January 28, 2013

Why is Texas out of water during severe droughts?

Bringing science to policy is one of HCA’s core goals. As HCA Technical Advisor Raymond Slade explains, “Three major schemes are needed: (1) increased conservation of water to minimize waste, (2) funding for at least some of the most-promising Water Management Strategies, and (3) consistent water-use regulation for both groundwater and surface water.” Read the whole story here.

Laura Bush moved to tears in S.A. speech

Former first lady Laura Bush choked back tears at an environmental summit here Friday as she talked about looking forward to spreading a blanket on the grass and pointing out constellations in the night sky to her grandchild. It’s something her mother had done with her and it helped instill a deep appreciation of nature, she said. Read more from SA Express-News

January 24, 2013

If Texas Water Plan Is Funded, Where Will The Money Go?

state legislators say they are serious about funding the plan, but what projects may get receiving funding remains a mystery. Read more from State Impact.

With another legislative session under way, state parks are in jeopardy — at least in theory

Tucked into an early draft of budgets put together by the state Legislature: Handing off at least seven parks on the state rolls. In theory, the budget could eventually be harsher: Texas might have to close 20 of its 95 state parks unless the Legislature approves $18.9 million in additional funding, officials at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said. Read full story from Statesman.com.

San Antonio Mayor Castro Says he will seek 3rd Term

Mayor Julián Castro announced via YouTube video Wednesday that he plans to seek re-election to a third term in office and will announce as much at an event set for February 2. Read full story from SA Express-News.

“An exceptionally good year” Tim Lehmberg, Gillespie County Economic Development Commission

While the economic climate may be more tumultuous nationally, local residents have less to fear, according to an annual report from Gillespie County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Tim Lehmberg. More from Fredericksburg Standard.

January 23, 2013

Scenic America fights for the Highway Beautification Act

Lady Bird Johnson was a driving force behind the Highway Beautification Act (HBA) which required states to establish lighting standards for billboards along federal highways. Scenic Texas filed a federal lawsuit to return to those intentions. Digital billboards devalue private property and have increased by 400% since rules were watered down in 2007. Learn more from Scenic Texas here. Learn more about Hill Country scenic issues here.

Conserving Land Conserves Water – Connect and Learn about Land Conservation Feb 27 – March 1 in Austin

The Texas Land Trust Council presents the 2013 Texas Land Conservation Conference. If you are a landowner interested in conserving your land, a policy maker interested in conservation easements or someone wondering more about the land/water connection and why land trusts are so important, make plans now to attend. Registration is open, sponsorships are available now. We’ll see you there! Learn more. An HCA primer about Hill Country Land Trusts is available here.

HCA joins Coalition for Environmental Literacy

For the generation of the great indoors, when most Texans don’t know where their drinking water comes from and may struggle to navigate similar environmental issues, a broad coalition of statewide natural resource and education leaders is gathering in San Antonio Friday, Jan. 25 to start implementing the Texas Natural Resource/Environmental Literacy Plan. First Lady Laura Bush will deliver the keynote address at 11:30 am. Learn More

Senator Watson files bill for native landscaping

SB 198 allows for the installation of more drought-proof landscapes, limiting a homeowners association’s ability to prevent responsible Texans from installing xeriscaped or more efficient yards and landscapes or installing rainwater collection systems. Read why environmental groups support this proposal here. Read “In Battle Between Lawns and HOA’s…” from State Impact Texas here. More from HCA about native landscaping and why it’s important for our water supply here.

January 22, 2013

Cibolo Nature Center seeks community input

to plan future programs for the next generation As the Cibolo Nature Center marks its 25th anniversary this year, the non-profit organization’s staff and board members are looking toward the future – and are inviting members of the community to provide their input into how the CNC moves forward to serve future generations. Learn More

January 18, 2013

Groundwater Policy Recommendations from the Texas Center for Policy Studies

Seven recommendations are discussed in this report to the Texas Legislature as we begin the 83rd session. It is essential to ensure that groundwater resources in Texas can be managed sustainably and in coordination with the state’s surface water resources. Read the full report here. An executive summary is also available here. And, HCA’s Issue Paper “Surface and Groundwater Integration”.

