Three Bills Filed to Ensure Clean Water Recharges the Edwards Aquifer

Senator José Menéndez, Representative Donna Howard, and Representative Tracy O. King have filed bills that many believe are needed to protect the quality of water in the Edwards Aquifer.  S.B. 1796 (Menéndez) / H.B. 3467 (Howard) state “The commission (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality -TCEQ) may not issue a new permit authorizing the discharge of sewage effluent directly into any water in the contributing or recharge zone of the San Antonio or Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.”  H.B. 3036 (King) expands the geographic area impacted by this legislation to include the regulated Edwards Aquifer Contributing Zone. “Protecting the pristine streams in the Edwards Aquifer Contributing Zone for all landowners (users) is of the upmost importance and I am proud to author House Bill 3036,” said Representative Tracy King. Ranchers, landowners, civic and conservation groups from throughout the Texas Hill Country are joining forces to support this legislation to prohibit the practice of releasing treated sewage effluent into waterways that recharge the Edwards Aquifer. Similar bills have been filed in past legislative sessions, including H.B. 595 (2009) by Representative David Leibowitz, S.B. 1099 (2009) and S.B. 853 (2011) filed by Senator Kirk Watson, and H.B. 3039 (2007) filed by Representative…

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GEAA: Night sky and impervious cover protections removed from SA Tomorrow Plan

Dear GEAA members and friends, Last week the San Antonio Planning Commission voted 5-4 to exclude recommendations for impervious cover limits and dark skies protections from the proposed Sustainability Plan.  Read more here. As a stakeholder participant who participated in a year’s worth of meetings, I am outraged that five members of the Planning Commission would favor a request from the Real Estate Council of San Antonio over the recommendations of an inclusive panel of stakeholders. (Please note that this is NOT the San Antonio Board of Realtors, which normally represents the industry; realtors who called GEAA to express astonishment at the Planning Commission’s decision did not know anything about RECSA.) On Wednesday (8/3) at 1:30 pm GEAA will join others for a Press Conference on the east steps of City Hall (100 Military Plaza) to call on Mayor Taylor and City Council to reject the recommendation of the Planning Commission and adopt the Sustainability Plan submitted by the Stakeholders Group.  You are all invited. After the Press Conference, we will attend the City Council B Session at Municipal Plaza, where this item will be discussed.  If you are not able to attend, you can watch the meeting on-line. In…

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Being a Texas Master Naturalist According to 2016 Trainees

Becky Breazeale | Each spring, the Highland Lakes Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists has a new training class. Trainees learn about natural resources and conservation management with units of study such as geology and archeology, ecological regions of Texas, land management, weather and climate, and others.  Students meet once a week for twelve weeks. The candidates come from varied backgrounds with most residing in Blanco, Burnett, Llano, and Travis Counties.  This year’s candidates were asked what being a Master Naturalist meant to them and here is what some of them had to say. John Ackerman – Sunrise Beach Being a Highland Lakes Master Naturalist is not just an opportunity to provide volunteer services to many of our local natural areas, but to become much closer to nature in my own life.  It causes me to see nature with a different perspective. It helps me enjoy and enhance the beauty that surrounds us here in the Highland Lakes. Betty Blackmond – Bertam I have always been a nature girl.  My grandparents had a ranch in Texas and I loved to help round up sheep, go fishing, or explore the outdoors. I grew up in the city, but I never lost that…

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REI Awards Cibolo Nature Center and Farm $10K Stewardship Grant

REI San Antonio recently awarded the Cibolo Nature Center & Farm (CNC&F) with a $10K Stewardship Grant which was awarded to select nonprofits that care for the outdoor places its customers use and love. The grant will support National Trails Workday being held at the nature center on June 4 in conjunction with the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day and monthly Second Saturday Volunteer Workday Series throughout the remainder of 2016. “Since our opening in 2012, REI San Antonio has supported CNC&F and is proud to partner with the nature center for a fourth year to connect people with nature and active lifestyles,” said Jeanette M. Honermann, San Antonio Market Coordinator, Outdoor Programs & Outreach. CNC&F has been grateful to partner with REI annually to connect people with nature and active lifestyles. It is through the generosity of CNC&F’s donors and volunteers that they are able to make a special haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts accessible to the public for free.  REI’s partnership in promoting volunteer workdays and maintaining the land and more than three miles of trails assists the nature center greatly in its mission. The National Trails Day on June 4 and the Second Saturday Workdays…

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Celebrating Aldo Leopold’s 129th Birthday

January 11 … It’s the birthday of writer and ecologist Aldo Leopold (books by this author), born in Burlington, Iowa (1887). Aldo grew up in a big, prosperous family, and lived on a 300-acre estate with a lot of his relatives. The whole family spoke German together and worked in the gardens and orchards, where he learned about plants and soil. He went hunting with his dad and bird-watching with his grandfather. While he was studying at Yale, he practiced writing by composing long letters home. Theodore Roosevelt created the U.S. Forest Service in 1901, and a few years after that, Leopold finished his master’s degree and joined the Forest Service. He worked on surveying and drawing maps. When he was in his 20s, he was caught in a storm out in the wilderness and he ended up with kidney disease. For the rest of his life, he had bouts of poor health. And it was during these bouts that he began to write. He wrote Game and Fish Handbook (1915) and Game Management (1933), about wildlife conservation. After 19 years in the Forest Service, he became the Professor of Game Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and bought a…

