Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Save Bracken Cave

In my last post I described the beauty and wonder of the bats at Bracken Cave, home to ten million Mexican free-tailed bats, the largest bat colony in the world.  Unfortunately, these bats face a huge threat.  A developer, Brad Galo of Galo Properties, has proposed a large subdivision – 3,800 homes on 1,500 acres! – immediately south of Bracken Cave, lying in the twice-daily flight path of the bats.  Bracken Cave is located in a rural area with large ranches, interspersed with one- to three-acre lots that currently constitute “intensive development.”  The quarter-acre zoning of the proposed Crescent Hills subdivision is out of keeping with the current land use.  Additionally, the proposed development lies within the sensitive Edwards Aquifer-recharge zone, an important public water supply.  Furthermore, the developer’s property and the Bracken Cave property are an important nesting and foraging habitat for the federally endangered golden-cheeked warbler.

Texas law allows little to no consideration of environmental issues regarding the subdivision.  The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) granted Mr. Galo the water and sewer hookups needed for the 3,800 homes, but SAWS is not permitted to determine if adequate water supplies exist or to take into account the wisdom of putting so many homes in the middle of a protected groundwater recharge area.

The biggest concern for the bats is putting 10,000 people next to millions of building-loving adult bats and millions more juvenile bats learning to fly.  The bats will be attracted to insects at porch and street lights and to water in swimming pools.  If a child or parent comes in contact with a sick bat or a pet that contracted rabies from a sick bat, it won’t matter that the bats have been there for 10,000 or more years.  Public outcry will be to “do something” about this threat to public safety.

Bat Conservation International (BCI) is advocating for the bats of Bracken Cave.  Its attorneys have advised that the only recourse is to appeal to the San Antonio City Council and Mayor Castro and to make this a significant public and media issue.  On May 29th at a packed City Hall, 61 people spoke against the development and on behalf of Bracken Cave and its importance.  The speakers represented BCI, Texas Parks, the San Antonio Zoo, the Army’s Camp Bullis, Audubon Texas, Sierra Club, Preserve Texas Heritage Association, the Heritage Group, and the Esperanza Peach and Justice Center.  No one spoke in favor of the development.

The San Antonio City Council and Mayor Castro have not yet taken any action regarding Bracken Cave.  However, Ron Nirenberg, City Councilman from District 8, took the advice to visit Bracken Cave himself to see what an incredible and irreplaceable natural resource it is.  I take this as a hopeful sign.

Even if you do not live in the area, you can speak out for the bats of Bracken Cave.  E-mail addresses for the Mayor, City Council, and Planning Commission are as follows:

Additionally, you can sign BCI’s on-line petition.  As of the May 29th City Council meeting, the petition had 13,300 signatures from 70 countries, and it definitely made an impact.  For more information about saving Bracken Cave and a link to the on-line petition (scroll down the page), please visit

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