Connemara adds three new board members, elects officers

The Connemara Conservancy board of directors will have three new members for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. We welcome Connemara founder Amy Monier, Sherry Englande Brown and Bob Mione to the board. [Read more…]

Mark your calendar – early start times for bird walks

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For the months of July, August and September the monthly Meadow bird walks will start at 7 a.m. In October, once the days are shorter, the start time will return to 8 a.m. Here’s the schedule for the next three months:

  • Saturday, July 4 – 7 a.m.
  • Sunday, August 2 – 7 a.m.
  • Saturday, September 5 – 7 a.m.

Click here for a schedule of upcoming events.

 

Extend your Earth Day celebration with a special Hops For Habitat

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Connemara is giving you a chance to extend your Earth Day celebration an extra day with a special family-friendly Hops For Habitat fundraiser on April 23 at Experimental Table in Lucas.

iStock_000018879725SmallThe event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will feature local chefs George Brown (Experimental Table), Matt Hamilton (Local Yocal Farm To Market) and Robert Lyford (Patina Green Home And Market). They will unleash their creative talents on pounds of smoked pork, charcuterie with house made pickles, fresh farm eggs and cool vegetables. All capped off by pastry chef Katie Brown’s homemade smore’s.

There will also be a special menu for the kids.

Tickets are $75 per adult and $10 per child and the event is sponsored by Experimental Table and Nine Band Brewing Co. with proceeds benefitting Connemara Conservancy.

Click Here to reserve your seat at the table.

 

Connemara to protect 550 acres of the Rockin’ K Ranch in Navarro County

The beauty of the Rockin’ K Ranch on full display.

The beauty of the Rockin’ K Ranch on full display.

We are excited to announce that Connemara will provide protection for 550 acres of the Rockin’ K Ranch in Corsicana thanks to a recently signed conservation easement.

The easement will protect a portion of a large family cattle ranch in perpetuity. The land within the easement will also serve as a mitigation bank, protecting the flood plain of the Chambers Creek, which has been determined to be impaired by the state environmental protection agency.

“This area has potential to serve as an environmental training venue for wetlands education, waterfowl habitat and water quality work on polluted streams,” said Ray J. Kane, whose family owns the Rockin’ K Ranch.

Connemara Conservation Director R.J. Taylor explains that we will be able to enhance water quality entering the water way by using restored tributaries and wetlands.

The signing of the easement increases the amount of land protected by  Connemara to more than 6,000 acres as both fee land holdings and under conservation easements. This means that we have more than doubled the amount of land under our protection over the past five years.

The reason for this growth is simple. The explosive rate of development throughout Texas has dramatically increased interest in land conservation. Almost daily we are contacted by landowners, local governments and even forward-thinking developers about ways to protect important remaining parts of our landscape.

We are proud that for more than three decades the Connemara Conservancy has been at the forefront of land conservation and environmental education in North Texas. We look forward to making many more announcements such as this in the near future.

Connemara Conservancy Board President Marcus Yarbrough (left), Conservation Director RJ Taylor (Center) and landowner Ray Kane at the signing of an easement that moved Connemara over the 6,000 acre mark of conserved land in North Texas.

Connemara Conservancy Board President Marcus Yarbrough (left), Conservation Director RJ Taylor (Center) and landowner Ray Kane at the signing of an easement that moved Connemara over the 6,000 acre mark of conserved land in North Texas.

Green Space, Green Infrastructure, Good Water

As development continues to accelerate, open space plays a more important role in protection of our water supply.

As development continues to accelerate, open space plays an increasingly important role in protection of our water supply.

The following article on the critical role that open space plays in protecting our water supply was provided to Connemara by Mike Bastain, vice president with CH2M Hill, a global leader in full-service consulting, design, design-build, operations and program management.

By Mike Bastian

The growing population and consequent urbanization of North Texas makes it more difficult to preserve natural areas and open space close to where we live.  And, the loss of natural lands makes it more difficult to protect our drinking water supply that the growing population needs.

Only 7% of our drinking water in the North Texas comes from groundwater and over 90% comes from surface water supply reservoirs like Benbrook, Eagle Mountain, Lavon, Lewisville, Ray Hubbard and Ray Roberts, to name a few.  Moreover, we like to live near these lakes.  They provide recreation, great views, provide a premium to our home values and a boost to local economies.

