Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ruling ‘bad news’ for Bastrop and Lee county landowners

Judge denied landowners party status in contested case

Austin Community Newspapers Staff
Landowners in Bastrop and Lee counties plan to appeal a decision denying them the right to party status in a contested water case.
The decision against a group of four landowners — including Environmental Stewardship — was issued Sept. 25 in the contested case involving water marketing company End Op’s application for well registration, operating permits and transfer permits in the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
The landowners had petitioned the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District for party status — or legal standing and the right to legally participate — in a disputed groundwater pumping permit hearing involving End Op, Aqua Water Supply Corp. and the LPGCD, which asked the SOAH to rule on the request.
According to Environmental Stewardship’s Steve Box, the decision has broad implications throughout Texas for landowners wanting to protect the groundwater in place under their land.
In a news release about the decision, Box noted the Texas Supreme Court affirmed the ownership of groundwater in place as real property and that this decision by the SOAH upholds the rule of capture, saying basically whoever gets the resource first owns it.
“The action of this administrative order, if left to stand, will establish the conditions for party status in contested case hearings held before groundwater conservation districts throughout the state and will severely limit the ability of landowners to protect their groundwater property rights by severely limiting their ability to argue the merits of their case,” he said in the release.
According to Box, the question the landowners are posing to the LPGCD board in the appeal is whether ownership of real property above and within an aquifer, where the groundwater drawdown will occur as a result of a groundwater permit allowing the pumping of tens of thousands of acre-feet of water per year, constitute a legally-protected ownership interest? And, Box added, can a landowner defend that against those who wish to pump away the property?
Box said Environmental Stewardship is currently helping work on legal arguments and finding and preparing expert witnesses to take before the LPGCD and the administrative law judge.

Hays County's water situation

  One More Generation

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The “rude bridge” around here is in Lee County. Rather than a store of weapons, the “embattled farmers” there, and in neighboring Bastrop County, are defending the long-term sustainability of their water supply, and thus their own economic future. The British Redcoats in this analogy are the “water hustlers” and their allies who are attempting to gain the ability to pump the aquifer storing that water supply at unsustainable rates, which will result in large drawdown, and eventual depletion, of that aquifer as a usable water supply. In short, Bastrop and Lee counties are seen as water “colonies”.
One ally in particular, Hays County, has entered into an agreement with one of those water hustlers to create an unsustainable draw on that aquifer. Purportedly this is to meet the future water needs in Hays County, on the presumption its recent growth trend will continue for the next few decades. This is simply a taking from the future of the “colonies” to secure their own. That’s why King George was taxing the American colonies, right? You might say, therefore, that a shot has been fired in the Great Texas Water War. How far and wide that shot is heard remains to be seen.
According to the groundwater model which is accepted by the Texas Water Development Board as an accurate picture of the impact on this aquifer, the drawdown which the currently demanded pumpage would create indicates that the Simsboro Aquifer in Lee County would be significantly dewatered, headed toward depletion, in one more generation. And that is just considering the water to be exported, leaving little to support economic development in “the colonies”. Indeed, it is projected that, if the current drought in this region endures, Bastrop and Lee counties will have a water supply deficit for their own municipal needs even without that water being exported.  Read More......

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hays County water deal could spark legal battle

