Share Your Vision

Home 5 Share Your Vision
HCA wants to hear your stories. What is happening in your region and what are your goals and vision for the Hill Country? Send us your thoughts by e-mail to

Groundwater Gusher – The Story of Jacob’s Well
June 20, 2011
by Joe Nick Patoski

At first sight, Jacob’s Well appears to be a deep, dark hole at the bottom of a pool of creek water — nothing more. Pay attention to how the hole, about 15 feet in diameter, has perpetually gushed pure artesian water out of the ground since before humans first wandered around this part of what is now known as the Hill Country, and it takes on deeper meaning. Listen to stories about it, and it becomes something much more than just a special natural place. Read more

Hill Country Homecoming
June 14, 2011
By Laurel Evans

In the geographical center of Texas, spanning between San Antonio and Austin, sweeping west some 322 kilometers, lies a singular territory known as the Texas Hill Country. The rugged green hills for which the region is named are marked by wooded canyons, spring fed rivers, underground caves, and, in the spring, sprawling meadows of brightly-colored wildflowers. The bucolic scenery is punctuated by fruitful orchards, vineyards and picturesque towns still clinging to their European heritage. In fact, it‟s the fusion of Spanish, German and other Central European influences on the food, beer, wine, architecture and music that form a unique Hill Country culture.

This is all of great importance to me, of course, because the Texas Hill Country is my home, the land of my ancestors for the last 150 years, and the closest place to my heart wherever I am in the world. Read full story here.

Signs of the times: billboards, property rights, and the enlightenment
June 2, 2011
By Madroño Ranch

It’s time to dismantle those habits of thinking and being that reinforce our self-sufficiency, that pit my rights against my neighbors’ rights, whether my neighbors are individual humans or whole ecosystems or future generations, since the distance between us is an illusion. This isn’t an easy task, especially for a people who so value independence. (Secession, anyone?) But if we’d rather die than acknowledge our interdependence on the natural world, then we probably will. Read more from Madroño Ranch here.

Wildfires in Junction
May 9, 2011
From Emily Neiman, Native American Seed

An update and photo’s on the recent fires in Junction and on the Native American Seed farm. “The 10,000 acres that burned was in extremely rugged, cedar hill country – believed started by lightning” Click here to view.

Learning to listen, and love
May 9, 2011
By Madroño Ranch

I have a new role model: Steve Nelle, a wildlife biologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an arm of the USDA, in San Angelo. Martin and Madroño Ranch’s redoubtable manager Robert and I went to hear him speak about “Managing Your Hill Country Habitat Effectively” at the spring meeting of the Bandera Canyonlands Alliance in Utopia last week. There was a good turnout of area landowners, ranging from all-thumbs novices like Martin and me to older ranchers whose wide, calloused hands spoke to a lifetime of work with the land.

For those of you with no interest in land management, stick with me; it’s not actually my topic, although Nelle gave an excellent presentation on the role of ash juniper (commonly referred to as cedar) in the Hill Country ecology. Cedar is a species that everybody loves to hate because it’s so remorselessly successful, often at the expense of other species—sort of the Gordon Gekko of Hill Country flora. People here have Opinions about how to manage cedar, ranging from getting rid of most of it to getting rid of all of it. Read the rest at Madroño Ranch blog:

My Vision for the Hill Country
September 18, 2008
By Betty Saenz

(submitted at the “Let’s Envision the Future Together: Sustainable Growth in the Hill Country and New Braunfels” Session on Sept. 18, 2008)

My ancestors have been in the Texas Hill Country and New Braunfels since Texas was a republic. My ancestors’ burial ground is now in between IHOP and Taco Cabana in front of the apartments on IH35 in a tiny cemetery buzzed by the traffic of IH35. Caroline Cauer’s grave and other family members are in that tiny cemetery. My grandmother’s grandparents’ home is the Texas Museum of Handmade Furniture in New Braunfels. My family would roll over in their graves if they could see what has happened to their land.

I envision, in a perfect world, sustainable growth. Green homes with rainwater collection, grey water reuse, and net zero energy use, with adequate land around these new subdivisions for wildlife and native plants. Yards would be xeriscaped — they wouldn’t require extra irrigation — and have organic edibles. Every home would recycle paper, plastic, batteries, metal, aluminum, light bulbs, etc., etc.

People would walk or bike to go shopping or for entertainment. They would buy local, buy organic, buy used. Springs and streams would continue to flow freely and stay clean, as would lakes. There would be lots of parks and open spaces — connected by trails. Affordable green housing would be available, as well as community organic gardens, farmer’s markets and craft fairs.

Betty Raetzsch-Saenz is Commissioner Place 6 on the Leander Planning & Zoning Commission. She is the descendant of Caroline Dauer, Andreas Breusted and early pioneers of New Braunfels.