Region: Hill Country
Topics: Groundwater, Green Party, Non-profit, Ecotourism
Mr. Scharf is a businessman and retired Air Force employee who
has been active in protecting the Hill Country region northwest of San
Starting first as a loose and informal
group known as the Scenic Loop Playground Club, he, his wife
Irene, and other concerned neighbors
held issues events and candidates' forums that often touched on
environmental issues. In 1985, Mr. Scharf and others put
together the Save Scenic Loop organization to stop widening of a
narrow, two-lane road to a 4-lane divided highway. Another early
effort fought, and successfully halted, erection of a strobe-lit tower
and substation in their rural and scenic area.
Over time, Mr. Scharf felt that it was
important to work more proactively and widely, and so he helped
organize a group known as the Bexar Clean Land-Air-Water-Scenery.
Bexar CLAWS circulated a newsletter to raise awareness of various
local and regional environmental problems (such as coal-fired power
plant emissions), and prepared the Citizen's Northwest Bexar County
Master Plan as a sustainable map for the area's future.
With San Antonio's continued growth and
spread into the Hill Country to its northwest, Mr. Scharf became
increasingly concerned about the long-term reliability and purity of
the local groundwater. As a result, he served on the Bexar
County Trinity Aquifer Conservation Coalition which organized and
lobbied for creation of the
Trinity Glen Rose Groundwater Conservation District to protect
local aquifer resources from contamination, overdraft and export.
In his business ventures, he has also
tried to find a more sustainable route towards living in the fragile
Hill Country, by developing various ecotourism projects, including the
Mystic Springs Wildlife Lodge, Sparkling Springs Nature Preserve,
Scenic Heights Nature preserve, Scenic Springs Events Center and Spa,
and the Go Outside program.
In many aspects of his life, he keeps in
mind the Freethinking tradition of the Hill Country that has so
fascinated him. The Freethinkers (Freidenkers) were German
intellectuals who immigrated between 1845 and 1860 to the area around
Comfort, Sisterdale, and Boerne, to escape famine, war and religious
oppression, and to practice their right to think and speak freely in
pursuit of the truth.
February 18, 2006
Grey Forest, Texas