A deal that was supposed to secure water for a fast-growing Hays County is one step closer to possible litigation that could set a precedent for water deals in years to come.
The Hays County Commissioners Court approved a contract this month to pay $1 million a year to a private development firm to call dibs on several billion gallons of water that would be pumped out of the aquifer beneath Bastrop and Lee counties.
The deal reserves 45,000 acre-feet of water — about 14.6 billion gallons — for each of the next five years. However, Forestar, the company selling the water, has permission to pump only 12,000 acre-feet a year from the Simsboro portion of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer.
At its Oct. 16 meeting, the board of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, which controls pumping from the aquifer, denied the rehearing request made by Forestar, which had asked permission to draw the full 45,000 acre-feet of water.
Board member Bill Jarrell made a motion to grant the rehearing, but it died when no one seconded it. Lost Pines had 91 days from the time Forestar asked for a rehearing in mid-August to make a decision. If the board does not grant a rehearing soon, it leaves the door open for a lawsuit, experts said.
“I can tell you that if they deny the request at the next hearing, Forestar has already gotten the lawsuit together and Lost Pines will lose,” said Hays County Judge Bert Cobb, who has been negotiating with Forestar on the water deal.
Hays County is pushing ahead with the plan, Cobb said.
“All is not lost, and we are still proceeding,” he said. “It’s a blip on the radar.”
In securing the water deal, Cobb said, Hays County is following recommendations in the 2012 State Water Plan drawn up by the Texas Water Development Board. Hays County does not have plans anytime soon for a pipeline or water treatment facilities for the water secured through Forestar, but officials have said they hope that water deal will someday provide for thirsty towns and communities in Hays, Comal and Travis counties.
“Lake Travis has no water. The (Lower Colorado River Authority) has no water. The (Guadalupe Blanco River Authority) has no water,” Cobb said. “The water has to come from somewhere. I refuse to not solve this problem for our people.”
Hays County Commissioner Ray Whisenant pointed out that Forestar “has gone through private individuals to lease their water rights,” he said. Legally speaking, he said, “water rights are pretty well guarded in the state of Texas.”
One of the county’s goals is to keep the water in question available to a public entity with the hope of forming a regional coalition of governments to allocate it to thirsty communities, Whisenant said.
Environmental advocates expect Forestar to file a civil suit, perhaps in Bastrop County District Court, if the Lost Pines board doesn’t reconsider its decision.
“One of the biggest questions relative to a lawsuit is whether they will file a takings claim,” said Steve Box of Environmental Stewardship. A takings claim is “when you have taken my property, in this case water, and you have caused me harm in a capricious manner, and you have to compensate me for the loss.”
Linda Curtis of Independent Texans, another group active in water rights, calls the Forestar deal potentially “the next big test case on water,” which could involve not only Bastrop and Lee counties, but also Hays County, where Curtis said residents and other water rights advocates, such as Wimberley Valley Watershed Association member Malcolm Harris, are keeping a close eye on events.
Harris said he and other watershed association members and Hays County residents are worried about water rights events there.
“There are many of us in Hays County who are very concerned about the excessive pumping of the Trinity Aquifer and the damage it’s done to the watershed and to the area,” Harris said. “So we are very concerned and sympathetic to the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District and its aims to protect the watershed down there.”
Forestar did not return calls for comment on this story. But the company issued a statement in September saying it was “pursuing several alternatives … to uphold the rights of both area land owners and Forestar.”
“Central Texas faces a significant water crisis and Forestar remains committed to being a part of a responsible and economic water solution,” the firm’s statement said.
Box said the issue could pit the interests of growing urban and suburban areas against those of nearby rural areas. And, he added, Bastrop County “has a seat at the table” on whether the current rate of growth in Central Texas can be sustained.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More than Prayer: How Prop 6 Aims to Improve Water Supplies in Texas

Voters have the opportunity this election to put 
billions of dollars towards water projects in Texas.
2011 was the driest year in Texas’ recorded history — crops failed, herds were sold off and lakes and Spicewood Beach in the Hill Country or Robert Lee in West Texas, had to scramble to find new water supplies. And in the middle of this catastrophic drought, the state of Texas had one vocal strategy: Pray for rain. Texas Governor Rick Perry issued a proclamation that year asking Texans to pray for rain for three days.
reservoirs literally went dry. Some communities, like
Now, a few dry years and billions of dollars in drought losses later, the state has decided it needs a more consistent strategy to secure water. “We can’t make it rain,” Perry said at a recent event. “But we can take measures to extend our existing water supply and work to develop new supplies.” Perry was out stumping in support of Proposition 6, a state constitutional amendment on the ballot this year.
“What Prop 6 does is put in place 2 billion dollars so the state can lend money to utilities and cities that are seeking to do either conservation projects or new water supply projects,” says Laura Huffman, Texas state director for the Nature ConservancyREAD MORE............

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jacob's Well Natural Area Habitat Restoration - October 18th

Jacob's Well Natural Area 

Habitat Restoration - October 18th


Thanks to 10 Restoration Rangers for another excellent effort - More progress toward grassland restoration in the north as shown in the photos:  Tom, Nancy, Susan, Irene, Bob Linda, Jean and Jean, and John, our newest member (hard to get a clear photo as he was moving faster than the rest of us). 


