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National Bird Day

Conservation benefits a variety of wildlife but today we celebrate birds. A recent conservation success involves the proposed delisting of Black-capped Vireo as an endangered species. Through partnerships involving private landowners, conservation organizations, agencies, and researchers we are closer to assuring that this charming songbird will be around in its natural setting for future generations. Delisting is the ultimate conservation …

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Celebrating Stewardship

We are all turning the final pages of the chapter that was 2016 and with these final pages we are afforded an opportunity to reflect upon the plot and progress that have proceeded. At Hill Country Conservancy, we celebrate 2016 for several successes including closing on the fourth phase of the Historic Storm Ranch, the successful expansion of our focus …

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Winter Birding and the Mixed-Species Foraging Flock

Sometimes people ask me, “When is a good time of year to watch birds around here?” Based on over twenty years of experience birding in central Texas, I tell them, “Never let the time of year stop you from watching birds.” Birds are our most accessible form of wildlife to observe and enjoy and, especially here in central Texas, every …

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Landowner Spotlight: Cecil Ruby

Tell us a little about your family land. What makes it special to you? Our grandfather purchased this property in 1937. He went to school and grew up in Buda. His grandparents and parents had lived in the area. This was a 5000+ acre property with Onion Creek running through the middle of it. Our father grew up on this …

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HCC announces permanent conservation of the 4th phase of the historic Storm Ranch!

Since 1949, after acquiring their ranch in Hays County parcel by parcel, the Storm family has been committed to good stewardship of Hill Country land. In July 2005, Hill Country Conservancy (HCC) announced the closing of Phase I of an unprecedented land preservation agreement with the Storm Ranch that would preserve this historic land and symbol of Texas’ rural heritage …

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The Brockenbrough Big Sit!

The Big Sit! is an annual, international, noncompetitive birding event – this year, Hill Country Conservancy and Texas Land Conservancy are teaming up to bring the competition to Central Texas. The event is similar to a Big Day or a bird-a-thon in that the object is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours. The difference lies in the area limitation from which you may observe.

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Funding for Land Stewardship Activities

        Private landowners own approximately 95% of the land in Texas. This means that they are caring for our natural resources – water, wildlife, agricultural lands, and recreational and scenic assets – on behalf of all Texans. And, they are not being fairly compensated for all they do, day to day. Thankfully, there are numerous programs to …

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Competitive Birding for Conservation

Birding can be great for conservation, particularly when birders put their money where their binoculars are. The Great Texas Bird Classic, organized by Texas Parks and Wildlife, raises tens of thousands of dollars annually in support of conservation projects throughout the state. A full set of rules can be found here. My team, the Dirty Swainsons — named for the …

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Conservation Easements – An Estate Planning Tool

        Conservation easements can help with estate and succession planning in several ways: Reducing estate taxes Keeping family land intact for subsequent generations Passing values and a commitment to the land down to future owners Many rural landowners with larger tracts of land are subject to estate taxes on the value of their land. With a conservation …

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Conservation easements – A tool for reducing income taxes

        Landowners have numerous reasons for choosing to protect their land with a conservation easement. For many, they have an overarching love for the land and want to ensure it remains intact and healthy. The idea of leaving a family legacy that can be cherished by kids and grandkids, etc. is also a major concern. For others, …