SEGUIN, Texas – Aligned with its mission of conserving and protecting the Guadalupe River Basin, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) has begun development of a basin-wide Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The projected population growth for the Guadalupe River Basin (195 percent by 2050) along with increased demand on the River as a resource, necessitates the development of a HCP to protect the endangered and threatened species that depend on the Guadalupe River for survival.
“The Guadalupe River is a critical resource for a variety of species – aquatic, riparian, avian and human,” said GBRA Executive Manager of Environmental Science Nathan Pence. “The development of this HCP reinforces GBRA’s commitment to protecting and preserving our ecosystem while continuing to provide high quality water and wastewater utility services to more than 350,000 Texans.”
The Guadalupe River is home to 18 federally listed endangered species, eight federally listed threatened species, numerous candidate species being considered for endangered status and potentially newly described species. GBRA has already begun to address necessary protection for key species – the whooping crane, freshwater mussels and spring obligate salamaters – while planning for future residential and commercial growth and development throughout the Guadalupe Basin.
“This HCP will be a critical component of our conservation and sustainability efforts for decades to come,” said GBRA General Manager and CEO Kevin Patteson. “The completed plan will serve as a roadmap for how we can work collaboratively with our partners and communities to better develop water resource management and protect our environment.”
GBRA’s HCP will take a holistic and comprehensive approach to conservation while addressing complex issues like climate change. The HCP will cover the entire Guadalupe River Basin, from the headwaters in Kerr County to the San Antonio Bay. The HCP will further GBRA’s position as a regional leader, allowing for other utilities, municipalities, industries and individuals to formally participate under provisions outlined in the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The GBRA Board of Directors adopted a resolution of support for the HCP on April 17, 2019, with an estimated total project cost of $3.25 million, including $1 million in federal grant funds administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). GBRA has contracted Austin-based environmental consulting firm Blanton & Associates to lead the development of the HCP. The Blanton & Associates team includes other nationally-recognized consultants including ICF Jones & Stokes, R.J. Brandes Company, Kennedy Resource Company, WSP Global, Inc., Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C. and Suzanne Schwartz. Development of the HCP is expected to take place over the next three to five years.
First introduced by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, Habitat Conservation Plans were designed to help create partnerships between the United States Fish & Wildlife Service and non-Federal parties like GBRA to conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend, ultimately contributing to their recovery. HCPs serve as planning documents to minimize and mitigate the impacts of activities including the provision of water and wastewater service.
About the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority
The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) provides reliable high-quality water and wastewater treatment services, conserves and protects the Guadalupe River Basin, generates hydroelectric power, manages recreational areas, offers laboratory services, and creates educational programming while planning for and supporting community growth and development. Established as a water conservation and reclamation district by the Texas Legislature in 1933, GBRA has evolved to serve as a leader and steward of the water resources across a 10-country statutory district. GBRA’s district begins near the headwaters of the Guadalupe and Blanco rivers and ends at San Antonio Bay, including Kendall, Comal, Hays, Caldwell, Guadalupe, Gonzales, DeWitt, Victoria, Calhoun and Refugio counties.
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