Next workday is 
Nov 1st  9 am at Camp Jacob.  
We need to revisit Mr. Johnson (grass) in the Riparian area, remove the bamboo grove near the new entrance, and weed the tree cages near there.   Please bring the appropriate tools and personal supplies.  See you then!


Questions about the near term plans for the recent grants/funding –> I understand there is a county planning meeting on Oct 25 to establish priorities.   We should have more feedback shortly after that meeting.

I encourage everyone to attend the upcoming MN Chapter meeting on Oct 24th at Freeman Ranch “Land Stewardship and Practices”.  
Here is a another really good discussion on land management and real life examples of how these practices affects our aquifers, creeks and springs:

Neighbor to Neighbor - News and Events

Neighbor to Neighbor News Pass it on...                    
October 23, 2013
Hill Country News

TOMORROW: Texas Water Symposium: A Conversation about Private Property Rights
As we struggle to meet water resource challenges, what is the proper role that government should play regarding land development and other traditionally unregulated issues, in order to protect stream flows and the private property rights of landowners? All are potentially impacted by water marketing and increased withdrawals from aquifers. Moderated by Weir Labatt and featuring Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, Sharlene Leurig and Garry Merritt. Learn More

Seeing the Milky Way in San Antonio — The Easiest Environmental Problem to Fix
“Whether you’re an astronomer or a casual observer of beauty, if you vacation in the Hill Country, you expect a beautiful landscape during the day and at night. Losing the night sky – like losing the peaceful silence of some Hill Country inns and campsites – would have an impact.” HCA intern Julie Cornelius quoted in the Rivard Report. Read the full story.

Landowners alarmed at re-classification of Hill Country streams
Landowners in the western Hill Country have been alarmed by recent reports that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is re-classifying certain non-navigable streams as navigable, thereby converting private property to state land and opening it to the public. Read reports from Caroline Runge of Menard County, a response from TCEQ and letter from Scott Zesch to Livestock Weekly.

We Love the Texas Master Naturalists in the Hill Country!

This volunteer organization provides hands on training to enhance wildlife and native plant habitats on private lands and in your community. Find helpful resources and events in the most recent Hill Country Chapter newsletter. Find a Master Naturalist Chapter near you  here.

More Hill Country Headlines

4th Annual Rainwater Revival Shows Ease of Harvesting Rainwater for Indoor and Outdoor Use

On November 2 in Boerne, Texas, the Hill Country Alliance will once again host its annual Rainwater Revival – a lively, free event for novices and wannabe harvesters of rainwater. Event-goers can admire and purchase rain barrels that have been turned into functional works of art by Hill Country artists. Learn More

Are you are part of a water conservation related business or organization? There are a few exhibitor booth spaces left. Click here for info and availability.

Upcoming Events
TOMORROW: October 24 in Kerrville - Texas Water Symposium: A Conversation about Private Property Rights and Water - Details

October 25-27 in New Braunfels - Texas Master Naturalist Annual State Meeting -
October 26 in Austin - Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations, David K. Langford presentation and book signing - Details

November 1-2 in Junction - Society for Ecological Restoration Texas Chapter & Texas Riparian Association Joint Conference - The New Ecology: Managing for Resilience in a Changing World - Details

November 2 in Boerne - Join us at HCA's 4th Annual Rainwater Revival! - Details

November 4-8 in Bandera - Watershed Planning Course through Texas Water Resources Institute - Details

November 5-7 in Austin - American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association annual conference: Rainwater Harvesting as an Alternate Water Source - Details

November 7 in San Marcos - The End of Night: Lecture and book signing - Details

November 7 in Fredericksburg - Save Our Scenic Hill Country Annual Membership Meeting - Details

In the Flow Vol: 1 Issue: 16: A Water News Bulletin from the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and The Texas Tribune

