Full Moon Hike at Ringtail Ridge, October 23

Join us Saturday, October 23 at 6:00 p.m. for a full moon hike at Ringtail Ridge. We'll be joined by Jon Cradit of the Edwards Aquifer Authority. After the hike, we'll enjoy S'mores and celebrate all of the hard work by SMGA trail builders, TX State Bobcat Builders, and city staff at Ringtail this past year. So, bring your walking shoes, a drink, a chair, and maybe even some scary Halloween stories and have some fun with us.

NEW LOCATION: Purgatory Creek Clean Up, Saturday Oct 9

SMGA clean up moved to Purgatory Creek Natural Area. Meet at San Marcos Plaza Park Stage (401 E. Hopkins) at 9:00 a.m.

Join SMGA to clean up Purgatory Creek Natural Area beginning at the Wonder World trail head. We're partnering with Keep San Marcos Beautiful and the San Marcos River Clean Up for one big ol' morning of river/creek litter pick up. Review the schedule below to find out where to be on this important clean-up day.

9:00 a.m. Meet and register at San Marcos Plaza Park Stage (401 E. Hopkins). Breakfast tacos will be provided by Napolitos and coffee by Jo on the Go.

9:30 a.m. After registration and breakfast, we will split the group. Half of the group will travel to the Wonder World trailhead of the Purgatory Creek Natural Area with SMGA. Please car pool! The other half will stay at the San Marcos River to canoe, snorkel and walk the bank of the river collecting trash and recyclables.

1:00 p.m. BBQ lunch provided by Fuschak’s will be served at 1 p.m. to end the day with a trash and recyclables count to follow.

For more information call Heather Powdrill, Community Beautification Coordinator at 512-393-8420 or email her at hpowdrill@sanmarcostx.gov. Or email SMGA at alliance@smgreenbelt.org.

Thank You Booth Volunteers

SMGA had a very busy Saturday, September 25, with two booths - PetFest and GreenFest. Thanks to some new and energetic volunteers, we were able to provide information to many people new to the San Marcos natural areas. Thank you Tiffany Delane, Liz Garcia, Eric Kirby, Kristen Norberg, and Angelika Fuller!

Stewardship / Natural Areas Update

Stewardship Committee
  • SMGA's stewardship chair, Julie King, is moving on to bigger and better things - or at least on to cooler and higher places in Colorado. We truly wish her the best!
Purgatory Creek Greenspace
  • SMGA is looking for a couple of volunteers to identify appropriate locations for directional signs in Purgatory, including in the upper and lower portions and the WonderWorld extension. If you're interested, email alliance@smgreenbelt.org and we'll send you more information. 
  • Todd Derkacz and Dick McBride install blazes in Purgatory in the photo to the right. More blazes coming soon!
Ringtail Ridge
  • SMGA is finishing up the grant requirements for the TPWD grant. Bike racks are installed, kiosks are being updated, trail blazes are being installed, and entrance signs are on the way. 
  • We've had lots of volunteers put in time building a new bridge at the back of the ADA accessible trail. Todd and Colin Castro shown to the left tote lumber to build the beauty depicted below: thanks to the many hands helping on this project!
  • Parks & Rec mowed the ADA trail and entrances to the single-track trails. Good times for Ringtail!
Spring Lake Preserve
  • Contractors for the City of San Marcos are drilling soil samples in Spring Lake to test the soil for a potential waste water line. There should only be about 6 holes drilled. Let SMGA know if you see anything.
  • Harris Road Company of Wimberley has been chosen to build an ADA accessible trail at Spring Lake, so you may see survey marks.
- Updates provided by Maggie Hutchins, SMGA President

Last Day to Register to Vote: Monday 10/4!

Be sure you are registered to vote in the important elections coming up very soon. Voter Registration Applications are available at the Hays County Elections Office, other county offices, libraries, post offices, Texas Department of Public Safety offices and Texas Department of Human Services. Additionally, you may obtain an application by calling (512) 393-7310 or click https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/forms/vr17.pdf to get an application on-line.

Mark your calender now!

Early Voting: Monday October 18 – Friday October 29
General Election Day: November 2, 2010, 7:00 to 7:00

Update on Local Developments (SMRF)

SMGA promotes responsible development. We do not object to new development in general; we live in a growing area and maintaining dense growth in town will reduce pressure on outlying areas to develop. But we do object to development that seriously impairs the ecology, the watershed and recharge zone, and the habitat of endangered species. We encourage the citizens of San Marcos to be aware of the issues and to voice suggestions, revisions, and thoughts at public input sessions.

