June 25, 2013

How dry we are

Thanks to the drought and Texas’ unprecedented population growth, the race is on across the state for new water supplies. Even San Antonio, the poster child for water conservation, is eyeing Val Verde County, a Wild West territory where groundwater is plentiful and regulation nonexistent. Read more from Sharlene Leurig, published in Texas Monthly.

June 24, 2013

Hays County Neighbors are outraged over sports complex lighting

“Remember that Hays County has very limited authorities on private property in unincorporated areas,” County Commissioner Ray Whisenant said. “Henly’s night sky is usually a pitch black canvas, with only the moon and stars exposed. Neighbors like Cindy Cassidy say the sports complex has taken that from them.” Read the full story from YNN. More about protecting the Hill Country Night Sky here.

June 20, 2013

Landowners win lawsuit challenging golf course development next to Jacob’s Well

District Judge Dwight L. Peschel ruled today in Hays County District Court that Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and local landowners were wrongly denied their right to a contested case hearing on a groundwater pumping permit for a golf course next to Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, Texas. Read more from WVWA.

June 19, 2013

Public Meeting set regarding Cement Plant, June 27th

Citizens in Comal County have valid concerns regarding a proposed cement plant in Spring Branch. Because Counties have little oversight in unincorporated areas, landowners must make their case before TCEQ. A public meeting has been set for June 27th at 7 pm in New Braunfels. Read morefrom the local neighbors and landowners who are encouraging participation.

AIA Presents 3rd Annual Sustainable Urban Development Luncheon, August 1st in San Antonio

Featuring Edward Mazria, Founder and CEO, Architecture 2030, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization developing planning, policy, and design solutions for low-carbon, resilient built environments worldwide. Details

Anti-Scenic Bills Die

Texas cities will continue to determine how their cities look because your voices were heard! Three proposed bills that would have done permanent damage to our urban landscapes and overridden city ordinances were halted at the State Capitol. Read more from Scenic Texas.

June 14, 2013

Billboard bill goes unfiled

A proposed bill aimed at fighting billboard blight in Comal County went nowhere in the Legislature. State Rep. Doug Miller, R-New Braunfels, said he and state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, who were asked to sponsor the bill, thought the measure conflicted with the rights of property owners. Read More

June 13, 2013

Hays County Town Hall Meeting about Sports Complex Lighting June 20th

Hill Country people appreciate the Night Sky and one growing concern is the proliferation extremely lit sports fields. A town hall meeting focused on the new Central Texas Field of Dreams, will take place at the fire station at 7520 Creek Road in Dripping Springs, Thursday June 20th from 6 – 8. Learn about lighting sports parks from IDA here. Learn about HCA’s Night Sky Program here.

After Rice Farmers Cut off Last Year, Water Use Cut in Half in Central Texas

A great illustration from State Impact of the change in water use with rice farmers cut off last year. Municipal use is now a much bigger piece of the pie, but how much of that 47% is used for watering lawns? Read more from State Impact here. Also, a telling report from Native American Seed about water conservation and taking care of your land. The TCEQ will conduct a public meeting regarding the LCRA water management plan on June 26th.

Federal judge says sprawl, transit, equity must factor into highway decisions

Houston Tomorrow reports “A Wisconsin court ruling may require planners across the country to publicly consider the effects on sprawl and transit before approving highway expansions.” According to The Houston Chronicle, “The interim ruling is far from final and could still be overturned by a higher court, but its mere existence has emboldened some highways foes that the days of ‘build it and they will come’ answers to handling growth.”

GEAA reports some legislative success

Read this summary report of how bills on GEAA’s legislative agenda fared during the 83rd session. To review HCA’s Legislative news postings, comments filed and a few bills worth Hill Country attention click here.

