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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

Hill Country communities can pursue Dark Sky designation following new state law

Across the more remote pockets of Hill Country, several communities are looking to attract tourism dollars and increase the quality of life for residents by utilizing a precious, shrinking natural resource—darkness—or rather, the absence of artificial light. With the authorization of a recent state bill, Senate Bill 1090, cities across Texas can again apply for a…

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Comal County seeks grants for conservation purchases

Preserving Comal County’s wide-open spaces hasn’t been at the top of the county’s to-do list, but commissioners took steps in that direction last week. Last Thursday, they selected Moriarty & Associates LLC to pursue funding for county land acquisitions for wildlife conservation and water source protection. It approved $4,500 for the firm to prepare county applications…

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AgriLife, Hill Country Alliance, and Gillespie County partners host Kolaches and Conservation event

(August 20, 2021) — On Tuesday, September 14th, the Gillespie County AgriLife Extension and partners will host the annual “Kolaches and Conservation” event at the Extension Office from 8:30 am – 10:30 am. This informal event encourages landowners who have questions about wildlife habitat, trees, riparian management, soil health, farming, ranching, and controlling non-native, invasive plants…

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County to turn off lights in summer and fall to protect songbirds

The Travis County Commissioners Court passed a resolution Tuesday that will mandate county buildings to turn off all nonessential lights from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. during key migration periods for migrating songbirds. The Lights Off initiative will be in effect annually from March 1-June 15 and from Aug. 15-Nov. 30.   Read more from Seth Smalley with…

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