Mason County News
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Who Owns the Texas Hill Country?
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 • Posted August 19, 2009

Not in the literal sense. Anyone could take the extra effort and find out who owns which parcel or acreage of land. The question refers more to the scenic beauty and grandness of the Texas Hill County, the alluring qualities that all Texans admire and come to see . . . who owns that? Not just in Mason County but in the wider region of Texas. You would think that a question such as that would be followed by an answer such as – every Texan enjoys the Texas scenery and though not every Texan can live in the Hill Country it belongs to every Texan as part of the Texan culture and heritage. Unfortunately, that statement is becoming less and less true. A part of our state heritage is being tarnished by outside businesses and its own citizens.

Although it isn’t as apparent in Mason County as it is in other Texas counties, hillsides and hilltops are being carved out and removed to create large homes or ‘summer homes’, shopping malls, restaurants, businesses and roads. But should companies or individuals have the right to take out pieces of the countryside, including the capability to clear the hilltops of native grasses, trees and wildlife so that they can replace it with homes, shopping malls, gas stations and other businesses which disturb the beauty of the Hill Country? Of course, we have the right to but should it be a right we exercise so recklessly without considering the impact on the Texas Hill Country as a whole? What happens when we’ve paved over so much of the Hill Country that it’s lost its attractiveness?

Native Texans (all over Texas) who have been farming and ranching on their lands for generations are now seeing signs of city life encroaching on their land, which then puts more pressure on them to sell their land when developers or realty companies come knocking. Unfortunately, what is happening is we’re losing the battle to developers and realtors. It is inevitable that large developments and houses will continue to be whittled out of the hilltops, unless the developers and the real estate industry are willing to preserve the beauty of the Hill Country – or – homeowners make the decision that the beauty of the Texas countryside belongs to all Texans and shouldn’t be spoiled by a single company or person’s selfishness. Meaning its great if you’re the one with a house on the Hill but not so great to everyone else who comes to see the Hill Country and is disappointed to see more and more homes have notched pieces out of the landscape. If you combine all those pieces taken from the Hill Country, you’re missing a lot. It’s quite likely that tourists from all over the state and country will no longer find this area of Texas pleasing when it is littered with urban developments and overindulgent homes, which can all be seen within their own city. But if enough people chose not to live on the pedestal of the Hill Country it would change the market. Developers and realtors would be forced to move towards something that is more profitable, put simply, it all revolves around money.

With such a large and diverse state, and various economic opportunities, I can’t help but wonder if this is what the pioneers of Texas envisioned for the Texas Hill Country? There are several other profitable opportunities around Texas the Hill Country doesn’t have to be exploited. We are beginning to sell out Texas’s aesthetic uniqueness for short-term prosperity – prosperity that most Texans will never see a dime of. On the other hand, what most Texans do see are signs of the concrete jungle creeping into the Hill Country, disturbing the peace and enjoyment that these counties of Texas have to offer. A once quiet and secluded area is becoming more populated.

So who owns the Texas Hill Country and all its splendor? The question holds value, perhaps not as significant now (although some counties of Texas would find that debatable), but it will in the future. Future generations of Texans will never be able to see the Hill Country for what it once was. If the citizens of Texas don’t take control now, it’s possible we never will.

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