In the News

Step by Step Guide to Austin’s Long Anticipated Violet Crown Trail

Austinot by Leah Nyfeler – August 19, 2015

“How’d you like to hike, run and bike your way across 30 miles of pathway connecting central Austin to Hays County? Thanks to Violet Crown Trail, local nature lovers will soon be able to do just that…”

First section of Violet Crown Trail opens to the public

Austin American-Statesman by Pam LeBlanc – August 17, 2015

“Just a few hundred yards from U.S. 290, along a new trail that dips into rocky ravines and winds along Gaines Creek, chirping birds and rustling leaves swallow the sounds of traffic…”

First segment of Violet Crown Trail opens: Cities of Austin, Sunset Valley join Hill Country Conservancy at ribbon cutting

Community Impact Newspaper by Kelli Weldon – August 14, 2015

“The first six miles of the Violet Crown Trail opened to the public Aug. 14 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair, Sunset Valley Mayor Rose Cardona and George Cofer, executive director of local nonprofit Hill Country Conservancy.”

Part of Violet Crown Trail opens Friday

KVUE – ‎August 14, 2015‎

“The land we’re standing on was not open to the public until we built the Violet Crown Trail. The land south of the historic Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is beautiful, historic ranch land that will be open for the first time because of the…”

Six miles of Violet Crown Trail opens for use

KXAN by Dave Byknish – ‎August 14, 2015‎

“After nearly 20 years of strategic land acquisition and planning, the first six miles of the Violet Crown Trail opened to the public on Friday. A ribbon cutting was held for the first six miles of the trail, which is off Highway 290 and…”

First section of Violet Crown Trail opens to the public

Austin American-Statesman by Pam LeBlanc – ‎August 14, 2015‎

“Just a few hundred yards from U.S. 290, along a new trail that dips into rocky ravines and winds along Gaines Creek, chirping birds and rustling leaves swallow the sounds of traffic. Last Friday, the city unveiled the first 6 miles of the long-awaited …”

Austin’s Newest Hike And Bike Trail Opens

KEYE by Bettie Cross – ‎August 14, 2015‎

“It’s a great trail, great condition, brand new. Really enjoyed it,” said Jon Rookstool, an Austin mountain biker. Reviews are coming in on Austin’s newest hike and bike trail. The six mile Violet Crown Trail (VCT) opened to the public on Friday…”

Vote early, often for Violet Crown Trail in REI campaign

austin360 by Pam LeBlanc – August 14, 2015

“That means the project will receive $5 from REI for each vote it receives in the online campaign, until it hits a $75,000 maximum or all 10 trails receive a combined total of $500,000 in votes, whichever comes first. To vote for the Violet Crown Trail…”

Austin’s new Violet Crown Trail opens to the public

CultureMap by Nicole Raney – August 13, 2015

“Central Texans have a new place to hike after 17 years in the making. The Violet Crown Trail has been in the works since 1998 and officials are opening the first six-mile segment of the trail to the public on Friday…”

Violet Crown Trail Opens: First six miles of a planned 30 miles of trail open to the public

Austin Chronicle by Robyn Ross – August 13, 2015

“Austin’s newest trail system will make its debut Friday, Aug. 14, with the official opening of the first six miles of the Violet Crown Trail…”

Violet Crown Trail – A trail to connect them all

REI Blog by Ali Carr Troxell – July 15, 2015

“Austin, Texas, isn’t without trails. In fact, this notoriously outdoorsy, hip town in the center of the state has quite a few of them. But currently, many of them are overcrowded and deteriorating…”

New trail signs on Barton Creek Greenbelt

KXAN – March 31, 2015

Beginning Tuesday, the Texas Conservation Corp will be installing new mile marker and way-finding sign posts on the main trail of the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail system. The sign design, manufacturing and installation coordination is a donation from the Hill Country Conservancy. It’s part of Phase I roll-out of the Violet Crown Trail Master Plan.

Southwest Austin trail project moves forward

KXAN by Amanda Dugan – January 13, 2015

You will soon have more options to walk, hike and bike through Central Texas as crews continue to make progress on the Violet Crown Trail.

The trail system will connect Zilker Park and Barton Springs Pool to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Veloway. Construction started last year and it’s now time to nail down plans for the second phase of the trail system.

City, federal funds to preserve Hays County ranch

Austin American-Statesman by Asher Price – Monday, July 7, 2014

The development of a 747-acre ranch south of Austin is off the table after the city and the federal government paid the property’s owners to keep it a working ranch.

To pay for the development rights of Ruby Ranch, valued at $5,980,000, the city of Austin is paying $2 million and the Natural Resources Conservation Service is paying $2.99 million. The value of the remainder of the property was donated by the Ruby family.

