The Comal County Conservation Alliance is urging you to send an email to your Comal County Commissioner and to County Judge Sherman Krause asking them to pursue purchasing some property that is now available in the northern part of Comal County. This purchase could be part of a regional effort to preserve and protect one of our county’s gems of a natural area—the former Boy Scout ranch known as El Rancho Cima, located along the portion of FM 32 known as the "Devil's Backbone." (See email addresses for Commissioners Court below.)
Hays County is closing soon on the purchase of one of the tracts available that is along the Blanco River. Their intent is aquifer and watershed protection, flood mitigation, conservation of wildlife habitat, and possible seasonal public access to the river and trails. Hays is using road mitigation funds for nearly half the purchase price and is planning to go to their voters in a 2020 bond election for the rest, along with additional funds to protect land in other precincts in their county.
Comal County could similarly benefit from the purchase of other tracts in the same property.
How could Comal County fund a purchase of this property?
While Comal County does not presently have a funding mechanism for land acquisition for conservation, there are options available to preserve a piece of this undisturbed Hill Country natural area. Surrounding counties have used combinations of many funding sources, partnering with trusts and other agencies to secure private, state, and federal grants, as well as low-interest loans and bonds. CCCA supports our local officials seeking a variety of options to find the best combination for Comal County.
Please write your Commissioner and Judge Krause.
Using your own words, please explain the urgent need for action to preserve this unique property in Comal County before it is sold to other interests. Let them know you would support their action.
County Judge Sherman Krause, firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Donna Eccleston, Pct 1, email@example.com
Commissioner Scott Haag, Pct 2, firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Kevin Webb, Pct 3, email@example.com
Commissioner Jen Crownover, Pct 4, firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more here.
On October 24, 2019, Comal County Conservation Alliance (CCCA) and Greater Edwards Aquaifer Alliance (GEAA) cosponsored a Town Hall with State Representatives Kyle Biedermann (R-District 73) and Erin Zwiener (D-District 45), where they shared important information on Propositions 2, 5, and 8. These three propositions will be on the November ballot and both representatives support them.
Proposition 2: Authorizes the Texas Water Board to issue bonds for water and sewer projects in economically distressed areas.
Proposition 5: Ensures the existing sporting goods sales tax will go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Historical Commission for protecting natural areas, water quality, and history.
Proposition 8: Creates funding for infrastructure for drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects, including “green infrastructure” projects, which use undeveloped land for flood mitigation.
If you'd like more information on Propositions 2, 5, and 8 go to https://ballotpedia.org/Texas_2019_ballot_measures.
Early voting has started. Information about this and other voting facts can be found on http://www.co.comal.tx.us/Elections.htm. These propositions are very important to Comal & Guadalupe counties. Please vote on November 5th.
On November 5, Texas voters will be asked to support or reject ten proposed amendments to the state constitution. All are important. All may test our collective understanding. I haven’t the space or the knowledge to deal with all ten propositions, but three are significant environmental issues that deserve comment.
Proposition 2: "The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas."
It seems impossible, but in 2019 in the richest country in the world, in the state of Texas, one of the most prosperous states in the country, we have communities without safe water or safe sewage disposal systems. Such unsafe conditions exist, not because people in those communities don’t care, but because they lack the resources to correct those conditions. This amendment would create a state program to make grants to assist economically distressed areas for infrastructure projects to correct these unsafe conditions. Local recipients would match the grants and would be responsible for maintaining the infrastructure.
Proposition 5: "The constitutional amendment dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas' natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes."
State law already requires that sales tax receipts from sporting goods be used for state parks and the historic sites. Unfortunately, our legislators have found ways to not fully comply with that law. This would place the requirement into the constitution. Funds would be placed in a separate account that could only be used for the stated purposes.
Proposition 5 is a huge step in the right direction. It would ensure a healthy funding stream somewhat higher than the current budget. It would allow program managers to plan for maintenance and improvement projects with a higher degree of certainty that plans can be implemented. But the measure is probably not a panacea. Our parks currently have a huge backlog of deferred maintenance; and, as our population continues to grow, we will have a need for more parks. Even with this amendment, the legislature will still likely be faced with issues related to the needs of our parks.
Proposition 8: "The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects."
Whether it is related to hurricanes or torrential rains, Texas is prone to flooding. Some of that flooding could be mitigated or controlled with well-considered and managed projects. Projects might be constructed or they could be natural projects, conserving natural features that tend to mitigate flooding. This program would make loans—or perhaps grants—to local governments for such projects. Coordination among local governments would be required as would a repayment plan. The authors expect that much of this funding will be used to match federal programs, leveraging more dollars in total.
