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Irene Scharf

Helotes | Librarian

Mrs. Scharf is a professor and librarian at Palo Alto College, and lives near Helotes, a small Hill Country community on the outskirts of San Antonio. As San Antonio has grown and spread, concerns have arisen about the protection of the scenery, water quality and supply in the exurban area. Mrs. Scharf and her husband Ed have been active in organizing and advocating for this area. With the support of the local Scenic Loop Playground Club, they were successful in stopping or diverting several infrastructure projects that would have brought further growth pressure, including a City Public Service utility tower and substation, and a widening of the 2-lane Scenic Loop to a 4-lane divided highway. Recognizing that one of their area’s most vulnerable resources was its groundwater, Mr. and Mrs. Scharf and other neighbors and allies organized the Bexar County Trinity Aquifer Conservation Coalition, which in turn lobbied successfully for passage of the Trinity Glen Rose Groundwater Conservation District. Seeing the rapid development of the Hill Country region around them, Mrs. Scharf also was active in pressing for creation of the 9000-acre Government Canyon State Natural Area, a nearby preserve on the Edwards Escarpment that holds key habitat for rare species, such as the golden-cheeked warbler, essential recharge lands for the Edwards Aquifer, and much-needed recreational space just 16 miles from downtown San Antonio. After returning from a trip to Costa Rica, she realized that another tool for protection of the Hill Country was the development of small-scale ecotourism businesses that would celebrate and profit from the natural resources of the area. Following up on that, she has created the Mystic Springs Wildlife Lodge, Sparkling Springs Nature Preserve, Scenic Heights Nature preserve, Scenic Springs Events Center and Spa, and the Go Outside program.

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February 18, 2006
Helotes, Texas
Reels 2345

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