2013 Reader’s Poll Best Environmentalist: George Cofer!

Austin Chronicle

We at HCC are VERY lucky to call George Cofer ours! Our fearless leader won BEST ENVIRONMENTALIST in the Austin Chronicle Poll!

“It’s easy to talk green. Longtime Hill Country Conservancy Executive Director George Cofer really makes things happen. From helping landowners preserve their property in its natural state to working with the city on comprehensive transport solutions, Cofer has a way of bringing everyone together in the green places we all love.”

George Cofer works to save open spaces

Austin American-Statesman by Michael Barnes – March 24 2013

As head of the Hill Country Conservancy, advocate has changed the conversation about the environment in Central Texas

Cofer has led the charge to snap up conservation easements in the Hill Country, allowing some private projects, thereby securing legal protection for other open space in perpetuity.

Soon, his group will help break ground on Phase 2 of a grand project — the 30-mile Violet Crown Trail that will link the parks and greenbelts in Austin’s urban core toward a spine of Hill Country that arcs across the Barton Springs recharge zone.

“What open space the community is able to preserve in the next 25 years is probably the only land that will be forever in a natural or green state,” he says. “As we say at the conservancy, when it’s gone, it’s gone for good. When the conservancy preserves the land, it’s here forever.”

Homebuilder creates revenue for Hill Country Conservancy

Austin Business Journal by Jan Buchholz – January 11, 2013

The Hill Country Conservancy has inked a deal with Taylor-Morrison Homes that will provide up to $100,000 in revenue for the Austin nonprofit organization.

Under terms of the agreement, homebuyers in the new Reunion Ranch community near Dripping Springs will contribute $100 to the Hill Country Conservancy at the time of closing, and Taylor-Morrison will contribute an equal amount. With nearly 500 homes slated to be built there during the next four to eight years, the total contribution is expected to be about $100,000.

Group works to preserve land, water resources

Community Impact by Joe Olivieri – September 27, 2012

For years, people have been moving to the Hill Country to enjoy its beautiful landscapes.
But if development continues unabated and open spaces are not conserved, there could be no beautiful landscapes left to enjoy in the future, said George Cofer, executive director of the Hill Country Conservancy.

That’s why the Hill Country Conservancy works with property owners to preserve remaining land and water resources and to maintain the area’s rural heritage.

The conservancy sets up conservation easements (see sidebar) and helps landowners remain on their property.
Since 2000, the conservancy and its partners have preserved 40,000 acres, or 15 percent of the land in the Barton Springs Aquifer region, as open space, Cofer said.

“Homeowners view their acreage as a retreat,” he said. “They move there because nobody else is there and want to be the last person there. When [development] begins to affect their skyline and their immediate neighboring property, they think conservation is a great thing.”

Austin Proposition 12: Aiming to Move People

KUT by Reshma Kirpalani – September 25, 2012

It’s just six weeks till the November elections. Along with federal, state and county offices, Austinites will vote on 18 city propositions, including seven bond propositions to fund improvement projects throughout the city. KUT News will be profiling these propositions in upcoming weeks. Proposition 12 focuses on transportation and mobility projects.

The $143.3 million proposed bond would fund the improvement, construction and design of sidewalks, bridges and roads to help ease traffic. That would include improvements on Interstate 35, MoPac and North Lamar Boulevard. The bond would also fund new traffic signals and pedestrian beacons to improve safety, and help pay for a portion of the Violet Crown Trail, a 30-mile path hike-and-bike trail from Zilker Park to Hays County.

How are shifting demographics changing Central Texas?

Forefront Austin – September 2012

Demographers paint a vivid picture of the future of Central Texas, foreseeing significant changes in the way we live and the individuals who make up our community. As our population increases, ages, moves and diversifies, all of us — both newcomers and long-time residents — will be challenged to find new commonalities to unite, rather than divide, us as we shape our region’s future together.

We start this special series with perspectives from organizations who are responding to the demographic shifts under way in Central Texas. Read these perspectives to gain insights into how, no matter how much we change, Central Texas remains the place we all want to call home.

20 Austinites you simply must know

Austin Business Journal by Colin Pope – August 30, 2012

Who you know is just as important as what you know. With that in mind, I present to you a list of 20 Austinites that you should at least be familiar with if your intentions are to become embedded in — and influential to — Austin’s business scene. These aren’t necessarily the richest and most powerful people in Austin. Nor is it a complete list. But these are certainly decision-makers who have not only an impact on their company or organization, but also their industry and this city. And perhaps the best thing about them: Like most Austinites in this network-friendly town, they’re approachable.

