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Posted on: January 29, 2024

Staff Profile: Ryan Bass leads City’s preservation, conservation efforts

Ryan Bass

Staff at the City of Boerne devote countless hours to thoughtful and intentional planning to ensure our community maintains the character and charm that continue to draw people here.

The man behind many of these preservation programs for the last 15 years has been Environmental Program Manager Ryan Bass in the Planning Department. In his role, Bass oversees the City’s Urban and Community Forestry, Watershed Protection, and Water Conservation programs.

“I review site plans and construction documents to ensure they meet our ordinance requirements for tree preservation, landscaping, irrigation, groundwater protection, and dark sky requirements,” Bass said. “Then on the platting side of things for say residential subdivisions, I do all our environmental reviews for the land study. That includes geological assessments, inventory of natural features, tree surveys, tree protection plans, and habitat compliance for threatened or endangered species.”

One of the most impactful aspects of his job is working with landowners and developers, both residential and commercial, to ensure requirements of the City’s tree preservation ordinance are met.

“I think one thing people might not be aware of is the amount of effort we put into ensuring projects preserve existing trees and natural features. Our tree preservation ordinance is very strong,” Bass said.

Combing through site plans, walking the properties, and measuring and inventorying trees allows Bass to work with developers to adjust their plans with a deeper focus on preservation. A recent example of this approach in action was the collaborative effort between Bass and other City staff and the developer of a proposed car dealership on I-10.

From the plan that was initially submitted to the one that was eventually approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission, the number of trees marked for preservation grew from 49 to 189, impervious cover was reduced from 8 acres to 7.12, and the landscape buffer was increased from the minimum of 20 feet to between 40 and 77 feet at various points on the property. These improvements were possible through the diligent application of existing ordinances and by working with a developer to go above and beyond what was required.

“I really enjoy getting out in the field, verifying these tree surveys, and working with the applicant to shift things around to save trees. That's certainly an area where I feel like we make a big difference,” Bass said.

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Another major focus of his role in Planning includes overseeing the City’s surface water quality monitoring programs at Boerne City Lake and its participation in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Clean Rivers Program monitoring on Upper Cibolo Creek. Bass also recently initiated work on the City’s Water Conservation Program to help reduce both annual and peak daily water demand.

Watershed protection was the focus of Bass’ first project when he started in 2009 as part of a grant position co-funded by the City and TCEQ. As part of that project, he led the effort to develop the City’s Watershed Protection Plan, which was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2013 with significant community input.

“Getting that approval letter from the EPA was a big deal because it allowed us to pursue funding for other water quality improvement related projects and implement management strategies to allow for more sampling and investigative work,” Bass said. “That led to us getting the headwater portion of the Upper Cibolo Creek off the state’s list of impaired waters in 2018.”

Bass has also played a vital role in water quality improvements currently underway as part of the River Road Park Bank Stabilization Project. Part of those improvements include the placement of 10 aerators in the creek to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the water and improve conditions for aquatic life.

Once his grant-funded position ended, Bass stayed on at the City and has held several positions over the years, each centered on environmental protection and planning. He works closely with staff in Boerne Utilities, Engineering and Mobility, and Parks and Recreation, as well as a range of outside firms, survey companies, landscape architects, certified arborists, non-profits, and residents.

Originally from East Texas, Bass attended Stephen F. Austin State University where he earned his undergraduate degree in forestry with a concentration in wildlife management. He and his wife have lived in the Hill Country for the last 15 years, welcoming two daughters in that time.

“To me, Boerne truly feels like a small town. I’ve enjoyed having a little bit of an impact on projects over 15 years,” Bass said. “I like watching projects go from concept to completion and to be able to ride around town, see people you know, and see projects you worked on.”

This profile is part of a series showcasing members of City staff who provide exemplary service. We want to spotlight their hard work and share behind-the-scenes things you might not know. Scroll down to see more profiles.