In Memoriam Margo Bishop

Longtime San Marcos resident and SMGA member Margo Bishop passed away on May 28th. Margo, the mother of SMGA members Paige Bishop and Sheran Seif, and SMGA Board member Sherwood Bishop, was a lifelong defender of the environment and of human, civil and women's rights. She loved nature and all living things.

A celebration of Margo's life is being planned. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to The San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance, c/o the Margaret Fisher Bishop Memorial Fund. Click here to make a donation in her memory or mail donations to SMGA PO Box 1572, San Marcos, TX 78667 and note on the check the memorial fund.

Volunteer Opportunity - The Loop

The Outreach committee is looking for someone to assist in a weekly task for the Loop - the SMGA online newsletter.

Description: Collect, edit, format, and post articles onto the Loop, SMGA's online newsletter.

Approximate time requirement: Initial 2-hour training session, then about 15 minutes / week.

Desired skills: Basic familiarity with technology and proofreading.

For questions or to volunteer, contact: Outreach Committee using the contact form on our website, or by emailing

2nd Annual Silent Auction

We are gathering items for our second annual Naturescapes Silent Auction, September 11, 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 and on our auction items web page. No item is too small. Email or call 754-9321 if you have an item to donate.

Crystal Creek Greenbelt

By Mary Van Zant, SMGA Conservation Chair

You have probably never heard of Crystal Creek in San Marcos, unless you are friends with the Lochman brothers. They grew up in a house near the Southern end of Craddock Street, and as children they would wander down to the creek bed and find beautiful crystals. They would load up their Red Flyer wagon and bring them to sell for nickels and dimes. Eventually, their childhood geologic oasis was covered up with fill dirt during the construction of a subdivision on either side of the waterway. As adults, they created the Crystal Creek Boys, a bluegrass/Americana band, named in memorial for their creek. You may have caught this band playing at last year's Naturescape Photography Contest.

The creek, a tributary to Purgatory, has five existing parks along it. San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance envisions creating interconnected parks along waterways - land that cannot be built upon due to the dangers of flash flooding. These long corridors of greenspace are perfect for hike and bike traffic, wildlife habitat and watershed protection - features that improve the economic value of surrounding land, the natural integrity, and the quality of life in San Marcos. So SMGA is putting Crystal Creek on its maps, and working towards a vision of a Crystal Creek Greenbelt.

Butterfly House at the Nature Center

The Butterfly House at the San Marcos Nature Center is Open to the Public!  The Butterfly House is located behind the Nature Center, in the gardens. Tours are available based on staff availability, or you can call ahead to schedule a tour at 393-8448. Entry to the exhibit is free, although they greatly appreciate donations to help us keep the Butterfly House running and full of butterflies. They currently have zebra longwings, monarchs, painted ladies, giant swallowtails, question marks, blue wing, rusty tipped page, banded orange, banded peacok, julia, and queen butterflies. It is really an amazing experience to see these species close up in one location!

June Hikes

June 5, 9 am - National Trails Day
Photo Hike at Ringtail Ridge
Join Clint King and other photographers for a guided hike and learn nature photography techniques. Bring your camera and get some great photos in time to submit to the Naturescapes contest.

June 12, 10 am - National Get Outdoors Day
Kids' Hike at Nature Center

Join us for a walk around the Nature Center then to the wetlands across from Rio Vista dam. We'll return to the Nature Center for a fun craft. Great for all ages - strollers welcome.

Outstanding Service from a NGO Award

SMGA was the first recipient of the "Outstanding Service from a Non Government Organization" award by the Geography department of Texas State University–San Marcos. "Derkacz has spoken to geography classes and student organizations about the importance and benefits of conserving and preserving land in our rapidly growing community and region," said Mark Carter, Department of Geography. He was also cited for his work over the years with the Bobcat Build community service project that resulted in numerous hours of student labor devoted to greenspace trails around San Marcos.

Todd Derkacz receives the award from Mark Carter.

Why In Blue Blazes Is It So Hard To Find the Entrance?

SMGA is frequently asked how to get into and around in our natural areas.  The problem of finding the entrances exists because we are still on the "city's gonna" side of  improvements for access to, and the entrances of, the larger areas, for example Upper Purgatory, Blanco Shoals, and Spring Lake Preserve.  We should be on the "city fixed it" side soon. Highlighted below are some notes on what will be coming soon to these locations.

