry at FM 3009 and SH-46 are expected to pack Comal County Commissioners Courtroom 9 a.m. Wednesday for a preliminary administrative hearing to determine who has the legal right to challenge the air-quality permit Vulcan needs to proceed. The purpose of the State Office of Administrative Hearing (SOAH) preliminary hearing is to to finalize issues, determine so-called “affected-party” status and set a timeline…

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GOP senator, oil industry clash over proposed eminent domain reforms

GOP senator, oil industry clash over proposed eminent domain reforms

At a public hearing on Monday, state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst — who has long tried to strengthen protections for landowners facing condemnation — challenged officials from fossil fuel groups who said her latest legislation would drag down energy production. For years now, Texas Sen. Lois Kolkhorst has aimed to strengthen protections for Texans whose property may be seized by the governmental or private companies building roads, oil pipelines and other projects considered to be for the public good. The first…

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