January 17, 2013

The 83rd Texas Legislature convened last week

HCA will be keeping an eye on the Legislative Session, particularly as they negotiate issues related to the State Water Plan, groundwater management, parks and land conservation. Watch along with us and keep current with the helpful resources here.

Charting New Waters – Watershed payments make sense

Investing in land and rewarding landowners to take care of land is a smart investment for long-term water needs. Far less expensive than massive industrial infrastructure, taking care of water catchment areas (watersheds) will provide natural infrastructure for capturing, cleansing and storing the water we need for future generations. Learn more from the Ecosystem Market Place.

New Legislative Budget Board Staff Report Underscores the Role of Water Conservation and Drought Response in Meeting Texas Water Needs

“The findings and recommendations of the LBB staff on enhancing state participation in municipal water conservation confirm what conservationists have contended for years,” said Ken Kramer, Sierra Club Water Resources Chair, “Effective water conservation and drought response measures save water and money, and the more the State of Texas supports or requires these measures the more water suppliers may delay or avoid many costly infrastructure projects.” Read More

January 16, 2013

A packed house in the Hill Country hears water projections and warnings about urban needs

“Almost the entire state is owned by private citizens, and we are in better condition because of their stewardship” stated Andy Sansom at the recent Water Forum in Fredericksburg, “But the biggest terrestrial issue we face is that family members are leaving their land and the fracture of that land. We’re building roads, malls and parking lots, and every time that is done, we interrupt the hydrologic cycle.” Read the full story By Fredericksburg Standard editor, Ken Esten Cooke.

Rainwater Revival Sets Grant Application Deadline for Hill Country Schools

Hill Country schools in 17 counties are now eligible to apply for grants funded by professionally painted “art rain barrels” auctioned at the highly successful 2012 Rainwater Revival, held in Boerne in October. Learn More

January 15, 2013

Stubborn drought, dry forecast drives emergency request

Facing a record-breaking drought with no end in sight, the Lower Colorado River Authority has again asked the state to allow us to not release water from the Highland Lakes for most downstream farmers this year unless substantial rainfall replenishes the reservoirs. LCRA’s Board of Directors took that action Jan. 8 for the second year in a row. Last year was the first time most rice farmers didn’t get any Highland Lakes water. Read More

Wildlife Tax Valuation Workshop

Do you have an agriculture tax valuation on your land? Are you interested in managing for wildlife? This in depth three-part seminar is especially for owners with more than 20 acres and emphasizes wildlife management strategies that improve native habitat and increase species diversity. Learn More

Milan J. Michalec Takes the Helm at Hill Country Alliance

As new president of Hill Country Alliance (HCA), Milan Michalec says he wants to see the organization lead the discussion on topics such as county authority and the State Water Plan, not just participate. “I want to be able to take advantage of the tools we’ve developed in the strategic plan and work with electronic media opportunities to be the story rather than respond to it,” he says. Read More

January 9, 2013

Amid a Trickle of Regulation, Private Wells Surging in Austin

The ongoing drought in Central Texas sapped the green out of many lawns – and spurred private well drilling in Austin. South of the Colorado River, the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District has a tight hold on permitting for any well drilling. “But north of the river,” Slusher says, “there’s not a groundwater district and since there’s not a ground water district, there’s not a level of information about the aquifer levels.” Read full article from KUT News.

January 5, 2013

Fiscal Cliff Deal Renews Tax Incentive Through 2013

Congress has passed a fiscal cliff deal that renews the enhanced income tax deduction for conservation easements through 2013, and retroactive to the beginning of 2012. This incentive will help land trusts work with farmers, ranchers and other modest-income landowners to increase the pace of conservation by about a third. Learn more from the Land Trust Alliance here.