December 2013 News Archive
December 29, 2013
Saving Rural Roads: One-Man Mission Turns to Island-wide Effort
Think of our scenic Hill Country roads as you read this story of rural character preservation from Martha’s Vineyard, Vineyard Gazette.
December 23, 2013
HCA welcomes Randall Arendt back to Central Texas January 24th
Join Randall along with local planning professionals for a day full of conservation development and low impact development education. Our region is growing and developing at an alarming rate, this workshop will take a look at ways to grow wonderful communities and conserve the natural resources we depend on. Citizens, elected officials, builders, landowners, students and developers – everyone is welcome. Creative solutions for the future come alive when diverse groups join together to plan for the future. Learn more and register here.
December 19, 2013
Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms
When you picture a housing development in the suburbs, you might imagine golf courses, swimming pools, rows of identical houses. But now, there’s a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity. Read more from NPR.
December 18, 2013
The Examiner speaks of direct discharge as a Hill Country “Land Heist.”
“Terrell Graham and his wife’s family have owned their ranch in the Texas Hill Country for over 100 years. It’s remained a working farm and cattle ranch, and now Texas state government is stealing their land so private developers can discharge treated sewage from 1,500 new homes into the Lux family’s dry creek bed.” Link to this alarming article by Terry Hall here. Direct discharge permits are an issue of concern for water quality in the Hill Country. The Belterra permit in Hays County was legally challenged and ultimately revised for the better. Highland Lakes residents beat a discharge permit in 2009. And currently The City of Dripping Springs in Hays County is preparing to file for a direct discharge permit into Onion Creek. More on this issue on our Water Quality page.
Texas Water Star Program workshop for urban water users set for Feb. 14
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Texas Water Star Program will hold an Earth-Kind landscaping workshop Feb. 14, 2014, at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. “The Earth-Kind techniques that will be covered are research-proven and are designed to provide maximum garden and landscape enjoyment while showing how to preserve and protect the environment.” Learn More
Much At Stake as LCRA Chooses a New Leader
To understand the level of crisis facing the Lower Colorado River Authority, look no further than the three-page job description the agency has drafted in its search for a new general manager. Read more from Texas Tribune.
Winter Trout Fishing Coming to the Beautiful Llano River
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries will be stocking 2,400 rainbow trout into the Llano River near Castell, Texas, on December 18, 2013. This site is a recent addition to the popular winter trout program which provides Texans a unique fishing opportunity during the winter months.Read more from TPWD.
December 15, 2013
Troubled Waters: The State of Texas Rivers
The Texas Tribune examines Texas’ major rivers, all of them threatened by drought, climate change and rapid population growth. Link to the full series and interactive map here. Or, link directly to the story related to a specific Hill Country basin; Colorado, Devils, Guadalupe, San Saba. This valuable series will continue so stay tuned for more revealing reporting from the Texas Tribune.
December 13, 2013
2014 Kent S. Butler Memorial Groundwater Stewardship Scholarship Essay Contest
The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) is now soliciting applications and essays for the 2014 Kent S. Butler Memorial Groundwater Stewardship Scholarship Essay Contest through Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The essay contest is open to high school juniors, seniors, and immediate graduates who reside in the Austin, Eanes, Dripping Springs, Hays Consolidated, Del Valle, and Lockhart school districts. Learn More
West Travis Utility reinstates LCRA development agreement
Neighbors are keeping a watchful eye to make sure the agreement LCRA made as they began expanding waterlines along 290 and then along Hamilton Pool Road stays put. Read the story in Impact News here. Read the full MOU in question here. More insight can be found at www.HPRMatters.com.
December 12, 2013
Christmas tree lighting set Sunday at LBJ State Park
A Hill Country Christmas tradition started by President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) and his family more than four decades ago will continue this Sunday, Dec. 15, in Stonewall. Johnson’s descendants are expected to join with visitors for the 44th Annual LBJ Christmas Tree Lighting and Evening Tours at the LBJ State Park and Historic Site, off U.S. Highway 290. Details
Government Canyon State Natural Area to offer Special Holiday Site Openings, Camping Opportunities
Government Canyon State Natural Area in west Bexar County, which is typically only open to the public Fridays through Mondays, will be open daily from Dec. 20 through Jan. 6 throughout the upcoming holiday season. Additional camping nights during the Christmas holidays will be offered. Learn More
Texas Land Conservation Conference Set for Feb 26-28, 2014
Topics include conservation easement negotiation and amendment, bridge financing and other conservation funding issues, Texas water policy, legal issues, endangered species, conservation easement appraisals, conservation on agricultural lands, public-private partnerships for conservation, and much more. Learn More
Sports field lighting doesn’t have to light the night sky
“The lighting systems are visible for miles around and produce a substantial amount of sky glow and light pollution… It is essentially impossible to mitigate the impact these types of facilities have on the surrounding areas.” This is a significant issue in the Hill Country but it is one that is fairly easy to correct with some cooperation and good neighbor lighting. Learn about Recommended Practice (RP) from the International Dark Sky Association.