Welcome to In the Flow, a water news wrap-up and analysis prepared every other week by The Texas Tribune and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. We bring you the latest news and events concerning the river systems of Texas and important water issues on a state and regional level.
by Neena Satija
A proposal to amend the state Constitution to fund water projects in Texas is bringing together strange bedfellows both in support of and in opposition to the measure.    
by Neena Satija
Half of Texans say they’d vote to approve $2 billion in additional water infrastructure financing this November, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.  
by Emily Ramshaw
In a new television ad produced by the Water Texas PAC, baseball hall of famer Nolan Ryan advocates for Proposition 6, a water financing measure on the November ballot. 
Following recent rains that raised the levels of Lakes Buchanan and Travis, the Lower Colorado River Authority has announced that it will release water to Matagorda Bay.
Banks of the San Marcos River are being restored as part of a broader push to protect the Edwards Aquifer and endangered aquatic wild rice.
by Matt Largey, KUT News
Scientists say a new technology — involving a material derived from vegetable oil — could save billions of gallons of water from evaporation in Texas. But the technology has faced a rocky path to implementation.
The next event in the Texas Water Symposium series will be held Thursday at Schreiner University in Kerrville.
by Ryan Murphy
Using data from the Texas Water Development Board's reservoir status tracker, our auto-updating map visualizes the current state of Texas reservoirs.

Austin EcoNews: Violet Crown Trail, Bees101, Arbor Day + Free Trees, Herbalismo! Week of native plants, food & reuse, Watershed changes: EcoNews

EcoCalendar Events

Monday 10/21/13
Special Called Joint Meeting of the Electric Utility Commission and the Resource Management Commission to discuss the Kema report (see right)

Tuesday 10/22/13
SFC Farmers' Market East
3:00pm - 7:00pm

11:00am - 1:00pm

1:00pm - 4:00pm

Wednesday 10/23/13
SFC Triangle Farmers' Market
3:00pm - 7:00pm
5:00pm - 8:00pm

Thursday 10/24/13

Saturday 10/26/13
Herbalismo! A Medicinal Plant Festival of the Deep South
8:30am - 5:30pm

9:00am - 1:00pm

Barton Creek Farmers Market
@ Barton Creek Mall
9:00am - 1:00pm

9:00am - 1:00pm
9:00am - 1:00pm

Sunday 10/27/13
UT Concho Community Garden Workday
8:30am - 11:00am

Barton Creek Farmer's Market @ Highland Mall
10:00am - 2:00pm

HOPE Farmers Market
11:00am - 3:00pm

*Green Corn Fall Festival at Boggy Creek Farm*
Noon - 3:00pm

12:00pm - 3:00pm

5:00pm - 8:45pm

Monday 10/28/13
Hope you enjoyed the weekend! There are still tons of great events coming up, grab your calendars!

*Calendar items* = expanded info in the right-hand column.

Organizations in Orange are Austin EcoNetwork Partners.

Submit your event for inclusion in the Austin EcoCalendar
(Sign in using the email which you receive the EcoNews at)

Add our events to your web calendar with our .ics file

Planning Ahead Mark Your Calendar:

Rainforest Partnership's 5th Annual Celebration Dinner: Birds of Paradise: From Austin to the Amazon
October 30th at Barr Mansion
6:30 to 9:30 PM

Two-week Immersion Permaculture Design Certificate
November 2nd - 15th

Texas Renewables Conference
Texas Renewables Conference in San Antonio
September 11-13

Defense Energy Summit
Correct DATES: November 11th - 13th
AT&T Conference Center
Please use our 10% off registration discount code: 13AEN10

Service-learning Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course designed especially for folks who are investing talents in community projects. You get to substitute service hours for much of the tuition.
Saturday, November 23rd

CATEE 2013 Clean Air Through Energy Efficiency Conference
December 16-18
San Antonio, TX

Check out the 2013 EcoCalendar Preview for the year!

CLICK HERE to see FULL Austin EcoCalendar

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Jobs & Internships

Job: Sales tangotabExecutive
Full description.

RFP: KAB in hiring an event videographerKeep Austin Beautiful has an RFP for a Videographer/Video Post-Production.

Circular EnergyJob: Solar PV Field Tech
Full description.

TX Aquaponic and Transfarming GroupInternship: Clean Food Solutions Intern
Full description.

Austin B-CycleJob: Operations Director
Full description.

AUstin B-CycleJob: Finance Director
Full description.

B-CycleJob: Marketing Director
Full description.