Thanks to SMRF for keeping the community informed with the information below. We encourage you to subscribe to the SMRF newsletter so you can read their updates first hand and play an active part in shaping our community. Subscribe by emailing wassenich@grandecom.net

P&Z TUESDAY NIGHT, Sept. 28, tomorrow, starting at 6 p.m.   Go a few minutes early to sign up to speak.  Two major recharge zone developments are on the agenda, Buie Tract, Windemere, plus the developer of Paso Robles is up about their other development, Blanco Vista. At Council last week, many people FOR Paso Robles stood up to read a very flawed letter from the geologist of Paso Robles which the city has posted on their website. They read from it, in series, each reading a paragraph to refute SMRF's concerns about the aquifer. The newspapers said that there were an overwhelming number of people FOR Paso Robles speaking at the meeting, and they were right. However, we let them know that Dr. Longley of the EARDC would be sending them the SA golf course requirements for their recharge zone in San Antonio, and SMRF was going to stand firm with the aquifer scientists and oppose using wastewater for irrigation on recharge, contributing and transition zones of the property, as well as oppose the pesticides and chemicals that would harm the wells in the aquifer. Thanks to the few of you who came to speak as well, making very good points...Email planning_info@sanmarcostx.gov with your thoughts. We urge you to be there Tuesday.

BLANCO VISTA: The Blanco Vista subdivision built by the same developers as Paso Robles is now asking P&Z to approve 900 apartments that were not in its original plans. This change is for financial reasons since lots are not selling at Blanco Vista. Also they are proposing some commercial or retail to be scattered throughout what was supposed to be a single family master-planned community. This is going to be quite controversial among those homeowners who have already built, I would imagine, and relevant to Paso Robles since it is the same developer. But P&Z has total control on whether this happens; we hear it does not go to Council normally afterwards for this kind of "minor" change. See P&Z meetings online or on TV, they are on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday evenings at 6, each month. But it is best to attend.

WINDEMERE:  We were finally able to get the plans for Windemere's new road concept from the city, showing how Windemere will try to get a variance at P&Z on Sept. 28 to build a narrower entrance road than required. The entrance is on the very border of the 100 year flood plain of Sink Creek, for the 75 homes they plan to build on part of it. Sink Creek flows to Spring Lake. They are saving part of their property for later for commercial and apartments (shown on earlier plans), in hopes that the city will extend Craddock to their property across the huge canyon of Sink Creek.  Since this bridge costs many millions, it may not happen right away. Their variance, if P&Z grants it, will allow them to have an entrance road right of way that is 47 ft wide instead of the 60 required in city ordinances. They will eliminate the bike path and also the space between the sidewalks and the pavement, in order to get by with this narrow right of way. There will still be sidewalks but they will be right on the curb. They will raise the road slightly because a part is in the flood plain. This road will still be a problem in case of a big flood or a fire, as it will be the only entrance for the 75 homes, and we will point that out to P&Z.  To write to P&Z, use planning_info@sanmarcostx.gov. Sign up to speak before the 6 p.m. meeting on Sept. 28, and this development is also on the recharge zone, like part of Paso Robles.

BUIE TRACT: Our engineer's recent study of the Buie Tract geologic assessment approved by TCEQ has found many deficiencies besides the ones we already pointed out in our protest of this third project on the recharge zone. We have been trying to get maps of the watershed plan the Buie Tract is almost finished with, since they have worked on it with the city for several weeks. Our open records request made about two weeks ago was lost at city hall but we finally got the map Friday. Meanwhile, the P&Z meeting on Sept. 28 will see the developers come back to try to change the zoning on the small 2.2 acre tract that they left out last time, in order to cut out part of the homeowners who had signed a petition against the development. The city accepted this maneuver as legal, and so the citizen's petition was just barely short of enough signatures to require a supermajority at council to vote for the rezoning. It would likely have failed last time if the 2.2 acre tract was not cut out in that very unusual maneuver. Now this 2.2 acre tract is coming back, to be rezoned to Mixed Use so commercial uses can be placed up against the existing single family homes on that corner of Craddock and Bishop down to Grant Court. To express your views, email planning_info@sanmacostx.gov or show up the 28th.

TXDOT & COSM Bike Surveys

Many visitors to our parks and natural areas arrive by bike to hike or ride bikes in the park. Here is a useful and very current note from SMGA member Adam Wagner:
It’s soon to be October, the weather will cool, and the fall riding season will be in full swing. Before you jump on the bike, check the tubes, tires, lube the chain, and be sure to let someone know where you are going. No, not just the normal friends or family, but this time share your ride with the City of San Marcos and the Texas Department of Transportation. Both entities are looking for input on bicycle improvements. The links below will direct you to the studies. The city’s survey is short and sweet and builds on the the September 9th city meeting. TXDOT’s survey is more involved, but it is tailored to locations in the Austin District (including San Marcos). Please take a few minutes and let the city and TXDOT know your thoughts about cycling.