Funding is a one time transfer from the Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund). Repayments would allow future loans.
All ten of these propositions are important. Learn about them by going to Vote411.org and vote on Tuesday November 5.
Dear Friends in Conservation,
I’m happy to report a very successful 86th legislative session. First and foremost, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission received the full appropriation of Sporting Goods Sales Tax (SGST) used to maintain state and local parks. This is the sales tax collected on sporting goods, and is not a new tax.
In addition, Texans will have the opportunity to permanently dedicate this source of funding by voting in favor of a constitutional amendment on the November 2019 ballot.
As you may know, funding for state and local parks is currently subject to the appropriations process, which means a significant amount of the money is often withheld by the Legislature to certify the budget.
There are multiple reasons to support the constitutional amendment. Land in Texas is 96% privately owned, and state parks provide important public access to the outdoors. In many cases, state parks are the gateway to the outdoors for Texans.
We have almost 10 million visitors annually to state parks resulting in substantial wear and tear on infrastructure, particularly in the popular parks near urban areas. At the same time, state parks suffer from hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance exacerbated by nature disasters.
Developing a new state park is a multi-year process, which is almost impossible with an uncertain funding stream. And finally, dedication of these funds improves transparency in government spending.
John Shepperd, Texas Foundation for Conservation email@example.com or 210-823-8002
Spring Branch, Texas — The Comal County Conservation Alliance (CCCA) and the Hill Country Alliance co-hosted the workshop, “Saving Family Lands: Tools for Landowners in Comal County,” on February 15, 2019 at the Anhalt Dance Hall in Spring Branch, Texas.
The one-day workshop, which highlighted financial and conservation tools available to rural landowners in fast-growing Hill Country counties, attracted ninety attendees. The workshop was designed to provide farmers, ranchers, and other landowners with effective tools and resources to help them address issues inherent in passing family land on to future generations.
Speakers presented on a variety of topics including the case for conservation in Comal County; wildlife and open space valuation; financial tools and programs for landowners; conservation easement basics and tax benefits; and the role of land trusts. The workshop ended with a panel discussion with local landowners and conservation easement donors. The presentations generated many questions from the audience.
“With rates of land development and subdivision booming in Central Texas, workshops like this one provide a critical service to landowners interested in protecting their land and handing on a conservation ethic to future generations,” said Katherine Romans, executive director of the Hill Country Alliance.
Attendee Steve Hixon said, “It was an excellent landowner workshop. We got very useful information on conservation easements to help protect our family ranch for future generations.”
“The event featured well-informed speakers who covered a wide range of topics related to land conservation—from the basics of a conservation easement to tax advantages,” said attendee Martha Bersch. “The information will be valuable in my family’s discernment regarding the future of our land.”
“It was encouraging to see so many people interested in preserving their land,” Elizabeth Bowerman, President of the CCCA, said. “Some families in our county live on land that has been in their family for six or seven generations! These lands are an important part of the culture and the rural fabric of our area, and the CCCA is happy to be able to help these ranchers and landowners find ways to preserve their land for future generations.”
The workshop was conducted with assistance from Alamo Resource Conservation & Development Area Inc., Anhalt Hall, Blair Wildlife Consulting, Braun & Gresham Family of Companies, Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust, Hill Country Land Trust, James D. Bradbury PLLC, Plateau Land Group, Plateau Land & Wildlife Management, Ranch Connection LLC, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Texas Wildlife Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and facilitated by Carolyn Vogel, Texas Conservation Connection.
The Comal County Conservation Alliance is a nonprofit organization working to protect land, water, and wildlife in Comal County. The Hill Country Alliance is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise public awareness and build community support around the need to preserve the natural resources and heritage of the Central Texas Hill Country.
MEDIA CONTACT: Carolyn Vogel 512.633.4995 firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the full press release here:
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation today released a new report about the strong and growing economic role state parks have on the Texas economy. The research showed the parks generated more than $891 million in sales activity, had a $240 million impact on the incomes of Texas residents, and supported an estimated 6,081 jobs throughout the state in 2018.
A new group, the Texas Coalition for State Parks, was launched by a group of former Texas Parks & Wildlife Commissioners and park advocates with the sole purpose of advocating for a constitutional dedication of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax to state parks funding. The Comal County Conservation Alliance (CCCA) quickly joined the coalition. View the full list of members as well as the press release by clicking here.