George Cofer: Cofer is one of those down-to-earth guys who simply loves Austin for what it is. He’s one of those rare native Austinites. He spends much of his time working with corporate and civic leaders to preserve one of our economy’s greatest assets: Hill Country land and beautiful rivers and lakes. We did a Q&A with him recently, which explains how he does it. Click here for his bio, which is almost as fun and quirky as the man himself.

Council considers funding 30-mile trail

‘Violet Crown’ will run from Austin to Hays County
KXAN by Josh Hinkle – August 8, 2012

Once dubbed the “City of the Violet Crown,” Austin’s natural beauty will soon stretch 30 miles south into Hays County by way of a new hike and bike trail.

Crews should break ground on the Violet Crown Trail’s second phase early next year, as backers are working to secure more funding in the City of Austin’s current bond proposal. The main group behind the project – the Hill Country Conservancy – would like to see $3 million, though two plans on the table now recommend either $1 million or $3 million.

The entire trail project will link users to neighborhoods, retail centers and parks. Mostly complete, the first part of the trail now stretches from Barton Springs Pool down to Sunset Valley. It overlaps existing trails in the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Austin City Council focuses on November bond package of $385 million to $400 million

Austin American-Statesman By Sarah Coppola – August 7, 2012

Austin City Council members said Tuesday that they would prefer a November bond package in the range of $385 million to $400 million, which would require little or no property tax increase.

Also Tuesday, council members revealed some of their preferences for projects to include in the package, suggesting cuts or additions they would make to a staff-recommended list that totals $385 million.

Leffingwell said he’d like to see more money to expand an Austin Studios film production facility; create the Violet Crown Trail, a 30-mile planned path from Zilker Park to Hays County; improve East 51st Street; and renovate the bathhouse at Barton Springs Pool, if a private group can also raise some money toward the renovation.

Leffingwell said that film production is an economic generator for Austin; that the trail is backed by a nonprofit group, the Hill Country Conservancy, which has a solid record of completing projects; and that a private group is raising money to match bond money for East 51st.

Cofer, corporate elite preserve Austin hills

Austin Business Journal by Colin Pope, Editor – June 14, 2012

One of Austin’s greatest assets is its green Hill Country with creeks and spring-fed swimming holes tucked between them, and one of the most influential protectors of that asset is a relatively quiet eight-person nonprofit called the Hill Country Conservancy. Its mission is simple: to preserve pristine land — especially around Southwest Austin and over the Edwards Aquifer.

HCC is led by George Cofer, a gregarious, fun-loving lifelong Austinite who has been living and breathing conservation for decades. Those who assume he’s a radical, tree-hugging environmentalist are partly right, according to those who know him. But Cofer is perhaps best known for his keen sense of balance between progress and preservation.

Trail builders gearing up for work on second phase of Violet Crown Trail

Austin American-Statesman by Pam LeBlanc, Fit City – June 4, 2012

Climb into a car and drive someplace to go for a hike, a bike ride or a swim?
We’d rather walk or pedal right from the front door, thank you very much.

A lot of folks will be able to do just that when the Violet Crown Trail, a 30-mile pathway that ultimately will stretch from Zilker Park to Hays County, opens. The long, seamless expanse of trail will connect neighborhoods with parks, pools, libraries, schools and shopping centers and create lots of new terrain for hiking, running and pedaling.

National Trails Day

My Fox Austin – June 2, 2012

Saturday was “National Trails Day”. Hundreds of volunteers worked on trails throughout Central Austin. The Austin Parks Foundation, Austin Parks and Recreation and the Hill Country Conservancy teamed up to throw a “trailgating” event. Families were handed tools, gloves and water to help beautify trails along the Greenbelt, Shoal Creek, Zilker Nature Preserves and even the Violet Crown Trail. Organizers say the Violet Crown will be an extension of the Greenbelt. There’s no date set for when the Greenbelt extension will be done. More than 20 kids under 5 years old also helped out. Organizers say “National Trails Day” is all about enjoying the outdoors.

Here forever: Hill Country Conservancy protects open spaces and ranching heritage

Culture Map Austin by Robyn Ross – April 10, 2012

That photo of your kid/dog/significant other in the bluebonnets looks a lot better without a mall in the background.

But the number of pristine, photo-worthy fields is shrinking, as are the iconic farms and ranches of the Hill Country. Texas is paving paradise and putting up parking lots at a startling pace. In the 90s alone, more than a million and a half acres of rural and agricultural land in Texas were lost to development.

The Hill Country Conservancy is working to preserve the blue-green hills and swimmable streams that brought many Austinites here in the first place. And it’s doing so not by fighting the market forces that bring development to Central Texas, but by using a tool of the market: it buys development rights to ranches and then dissolves them in an agreement called a conservation easement.