Greetings from Austin, Texas!! I’ll admit, I’m not actually, physically there right now. The biannual Texas legislative session began on January 12th and runs 140 days to May 31st and I’ll spend enough time working on legislative issues that it will feel like I am in Austin!
People often don’t consider the impact that legislation and policy have on land conservation. Local, state, and federal policies can all impact Bayou Land Conservancy’s ability to permanently protect land here in the Houston area. Voluntary land protection is a complex agreement between our organization and a conservation partner, so changes in tax law, land use policies, wetlands protections, or government funding for conservation can all play a role in what land we can preserve.
During this Texas State Legislative session, some of the bills that the Policy Committee is tracking and communicating with legislators about include those that will provide community protection from nearby aggregate production operations, bills that increase funding for nature-based infrastructure, and a bill that would create a dredging and maintenance district for the Lake Houston area. An important state-wide advocacy partner is Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining. We also partner with our land trust colleagues from across the country to advocate for policies that favor responsible land conservation, like the federal Charitable Conservation Easement Integrity Act and the Restore America’s Wildlife Act. Here in the Houston region, we work with partners on issues like flooding, clean water, and resilience.
BLC staff at the Texas Land Trust Council's Advocacy day in Austin, Texas during the 2019 Legislative Session.
Overseen by our board of directors, our policy program is run by our Public Policy committee, a group of volunteers with various types of expertise that have an interest in how the policy sausage gets made.
In short, advocacy helps Bayou Land Conservancy fulfill our mission and connects policy makers (YOUR elected representatives) to the benefits that land conservation brings to their constituents. It’s a vital part of our success and we’re always delighted when our members have questions about these issues