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The Future of Conservation in Kendall County, Part 2

Part Two – By Brent Evans Here are some selected voices about future conservation efforts. (I have had to edit for brevity.) Mayor Mike Schultz and Pamela Bransford, Public Relations Coordinator for the City of Boerne: “When Boerne’s founding fathers settled in this area, it was a wilderness with plenty of water, good hunting, and lush soil.  These hard working German settlers valued the land along the Cibolo Creek just as we value our hill country surroundings today.  Over the last one hundred and fifty years Boerne’s business and government leaders have worked hand in hand to create this special place through careful stewardship of the land.  Over time, development controls have been implemented to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for this community.” “Even today our community leaders continue their work to perpetuate a water culture that considers water priceless.  Using today’s technology we have new ways to conserve and capture water as well as keep our water clean.  Boerne Utilities has made a substantial investment in a new water reuse system to provide recycled water for outdoor water needs and conserve potable water resources.” “We have an enviable quality of life in Boerne.  I believe that comes partly…

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The Future of Conservation in Kendall County

Part One – By Brent Evans “In the end our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.” – John Sawhill, The Nature Conservancy The beauty of the Hill Country, “the Sweet Spot of Texas”, is its blessing and its curse. Being one of the “most desirable places to live” could attract enough newcomers to gradually grow a community into just another typical bustling American town, with little to distinguish it from thousands of others, losing its legacy trees and historic buildings, creeks and streams, pastures and thickets, hilltops and valleys, tamed into a commercial benefit zone – IF we are not careful. Big boxes and malls, billboards and signs, shouting for our attention, can overshadow what we all migrated here to enjoy. The quality and quantity of our water supply will be our most vital conservation issue in the future, but there are others, like the preservation of historic buildings, scenic beauty, public parks and trails. Some fast growing communities have managed to get out ahead of development, and plan their futures with the active participation of their citizens. In the last decade our locals have been expressing their sentiments…

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Kendall County’s History of Conservation, Part 4

Part Four – By Brent Evans “If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.” – Lyndon B. Johnson. The last decade has seen some serious conservation activity. In 2006 the Kendall County Partnership for Parks was founded, with a mission of promoting the preservation of our natural heritage the development of recreational opportunities. The first County Park was opened with their help in 2007, the 25 acre James Kiehl River Bend Park on the Guadalupe River. The KCPP provided help with a grant from the Kronkosky Foundation, including infastructure and a professionally generated management plan. The county’s second park was acquired in 2007, the 405-acre Joshua Springs Park and Preserve. KCPP assisted with gathering community input and professional advice to develop a master plan, contributed to the infrastructure, and helped open in 2012. Kreutzberg Canyon Natural Area, 117 beautiful acres located along the Guadalupe River, was purchased in early 2009. The KCPP commissioned a professional Habitat Assessment and Wildlife Management Plan, and…

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Kendall County’s History of Conservation, Part 3

Part Three – By Brent Evans Boerne has successfully marketed itself as a beautiful place to visit or live. The Handbook of Texas describes the area: “Throughout its course, Cibolo Creek has been judged to be a ‘scenic’ and ‘picturesque’ stream.  This is particularly true as it passes through Kendall County where a steady flow serves as the basis for Cibolo Nature Center near Boerne. The stream has been dammed to create Boerne City Lake, which provides drinking water for the town’s residents. Further downstream, the creek contributes to the formation of Cascade Caverns”. In 1990 Kendall County was declared a Critical Groundwater Area by the Texas Water Commission, noting that water availability and quality will be at risk within the next 50 years. The “Rule of Capture” was permitting unregulated groundwater pumping. In 2002 voters supported creation of the Cowcreek Underground Water Conservation District. In 1992 the Cibolo Nature Center celebrated the Grand Opening of its new Headquarters, a recycled vintage 1898 building that was moved from Main Street. The Outdoor Classroom began and awards followed from the Texas Forest Service, the Boerne Chamber of Commerce, the Mind Science Foundation, the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, the Texas Parks…

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Kendall County’s History of Conservation, Part 2

Part Two – By Brent Evans Kendall County’s tradition of protecting natural resources has a long history of gradual recognition of needs and spirited citizen action. This the second in a four part series will trace the history of local conservation efforts up to the present, and encourage both public and private conservation strategies. In 1935, Col. Rozelle purchased the Herff Homestead and started Pioneer Apple Orchard, proving fancy apples could be successfully grown in Kendall County. Arriving in 4’X8’ crates from Stark Brothers in Missouri, the trees were submerged in the Cibolo until planted. During the historic drought of the 50’s, some Herffs from downstream of the Rozelles asked them to reduce pumping water from the Cibolo so their cattle could drink, but in short order the creek went dry, the cattle were sold, and the apple orchard dried up. In 1949 Boerne celebrated its Centennial  marketing the town as the “Key to the Hills”. The Chamber of Commerce boasted “good hunting, good fishing, beautiful scenery, modern schools, healthful climate, relaxation and rest. In 1964, the Boerne Chamber of Commerce proclaimed, “Make Boerne your home. High Hills and deep canyons, beautiful trees and scenic drives where you may feast your…

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