Naturescapes Awards Reception & Silent Auction

Friday, September 4
San Marcos Activity Center, 5:00-7:30 PM

It's too late to submit photos for this year's contest, but it's not too late to see the amazing images submitted for our 5th Annual Naturescapes Photo Contest. We've had an excellent array of submissions this year. Join us to honor the photographers at the awards reception. There will be refreshments, music, fun, and the first ever Naturescapes Silent Auction (read more in the post below). It's a great way to end the week or begin the weekend and support a great cause.

The exhibition will be on display at the San Marcos Activity Center Walkers Gallery from September 4 - October 30. Shown above is Winifred Simon's Cypresses, winner of the Naturescapes 2008 Award of Excellence.

Visit the auction site at

Silent Auction Items Needed

We are gathering items for our first Naturescapes Silent Auction to benefit SMGA. If you have an item, gift card, or service that you wish to donate, we will gladly display and acknowledge the donation at the auction. No item is too small, since we may add it to another donation and make a most excellent auction item. Email or call 754-9321 if you have an item to donate.

Look for auction item descriptions on our Web site after August 15 (you'll find an Auction Items Descriptions link on our home page).

Trail Work at Lower Purgatory/Prospect Park

San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance trail workers finished another day working on the trails around the city on July 11th. Our work party blazed new trail markers on the unimproved single-track at Prospect Park. The 9-acre property contains an ADA trail for wheelchairs and strollers and almost 2 miles of trail for hikers and mountain bikers.

Kay Banning swings the hammer to place another trail marker on the single-track at Prospect Park.

Charlie O'Neil hammers one of a series of trail blazes that were attached to trees along the single-track trail in Prospect Park. The Saturday work crew made quick work of the task before the temperatures reached unbearable.

Join, Renew, or Donate to SMGA

Are you a member of SMGA, but it's time to renew? Have you received our newsletters for months but never joined? Well now is the time! Our membership levels are affordable and begin at only $5. And we are always appreciative of donations.

SMGA is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), all-volunteer organization that survives on the membership dues, donations, grants, perspiration, brains, and brawn of people like you who understand the value of the natural world. We'll put your financial support to work funding our trailwork, conservation, and other projects. So join, renew, and/or donate now!

News from Hill Country Conservancy

Our friends at the Hill Country Conservancy (HCC) have been busy with two great projects. Input continues to be gathered for the Walk For A Day trail project from Austin to Hays county. And HCC, with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, purchased a conservation easement on Ragland Ranch near Buda. "The acquisition was yet another step to further Hill Country Conservancy’s charge to preserve water quality, wildlife habitat, open space and local rural heritage in the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer region."

WonderWorld Trail Action Kudos

In the July post W/W Extension Update - Trail Considerations, it was suggested that hugs and kudos could go out to the people who are making it happen. Here are the people to send them to:

Laurie Moyer, Assistant City Manager

Michael Sexton, Engineer, KBR

Sabas Avila, Project Representative

Greenprint Progress Will Help the Hays Co Parks & Open Space Advisory Board

Long before the word green was rampant in the vernacular, the Trust for Public Lands initiated a process called Greenprint for Growth. That was about a decade ago when geographic computer modeling was becoming more versatile and more widespread.

The tool incorporates all the data available from a given area, topography, biology, population distribution, hydrology and much more and then combines all the information to create a comprehensive map or model. The model then incorporates what the community values the most in terms of conservation and that data is plugged in. Now press the button, and you can see specific areas that have the most value and the greatest need for conserving. Perhaps they should have called it "conservationprinting."

Greenprint for Growth was ushered into our area under the leadership of Envision Central Texas and with the management experience of TPL. For an excellent explanation of greenprint check out this link. For an example of a greenprint document with samples of maps, check out the Vision North Texas results report.

Hays County has just finished the modeling stage and is about to enter the implementation stage. Members of the SMGA board of directors were invited to participate in the process up to this point and will be watching closely to see how the tool is used and maintained in the coming years. It has tremendous potential for informing our growth patterns; moving us away from reactive, patchwork conservation efforts toward a strategic program incorporating our values as a community and the most valuable natural areas.

Vaughn Thayer, Todd Derkacz and former SMGA president Chris North serve on the newly reformed Hays County Parks and Open Space Advisory Board. Thus far the work of the group has been to evaluate proposals that come before the board. Having come through the Greenprint process and the Habitat Conservation Planning, we now have what we need to seek out natural areas that offer the most return for our investment.

Land owners decide what happens with their property. But knowing what land will serve community interests best will lead us to those owners to begin discussions as to how we can agree to conserve their places for all time.

W/W Extension Update - Trail Considerations

It is getting a little easier to stand and watch the construction of Wonder World Drive Extension at the fence that bisects the trail in Purgatory Creek Park. It helps to know that the trail will be reconnected under the flyway once construction is complete in April 2010; appreciating the amount of heavy truck traffic that won't have to traverse the downtown areas helps too. But what really makes it easy to stomach is the anticipation of having a trail route connecting Purgatory Creek Park to Hunter Road as part of the current construction plans.

A few months ago city council member Gaylord Bose brought forward the trail request SMGA has supported since the idea of the extension was first considered. If you see Gaylord give him a big hug and thank all the council members for supporting the change order.

SMGA members have been working with city staff and the engineering contractor KBR to consider all possible alignments, materials and other details. The location is prone to flash floods. The final corridor is yet to be determined pending approvals for the crossings of the right-of-way by TXDoT. The plan will include construction of a parking area under the shade near the beginning of the new road section at Hunter. Be sure to voice your support and gratitude whenever possible to our city leaders.

Putting that trail segment in place may someday connect the park directly to the San Marcos River. SMGA has long supported getting a trail, or at least a trail corridor, between the river and Purgatory Creek. It is in the transportation master plan, and we hope it is in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan currently being updated. We are working to one day have a branch of the new trail follow the creek underneath Hunter Road as part of its reconstruction. It takes vigilance. Sherwood Bishop, an SMGA board member and chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, has helped by encouraging developers along the creek to leave room for the trail and to back away from what we all know is a flood prone area.

Kudos go out to Laurie Moyer, Assistant City Manager, Sabas Avila city engineer overseeing the current trail project, and Mike Sexton with KBR the engineering contractor.

Laurie Moyer, Assistant City Manager

Michael Sexton, Engineer, KBR

Sabas Avila, Project Representative

GEAA with Signs for Our Dry Times

Here is a note from our friends at the Greater Edwards Aquifer Authority. It's a great chance to help their efforts to build water conservation consciousness.

To address the severe drought conditions we are experiencing throughout the region, the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance is mounting a campaign to give bragging rights to all of us who are pitching in to conserve water this summer (and hopefully, they’ll result in some positive peer pressure, too). They have three versions of yard signs available for display in your front yard that announce, "I'm not watering - I'm sharing my water with local farmers, our Hill Country springs, or whooping cranes."

Yard signs sell for $15 each from GEAA’s office, and for $20 online ($5 extra for shipping). Please visit their online store to order your signs, or contact Elena at 210-320-1457 / to schedule a time for pick-up at the San Antonio office 1809 Blanco Rd., SA TX 78212. Let's help them get some signs up around the city.