After sixty years of arguing, the Edwards Aquifer pumping issue was finally resolved with an agreement first called the RIP and now the HCP or Habitat Conservation Plan. The plan took many years to complete and was submitted to US Fish and Wildlife in January 2012 to protect the endangered species in our springs and Comal’s. The plan is now being implemented and has many parts. These parts all work together, just like all the stakeholders did, to protect the springflows. Many thought it could never be done.
Dr. Robert Gulley was the person the stakeholders themselves hired to run the planning process as a manager. He grew up playing on the beaches in Matagorda County and several branches of his family were the earliest settlers of that county. He was ready to move back to his native Texas from DC, having been a senior trial attorney with the Justice Department for many years and he had a lot of experience in endangered species issues, most recently salmon in the Northwest, another pretty tough water issue. After the RIP stakeholders got him down here for an interview, it was a unanimous YES to hire him, and they were right, he was the right guy at the right time with the right technical skills and people skills. Dr. Gulley is now working on the Texas State Comptroller’s staff on many additional endangered species issues that Texas has these days.
The proof of his success can be seen now. The springs still flowed during the multi-year drought, and the HCP stakeholders continue to work together to keep it that way. He worked harder than anyone, gave us the tools to craft an agreement and plan, and helped us understand how we could structure adaptive changes in the coming years to keep our plan on course.