Replacing Mother Nature Can Be Expensive

May 14, 2018

“We take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude,” Dr. Tom Arsuffi stressed near the beginning of the most recent Texas Water Symposium. The panel discussion, moderated by Katherine Romans, Executive Director of the Hill Country Alliance, also brought together District 53 Rep. Andy Murr and Texas A&M researcher Hughes Simpson to discuss the preservation of natural assets.

“We’re losing those free things that nature provides us,” Arsuffi continued, referring to everything from photosynthesis to healthy soils that capture and retain moisture. “The irony of this whole thing is that to replace that free stuff that nature provides us, we’d have to come up with very costly technological solutions.”

Representative Murr noted, “The dollar drives more property owners to do things or not do things in taking care of what they have. The concept that I follow… is, ‘leave it the same or a little bit better than you found it.’” Rep. Murr said with Texas’ population growth, what he’s seeing are new property owners from the city that don’t know how to properly care for the bit of “heaven” they’ve acquired. Urban residents and lawmakers need education about rural needs and how to run land outside of the city.

Llano River at sunset.
Credit Nathan Cone / TPR

Arsuffi also laid out the economic impact of eco-tourism in the Hill Country when he shared figures from an economic study performed  by a student at Texas Tech in Junction: “Just fishing for the state fish of Texas generates $75 million dollars a year for the Hill Country, and nearly 800 jobs. Just fishing for Guadalupe Bass. That’s a good argument for keeping waters healthy and clean waters flowing in our Texas Hill Country rivers, but that doesn’t even take into account the economic value of kayakers, canoers, swimmers, birders… so the economic value of our Hill Country Texas rivers is an incredible economic generator.”

Listen to and download the complete Texas Water Symposium audio in the below player. The program opens with a reading by Bill Neiman from the wrtings of Wendell Berry.

Moderator: Katherine Romans, Executive Director, Hill Country Alliance

Panelists:

  • Rep. Andrew Murr, District 53
  • Hughes Simpson, Program Leader, Texas A&M Forest Service
  • Tom Arsuffi Ph.D., Director of the Llano River Field Station at Texas Tech University