Tribute to Sky Jones-Lewey

Photo credit: River Network

This May we all lost a powerful, no-nonsense, force of nature—Sky Jones-Lewey.  As Resource Protection and Education Director for the Nueces River Authority, she touched thousands of lives, spearheaded award-winning programs, and lead wide-reaching efforts to control invasive plants and protect water quality.  Her smile, her tenacity, her knowledge, and her contagious love of the Nueces have changed Texas rivers for the better.  We are proud and grateful for our time working with her.  She will be sorely missed.

In an interview with Texas Highways, Joe Nick Patoski described her as, “Sky Jones-Lewey, a chestnut-haired 60-something whose steely eyes portray a no-nonsense demeanor, lives on a ranch at the south end of Nueces Canyon. I call her the River Whisperer because she has spent most of her life learning about the Nueces River and all things riparian. She shares that knowledge as resource protection and education director for the Nueces River Authority.”

Most recently, Sky helped lead an effort to better protect all of Texas’ last remaining pristine streams.  She rallied support and coordinated efforts for legislation that would prevent direct wastewater discharges in these streams.  Wastewater adds nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus to river systems, and in low-nutrient systems like Hill Country creeks and rivers, this can severely alter water quality and habitat.  Ultimately, the Texas House passed HB 4146 (the Pristine Streams bill), but the session ended before the Senate acted on the bill.  Undeterred, partners refined the pristine streams protections and submitted a Pristine Streams Rule Change Petition to the TCEQ.  In March, the rule change petition was denied, but the TCEQ Commissioners opened their doors for further discussion about how to best protect these pristine streams.  Partners like the Watershed Association, City of Austin, Save Barton Creek Association, Texas Rivers Protection Association, Hill Country Alliance, Devils River Conservancy, Friends of Hondo Canyon, and many more continue dialog with TCEQ Commissioners and staff.  Sky would be proud.

Early HCA Board Meeting. Photo credit: Christy Muse

As a natural teacher, Sky published several editorials and helped edit field guides to equip landowners with knowledge needed to be better stewards.  Here are links to a few of her publications:

A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 4th in Uvalde.

Link to obituary when published.