February 28, 2010

State aims to make groundwater rules more uniform

With just about every drop of river water already spoken for, suppliers, especially in Central Texas, are turning to underground water in counties to the east as the next big source. But they face a problem because groundwater districts, set up as individual fiefdoms meant to reflect local histories and philosophies about water and land use, have different permitting rules and sensibilities. Read full Statesman.com article here.

February 24, 2010

Power Line Concerns Draw More Than 500

More than 500 citizens from Gillespie County gathered at Pioneer Pavilion Thursday for a transmission line open house held by the Lower Colorado River Authority. Read full Fredericksburg Standard article here.

GMA9 decides on more public hearings

The board of GMA9 has decided to hold three more public hearings — in Kerrville, Wimberley and Boerne — in the coming months before it establishes new Desired Future Conditions for the Edwards Aquifer. Read full Kerrville Daily Times article here.

Transfer of Development Rights at work

The Regional Water Quality Protection Plan calls for a system of TDRs or Transfer of Development Rights where developers are allowed to increase density in cities by purchasing the development rights on land that has been designated for preservation in rural areas. Find out how this is working in Washingtonhere. What’s missing in Texas is a county or regional tool for implementing such a program outside the municipalities.

Baldcypress carries drought information

Researchers from the University of Arkansas are conducting a tree ring study of baldcypress trees around the region. Core samples taken from the trees will establish a record of rainfall for the region and gain insight into just how long droughts can last in Texas. Read full San Antonio Express article here.

Dept. of Interior Launches WaterSMART Initiative

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a Secretarial order establishing a new water sustainability strategy for the United States on February 22. The “WaterSMART” Secretarial Order has several parts, all of which are focused on improving water conservation and helping water and resource managers make wise decisions about water use. Read full Smarth Growth Online article here.

February 22, 2010

2010 Hill Country Alliance Photo Contest begins March 1st

The Texas Hill Country is a photographer’s paradise. Creeks are once again flowing, and the forecast calls for a green spring with plenty of wildflowers. Now is the time to dust off your camera and head outside to capture the beauty and mystique of this special region. Read full media release here.

A Hill Country Victory – Developer agrees to scale back

San Geronimo Valley Alliance (“SGVA”) announces that a settlement agreement has been finalized between SGVA and the developer of the proposed Hills of Castle Rock development located ten miles northwest of Helotes. For details about the settlement click here.

February 21, 2010

PEC board ready to cement new rules

Over the past few years, Pedernales Electric Cooperative has become associated less with its historical role of supplying power to the Texas Hill Country and more with lavish spending, secretive management and legal woes. After beginning a series of reforms in 2008, the Pedernales board is poised today to enact new bylaws and proposed amendments to the organization’s articles of incorporation that will make the changes permanent. Read full Statesman.com article here.

February 18, 2010

House Committee on Special Districts

Speaker Joe Straus announced the creation of the House Select Committee on Special Purpose Districts. The committee will review and make recommendations for improving public accountability and transparency in the governance and operation of special purpose districts with particular focus on water-related districts. Read more…

February 17, 2010

The language of water politics is often murky

If you’re out of the habit of talking to folks who study water policy for a living, meetings on its future in Texas can feel like they’re unfolding in a language you do not speak. You study people’s faces for signs: the knowing nods at phrases like “rule of capture” and “prior appropriation.” You hope no one asks you a question. But you can learn things if you’re patient, though you might have to do your own translating. And some of what you learn is alarming. Read full SA Express article here.

Gillespie County residents heat up over transmission lines

A new website has been launched offering a “plea for common sense” in the Hill Country and information about LCRA plans. The site encourages landowners to sign a petition urging specific action. Click here.

2010 HCA Calendar close out sale!

We have a few boxes of calendars left and would love to find them good homes. They are terrific for distributing at community events, festivals, schools and neighborhoods. Conatact HCA to find out about ordering some for yourself your organization or your business.

Water Symposium Essay Contest – Inform your schools!

Schreiner University and the Water Symposium project announce a student essay contest for elementary, middle and high school students. “Kids, Water and Science: Perspectives from our Future”. Learn more…

February 16, 2010

Clear View Alliance exhibits Model of Monstrous Lattice Tower at LCRA Open Houses

To illustrate the impact that lattice towers will have on the Hill Country viewscape, Clear View Alliance members (CVA) worked all last week to build a surprise for those who attend the Lower Colorado River Valley Authority (LCRA) Open Houses on transmission line routes in the coming weeks. Read full CVA article here.

Farm & Range Forum Tackles Sustaining the Texas Hill Country and Honors David Langford with Keystone Award

On February 26th and 27th, 2010, the Bexar Audubon Society, Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, the Hill Country Alliance, the Texas Wildlife Association, and the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service will host the 7th Farm & Range Forum, “Sustaining the Hill Country — Now and for Future Generations.” – Read more here.

February 15, 2010

Shock Treatment – Negotiating Transmission Line Easements

The Trans-Texas Corridor threatened to take massive amounts of land for transportation purposes before the project was scrapped. Now, with wind turbines sprouting up across Texas, the need for transmission lines sets the stage for more condemnation of private land. Read more here.