Texas Disposal SystemsJob: Advertising Specialist
Full description.

imagine solarJob: Website Editor/Designer
Full description

Compost PedallersJob: Part Time Compost Pedaller
Full description

Job: Afterschool Intern at Growin' Together
Full description

Clean Air Lawn CareJob: Grassmaster in Training
Full description.

New Blog

Austin Researchers Study Energy Efficiency in Low-Income Household
Austin Researchers Study Energy Efficiency in Low-Income Households
by Paul Batistell
For most people, energy bills are an inconvenient yet essential expense. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American household spends more than $1,900 annually on heating, cooling, appliances, lighting and electronics. But for some low-income families, paying for these commodities is nearly impossible. Compared to middle or upper-class homes, low-income households spend about double the percentage of their income on energy.  Now, Austin, Texas-based Pecan Street Inc. has taken initiative to empower low-income households to save money and better understand their energy consumption.
Research with an immediate impact

With the support of the Verizon Foundation, Pecan Street Inc. has begun a two-year study focused on better understanding how low-income multi-family households consume energy, and how to help these families save energy and money. The study will give 140 low-income households in Austin an energy monitoring system, including a Nest thermostat and eGauge power circuit monitors, both of which can compile data and provide valuable energy and cost-saving feedback to the residents.
Read the full blog

America’s Low Carbon Energy Revolution - Texas Renewables 2013, A National Stage in San Antonio!
TREIA is producing Texas Renewables 2013
by Debra Dubay

America is in the midst of a low carbon energy revolution. New energy technology has delivered much needed energy independence to the U.S. In San Antonio, nationally recognized speakers showcase the “All-of-the-Above” energy world and impacts of drastically reduced carbon emissions at Texas Renewables 2013, a Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA) conference, runs Monday, November 11th to Wednesday, the 13th in San Antonio, TX. The conference and exhibit is organized to provide a solid understanding of forces at play, of economic and environmental benefits, and strategies on continued growth for all Texas energy providers. This exciting new conference experience includes TED style talks, video transitions, industry CEO panels and an exceptional lineup of speakers.  Leading keynotes and speakers include:
Big picture topics include:
  • Renewable Energy Opportunities Related to Fossil Fuels
  • Market Opportunities and Economic Development in Rural Texas
  • Renewable Energy Opportunities with the Defense Community
  • Innovative Renewable Energy Policies and Projects Across the State
Register and learn more.

"Curiosity is a Gift from the Creator"
by Chris Searles

- A Baptist preacher speaks on science and climate change
Reverend Don Searles caught my attention: “Did you hear Roger’s statement on climate change?”
Reverend Searles had my attention not just because he’s my dad (or because he’d just caught me running late) but because I’d never heard Dr. Roger Paynter – the senior pastor at First Baptist, Church Austin, speak about global warming before. Ever.
Seriously, who does that during a sermon? What’d he say? I asked. Dad heard: “Climate change is real and it’s being caused by us. It’s our responsibility to respond to it, and even if we’re not causing it – it’s our responsibility.”
The funny thing about growing up in First Baptist Church, Austin, is ...
Read Chris' full blog
Monday, October 21st, 2013

EcoBits by EcoBrandi

This is the week of weeks, so to speak. It is simultaneously Reuse Week, Food Day/Week, and Native Plants week (see below for more on all three).

In addition to an abundant fall harvest of amazing green activities (including the 2-year anniversary of our partner Treehouse!) we have some... drama and suspense in the green world this week. We've got the scoop on a law suit, a possible merger and a 1:00pm Thursday radio show about the "West Austin Battle Over Mega Sports Complex and Light Pollution."

We also have three blogs today about Texas Renewables, Research on low-income residents and energy efficiency, and one from Chris Searles the outreach chair for Interfaith Environmental Network.

Thanks to everyone who came to our conversation on Friday. We shared highlights of events and tried to draw some thematic connections.
  • Strategically managing the material inputs and outputs of our City and related economic development opportunities.
  • Influencing people at critical points of decision - setting up a business, entering office, new position at a job, having a kid, leaving college, diagnosed with an illness, getting fired, new to town.
  • Our need for inspiring leadership as well grassroots mobilization
  • Ways to impact the future of environmentalism in Austin's new 10-1 structure, including getting good people to run all over town and educating candidates.
  • Austin as a real leader and lever for world change
  • Bringing the passion and message of Rev Yearwood and the Hip Hop Caucus to our movement in Austin.