December 11, 2013
Planning for growth centers reduces the cost of infrastructure
Our region is not focused as it once was on Envision Central Texas, a program that was admired nationally for its collaborative nature and “growth centers” concept. Other regions are moving in this direction. Utah for example, is launching a program with a similar focus, “centers would allow people to live, work and play in the same area, and drive less and walk or bike more. It would save billions in roads that would not need to be built, conserve water, reduce air pollution, preserve open space and cut traffic congestion.” Read more from the Salt Lake City Tribune.
December 10, 2013
Why prairies matter and lawns don’t
As native landscapes disappear, wildlife disappears, and important ecological processes that insure outcomes such as clean drinking water, climate change buffers, and flood control also disappear. Read more from Healthylandandethic.com.
December 9, 2013
Here’s What Climate Change and Urban Sprawl Look Like in Texas
The climate is changing, and Texas is growing. For a bird’s eye view of these developments, NASA has put together a ‘State of Flux‘ image gallery that shows how climate change, urbanization, and natural disasters have changed certain geographic features in Texas, and across the world. The gallery puts two satellite images side-by-side to show the changes. Read more from State Impact Texas.
December 5, 2013
A new path forward for TWDB
On Sept. 1, 2013, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) began serving the citizens of Texas under a new management structure with three full-time Board members. Between that time and the successful passage of Proposition 6 on Nov. 5, both the new Board members and agency staff have been hard at work preparing to implement the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and to respond to other new legislation. Read More
Hot Seat: A Conversation With Campbell and Isaac
Tune in as Evan Smith from the Texas Tribune hosts a conversation with two Hill Country legislators, Senator Donna Campbell and Representative Jason Isaac. Learn More
Austin leads Texas cities in shift away from vehicle use
Mirroring trends seen elsewhere in the nation, Texans living in urban areas are driving less, according to a report from think tank TexPIRG. The report’s authors say the decreased driving trend means that policymakers should be shifting infrastructure funding priorities away from road projects and into alternative modes of transportation. Read full article from Austin Business Journal.
Partnerships Revitalize Fishing at Inks Lake, a Hill Country Gem
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries and State Parks divisions have partnered with other private groups to develop habitat enhancement projects to improve fishing opportunities at Inks Lake the past three years. More from TPWD.
Where did all the stars go?
Big Bend National Park is one of the darkest place in the U.S. but the Hill Country is quickly losing the night, “…much outdoor lighting used at night is wildly inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded, and, in many cases, completely unnecessary.” Read this story published in the December issue of Men’s Journal featuring HCA Night Sky Team member and frequent guest speaker Bill Wren of the McDonald Observatory.
December 4, 2013
Is the Drought Over Yet?
Across the Hill Country, other aquifers, which provide vital spring water for many rivers, are very low and many of their springs and seeps have dried up. These aquifer-fed springs are not only key to local ranchers, but to maintaining river flows in the upper Nueces, Guadalupe and Colorado river basins. Read full article by Mike Mecke in Ranch and Rural Living Magazine.
For Groundwater, Political Boundaries Trump Natural Ones
Second in five part series by Texas Tribune: “Like any natural resource, the precious groundwater that flows under Texas’ land does not follow political boundaries. The state is home to nine major and 21 minor aquifers, some of which stretch across the entire state and have segments with wildly different hydrologic properties. Yet at a time when thirsty cities and industries are clamoring for groundwater more than ever, the resource is regulated by nearly 100 entities drawn along political boundaries such as county lines, in part because groundwater is considered a private property right in Texas.” Read more from Texas Tribune.
December 3, 2013
New Cow Creek District 1 Director named to replace Kight
Bob Webster, a staunch advocate of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District tapped to fill vacancy on Board of Directors. Webster, the “public” at nearly all of the GCD meetings, is the host of The Garden Show on KTSA AM 550 San Antonio and serves as an advisory board member of the Hill Country Alliance. Learn more from the Boerne Star.