This occurred at a time when LCRA was proposing major waterlines into the unincorporated areas of Hays, Travis, Blanco and Burnet Counties—where rules were weak or non-existent regarding development density, water supply planning, land use compatibility, water quality protection, groundwater management, roadside billboards, and night sky lighting. The costs and consequences were alarming.
While the LCRA board ultimately approved the water line expansion plans, the foundation was laid for the need and mission of the Hill Country Alliance at that first meeting on September 4th, 2004. We moved forward to become recognized as official 501c3 non-profit on December 5th 2005 and we haven’t slowed down since.
Our purpose has always been to align people and organizations, to build relationships and support one another throughout the larger Hill Country region. Three core goals drive our purpose: (1) to protect water quality and supply; (2) to preserve open space; and (3) to promote responsible growth in the Hill Country.
People ask me all the time how things are going at HCA, and my answer is always, “Wonderful!” Not because we have won or succeeded in protecting water supply, heritage ranch lands and all the precious and unique features of the Hill Country, but “wonderful” because HCA has united the most amazing group of people who are dedicated to making a difference every day.
Together we are advancing good science, stewardship, innovation, policy, and community involvement. We understand that while the challenges we face are enormous, we have an opportunity to create change, and we have a responsibility to become involved in shaping the future of this great region.
Today, HCA is led by a dedicated group of 17 HCA board members and more than 130 advisors, team members, and volunteers, and five staff members. Nine thousand supporters receive our regular HCA news feeds. Diverse educational events regularly draw 100 or more attendees. Our reach extends throughout 17 counties from Austin to San Antonio and west to Junction covering more than 11 million acres. We have grown up over these past ten years, and our base of support is far and wide and diverse.
The people that have built this organization are passionate and generous, and while I can never thank them all here, I feel I must recognize and express gratitude to some.
Pam Reese was our first board president, followed by Karen Ford, Damian Priour, Nell Penridge, Ira Yates, Carolyn Chipman Evans and Sky Lewey. HCA is now led by Milan J. Michalec of Boerne, TX.
All of these leaders remain involved in HCA today, with the exception of our dear friend Damian Priour who has since passed away and will be forever loved and missed. We have lost two other significant inspirations, Kent Butler and Charles O’Dell. We will always honor and draw from the wisdom and spirit of these three amazing individuals.
Pam Reese and Bob Ayres were the first major donors to put their faith in the HCA mission, and we are beyond grateful as both continue to support and guide HCA today.
Ira Yates has individually supported HCA with his presence, commitment, support, and vision since day one—actually since before day one. Ira deserves much of the credit for who HCA has become, and he continues to push HCA to be stronger and more effective.
Karen Ford and Karen Huber, both current board members, have demonstrated that there comes a time when the clear path to change is to actually run for public office. Both of these leaders ran and won county commissioner races and have remained active in leading HCA on water issues.
David Baker, Ann Newman, Leo Tynan, Pepper Morris, Mary Sanger, Mike Reese, Bill Neiman, Ric Sternberg, David K. Langford, Mary Kelly, these are but a few of the many mentors, supporters and leaders who have nurtured this organization. More recently Sharlene Leurig, Garry Merritt and a new generation of leaders have emerged. Clearly HCA has a rock solid foundation and is here to stay.
We almost never make an “ask” for donations via email, but today we calling for HCA Birthday Presents! Please show your support, help us celebrate and donate to HCA today.
Hill Country Alliance
HCA’s 2014 Board of Directors: President Milan J. Michalec, Leo Tyan, Karen Huber, Paul Sumrall, David Baker, David Clear, Pete Dwyer, Carolyn Chipman Evans, Karen Ford, Chris Hale, Kathleen Krueger, Sharlene Leurig, Sky Lewey, Garry Merritt, Bill Neiman, Sarah Schlessinger and Ira Yates.
HCA Staff: Christy Muse, Katherine Romans, Charlie Flatten, Shannon Chambers and Sheila Holt.
The Mission of the Hill Country Alliance is to bring together an ever-expanding alliance of groups throughout a multi-county region of Central Texas with the long-term objective of preserving open spaces, water supply, water quality and the unique character of the Texas Hill Country.
Photo: Karen Bruett