Herbalismo:  Amedicinal Plant Festival of the Deep South
Appropriate for Native Plant week Central Texas is host to a medicinal plant festival/conference this week called Herbalismo. It starts on Thursday with morning pre-conference workshops and the full conference with nightly entertainment starts midday Thursday through Sunday. (Note: the event can be attended with day passes on Thu, Fri, Sat)
It takes place at the lovely Flat Creek Crossing Ranch where you can learn from well-known practitioners like Rosemary Herbaismo: A Medicinal Plant Festival of the Deep SouthGladstar, Matthew Wood and Paul Bergner as well as connect with herbalists, and naturopaths and enjoy live music and participate in an authentic Dia de los Muertos procession.
They have a full schedule of sessions & workshops in the following areas: Materia medica, Preparations, Ceremony/Folk Traditions, Bioregionalism/Nature, Clinical Wisdom and Experience, and
Herbalism for Social Change.
Conference schedule is here.
The event is co-produced by former Austin EcoNetwork staff Nita Durant and with the assistance of AEN Partner Green Fern Events the entire conference will be a zero waste event!

Big news in the local cyclingBIke Austin Annual Membership Meeting universe... there are discussions underway to explore a potential merger between AEN partner Bike Austin and Austin Cycling Association, which both share the goal of getting more people on bikes in Austin. They have slightly different other priorities but are aligned enough that they will be voting on a declaration of intent to pursue a professionally facilitated merger exploration process at the October 27 Bike Austin Annual Membership Meeting.

Also, bike related... LearnCycling Tracks about the “Your Path to Austin” plan – a citywide network of connected trails and on-street bikeways protected from cars - and get involved:
Tuesday, November 12th - Cities for Cycling Road Show + Bike & Urban Trails Plan | Central Open House
5:30pm - 8:30pm at St. David's Episcopal Church
Wednesday, November 13th - Bike & Urban Trails Plan | North Open House
5:30pm - 8:30pm at Lanier High School Cafeteria
Thursday, November 14th - Bike & Urban Trails Plan | South Open House 5:30pm - 8:30pm at First Evangelical Church of Austin Community Hall
More info.

If you missed the Barton Springs Barton Springs UniversityUniversity sessions at  Barton Springs Fest in August, now you can see them onlineCheck out the videos of experts on the biology, hydro-geology, conservation, history, culture, and Native American religious significance of Barton Springs.  The SOS Alliance expects these to be the first in a series of teaching sessions on all things Edwards Aquifer. Stay tuned.

Reuse Week - a full week toAustin Resource Recovery celebrate the many ways that groups are helping further the environmental, social and economical benefits of reuse - began yesterday, with Reuse Day.
Share tips for Reuse on Austin Recycles' facebook page.

Watershed ProtectionThe new Watershed Protection Ordinance was passed by council last Thursday! Among other change highlights are new headwaters protections for 363 miles of eastern watersheds creeks, floodplain protections that will help restore our forested riparian zones, simplified buffer rules and gross site area, and no boundary street deduction.

Then council made a few amendments:     
  • Change the threshold for water quality controls to 8,000 square feet of impervious cover (had been proposed originally at 5,000sq.ft.)
  • Remove the Barton Springs Zone Redevelopment Exception additions (to be considered in the future)
  • Add several references to ensure folks know to consult the Environmental Criteria Manual for guidance.
The ordinance becomes effective in about a week. Phase two efforts (hydrology) begin in January. If you want to get involved, you can contact Matt Hollon, City Watershed Department, at 512.974.2212.

City of Austin SealTonight, Monday, October 21st at the special called joint meeting of the Energy Utility Commission and the Resource Management Commission, Austin Energy and Kema -- a consulting group - will be presenting their report on:

1. The analysis of the LSAC' s local solar plan to get to 400 MWs of solar by 2020, including 200 MW of local solar. Read report. Kema found that the LSAC goals are technically feasible, but they were overly optimistic on costs and savings. Basically Kema came out more conservative (anti-solar) than LSAC, but less so than Austin Energy. There may be space for upping the goals at Austin Energy.

2. An analysis of the Value of Solar rate paid currently by Austin, and a planned adjustment of the rate.

There is the opportunity for public comment and questions during the meeting. Read agenda.