It is reasonable to be concerned that pollution in storm water runoff from the urbanizing watersheds around reservoirs will degrade the quality of the water supply. However, we can do something about it.

Land conservation (green space) and green infrastructure (constructed green space) in watersheds can help protect water quality in our reservoirs.   Both approaches work in tandem.  Conserving land in a least disturbed vegetated condition along streams, ponds, and wetlands that drain to the reservoirs is a first step.  These buffer areas filter out pollution and slow down runoff so it does not scour stream channels and carry sediments into the reservoirs.

A second step is to build development with green infrastructure that allows storm water to soak into the ground and uses biological or physical processes to remove pollutants.  Rain gardens, vegetated filter strips, permeable pavement and green roofs all help reduce the peak storm water flows that carry these pollutants through creek channels. And, like the lakes, land conservation and green infrastructure can provide recreational space, great views, a premium to our home values, and a boost to the quality life in our communities.

It is a great feeling to be in a natural place and experience the beauty of nature around you.   There is intrinsic value in the conservation of natural lands.  As land uses in North Texas continue to change from rural to suburban and urban, natural areas will become more important in protecting the quality of our water supplies.  Everyone wants plenty of good drinking water, so let’s work together to help our neighbors understand the value of land conservation for protecting the quality of our water supplies.

 

Connemara receives challenge grant from Dixon Water Foundation

The Dixon Water Foundation promotes healthy watersheds through sustainable land management to ensure that present and future generations of Texans have the water resources they need.

The Dixon Water Foundation promotes healthy watersheds through sustainable land management to ensure that present and future generations of Texans have the water resources they need.

We are very excited to announce that one of our most loyal supporters, the Dixon Water Foundation, has announced a Challenge Grant that will match up to $25,000 in new funds raised by Connemara through the end of June.

Contributions to Connemara can be made at https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/connemaraconservancy?code=connemaraconservancy.

Dixon-Water-FoundationThe challenge is in support of our efforts to help address land and water issues through conservation and education programs and kicks off our new capacity building campaign.

The Dixon Water Foundation was founded in 1994 by the late Roger Dixon and promotes healthy watersheds through sustainable land management to ensure that present and future generations of Texans have the water resources they need.

They recognize that land-use decisions being made today have a significant impact on water quality, not only now but also decades into the future.

Support of The Dixon Water Foundation helps ensure that we have the resources needed to work with landowners, developers and local governments on land conservation initiatives directly linked to protecting water quality and quantity throughout North Texas.

Robert Potts,  president of  The Dixon Water Foundation,  believes the need has never been greater for organizations such as Connemara.

“The Dixon Water Foundation is proud to support Connemara’s work because it is vital to maintaining and improving the quality of life for all North Texans,” Potts said in announcing the Challenge Grant.

North Texas is a great place to call home. It is recognized worldwide as a region that sustains its economic success and vitality because of its highly desirable communities, innovative people and varied natural assets. Yet we face a real threat to the quality of life that makes it so special. That threat is water, or a lack thereof.

The Dixon Water Foundation Grant coincides with the launch of Connemara’s “Forging Our Future for North Texas” three-year plan to improve the organization’s capacity in order to expand our pivotal role in land-use decisions and water quality matters that impact the Dallas-Fort Worth region of Texas.

You will be hearing more about this plan in the coming weeks, but its purpose is to enable us to address a concern that is top of mind and that many people are discussing, but not many people are solving. It’s going to take the partnership of the three sectors — private, public and nonprofit — to find the solutions that protect our quality of life here in North Texas, and all of Texas for that matter.

Under this plan, we will focus our efforts on:

  • protecting natural resources, especially water quality, to safeguard the future of our community;
  • educating decision-makers about the importance of land use decisions to the future of our community and economy;
  • improving health and quality of life by providing the public with opportunities to be outside;
  • stewardship of conserved land in perpetuity.

Again, to support these efforts (and double your contribution, thanks to the Dixon Water Foundation) please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/connemaraconservancy?code=connemaraconservancy.

