Summer Solstice Hike Friday, 6/19

Join us for a hike at Upper Purgatory this Friday from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. We will find our way to the overlook and back. Bring some water and rugged shoes. The light should be good for photography, so a camera is a good idea.

Directions: From downtown San Marcos, take W. Hopkins St. to Bishop St. and turn west. Drive 0.9 miles on Bishop and turn left on Franklin St. Stay on Franklin for 4 blocks to its end. Make a sharp right at the Upper Purgatory greenspace sign and cross the cattle guard onto a ranch road. Stay on the ranch road without going through any gates. Watch for another greenspace sign when you cross another cattle guard just before the road turns to the right toward the parking area.

Stage 1 Drought Restrictions Hosed?

Here is a note from and for our friends of San Marcos Springs:
Next Tuesday, June 16, the San Marcos City Council will do the second of two readings and vote on a proposed change in Stage 1 drought restrictions that would allow homeowners to choose the day they want to water. With the San Marcos River at a critically low flow level, now is not the time to “water down” the water conservation rules. The new rule as currently written would render the Stage 1 restrictions unenforceable, since no one would ever know whether the resident had already watered once that week. The “assigned days” option made clear to everyone what day of the week was most appropriate for watering in order to cooperatively "take turns" as you would expect in a community that wants to keep the water flowing. Contact the mayor and council with a brief email stating your concerns and send it to:

Meet Our New Board Members

Many of you helped us welcome Vaughn Thayer, Charlie O'Neil, and Vicki Giere to our board at our annual meeting in April. In case you missed the meeting, here's a little bit about them.

Vaughn Thayer: I grew up in upstate NY, made use of the state's excellent park system, in Boy Scouts did camping, hiking, fishing, and wife Shirley and I enjoyed the same activities raising our 3 kids in Massachusetts for 20 years. While there, we camped and hiked in the White mountains of New Hampshire and the Green mountains of Vermont. One of our favorite trips was for 2 weeks camping at Acadia National Park in Maine. We have always had a fun time spending time in the out-of -doors and it continues to this day. We enjoy being part of the preservation and conservation family.

Charlie O’Neil: I was born in Brooklyn and came to the University of Texas for graduate studies after finishing the Peace Corps in Brazil. After completing the degree my wife and I did the academic nomad thing for 4 years and decided to settle in Central Texas. We moved to San Marcos in 1977. I worked for Community Action for 5 years and AMD for 20 years before retiring. Like everyone else in San Marcos, I knew Todd and learned about SMGA. I thought the idea of trails in the city was fantastic and volunteered to help build them several years ago. I like the work and the company, and the result is very satisfying.

Vicki Giere: I'm originally from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I've lived in San Marcos for 9 years. I first got involved with SMGA about 2 years ago, when I responded to a request for someone to update the online calendar of events. I've since become more involved by joining the Communications Committee. As growth and development threaten our natural lands and resources, I find it increasingly important to become active in protecting and preserving these fragile and limited areas.

Thanks to Vicki, Charlie, and Vaughn for helping to make San Marcos a better, greener place to live.

National Trails Hike at Ringtail Ridge

Saturday, June 6th, was National Trails Day. San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance marked the event with two hikes in the morning. The hike at Ringtail Ridge off Ranch Road 12 was led by Tom Watson, biologist and past president of the Hays County chapter of Master Naturalists. Tom led a group of 8 adults and pointed out various plants, both beneficial and invasive. Since the property was previously used to raise cattle and was then occupied by a meat packing business, it is covered in prickly pear cactus, bermuda grasses, and mesquite. The natural wildflowers are beginning to seed and birds of all species can be found among the cactus, chinaberry, oaks, elms, and sugarberry trees.

The hike lasted 2 hours and covered both the half-mile improved trail and the first of 2 miles of single-track mountain biking and hiking trail. The diversity of both the plants and animals found in the 45-acre property led to a variety of questions and an educational experience about the land that is an important ingredient to the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

Heavens, Purgatory, and the Compass

Jennifer Fruth is an artist and craftswoman. She was a bit reluctant to admit the art part when we talked about the genesis of the compass that was getting its grout on Thursday morning in Lower Purgatory. This project has taken a couple years to come together and required the assistance of a graphic artist, a company with a water jet cutter strong and exact enough to cut the tough granite and helpers all along the way. But the idea that was hatched with Melani Howard at the Parks and Recreation Department was inspired, and Jennifer has seen it through. And I think, and so does her assistant Nancy, that Jennifer is an artist.