You have until this Friday, October 25th KAB - Good Sports Always Recycle - apply until Oct 25thto apply to Keep Austin Beautiful on behalf of your elementary, middle and high school to be recognized in the Good Sports Always Recycle Program. If your K-12 school has outstanding recycling and environmental efforts then your students could be recognized during halftime of  UT football game. All schools in the Austin area are invited to applyMore details.

Sustainable Sites Certified Last Monday, "the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) filed a legal challenge to a claim of sole ownership of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) trademarks by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (WC) at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). The
UT claims they are only pursuing SITES’ trademarks to protect the IP and intend to give full unrestricted rights  to their partners—ASLA, and the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG). We will keep you posted.

Earthbag houseRecently Thea Bryant announced they are having a donation only tour of the Earthbag house this Sunday, October 27th from 1:00pm - 3:00pm, due to the response she has gotten from the write up in Tribeza magazine. Plan to stay awhile as the group goes through a detailed discussion about the story, process, the why and what the future holds in store for Natural building for us in Central Texas and for our planet.

Along with the tour, she is launching the Natural Neighborhood Development Coalition. Go on the tour to find out more (and stay tuned here). More tour info.

EcoCalendar Highlights

Native Plant Week Oct. 20-26Native Plant Week is from Sunday, October 20th to Saturday, October 26th, with events happening all over town.
Native plants are acclimated to local climate conditions and soils, provide habitat for wildlife, typically require less water and maintenance once established, and do not rely on chemical fertilizers and pesticides to thrive. They also give us a sense of place and help maintain the region's wide variety of flora and fauna. Not only do they provide all of these wonderful benefits, but they are beautiful, too! More info and FAQ
Tuesday, October 22nd - FREE Grow Green Homeowner Training (*SPOTS STILL OPEN!*) 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Wednesday, October 23rd - Native Plants for Pollinators 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Wednesday, October 23rdEliza Spring Daylighting Project Stakeholder Meeting 4:00pm - 5:00pm

Wednesday, October 23rd - Native Plants of Central Texas Walk & Talk 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Thursday, October 24th - Native Tree Walk 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Friday, October 25thHabitat Conservation Plan Renewal Event 10:00am

Saturday, October 26thViews of Austin and Native Plants 8:00am - 11:00am

Saturday, October 26th - Wildflower Walkabout 9:00am - 10:30am

Saturday, October 26th - Arbor Day Celebration 9:00am - 1:30pm

SFC's new buildingThe Sustainable Food Policy Board is hosting a Community Discussion on Tuesday, October 22nd from 6:00pm - 8:00pm at the fabulous new Sustainable Food Center's new building at 2921 E 17th St., Building C. "Hear about local food policy successes and challenges, and share your ideas for affordable, healthy, sustainable food in a forum that motivates and educates through the inclusion of all voices." More info.

Eat Real
Food Day at UT Austin will be celebrated on next Wednesday, October 23rd from 12:00pm - 3:00pm at the Student Activity Center (SAC) Lawn, activities provided by different companies and student organizations. More info.

We are perhaps most excited Food Day Potluck hosted at Green Gate Farms on Oct 24thabout the Local Food Day Potluck our partner Greenling has put together at Green Gate Farms from at 6:00pm - 9:00pm.  Bring the whole family and a dish to share with your fellow sustainable-minded foodies. Local and organic ingredients encouraged! Some food and beer will be provided. More details here.

Food Day October 24thCelebrate day of, on Thursday, October 24th, by helping sort food at the Capitol Area Food Bank! Shifts are available from 9:00am-12:00pm, 1:00pm-4:00pm and 6:00pm-8:30pm.  Individuals as young as 8 years old are permitted to volunteer.

Violet Crown TrailAt 5:30pm on Wednesday, October 23rd the Hill Country Conservancy (HCC) is hosting a Happy Hour at the Rattle Inn introducing the Violet Crown Trail, with 10% of sales during the event going to HCC. Complementary appetizers, cash bar, and door prizes. Read more.