June 10, 2013

NRCS in Texas Announces Incentive Payments to Improve Wildlife Habitat

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Salvador Salinas today announced that NRCS in Texas has $5.5 million in funding available for people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat on their land through the agency’s Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). Learn More

June 7, 2013

Subdivision May Threaten World’s Largest Bat Colony

This is another unfortunate example of why thoughtful planning with county authority is so necessary. “The land in question is in Comal County, outside of San Antonio city limits. But the San Antonio Water System has agreed to run water mains and sewer lines to the proposed subdivision — the first such agreement SAWS has made with a subdivision entirely within Comal County. The oversized water mains the agency intends to build would also allow easy expansion to future subdivisions in the area. Read more from the Texas Tribune.

June 6, 2013

A great turnout in San Antonio in opposition to SAWS expansion

200 people showed up to support three hours of testimony. At the end, Susan Hughes asked the City Council “who has been to Bracken Bat Cave?” (which is under threat by a large subdivision facilitated by a SAWS water/sewer line). No one had been there, no one said a word. Read the story in the San Antonio Express News. HCA submitted written comments. Learn more about Bracken Cave.

A Challenging Future for Hill Country Water

Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) sums up Hill Country water challenges well, “For the Hill Country to remain viable and for our property to hold its value, there must be water available for our sustenance. Recognizing the limits placed on us and working together, we can find solutions that will support life in the Texas Hill Country for many years into the future”. Read more from CARD, be involved and spread the word.

June 4, 2013

Rainwater Revival Awards Grants to Hill Country Schools

Austin, Texas (June 4, 2013) – Three Hill Country schools have each been awarded $1,000 grants to further their plans to bring rainwater harvesting to their schools and education about water resources to their students. “The innovation and enthusiasm that these schools, through their administrators and teachers, bring to their students is very gratifying,” said Karen Ford, a Hill Country Alliance board member and chair of the annual Rainwater Revival. “These students will learn the importance of water conservation and that conservation is easy, fun, and a very important thing to do.” Learn More

Special alert regarding fox rabies outbreak for western Hill Country Counties from AgriLife

We need the public’s help to report any encounters they have with wildlife or strange-acting domestic animals or livestock. It’s important that the public knows that the state will pick up any of the cost associated with testing of the animals. Learn more about this issue that affects, Kimble, Mason, Gillespie, Llano and additional counties in the western Hill Country region here.

LCRA water plan needs more study with drought in mind, state says

Texas’ environmental agency is putting the brakes on a long-term plan for managing Central Texas’ main water supply, saying Monday that the managers of the Highland Lakes may not be adequately accounting for the kind of drought now affecting the region. More from Statesman.com.

June 3, 2013

“Better Lights” in Medina and Lost Maples State Park

HCA Night Sky ambassador, Bill Wren from the McDonald Observatory, will be traveling to Lost Maples State Park this Saturday, June 8th to teach about proper lighting for the night sky. The event will be followed by guided star gazing with the San Antonio Astronomy Club. Sunday the 9th, Bill will present to the community of Medina at the Public Library at 7:30 pm. Join us and help spread the word as we work towards converting the Texas Hill Country to a night sky friendly region.

Pasture Walks, One Way to Share Information Among Landowners

Take a walk with Jill Nokes as she learns from real experience and documented projects intended to restore and heal land here in the Hill Country. Her most recent post takes us to the CL Browning Ranch in Blanco County. Ethics in land stewardship are critical for our future water supply – learn more.

South Llano River Project honored by TPWD

Congratulations to the South Llano Watershed Alliance for outstanding recognition for landowner collaboration and land stewardship activities. This is a project worth replicating, watch this video and share with friends in your Hill Country River Basin.

Want to learn how to garden for the drought?

Learn from your local Native Plant Society. Check out the most recent issue of “Bexar Roots” – a publication of the San Antonio chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. Great tips for your garden and plenty of ideas to get involved in your community.

Bipartisan Caucus Lays Groundwork for Food Movement

The bipartisan “farm-to-table” caucus landed a couple of key victories in its first legislative session, laying the groundwork for its effort to help small agricultural businesses crop up across Texas. More from Texas Tribune

LCRA, Parks and other Legislative outcomes

In a legislative session dedicated to setting aside money to build pipelines and finance conservation projects to meet Texas’ growing water demands, lawmakers took the opportunity to pass or kill a variety of other water-related and environmentally minded proposals. Read the full story from the Statesman.