SMGA has used blue blazes to make it easier for visitors to find their way around in some situations and when our trail crew volunteers get ahead of the raging spring growth that is choking some of our trails, we will get in and apply more blazes for our visitors.

Prospect Park (the southeastern portion of Lower Purgatory) has blue blazes throughout to mark the routes through  the single track wilderness trails. Thank you Eagle Scout Lucas Spencer for some of the work. A two inch by six inch blue blaze can be seen in the photo. Blazes were used in the Appalachians long ago to mark routes through the forests although they used a swipe of paint instead of a piece of corrugated polystyrene. You should always have a blaze within sight, some of them are a bit high up in the tree - look up.

At Spring Lake Preserve you can park in the northwest corner of the parking lot at the Texas Rivers Center and look toward the maintenance building across Laurel Lane.  A blue blaze is on a large cedar elm.  If you cautiously cross the street and look ahead to the left the next blaze can be seen, walk to that and the next one can be seen on a tree beyond and so on.  The blazes will lead through the Texas State maintenance area up to the actual preserve where trails begin at an eagle scout kiosk. Spring Lake directions + photos. The warmer weather and the end of the abundant spring growth will enable SMGA volunteers to post blue blazes and some signage on the wilderness trails over the next few months.

Natural Area Updates

Here are some updates on what is coming to a natural area near you. If you see a city representative, encourage them to keep things moving.

At Blanco Shoals we will see improvements once the entrance is made secure from the trucks that have been driving in and tearing up the terrain; improvements to natural areas just are not worth it when the lawless types of visitors are dominating the scene.

Spring Lake Preserve is about to have major improvements put on the ground with an ADA trail winding up the hill from the current entrance at the Texas Rivers Center. The signage and trail activity will make it much easier to find and access.

Upper Purgatory is a kind of moving target in terms of access because the construction of a major water line through the area and then the Wonder World Drive Extension with connection to Craddock Avenue all meant the dirt entrance road had to be rerouted a number of times.

Here is where Franklin Street ends and the dirt entrance road begins to the right.  There is a cattleguard just after the turn and then you will travel another 100 yards or so before taking a hard left.

After the turn towards Wonder World, the road crosses the roadway through what will be the new intersection with Craddock. Visitors should make their way to the top on the hill (to the spot indicated by the purple arrow).

After crossing the new parkway go up the hill and turn left.

This is the view after the turn.

After crossing a dry creek there is a short climb to the parking area at the Upper Purgatory entrance. Do not travel through fences or gates after leaving Franklin.

Prospect Park May 15

 Sometimes a picture is really worth a thousand words. Thank you to Gena Fleming who took advantage of this moment with her camera.  Gena is an SMGA monitor.  (She could be a Naturescapes winner.)

Articles of Interest - May

Back To First Step For Portion of Buie Tract, San Marcos Local News, May 13
Zoning Efforts Go Back to Square One, San Marcos Daily Record, May 14
Portion of Buie Tract to Restart Rezoning Process, San Marcos Mercury 14

Environmentalists Oppose Craddock Extension, San Marcos Local News, May 13

Kyle Nature Preserve Earns Envision Honor, San Marcos Daily Record, May 13

Hays County Settles Suit Over Hamilton Pool Pollution, San Marcos Mercury, May 13

Ringtail Ridge Very Dense Vegetation

The ADA trail and some of the single-track trail at Ringtail Ridge is very, very overgrown. We have been working diligently to try and cut back some of the growth from all the rain in March and April, but it is daunting.  After completing the Bobcat Build project more rains came and grew Texas thistle as tall as six feet. The SMGA volunteer trail crew has been on site for several weeks. Two string trimmers couldn't contain all the growth, so we brought in a real scythe operator.

Why is this a concern? Your safety. You need to see what's on the trail ahead. Are there any dips, holes or roots that might cause a trip hazard?  Any critters lying nearby?

SMGA is aware of the issue and attempting to get more resources to resolve the problem. In the meantime, if you see a trail crew member, give them a big thank you! They're out there working hard to help keep you safe.