HCA Program Areas

Since the beginning, the Hill Country Alliance’s primary activity has been to reach out to inform citizens about current issues relating to growth and development in the Texas Hill Country. As our region has experienced growing pains, we’ve been able to help individuals and community groups by sharing resources and information. We host community meetings about current issues and participate in many regional planning activities. More than just leading the conversation, HCA is inspiring action. Our four program areas are how we maintain strategic focus and align our work within the region.

In addition to our work as a standalone organization, HCA has stepped up to serve as the backbone organization for the Texas Hill Country Conservation Network (THCCN/the Network), a coalition of organizations and agencies that have come together to advance shared goals for conservation of the Texas Hill Country.

Water

Thirteen Texas rivers begin in the Hill Country and provide water for millions of downstream neighbors.

As our region grows, our demands on limited aquifer resources threaten to dry up wells and springs that support the creeks and rivers of the Hill Country. Policy disconnects make it difficult to protect the region’s water supplies.

The Hill Country Alliance (HCA) works to address state-wide policy concerns about the management of surface water and groundwater. We support local groundwater management by elected district boards, and we respond to water quality threats. We promote land and water conservation and water infrastructure alternatives like rainwater harvesting and net zero water development. We advance sound science in groundwater decision-making and planning.

Land

Texas is losing heritage ranch lands faster than any other state in the country.

As ranch lands are divided and urban development pushes further into the rural Hill Country, we are losing wildlife habitat, healthy watershed function, open spaces and scenic vistas – the very things for which the region is known and loved.

HCA combats land fragmentation and degradation by promoting both land conservation and good land stewardship. We build consensus for place-based land management practices that enhance long-term water supply. We address the threat of invasive vegetation, promote restorative agriculture and ranching, and facilitate large-scale landscape conservation. We create resources, conversations and forums for landowners, neighbors, elected officials, and all concerned citizens.

Night Sky

Eight out of ten children will grow up unable to see the Milky Way due to light pollution.

The Hill Country is on the edge of night in Texas. As development pushes westward from the urban corridor, we are losing our view of the night sky that once inspired a songwriter to croon, “The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.”

HCA convenes diverse groups of stakeholders and community leaders to slow the spread of light pollution and the degradation of Hill Country night skies. We work with state parks and local communities to achieve dark sky designations and help electric cooperatives convert to night sky friendly lighting. We encourage night sky friendly businesses as well as local initiatives to pass resolutions and ordinances for the preservation of our starry night sky in cities and counties across the region.

Community

Ninety percent of Hill Country lands are in unincorporated areas where there is little authority to plan for growth.

Unprecedented growth is diluting the heritage of our rural towns with sprawling development patterns that take away from courthouse squares and main streets. The culture center of our communities is being lost to new outward-spreading development.

HCA promotes new and better ways to grow healthy, vibrant communities both in the urban corridor and in rural areas throughout the region. We emphasize comprehensive growth planning and transportation alternatives that accommodate population projections while minimizing our footprint. We work to bring communities together around shared values. We support technologies and policies that allow the built environment to enhance, not detract from, our region’s resilience and the unique natural services it provides.

HCA in the News

Comal County needs to borrow tools from Hays

I want to thank Craig Massouh for the article published on August 21 about the work being done to protect our environmental resources in Comal County. Cliff Kaplan, the operations manager for the Hill Country Alliance (HCA) pointed out that “Hays County just agreed to put on the Nov. 3 election a $75-$80 million item to…

Healthy Creeks Initiative underway

Contractors will soon begin the annual control efforts to manage Arundo along the Pedernales River and several tributary creeks. Arundo, also referred to as Giant Reed or Carrizo Cane, is a non-native, invasive plant that can take over creeks and rivers. Since 2016, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), Hill Country Alliance (HCA), City of…

Preserving the view of the Night Stars in the Texas Hill Country

Can you see stars at night where you live? Or, do you live in an area where the streetlights and other light sources obscure the night stars? The Hill Country Alliance is working to protect and preserve our view of the night skies in the wonderful Texas Hill Country. Our guest on Shades of Green is…

The stars at night are big and bright

The stars may be big and bright deep in the Heart of Texas, but they're only visible when there are sky is dark. Whether you're in Texas or anywhere else in the world, light pollution continues to distort our ability to enjoy the night sky, and it wreaks havoc on the natural world. We talk with…