Tree House 2 YearTreeHouse is celebrating 2 years on Saturday, October 26th! Come join the fun.

catering from Chil'antro - Inventor of the Kimchi fries,
live screen printing by Ramona Press,
fun for the kids with the Austin Eco School,
exciting giveaways,
big money saving promotions from Dunn Edwards Paint ,
a visit from the makers of SWITCH LED (who has a big surprise)
and much more! 
A percentage of the sales from the weekend will go to support The Nature Conservancy.
More info.

Tree Heart - Arbor DayFor Arbor Day on Saturday, October 26th, join Austin Urban Forestry and TreeFolks at the Ruiz Library to celebrate Austin's trees! Volunteers will kickoff the day at 9:00am by planting and mulching 50 trees at the library, followed by an Arbor Day ceremony at 11:00am with a proclamation from Mayor Leffingwell and speakers from TreeFolks, Urban Forestry, and American Forests. The celebration will include family-friendly activities, live music from The Lost Pines, guided tree ID tours, and lunch generously provided by ThunderCloud Subs!

Great Outdoors 10% to TreeFolksAnother great way to celebrate is to plant a tree at your home! Buy a tree at The Great Outdoors on Saturday, October 26th and they'll donate 10% of your tree purchase to TreeFolks! Fall is the perfect time to plant trees in Central Texas, and with all the rain we have been getting, we need more trees in the ground to hold the soil in place and keep the water tables healthy.

Free Trees! TreeFolks hosts sapling days and give away thousands of free saplings through December. The next sapling day will be at Whole Earth Provisions on Saturday, November 9th.
Also, when you sign up as a member of the Arbor Day Foundation, you get 10 free trees! Sign up today.

Co-op Month PostersIn honor of Co-op Month, Cooperation Texas is hosting a Cooperative Fair on Saturday, October 26th! From noon to 5:00pm meet members from local cooperatives, become a member of a local cooperative, and enjoy some food, music, & beer from local co-ops, and a silent auction filled with cooperatively- made goodies from around the US. Admission is free and kids are welcome.  More info.

Bee Harvesting Bee Keeping 101 and the Art of Honey Spinning is a free class and live demo from Central Texas Bee Rescue at their apiary at It's About Thyme Garden Center, 11726 Manchaca Road. The class will take place twice this Saturday, October 26th, once at 11:30am and again at 1:30pm. More info.

Green Corn Fall Fest at Boggy Creek FarmOn Sunday, October 27th, is the 15th Annual Fall Festival with the Green Corn Project at Boggy Creek Farm. "Cook Globally, Grow Locally" Chef Demonstrations, local bands, and silent auction. There are volunteer opportunities. Tickets are $35 in advance and $50 at the door. More info.

Bike AustinThe Bike Austin Annual Membership Meeting will be this Sunday, October 27th at 5:00pm - 8:45pm. Not just the culmination of the Annual Board elections, but also, the first Annual Bike Austin Awards and featuring three distinguished speakers on "Accessibility for All Ages and Abilities: Opportunities for Austin".  They will be serving dinner, beer, and wine in appreciation of our membership. General admission for non-members $20. Free for members. Read more.
RSVP required.

Next Wednesday, October 30thBirds of Paradise is Rainforest Partnership's 5th Annual Celebration "Birds of Paradise", an evening of South American inspired food, music, and drinks at the beautiful Barr Mansion.
$100 for individual tickets, or inquire about sponsorship opportunities. More info

Mark your calendars for November!

In.gredients Fall FestivalOn Saturday, November 2nd celebrate the return of cooler weather and all things Fall with in.gredients' Fall Harvest Festival. Tiny Tails to You, Austin's Traveling Petting Zoo will be here from 3:00pm - 4:00pm with a plethora of baby animals. And there will be a pumpkin painting competition, dog costume contest, burlap sack races, face painting, food & drink specials & live music! 2:00pm - 6:00pm. More info.

Installing Solar PanelsSolar First Saturday is happening once more at ImagineSolar Training Center at 4000 Caven Road. Explore advocacy, policy, and opportunity in the solar industry. This discussion will provide actionable insights that participants can use to make a difference.

On Saturday, November 2nd, there will be an update on Austin City Council’s adoption of the LSAC recommendations for local solar goals. The discussion begins at 4:00pm. Participants are invited to arrive early (3:00pm) to observe the hands-on PV System Design & Installation Lab workshop already in progress. More info.