The Hill Country Alliance
The Hill Country Alliance (HCA) is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise public awareness and build community support around the need to preserve the natural resources and heritage of the Central Texas Hill Country.
HCA is an “amazing organization which connects fragmented groups of folks who share a common energy, and then lets the sparks fly and new life come into important topics affecting the Hill Country.” ~ Paul Sumrall, Rice Construction Company, HCA Advisory Board Member, Blanco County; November, 2011
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.
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.Learn more about the Water Program
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.Learn more about the Land Program
Although the Hill Country sits on the edge of the night, eight out of ten children 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.Learn more about the Night Sky Program
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.Learn more about the Community Program
Who is HCA?
The HCA team has grown tremendously in recent years and is made up of nearly a dozen staff members and another dozen board members. This has created a passionate and geographically diverse group, with experience and expertise in land stewardship, scenic protection, groundwater supply, county authority, subdivision rules, public and private land conservation, land planning, grassroots organizing and more across the 17-counties we serve.
Our program areas rely on community volunteers and partner organizations for energy and expertise on targeting issues. We also have a growing number of supporters who pass along information to a network of more than 7,000 Central Texans.
Why was HCA organized?
HCA was formed in response to the escalating challenges brought to the Texas Hill country by rapid development occurring in a sensitive eco-system. Concerned citizens began meeting in September of 2004 to share ideas about strengthening community activism and educating the public about water supply issues, scenic and night sky protection, land conservation and a more responsible approach growth in the Hill Country.
What does HCA believe?
The Hill Country Alliance promotes responsible and planned growth in a region under tremendous pressure to urbanize. We are neighbors who work cooperatively with landowners, ranchers, conservationists, developers and elected officials to preserve the water quality, water supply and natural beauty of our community. We believe a strong economic future for this region depends on our ability to direct growth in a way that conserves the very resources that make the Texas Hill Country such a desirable place to live. We encourage an open, fair and public process where citizens, neighborhoods and landowners participate in key decisions that will determine the future of our community.
What does HCA do?
Since the beginning, HCA’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. HCA authors and publishes position papers on our Web site which are appropriate and pertinent to our mission. Additionally, we serve as a resource about Hill Country issues for elected officials at state and local levels, and we collaborate regularly with land trusts, universities, groundwater districts, government agencies, environmental groups and landowners.
2022 Annual Report
Thanks to you and your support, 2022 was HCA’s biggest single year of impact for the Hill Country. Our efforts led to more than $30 million new dollars to support landowners interested in conservation and stewardship of their land. We reached broad audiences across Texas, with dozens of news stories and op-eds. We saw new protections for our night skies in San Antonio and Kerrville and kicked off a brand-new grassroots water gathering to convene residents and organizations championing the responsible management of our water resources. Click here to view the most recent Hill Country Alliance Annual Report.