 

 

Senate saves 2014 tax incentives for conservation

The Senate recently passed a last-minute measure that allows for tax deductions in 2014 to benefit conservation.

The provisions are:

  • Anyone that donates a conservation easement in 2014 may deduct 50% of their AGI per year for the year of donation and an additional 15 years, until they have deducted the full value of their donation.  Qualified farmers, ranchers and forestland owners may deduct 100% of their AGI.
  • S corporations may deduct the fair market value of their charitable contributions and are not limited to deducting no more than their basis in their S corporation stock.
  • Donors who are older than 70 1/2 may donate up to $100,000 to charity out of their IRA without paying taxes or penalties on the withdrawal.

The political landscape has shifted when it comes to tax incentives because of bipartisan fighting over tax cuts vs. spending.  Land conservation advocates are concerned that the current political climate threatens the industry’s capacity to work with smaller ranchers and landowners who need the conservation incentives to make their work affordable.

That’s a big deal for Texas where there is so much AG land that provides food for the country.  At least conservation groups have  this year to finish projects that are in the works.

 

Celebrate 2015 with a Connemara calendar

ConnemaraCalendarMockUp550Celebrate every season of 2015 while supporting Connemara.

With a $25 contribution, we’ll ship you our first Connemara calendar featuring scenic photography from the more than 5,000 acres of open space protected by Connemara and other North Texas landscapes.

We have a limited supply of calendars available, so order yours today.

Click here to make your donation and receive your calendar.

Calendars ordered by Dec. 22 will arrive in time for Christmas.

 

Support Connemara while holiday shopping

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If you like shopping and dining there is no place quite like Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm, especially during the holiday season.

Every time you visit this award-winning, resort style mixed-use development on the southwest corner of U.S. 75 and Bethany Drive in Allen, you can support the mission of the Connemara Conservancy.

Through the end of December, Connemara will be the beneficiary of the Change for Charity program at Watters Creek.  All you have to do is feed the Watters Creek parking meters with your extra change and the proceeds will be donated to Connemara.

Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm, which also sponsored “Into The Meadow,” is a 52-acre project that incorporates a complete mix of uses including a large creekside village green, interactive public art, a variety of popular retail options, restaurants featuring al fresco dining and water views along with office space and residential lofts.

Defined by its conservation-focused designs and wide-open spaces, Watters Creek has worked hard to be eco-friendly. In fact, Watters Creek is the first retail development in the State of Texas to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

You can read more about the many conservation programs at Watters Creek by clicking here.

Thank you Watters Creek for your support and we encourage everyone that supports Connemara to do your shopping and dining at Watters Creek. And feed the meters while you are there!

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Texas U.S. Senator John Cornyn needs to hear from you!

Perhaps more than in any other state, Texas prides itself on the private ownership of land.  This isn’t a state where the federal government will be coming in with a grand plan for a large National Park.

If we want to continue enjoying wide open spaces, however, and if we want our cash-strapped ranchers and farmers to be able to keep producing the food we eat, then something must happen to make sure that land conservation remains a reality here at home.

Our quality of life depends on it!

The enhanced tax incentive for land conservation is the predominant tool we have in Texas to conserve land.  We need your help to make sure it doesn’t go away.

You CAN help, and you can do it today.

The U.S. Senate leadership will soon be considering a bill that protects the charitable giving incentives that mean so much to all non-profits and makes the easement incentive for land conservation a permanent part of the tax code.   It passed in the U.S. House of Representatives with bi-partisan support!

Now is the time for Senator John Cornyn to know that this matters to you.  Only during the post-election “lame duck” session of Congress can this happen.  We only have until December 31st.

Please Contact Senator Cornyn today!  

Your message can be short and simple: “Senator Cornyn, land conservation matters to me as a resident of the great state of Texas.  Please vote “yes” in support of the easement incentive for land conservation.”

There are several ways you can make your voice heard:

Email Your Support Here:

http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactForm

Call his North Texas office: 972-239-1310

Call his Washington, DC office : 202-224-2934

For more information about the tax incentive and other conservation issues, contact the Land Trust Alliance at www.lta.org.

 

Site last updated November 16, 2018 @ 11:10 am