Oil companies are building pipelines wherever they want in Texas

Oil companies are building pipelines wherever they want in Texas

Just southwest of Austin, TX sits a 14,000 square-mile region known as the Hill Country. To those unfamiliar, picture it as a Texas version of California Wine Country. Each year, the region draws an estimated 30 million visitors with its natural beauty or the drinking and upscale shopping. Oil and gas operators working in more industrial parts of the state have typically looped their pipelines around the Hill Country rather than go through it, such as the Cactus II pipeline…

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New Texas conservation area boasts hundreds of springs

New Texas conservation area boasts hundreds of springs

The Nature Conservancy has acquired a conservation easement on 1,640 acres owned by landowner Gary Krause, preserving its unique natural features for future generations, according to a news release. The easement was funded in part by the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program, overseen by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Krause donated part of the value of the easement as a…

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‘When, not if it happens’: Factors favor possible Austin megawildfire event

‘When, not if it happens’: Factors favor possible Austin megawildfire event

All it will take for Central Texas to become the next area engulfed by catastrophic wildfires like those seen in Australia is a dry spring and summer, an errant flame and sustained winds. Travis County fire officials say the likelihood of such a megafire event is just a matter of time. A recent report released by CoreLogic, an online property data service, ranked Austin fifth among metropolitan areas in the nation most at risk for wildfires. The only others in…

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Commentary: San Antonio should vote on aquifer protection, greenway trails

Commentary: San Antonio should vote on aquifer protection, greenway trails

Since 2000, San Antonians have voted every five years to dedicate a portion of our sales taxes to the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program, or EAPP. Residents are rightfully proud of a program recognized internationally as an elegant solution to protecting our primary source of water. Absent adequate regulation to protect the quality of San Antonio’s Edwards Aquifer water supply, we have opted to pay those who own land in the Edwards watershed for the ecological services they provide. Perhaps we…

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Local family dedicates Hill Country ranch to conservation

Local family dedicates Hill Country ranch to conservation

Jason and Ashley Roberts partnered with Colorado River Land Trust to protect their family ranch from future development in the rapidly growing area of San Marcos, Texas. Riding horseback across the wide-open spaces of the Hill Country is one of the most iconic images of Texas. With the rapid growth and development along the I-35 corridor in Central Texas, these open spaces are being threatened by conversion to neighborhoods and shopping centers. Hays County has quickly become one of the…

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As drought persists, Texas ranchers take stock

As drought persists, Texas ranchers take stock

Cattle ranchers in the Texas Hill Country are facing a tough decision after months of drought. “You have to decide where’s your quitting point in terms of buying feed, buying hay and feeding your animals,” says Jamie Osbourn, an agent with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension office in Llano County. Llano is one of a handful of counties in the state experiencing severe drought. Gregg County is another, and other East Texas counties also are suffering. Federal data showed most…

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San Antonio mayor navigating troubled waters over plan to reroute aquifer protection tax funding

San Antonio mayor navigating troubled waters over plan to reroute aquifer protection tax funding

A plan to improve public transit by rerouting money from a popular program aimed at protecting the Edwards Aquifer has hit rough waters. Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff want to redirect $40 million a year from a 1/8-cent sales tax that pays for aquifer protection, linear parks and creekways to VIA Metropolitan Transit for better bus service and other transit initiatives. San Antonio voters would have the final say, because they have to decide whether to…

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Council may pump $100K into Permian pipeline legal battle

Council may pump $100K into Permian pipeline legal battle

Austin City Council members will vote on a resolution Thursday earmarking as much as $100,000 to the city manager to participate in civil litigation against the Permian Highway Pipeline. The 42-inch, 430-mile buried natural gas pipeline would run from just north of Fort Stockton in West Texas through the Texas Hill Country en route to the Houston area. It has drawn the ire of landowners and local governments along its route who have raised concerns about both property rights and…

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Hill Country Conservancy is now accepting pre-applications for funding of conservation easements through the Hill Country Headwaters Conservation Initiative

Hill Country Conservancy is now accepting pre-applications for funding of conservation easements through the Hill Country Headwaters Conservation Initiative

The Hill Country Headwaters Conservation Initiative (HCHCI), a program of Hill Country Conservancy, the Texas Hill Country Conservation Network and 18 partner organizations, is now accepting pre-applications from landowners located within specified critical river basins. The HCHCI has a $2.1 million pledge, awarded by the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, for the purchase of conservation easements from willing landowners. “Private landowners throughout the Texas Hill Country are caring daily for our precious natural resources, growing our food, and keeping our land beautiful, often without recognition or compensation for…

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Is Central Texas prepared for another major wildfire?

Is Central Texas prepared for another major wildfire?

The deadly wildfires in Australia are bringing a lot of attention to fire dangers – even here at home. Right now, Central Texas is in a drought and the big question is: Are we prepared for a big wildfire? This area has seen big fires before, like the one in Bastrop County in 2011, which burned up almost all of Bastrop State Park and killed two people. More recently, there have been smaller ones, like the Manchaca fire in South…

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