February 13, 2010

Cow Creek GCW plans to challenge GMA ruling

In an effort to protect Boerne’s surface water sources, the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District board approved a resolution Monday challenging the Texas Water Development Board’s recent decision that the desired future conditions adopted by the executive committee of Groundwater Management Area 9 are unreasonable. Read full Boerne Star article here.

February 10, 2010

Edward Aquifer moves towards impervious cover limits in the Hill Country

The board of the Edwards Aquifer Authority on Tuesday moved toward limiting development over the entire recharge zone of the aquifer from Hays to Uvalde counties. Controlling the amount of impervious cover, or the square footage of parking lots and roofs, on top of the recharge zone is a step the authority has contemplated since 2003 to protect water quality. Read full SA Express article here.

Registration opens for Land Conservation Conference

Don’t miss early bird savings – register today for the 2010 Statewide Land Conservation Conference hosted by the Texas Land Trust Council and underwritten by Land/Water/Sky. Held April 28-30 this is a great opportunity to share and learn with the conservation and land trust community. Details and Registration

LCRA Open House: Community Values and High Voltage Transmission Lines

Citizens of the Hill Country have strong community values. The LCRA and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) take notice when the public stands up and takes pride in its community values. Read more…

February 9, 2010

Dahlstrom Ranch Preserved for Future Generations

A rare collaboration to preserve and restore a threatened Texas ranch makes conservation history. Find out more from the Hill Country Conservancy here.

Hays County calls for Rainwater Revival Volunteers

Calling all rainwater enthusiasts…join us February 23rd at 6:30 to participate in the planning of the Hays County Rainwater Revival. Learn more here.

Wildlife and Habitat Notes

Check out a terrific new newsletter bringing ideas to Hill Country landowners for best practices and conservation land management. Read it here.

February 8, 2010

Must Read for Hill Country Landowners

Jim Stanley’s The Hill Country Landowner’s Guide, available from TAMU Press, is a practical guide to for all Hill Country landowners and everyone interested in Hill Country preservation. A Texas master naturalist specializing in native plants and land management, Jim served three terms as president of the Hill Country chapter of Texas Master Naturalists. He is also an active member of the Native Plant Society of Texas and the Riverside Nature Center in Kerrville, Texas. More

February 7, 2010

Wind-generated electricity will require wide swaths of land

The vast wind farms of West Texas promise to put a dent in the demand for coal-fired electric plants. But delivering that green energy to where it’s needed most — the state’s biggest cities — will leave scars on some of the most coveted land. Read full SA Express article here.

PLTA opposes discharge into Lake Travis

The latest Protect Lake Travis Association newsletter follows Lake Travis issues such as a proposed discharge permit in Burnet, why it is being protested and the LCRA Water resource planning process. Read more

February 6, 2010

Bandera settles with business refusing water

A two-year standoff is ending between the city and a businesswoman who refused to take municipal water because she’d installed a rainwater catchment system on her new building. Read full SA Express article here.

February 4, 2010

Preservation Texas Names Herff Farm in Boerne to its Seventh Annual List of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places

Herff Farm, a historic farmstead in the German-settled Texas Hill Country in Kendall County, is one of seven sites that Preservation Texas, Inc. has named to its seventh annual list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places. Read full media release here.

Hearing begins for hotly debated power line route

In a case that will help determine the final route of a proposed transmission line hooking up West Texas wind farms to the state’s population centers, private landowners and the Lower Colorado River Authority will square off today before an administrative law judge. Read full Statesman.com article here.

LCRA TSC hosts seven transmission project open houses in February to gather public input

LCRA Transmission Services Corporation (LCRA TSC) invites the public to attend open houses planned in February in Junction, Menard, Mason, Fredericksburg, Eldorado, Kerrville and Sonora concerning a new transmission line project expected to be built by 2013. The project may impact Schleicher, Sutton, Menard, Kimble, Mason, Kerr, Kendall and Gillespie counties. Read more here.

February 2, 2010

Texas Rancher An Unlikely Environmentalist

J David Bamberger “has become a champion of land stewardship and habitat restoration… and it’s rubbing off on his fellow ranchers”. NPR featured a wonderful story about Bamberger Ranch last week. Just in case you missed it… read it here.

Langford Selected for Inaugural Keystone Award for Lifetime Contributions to Land and Wildlife Conservation

David K. Langford is a steadfast conservationist, well-respected regionally and nationally. In recognition of his lifetime of service conserving our agricultural heritage and protecting native wildlife, wildlife habitat, and natural lands in Texas, Langford will receive the inaugural Keystone Award at a reception held at Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas, from 5:00 to 7:00pm, Friday, February 26th. Read full release here.

Envision Central Texas Community Stewardship Awards

Apply now for the ECT Community Stewardship Awards. Nominations are accepted through February 26th. ECT honors people, projects and processes that help advance the ECT preferred growth vision. Learn more here.

February 1, 2010

Hill Country Energy Transmission Lines – the process continues

Gillespie County citizen’s group, Save our Scenic Hill Country Environment recently posted updates regarding the push for monopoles, public meetings regarding routes, news stories and the PUC process. Details