Here Forever: Land Conservation in the Hill Country

Hill Country Conservancy recently made a contribution to Travis Audubon’s Land Endowment supporting the protection of Central Texas habitat. In an interview with Travis Audubon’s Nancy Sprehn, HCC’s Conservation Project Manager Romey Swanson shared his thoughts on the importance of land conservation.

As Austin’s open spaces face ever increasing pressures from development, our open spaces become more important for the health and well being of the city and its residents. “Open space scrubs water before entering waterways. Austin’s drinking water sources are the Colorado River and Highland Lakes. If there are buffers of green spaces, less investment is needed in cleaning the water,” said Swanson. He believes more people are starting to understand this connection along with the idea that open space also means improved air quality and habitat preservation for species diversity.

When asked why HCC donated to Travis Audubon’s Land Endowment, Swanson said, “We saw a great opportunity to show support for efforts to conserve land and show our willingness to partner.”

HCC was formed with a goal of preserving 50,000 acres of networked land to protect vital resources, wildlife, and heritage for future generations. When asked about working together toward common goals, Swanson brought up the vast knowledge base and skillset that our organizations offer, from land management to species identification. He mentioned how Travis Audubon’s Master Birder program in particular serves an important role for the whole conservation community.

“There are a lot of elements to conservation work and experts that are needed in so many areas: butterflies, plants, birds, etc. Travis Audubon’s Master Birder program is building that base of active and engaged people who can lend their time to these efforts; There are so many engaged birders – so many knowledgeable people. We’re not chasing certifications, but we are chasing fellowships and we want to have conversations and share our knowledge. Master Birder strengthens your knowledge and skillset but it also gets you out practicing and sharing that knowledge.”

Thanks to the generous donations of individuals and organizations like Hill Country Conservancy, Travis Audubon can continue protecting fragile habitat from urban growth and can mobilize members who are passionate about building and sharing their environmental knowledge.