San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 8th, 2009
County works up 'greenprint' map

By SEAN MARLIN
News Reporter

Future conservation goals occupied Hays County residents and environmental stakeholders last week at a meeting in Wimberley to help develop a “Greenprint” map.

The Hays County Commissioners Court facilitated the meeting, though representatives from he Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) did most of the talking.

CAPCOG and TPL created a digital map highlighting Hays County’s top six conservation concerns determined in May 2008.

Geographical areas of concern in each of these matters were designated as such on six different maps, one for each priority. Then, the separate maps were overlaid to show a summary map containing all priorities at once.

“Based on the model as its set up, they view a map that represents all of the goals they have identified,” said Sean Moran of CAPCOG. “They interactively weight (the) goals. That will then be summed up for the entire room and those priorities will then be put in a model and the incoming data will be weighed against each other and it will create a composite draft map…”

The attendees at last week’s meeting in Wimberley prioritized the six concerns, weighted them accordingly, then generated an overall map showing the intensity of an area’s need for preservation.

The six concerns, in their weighted order:

1. Water conservation – score: 35

2. Sensitive Ecological Areas – score: 25

3. Farm and Ranch Land – score: 15

4. Park and Recreation – score: 12

5. Scenic Corridors – score: 8

6. Cultural and Historic Resources – score: 4

Represented in a color scheme ranging from white to dark red, the color was determined by the amount of conservation need in an area. Areas of overlapping conservation goals show greater color intensity. For example, if Freeman Ranch had water conservation concerns, was considered an historic site, and was a habitat for an endangered species, it would appear as dark red. Areas around I-35, with few environmental concerns according to the map, appeared almost colorless.

Water conservation was far and away the most important issue to the meeting’s attendees. However, farm and ranch land was a major concern to a vocal minority, which succeeded in raising farmland’s weight score from seven to 15.

After being awarded a $115,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration for Hays, Bastrop, and Caldwell counties, TPL and Envision Central Texas raised matching funds to facilitate the study.

“It’s about a year-long process to get to the final draft maps,” Moran said. “Then we have another year to educate both professional staff and the public on the process so they can utilize that and get it in planning processes. So, it’s about a two-year project and we are approaching, when we hit May, the end of the first year.”

A finalized Greenprint map will be available for county officials and the public as a tool to focus conservation efforts and evaluate development projects.

“I think this will influence us as we look at park land that we acquire, where we put conservation easements, and where you might approve high density development versus low density development,” said Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle).

Though the meeting constituted progress towards developing a greenprint map, commissioners expressed concern that the county’s population was unevenly represented.

“I wish that we had a broader representation from groups and geographic regions within our county,” said Hays County Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford (D-Dripping Springs). “I feel like because we were in Wimberley, there were a lot of people here from Wimberley as well as San Marcos, not a lot of people from Dripping Springs, Kyle or Buda areas. I wished there had been 200 people here instead of 40.”

The county hasn’t yet set the next meeting date to finalize the map. However, officials said, the map will never be truly finalized, as it is intended to function as a “living document.” Representatives from CAPCOG and TPL have asked to meet again in the coming months to finalize goals.

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0 thoughts on “County works up 'greenprint' map

  1. Complaining about the meeting location? Really? Wimberley is:

    14 miles from Dripping Springs
    15 miles from San Marcos
    18 miles from Kyle
    23 miles from Buda

    Are you really saying that people in Kyle didn’t attend because it was three miles further than San Marcos? Are you really saying that people in Dripping Springs didn’t attend even though it was the same distance away as San Marcos?

    Karen, I often agree with your view on things, but that comment was idiotic. Yeah, attendance wasn’t great, but that is a product of poor marketing and outreach, not location. Since the Commissioners Court served as meeting facilitators and are the ones most capable of identifying key stakeholder groups, the poor attendance blame falls squarely on them.

  2. I was not aware of the meeting. Live in Kyle. But I might have missed the notices. I’ve been pretty busy of late. I did see a copy of the map. It is totally inadequate for depicting historic resources. The map is really at the wrong scale.

  3. I agree with you there, about the scale being wrong and how poorly it depicts historic resources. The Texas Historic Commission has standard specs for Historic Resources Surveys. With data available from existing surveys in San Marcos, I can’t imagine it would be that expensive/involved to develop surveys for the remaining portions of the county.

    If someone like you (past member of both the county and city historic commissions) didn’t hear about it, then that means the Commissioners Court as a whole did not do its job in getting the word out even to people most would consider essential knowledge resources for a project like this, much less the general public.

    A crappy legal notice in the back of the classifieds won’t cut it.

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