No Impact Week at TX State

No impact week starts Sunday Sept. 29 and runs through October 3rd. Take advantage of a week's worth of movies, events, seminars, and so much more! Check out the full No Impact Week schedule here.

Be sure to note these events on the Texas State campus:

Sept 22: Colin Beavan, Strahan Coliseum, 7 pm

Sept 25: Discover TX State GreenFest, LBJ Mall, 10 am - 2 pm

Sept 29: Farmers Market, Quad, 4-7 pm. Over 20 local vendors with fresh produce and foods ready to eat, yum yum.

Here is a link to the complete Common Experience calendar.

Thank You to Parks & Recreation

Update from SMGA President, Maggie Hutchins:
I am happy to announce that the Parks & Recreation Department installed butterstick rocks to block auto access to Blanco Shoals greenspace. I checked to see if the rocks were working after a rainy weekend, and I'm happy to say that there was no evidence of 'mudding.'

The Parks & Recreation crew also mowed the ADA accessible trail and entrances to the single-track trail at Ringtail Ridge in August, which assisted trail maintenance efforts in that park immensely. The SMGA trail crew and monitors especially are thrilled. It is wonderful to be able to walk the trail without being overwhelmed by overgrowth.

SMGA will continue to work with PARD to get more city maintenance on our trails. Both the rocks at Blanco Shoals and the mowing of the ADA trail at Ringtail Ridge has helped SMGA focus our energy on other aspects of the natural areas and create a safer environment and overall better experience for the park patrons.

Meet Colin Castro

You may have seen Colin working hard at Ringtail Ridge helping install a new bridge or improve other local natural area amenities. He is working as an intern with SMGA and the San Marcos River Foundation this semester and is a joy to work with. Get to know Colin by reading his introduction below, and be sure to say hi and thank you next time you see him!

My name is Colin Castro, and I will be graduating with a BSAS in Applied Sociology and a minor in Psychology. I am interested in the greenspaces because nature is where I spend all of my time, and it intrigues me. I am trying to form a better idea of how physical arrangements affect patterns of human interaction. I am an avid outdoorsmen. Whether I am on my mountain bike, climbing rocks, kayaking/canoeing, or just sitting alone fishing, nature has a hold on me, as well as the group of people I tend to surround myself with. I came from Humble, TX, a city on the outskirts of Houston, where what little green-spaces we had were so trashed and disrespected it was hard to appreciate them. When I got to the Hill Country I was absolutely blown away with the quantity as well as the quality of the green-spaces. I adopted a reverence for these ecosystems that will be impossible to ignore for the remainder of my days. I want to help maintain the beauty of these natural areas so that when other people make use of them they can learn to respect the land as it should be.

Naturescapes Award Winners & Auction

The 6th annual Naturescapes Photography Contest winners were announced September 11th at the San Marcos Activity Center. (See winners and photos below.) 

The annual event continues to grow in attendance and quality as members of SMGA and Hill Country Photography Club join forces to spotlight the natural areas of Hays county through photographs. This year's contest was judged by Adolfo Isassi, who has exhibited his work at fine art galleries around Central Texas. Sixty-five photographs from the event will remain on exhibit at the San Marcos Activity Center until November 5th. SMGA's silent auction returned for a second year and helped with funding of projects, including trail building, monitoring local natural areas, and the Loop & Check / greenbelt master planning process. 

It takes many volunteers and contributors to make such a cool event happen. The Crystal Creek Boys (Matt Lochman, Nick Lochman, Ian Lee, Austin Reeves and our own Mary VanZandt) performed a soothing blend of old-time and contemporary folk music before the winners were announced. Linda Kelsy-Jones served as both curator and caterer with help from Leah Molina, Kathy Rogers, and SMGA board members. The food was sooo good! Chloe Yingst and Johnny Villarreal assisted Linda with exhibition set up and San Marcos Parks and Recreation helped with award certificates and photo collection. Thanks also go to Dianne Wassenich for help with food and auction set up and to Lance Jones, event photographer. Sharon O'Neil assisted with auction set up and checkout.

Please take some time to look at our list of silent auction donors and give them some business or a hearty thanks when you can. Thanks to Mike Derkacz who has been a sponsor for two years in a row.

The awards were presented by Todd Derkacz of SMGA and Art Arizpe of the HCPC. In remarks before the awards Todd suggested we consider, "every photograph an invitation from nature carried on the stationary of a gifted and passionate photographer. It reads: Look at me, visit me..."  