Jennifer suggests that the real beginnings of her compass design were in
Europe, where she saw how easily and comfortably public art is infused with all aspects of European life. She determined to work in mosaics. And in keeping with her respect for the living Earth, she has chosen to re purpose materials that are "seconds" and might have been thrown away.

The compass hints of chaos and order, of germination and decay, of cycles and stasis. It can lead you in conversation with a 3-year old or get you chatting ontology or cosmology while looking up at the night sky. It is not totally complete, but almost, and can be seen in Lower Purgatory in the middle of the sky watch pod. Thanks Jennifer...t.o.d.

Busy Eagle Scout Candidate

Jan (a long time friend of SMGA) wrote:
Here's a question. While walking with a friend in...[Spring Lake Preserve] last week, we saw what seemed to be a new structure. We assumed an illegal deer blind was being assembled. When [my husband] went a few days later, he climbed into it and decided it was a legal observation platform. We figured you would know.

Todd wrote in response:
Your caution and concern were appropriate; eyes on our parks are so important for keeping them natural. And even more important is having people take a moment to check in to find out what’s going on. [Your husband's] secondary instincts are correct. You saw a wildlife observation post constructed by an Eagle Scout candidate for his final project. It is was approved by the Parks and Recreation Department. SMGA consulted...t.o.d.

Friends of Schulle's First Work Day

Charlie O’Neil, Todd Derkacz, Vaughn Thayer and neighbors Kenneth Dees and Brad Smith got together on a recent Saturday (23 May) and put in some steward-time at Schulle. The primitive treads needed attention with rakes and weed eater, and a huge dead tree across the path that leads to Highcrest Apartments had its center cut away to re-open the trail. (Cool, just like national parks!) It was a good day. Thanks to all and thanks especially to Kenneth for getting things going with a neighbor-based “friends” group to take care of Schulle. Future items to be worked on include removing chinaberry and ligustrum and taming some of the box elder. A bridge and another bench may also be in the offing. If you think you would like to keep up with the Schulle events, maybe even participate in some way, send a note to and we’ll get you plugged in for occasional notices.

SWAT Training NOT at Purgatory

We received word on 6/3 that SWAT located another training venue and will NOT be using Purgatory Creek Park.

National Trails Day Hikes Sat 6/6

Lance Jones and Maggie Hutchins-Wagner have arranged an excellent opportunity to celebrate American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day which highlights the value of trails. Those of you checking in to the American Hiking Society website should note the information listed for SMGA has not yet been updated so here is the correct information:
There will be a hike at Ringtail Ridge that will count as advanced training for those who are in the Master Naturalist program but anyone who is a complete amateur can come along and find the hike to be most enjoyable. The details:
Saturday, June 6, 9 - 11 a.m.
Ringtail Ridge, San Marcos
This two hour hike is led by Tom Watson who will discuss the importance of preserving the land which sits on the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. The 40 acre property was the site of an animal slaughter plant for a number of years. Oak groves, flowering meadows, cactus stands and persimmon thickets are all found at Ringtail Ridge. Invasive species and overpopulation of certain native plants due to ranching will be discussed.
Thanks Lance!!!
But wait, there's more . . .
Saturday, June 6, 9 - (toddler time)
Prospect Park/Lower Purgatory, San Marcos
Maggie Hutchins-Wagner is leading a family friendly hike in Prospect, strollers and toddlers welcome, starting at 9 am.This accessible trail features woodlands and meadows dotted with interpretive signs, benches and group seating under the Learning Tree. Click here to learn more about Prospect.
Thanks Maggie!!
Tell one, tell all there is a hike for them on Saturday.

SWAT Training at Purgatory Creek Park

We received word on 6/3 that SWAT located another training venue and will NOT be using Purgatory Creek Park.
According to Melani Howard, the city's watershed protection manager, the upper portion of Purgatory Creek Park (from the meadow to the upper entrance) will be closed for SWAT team training with unloaded assault weapons on the following dates:
• 6/4 Thursday
• 6/27 Saturday
• 7/12 Sunday
• 7/30 Thursday
• 8/16 Sunday
• 8/29 Saturday
• 9/19 Saturday