EDITOR’S NOTE: We want to learn how other organizations approach sustainability, so we’ve published a series of posts featuring innovative companies and people who are doing their part to support our planet. See below to read a guest blog from the Hill Country Conservancy in Austin, Texas.
What is the mission of Hill Country Conservancy and how does sustainability fit into it?
We’re an environmental non-profit land trust that works to preserve green space and natural areas in the Texas Hill Country. We do that by working with farmers and ranchers, as well as with cities, counties, and state and federal agencies to create conservation agreements with landowners that protect the natural beauty of this area. In tandem with these efforts, we’re also working on the Violet Crown Trail, which will be the first regional trail system in central Texas, stretching from Zilker Park more than 30 miles into Hays County. All of these projects are undertaken with the mission of sustaining water quality, wildlife habitat and the rural heritage of the Hill Country for future generations to experience and enjoy.
Can you explain your sustainability efforts and goals?
The agreements we form with landowners, called conservation easements, are one of the most important ways we contribute to the sustainability of the Hill Country. The effects of these agreements are multifaceted: They preserve water quality features that directly contribute to the health of the Edwards Aquifer, they maintain wildlife habitat for endangered species, and they sustain the scenic views and rolling green hills that distinguish the Hill Country from the rest of Texas, conserving its natural beauty for generations to come.
Forming these agreements with landowners is one of our main goals, as is continuing our work on the Violet Crown Trail. While placing a conservation easement on a large ranch can often preserve thousands of acres of Hill Country land in perpetuity, access to that land is generally restricted to the landowner. In building the Violet Crown Trail, Hill Country Conservancy will be able to offer access to conserved lands to the public, for them to experience and enjoy firsthand.
Why is sustainability important to Hill Country Conservancy? How do your staff and your volunteers participate?
Sustainability is important to Hill Country Conservancy because we’ve witnessed firsthand the booming growth that has taken place in the greater Austin area. As this urban core expands, the Hill Country that many of us grew up hiking, swimming, camping and hunting and fishing in is unfortunately threatened. We know that growth is an unavoidable consequence of living in a location as desirable as Central Texas. But in being proactive about conserving land, forming relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, and heightening awareness of what it is we stand to lose if Hill Country land vanishes, we believe we can affect the nature of growth in Central Texas to become more sustainable.
What advice would you give other organizations that are trying to get their sustainability efforts off the ground?
Hill Country Conservancy has enjoyed much of its success due to the network of relationships we’ve built and maintained throughout the years. Broadening your tent, so to speak, and working with a wide range of partners, is great advice that HCC has heeded and benefited from throughout the years.
Where can people learn more about Hill Country Conservancy?
Our website is full of information about our ongoing land projects and volunteer programs, as well as our young professionals group EPIC. You can find us online at www.hillcountryconservancy.org. Also, visit and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Are you a business?
To read about more businesses and people focused on sustainability, visit our “Sustainability Stories” archive by clicking here.