An unlikely environmentalist with an eye on the future

An unlikely environmentalist with an eye on the future

I’m an unlikely environmentalist. I spent most of my working life with a state transportation agency. I was an advocate for investments in safe efficient highways. Suffice it to say, I made few friends among those who worked for environmental groups. Ironically, I often agreed with their positions. I valued clean water and air and open natural spaces. What was frustrating is that they almost never offered any support for my view that safe and efficient highways saved lives and…

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Mysterious creatures: Exploring the depths of our karst aquifers

Mysterious creatures: Exploring the depths of our karst aquifers

“These ecosystems harbor some really amazing species,” said Dr. Ben Hutchins at the most recent Texas Water Symposium forum on Wednesday, November 13 at Schreiner University in Kerrville. Referencing the plethora of creatures that reside within Texas’ karst aquifers, Hutchins continued, “A lot of these are crustaceans; you may be familiar with shrimp, but relatively few people have seen a Texas Blind Cave Shrimp. These species occur sometimes at great depths. We have records from close to 2,000 feet under…

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Former Boy Scout camp will become next Hill Country swimming hole after Tuesday vote

Former Boy Scout camp will become next Hill Country swimming hole after Tuesday vote

Hays County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to put up about half the money to buy a portion of the former El Rancho Cima Boy Scout camp along the Blanco River. The Nature Conservancy pledged the other half of the $13 million price tag in a bid to acquire the 536-acre plot to turn the plot into a reservation-based recreation and swimming area, similar to Hamilton Pool or Jacob’s Well (another partnership between the county and the Conservancy). The conservation…

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Nirenberg calls for shifting sales tax to VIA Transit, away from Aquifer Protection

Nirenberg calls for shifting sales tax to VIA Transit, away from Aquifer Protection

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined other local leaders this week in calling for  a one-eighth-cent sales tax to be redirected towards funding mass transit – and away from popular water quality protection and trailway programs. Voters would need to approve the new appropriation of the existing tax, and City Council’s OK is is required to set the ballot language for the November 2020 election. The Advanced Transportation District board, comprising VIA Metropolitan Transit board members, would first call for…

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Efforts encouraging Texas ranchers to restore native grasses show promise

Efforts encouraging Texas ranchers to restore native grasses show promise

There aren’t many pastures with native grasses left in Texas. Instead there are invasive weeds like bermudagrass and Old World bluestem. Some Texas landowners and nonprofits are working together to change that. Restoring native grasslands takes years and is an arduous process. But the payout is significant, because when native flora returns, fauna are often not far behind. For example, bobwhite quail are popular and profitable as hunting game. Once a native grassland is established, it requires less weed control…

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Axis deer population control in Texas

Axis deer population control in Texas

Axis Deer Control Warranted Gillespie County AgriLife Extension and Hill Country Alliance have launched the Axis Deer Control Project and are encouraging landowners and hunters to participate. Axis deer are an exotic species that were introduced from India to the Texas Hill Country in the 1930s. Since their introduction, this species has proliferated in several portions of Gillespie County, adversely impacting native wildlife, particularly white-tailed deer. Exotic species such as Axis deer can out-compete native white-tailed deer because of their…

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Saving Part of the Former Boy Scout Ranch

Saving Part of the Former Boy Scout Ranch

An old saying tells us to invest in land because they aren’t making any more. That saying could be updated to say: Invest in undisturbed natural land because each day there is less of it! Unfortunately, the updated version is very true, which is why we need to take advantage of opportunities to protect such undisturbed natural land when they become available. Such an opportunity now exists in the former Boy Scout Ranch, El Rancho Cima. For more than sixty…

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Landowners got one Hill Country oil pipeline moved. But can they do it again?

Landowners got one Hill Country oil pipeline moved. But can they do it again?

A month after news surfaced that a pipeline proposed by a Texas-based petroleum juggernaut would run across the Edwards Aquifer, the primary source of water for San Antonio and other cities, the company said it would shift the pipeline’s path. It was a difference of approximately 65 miles, and Hill Country residents opposing the project cheered the change—a major victory given that the oil and gas industry typically doesn’t kowtow to landowners’ concerns. So why the monumental move by Enterprise…

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ULI releases report for “Activating the San Marcos Riverfront”

ULI releases report for “Activating the San Marcos Riverfront”

The Urban Land Institute released a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) report regarding land use along the San Marcos River in August. The City of San Marcos, the Greater San Marcos Partnership and Texas State University partnered with the Austin District Council of Urban Land Institute in Fall 2018 to examine land use along the San Marcos River. According to the report, “the Technical Assistance Panel offers recommendations for ways to unlock economic potential by making the river more connected to…

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Hays County plans to transform El Rancho Cima into public park along Blanco River

Hays County plans to transform El Rancho Cima into public park along Blanco River

HAYS COUNTY, Texas — It’s something many Wimberley residents have been aching for: a public park with waterfront access. Hays County has the ability to secure 533 acres of El Rancho Cima El Rancho Cima is a nearly 2,400 acre property County might use land for public park Now, that dream could finally come to fruition. Hays County has the ability to secure 533 acres of El Rancho Cima, with land on both sides of the Blanco River. This purchase would give the public…

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