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The Hill Country Alliance served as the client for an advanced GIS class at ACC last fall. The students investigated a variety of Hill Country issues, ranging from the rapid spread of invasive Arundo donax in the urban creeks of Fredericksburg to the relative value of conservation developments to traditional developed land.

Blanco River Floodplain Analysis

FEMA is engaged in a Flood Recovery Mapping project which includes the delineation of Advisory Floodplains mapped to the 100yr and 500yr flood elevations. The ABFE data is intended to be used as a tool for Federal, State, and local officials, building officials, planning staff, builders and architects, insurance professionals, and property owners to make informed decisions during rebuilding and to mitigate against losses from future flood events.

Conservation Subdivision Value

A conservation subdivision is created when developers set aside a substantial portion of the buildable land in an area to be left in a more natural state for use as wildlife habitat, open spaces or farmland. Conservation subdivision pioneered Randal Arendt describes the concept as “The golf course development without the golf course.” In preserving natural areas, developers potentially protect species and ecosystems while providing residents access to recreational areas.

Fredericksburg Arundo Inventory

Arundo Grass, or Giant Reed, is a tall perennial grass that can grow to over 20 feet in height. It was introduced from Asia, Africa, and Europe in the early 1800’s. Since then it has been widely dispersed throughout the Southern United States. The species can grow as much as four inches a day, reaching its mature height in only 12 months. Arundo grows in very dense clumps which can block out native plants and choke waterways and interfere with flood control.

Hill Country Commuting Analysis

The goal of this analysis is to determine where people of the rural Texas Hill Country are living and working as a service project for the Hill Country Alliance. We have analyzed the top  5 zip codes by population density of Hill Country workers, the ten zip codes where they are working, and their resulting road traffic. This demonstrates commuting patterns and potential stressors for the limited resources of the Texas Hill Country.

Hill Country Overlay Analysis

Ask where the Hill Country is and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Intrigued by this question, ACC Geography Professor Don Jonsson collected 100 published maps then worked with ACC GIS Professor Sean Moran and former ACC GIS Student Angela Smith to map each unique Hill Country boundary in a GIS, compile the boundaries into a single heat map and produce a statistical ellipse and mean center.

Mining Impact on Watersheds

The nature of mining processes in the Texas Hill Country create a potential negative impact on the environment both during the mining operations for years after the mine is closed. These negative impacts include disturbing land, vegetation , and waterways; erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity; contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water; producing dust, vibration , noise and traffic; and impacting view sheds and cultural heritage.