The awards were as follows:

Best in Show
Longhorn Grazing, Lucy Durfee, Dripping Springs 

Best in San Marcos Area
Rubyspot #8, Scott Mitchell, San Marcos River

Awards of Excellence
Winter Sunrise, Herb Smith, Blanco River
In Flight, Paul Keese, Aquarena Springs
Roadrunner, Carolyn Whiteside, San Marcos
Doe (Infrared), Winifred Simon, Wimberley

Awards of Merit
  • Best Depictions of San Marcos Fun and Life:
Toobin' Fun, Jane Guerin, Wimberley
OMG!, Linda Keese, San Marcos River
  • Intriguing & Evocative:
What is It?, Lois Schubert, Aquarena Springs
  • Creative Interpretation:
Down River, Herb Smith, Wimberley
Vintage Skyride, Carol Serur, Aquarena Springs

Articles of Interest - September

City council approves Paso Robles annexation
The council will take on the second reading, as well as the first reading of a development agreement, on Oct. 5.

Letter to the editor: Pollution and Paso Robles
In this letter to the editor, the San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF) argues that the proposed Paso Robles development, which is to be taken up Tuesday night by the San Marcos City Council, poses the threat of pollution for the Edwards Aquifer. The SMRF urges citizens to pay attention and get involved.

Carma seeks concept plan change for Blanco Vista
Carma Texas is attempting to change its concept plan for the Blanco Vista development to include more townhomes and multi-family units...

City-County Soccer Complex Dedication Slated Sept. 18

Bike plan meeting draws large turnout

Carma nixes plan for grey water over golf course

County expects five park projects to vie for $3.5M remaining from bond

Windemere developers cut plan to 75 dwellings

Wind transmission lines across Hill Country face holdup at Public Utility Commission
http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/wind-transmission-lines-across-hill-country-face-holdup-888516.html, Aug. 30, 2010

President Obama Declares September National Wilderness Month

Excerpt from 8/31/10 Presidential Proclamation:
For centuries, the American spirit of exploration and discovery has led us to experience the majesty of our Nation's wilderness.  From raging rivers to serene prairies, from mountain peaks slicing the skyline to forests teeming with life, our Nation's landscapes have provided wonder, inspiration, and strength to all Americans. Many sites continue to hold historical, cultural, and religious significance for Indian tribes, the original stewards of this continent.  We must continue to preserve and protect these scenic places and the life that inhabits them so they may be rediscovered and appreciated by generations to come. Read more.

What is a Ringtail?

 There is a unique animal living in San Marcos that not many people have seen. The body is compact and sleek with an elongated, pointed muzzle. Dark brown to black hairs surround the large eyes, creating a prominent mask. Large grayish-brown ears are edged in white. A ringtail’s total length ranges between 24 and 32 inches with a tail length of 12 to 17 inches. The tail has seven to eight rings. They weigh from 30 to 39 ounces. Mostly a nocturnal hunter, ringtail cats are not related to cats, but to raccoons and coatimundis. Their favorite prey is mice, squirrels or rabbits and fruit and insects. Ringtails den in tree hollows and rock crevices, but rarely stay in one area more than several nights. They are very vocal, making squeaks, chirps, growls, and howls. Ringtails have been sighted in Schulle Canyon and of course, Ringtail Ridge Greenspace.

CANCELED: Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Wangari Maathai

Events scheduled for October 4th featuring Nobel Peace Prize recipient Wangari Maathai have been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Monday, 10/4 • 7:00 p.m. • Strahan Coliseum
Texas State's Fall Common Experience keynote speaker is Dr. Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Kenya and is the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. In 1976, while she was serving the National Council of Women, Maathai introduced the idea of community-based tree planting. She continued to develop this idea into a broad-based grassroots organization whose main focus is poverty reduction and environmental conservation through tree planting. With the organization that became known as the Green Belt Movement, Maathai has assisted women in planting more than 40 million trees on community lands, including farms, schools, and church compounds. Maathai is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation. View a calendar of Common Experience events.

Boards & Commissions Time Again

Provide a wonderful service to San Marcos and yourself by serving on a local board or commission. If you want to show your love of the outdoors, responsible development, and quality of life, consider applying for the Parks and Recreation Board or Planning and Zoning Commission. Let us at SMGA know if you have any questions. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone who has an appreciation for nature and quality of life in San Marcos to give a little something back to our community. But act soon! The interest form deadline is Friday, September 24.

Here is an excerpt from the City of San Marcos press release:
The City of San Marcos invites citizens to volunteer for a variety of boards and commissions for appointments that will take effect in January 2011. The appointment process begins with citizens filling out volunteer interest forms and sending them to the City Clerk's office by Friday, September 24. The volunteer forms are available at http://www.sanmarcostx.gov/cityhall/citycouncil/boards_commissions.htm?menu=CH2 and may be filled out and submitted online. Or they may be mailed to the City Clerk's office, 630 E. Hopkins, San Marcos Texas 78666 or faxed to 512.396.1576.