Bye Bye 2009, Welcome 2010

SMGA has had quite a year. We've watched ponds dry up and trees die from the heat and drought, and now some of our trails are washing away. But we plant trees, repair trails and plan new ones, and continue our dedication to San Marcos natural areas.

SMGA is also working on many new projects. We're rolling out a new volunteer program to better involve the community in our ongoing outreach, conservation, and stewardship activities. Our stewardship committee is working on a cooperative land management guide to help protect and maintain local natural areas. Contact us if you'd like to know more about the land management guide. We're still keeping our eye on the San Marcos Parks Master Plan and continue to represent SMGA on a variety of local committees, boards, and organizations. SMGA's board members and outreach committee hosted the first SMGA silent auction, expanded  the Naturescapes photography contest, created Naturescapes greeting cards, and moved our newsletter to a blog format to keep you in The Loop. And our conservation committee kept tabs on potential land deals that are keeping everyone concerned with land conservation and water quality in San Marcos very busy. These are just a few of the activities that we've been up to and plan to continue in 2010.

Want to help? Forward this email to a friend. Invite a neighbor, friend, or co-worker on a guided hike. Become a member of SMGA. Attend a city council, planning and zoning, or parks and recreation board meeting to keep an ear and eye on your elected officials. (Dates and times are in our calendar.) Join an SMGA committee - conservation, stewardship, or outreach. It's a great way to learn how SMGA works and get involved at a commitment level you are comfortable with. Join us for trail work (when the weather cooperates). And be sure to check The Loop often for up-to-date news and notices of local meetings and activities. Simply email for more information on any of these opportunities.

Also mark your calendar and plan to attend our annual meeting on Sunday March 21 at the Price Center. It's the best way to hear about SMGA activities past, present, and future, and to share your stories, concerns, and feedback. Hope to see you there.

Happy New Year! - Maggie Hutchins

SMRF: New Year's Day Plunge

Next Friday on New Year's Day, don't miss the annual Plunge.  Come EARLY to park nearby and walk over to Sewell Park, so we can all count down and plunge in together at NOON.  The river is running rather well, so we'll need some good strong swimmers to post themselves down near the bend in the river to help catch anybody floating by who misses the exit stairs.  We could also use some folks to stand in front of the wild rice clumps, after they jump in, to guard them from anyone who might stray into those strands.  We want to be sure to protect the rice from anyone who might accidentally walk on them.  Most people jump into the current and float down so they miss the rice, but we want to be sure it is protected, since so many people attend. We'll have hot chocolate and black eyed peas for good luck at this event as always, and I'll check with the usual hotdog grillers, to see if they are coming too. Bring plenty towels and warm clothes and hats so you can stand around a visit a while after you get out of the river.  The water is not cold, but the air can be, when you get out.  Kids need to be with parents, life jackets for kids are best. - From SMRF

Christmas Tree Recycling Slated

The San Marcos Parks & Recreation Department will accept Christmas trees for recycling beginning Monday, Dec. 28 through Jan. 13 at the Grant Harris Building, 401 E. Hopkins.

Residents are asked to remove all ornaments and lights and place the trees in the fenced enclosure next to the stage. Mulch from the trees is available free to the public. Residents must load the mulch on their own vehicles. The remaining mulch will be used on City parks.

San Marcos residents who want to dispose of Christmas trees at the curb through Texas Disposal Systems should call Public Services during business hours at 393.8026 to arrange for a bulky waste pick up.

Christmas Colors at Upper Purgatory Creek Trail 12/19/09

The warmer and drier weather is going to be hit or miss for the next few months. When it's as good as it was today be sure to get out and enjoy it.  When myself and friends arrived at the trail head of Upper Purgatory at the end of Franklin Street the sky was suggesting a change in weather.  A couple cars preceded us and, from the tracks, I'd suspect mountain bikers enjoying the challenge.

It wasn't just the trail, only slightly muddy after 1/2-inch of rainfall two days prior, but the distractions on the trail that kept it challenging.  The colors of Christmas were everywhere as we saw Spanish oaks bursting worth with vivid reds and yellows.  The moss growing around the bowl in the trunk of a live oak and the cactus hanging from the upper branches added a green not visible when the trees are leafed-out.  The recent rains and winds dislodged many of the small leaves from all but the ashe junipers and the recalcitrant Spanish oaks.

Chickadees, titmouses, cardinals and wrens were out in abundance.  At a particularly attractive possumhaw loaded with berries, a mockingbird stood guard over a winter stock of food.  One lone red admiral butterfly, was seen flying through the meadow near Hernandez Elementary school.

The trail is still closed to Prospect Park as construction continues on the Wonderworld Extension.  Eventually a one-way 4.7 mile trail over and below 75-foot bluffs will inspire and challenge hikers and mountain bikers. So, be sure to get out enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. Even in the drier (or wetter) winter weather, there are many jewels on the trails in San Marcos to enjoy in the natural areas.- Lance


What's He Photographing?

Dick McBride, a member of SMGA and the trail crew, focuses on a plant during a hike of Upper Purgatory December 19.  Can you tell what the plant is?  Hint: There aren't many flowering plants in December.

And the Answer Is ...

The common evening primrose.

Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance Online Auction

Dear GEAA members and friends,

To raise enough funds to get us through this year, we're hosting an online auction just in time for your Christmas shopping!

The auction will begin TODAY, Thursday, December 3rd, and ends on Sunday, December 13th. Thanks to our member groups and business members, we’ve got a great collection of items:

  • Two Southwest Airlines roundtrip tickets to any destination, good for one year
  • A weekend stay at the beautiful Villa Del Rio B&B
  • A ziplining adventure tour with Cypress Valley Canopy Tours near Austin
  • Golf for four at the gorgeous Tapatio Springs Resort & Country Club
  • River rafting trip for four through Rockin 'R' River Rides
  • One full hook-up RV site at Camp Huaco Springs
  • $50 gift certificates for locally roasted coffee (over 30 flavors to choose from!)
  • A 16-hour Wilderness First Aid Certification course
Simply go to our online eBay store, check out our auction items, and place your bid.

Please help make this auction a success by forwarding this email on to your friends, family, and business associates.

Help GEAA close 2009 with lots of black ink on the books!

Many thanks,

Annalisa Peace
Executive Director
Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance