New SMGA Video

Here's a video that illustrates SMGA's recent trail building efforts created by Texas State students Devin Crutcher and Callie Currier for Ray Niekamp's Mass Communications class.


San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance PSA from Devin Crutcher on Vimeo.

Thanks Devin and Callie!

Hays County Master Parks Plan Draft for Public Review through January 11

From Jeff Hauff, Grants Administrator, Hays County:
The draft of the new Hays County Parks, Open Space and Natural Areas Master Plan has been completed and is available for public review through 5 p.m. January 11, 2012. It has not yet been endorsed or adopted by the Hays County Commissioners Court.

The plan lists priorities and goals for the parks and open space system over the next 10 years and was developed through information and ideas garnered from public meetings, public surveys, the Hays County Parks and Open Space Advisory Board and other resources.

Planning began in early 2011 when a consultant hired to help guide the process held five public meetings throughout the County to receive comments from residents on desires and expectations for future parks and open space opportunities.

Hays County’s first Parks and Open Space Master Plan was completed in 2002 and updates to that plan were done in 2006. The current plan draws on those opportunities identified in the original plan, as well as those needs voiced during the current planning process.

The plan is available at www.co.hays.tx.us/parksmasterplan and a copy is also available for review in the Hays County Grants Administration Office during normal business hours. Written comments may be sent through January 11 to Jeff Hauff, Grants Administrator, at Jeff.Hauff@co.hays.tx.us or Hays County Grants, Hays County Government Center, 712 South Stagecoach Trail, Suite 1204, San Marcos, Texas, 78666.

Feral Hog Sightings?

Have you seen a feral hog at or near Spring Lake Natural Area? If so, please let Melani Howard in Parks and Recreation know ASAP. You can email her at mhoward@sanmarcostx.gov or 512.738.7313. Click for previous articles on feral hogs.

Bag Ban Public Meeting - Wednesday 1/4

From our ECO friends at Texas State:
Hope you are enjoying the holiday season. I hope it's not too early to inform you about the 2nd public input meeting regarding the plastic bag ban in San Marcos. This is a goal that many of us have been working hard towards. If you did not get the opportunity to go to the 1st public input meeting, you are definitely encouraged to attend:
Wednesday, January 04
6:30pm-8:30pm
Activity Center, Room 2
501 East Hopkins Road San Marcos, TX
We're getting closer and closer to a bag ban in San Marcos. Let's make it happen!!

SMGA FUNdraiser Really Was

SMGA’s Harvest Moon FUNdraiser, held at Prospect Park/Purgatory Creek Natural Area on November 12, was a splendid success. Even before the almost-full moon rose, a small crowd had begun to gather in the grassy meadow and prepare for Professor Russell Doescher’s astronomy hike. The calm, mellow weather couldn’t have been more cooperative, and revelers of all ages continued to meander down the moon-dappled trail throughout the evening.

Plenty of tasty food and beverages kept everyone fueled up for fun amidst the ground-level twinkling of solar lights and glow-stick jewelry, while telescopes and volunteers from the Texas State Physics Department provided deluxe views of the twinkling sights above. Under the Learning Tree it was standing room only once the bluegrass commenced. A combination of musicians from the Crystal Creek Boys & the Bluegrass Outfit had folks hootin’, hollerin’, applauding, tapping their toes, and calling for more until it was time for the raffle drawing near the end of the evening.

Our thanks to all who joined us (and all who helped us!) at our first-ever fundraising event. We hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did—we’ll have to do it again sometime!

- by Jeanine Wilder, Outreach Committee

Shop Cypress Sun Jewelry & Support SMGA


SMGA supporter Amy Friend with Cypress Sun Jewelry is continuing her generous offered to donate 5% of her online and local (San Marcos) sales to SMGA through 2011. Be sure to check out Amy’s beautiful and unique earrings, bracelets, and lariat necklaces at http://www.etsy.com/shop/cypresssun. Her work is both earthy and feminine, and definitely eye-catching!

Plastic Bag Ban Survey - Closes 12/15

Here's a link to a survey that the city of San Marcos has put out asking what citizens think about a possible city-wide plastic bag ban.
http://www.ci.san-marcos.tx.us/index.html
The survey only takes about 30 seconds so please take time to fill it out and let the city know what you think. The survey will be available through 12/15.

Thursday, 12/1 Public Workshop: Hays County Transportation Plan

Please plan to attend and express your support for a walkable, bikable community!
Hays County has begun the process for creating a countywide transportation plan. Throughout this process, the County is seeking participation and input from community members. We are holding a public workshop on December 1, 2011, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the San Marcos Activity Center (501 E. Hopkins). Please see the attached flyer for meeting details.

Public involvement is a large part of this planning process and we would like to see as many Hays County residents at this meeting as possible. Please forward the flyer to any members of your community that you think may be interested in the process.

The planning team will send project updates and notices of meetings, surveys, and other ways to participate throughout the planning process. To sign up to receive the updates directly, please email chowell@cdandp.com, with HCTP Email Update in the subject line.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing from you!
For more information: www.co.hays.tx.us/transportationplan
Cathy Howell, (512) 533-9100 ext. 10, chowell@cdandp.com

Sessom Creek - Proposed Development, Citizen Input Meetings 12/5, 7

Thus far the development project proposed by Carter Morris and Darren Casey has been known as the North Campus project. By any name it is a large endeavor that would add over 1,000 multifamily beds, approximately 20,000 square feet of retail and close Loquat Street. The site is located just east of the municipal water tank where Comanche Street terminates into Sessom and would continue downhill facing Sessom Drive. Its new name is Sessom Creek Community.

The $63M proposal was submitted as a planned development district (PDD), which would stand as an agreement between the city and anyone who owns the land. Details about the project are specified in the agreement, and the Morris/Casey team has included a number of adjustments to the minimum building requirements to do a better job of protecting Sessom Creek, expanding the so-called Sessom Greenspace and reducing the impact on the neighborhood. The developers and others argue that the project is ideally located based on principles of new urbanism or smart growth.

At the second public hearing, held during the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting last week, more than 30 neighbors showed up to express their rejection of the plan. While some admitted that the renderings of the buildings look fantastic, they feel that the development will in the end erode the quality of life and value of their neighborhood and significantly increase traffic. Those living very close to the project will also have the view of the structures themselves, light and sound penetrating the buffer of the greenspace.

Representatives of the SMGA and the SM River Foundation were invited to a meeting with the developers before the project went to the commissioners. We were asked for ideas on how the project could be improved. Many suggestions were offered and many ideas accepted. The design team plans to maximize watershed control elements and dedicate slightly more parkland than is required under current development codes. The land would help buffer and increase the acres owned by the public in the area of the greenspace.
SMGA has not endorsed the project but did speak out to give credit to the development team for doing a good job of hearing concerns and improving the project. Like many, we would prefer to see the natural cover of Sessom Creek, what little remains, left alone. But it has to be weighed against what the current or future owners have the right to do with their property and the lack of commitment by the community to purchase and hold the property as natural area.

As of this edition, there are two meetings scheduled for citizens to voice their concerns to the city staff and development team. The first meeting will be at the Dunbar Center between 5:30 - 7:30 on Monday, December 5, and the other on Wednesday, December 7th between 5:30 - 7:30 at the SM Recreation Hall next to the Lions tube rental facility in City Park accessed off Charles Austin Drive.

by Todd Derkacz, SMGA President

Saturday 12/3 Bird Hike with Stephen Ramirez at Blanco Shoals

December 3rd: Blanco Shoals (Map: http://tinyurl.com/blancoshoals ) Meet at 7:30, park in the dirt round-about at the end of the road. This is definitely one of my favorite areas to explore in San Marcos, its a really large property, or it seems that way, because you can walk to every corner of it. There are always great birds so I invite you to come out and see what we can find. Even without the birds this is just a great place to be to enjoy being outside!
Email Stephen at stephen@birdsiview.org to be added to his bird hike email list. 

Here's an excerpt from Stephen's blog:

Spotted Towhee by Stephen Ramirez
November’s Monthly Bird Walk
...Gathering just after sunrise (I bet my guests were glad it was Saturday, not Sunday), the weather was still quite chilly, and there was also the conveniently placed “Bird walking trail” sign at the parking lot but has always seemed somewhat out of place until now. Overall it was mostly quite around the trails, I was listening for birds and could hear a very faint cry far away. I hinted that there were some Towhee’s about and that maybe we could find them. Sure enough, further down the trail we ran into the most exciting bird of the day, we were actually surrounded by 1 singing and 2 calling Spotted Towhees, and also witnessed them interacting with each other. It may have been a scandalous love triangle but it was hard to tell. More

Natural Area Monitoring

If you visit the SMGA Volunteer blog, you may have noticed an on-line monitor report form. This is the best way to notify SMGA and Parks and Recreation to minor issues or concerns with the natural areas. Check it out and fill it in at http://smgavolunteer.blogspot.com/

SMGA Supports Acquisition of 107 Acres for Purgatory Creek Natural Area

On November 22, the Hays County Commissioners approved an amendment to an inter-local agreement between the county and the City of San Marcos that takes us one step closer to adding 107 acres to Upper Purgatory Creek Natural Area. SMGA will continue to share our support of the expansion with city and county officials, and we thank the Trust for Public Land for their time and investment in this project.

The next step is for the San Marcos City Council to approve the acquisition of the additional acres. Please email Mayor_Council_Info@sanmarcostx.gov to express your support for the Purgatory Creek Natural Area expansion. We expect the item to be on an agenda before the end of the year. And of course, we are thrilled to have this beautiful natural area  expand to conserve additional environmentally sensitive land and provide more recreational opportunities for San Marcos!

Previous article on this topic:
The acquisition of additional acres to Purgatory Creek Natural Area (PCNA)  has been a challenging project. We are happy to report that there is light at the end of the tunnel. At this time the Trust for Public Land continues to work on the acquisition of the 289 acres to take place in two phases – the first 106 acres could be conveyed to the city by the end of January 2012. (Click the link above to read more.)

Golf Course Expansion Omitted from Texas State Master Plan

SMGA recently joined with other community organizations to voice concerns for the proposed Spring Lake Golf Course expansion that was part of the Texas State Master Plan. The expansion included two new holes and a golf pro shop, requiring a significant change to the land surrounding the entrance to Spring Lake Preserve.

On October 26th, Texas State announced that this portion of the Master Plan will be omitted. Originally, TxDOT’s proposed railroad overpass on Aquarena Springs Drive would have interfered with the existing golf course design, which provoked the need to expand the golf course toward Spring Lake Preserve. However, a new overpass design by TxDOT shows that the roadway will not impact the golf course as previously planned, canceling the need for the change. Texas State also announced that plans for new pro shop have been “deferred pending further study.”

The new overpass design will also save 118 parking spaces from being removed from the Strahan Coliseum lot.

by Leah Gibson, SMGA Board Member

Sink Creek Wastewater Line Won’t Traverse Spring Lake Natural Area

Peaceful Pond by Herb Smith (at Spring Lake Natural Area)
SMGA was very pleased to hear that the wastewater line will no longer go through Spring Lake Natural Area. We thank everyone for contacting city staff and council to express concern over this wastewater line. Here is our letter to the mayor, council, and city staff in response to the recent news that the city is evaluating making improvements to Sessom downstream lines instead of building the Sink Creek Interceptor Phase II project:
Thank you for the time and energy that you invested in the Sink Creek Wastewater Interceptor Line, Phase Two project. The San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance appreciates your forethought to step back and consider alternative routes, and welcome the results of the peer review presented at the council meeting on November 15. The proposed alternate route will save money, improve existing infrastructure, protect water quality, and preserve the Spring Lake Natural Area. We look forward to continuing to work with the City to protect San Marcos's natural areas and quality of life for this and future generations.
Respectfully,
Maggie Hutchins
San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance
http://smgreenbelt.org
And here is an email from city engineer Jennifer Shell with details behind the change in plans:
At the November 15 City Council meeting, City staff presented the findings of a Peer Review of the Sink Creek Phase II Wastewater Interceptor Project. The study was performed by K. Friese and Associates of Austin, Texas. The proposed project was evaluated for alignment, line size, and flow information and whether the interceptor would provide the capacity needed in the N. LBJ Drive/ Rogers Ridge area currently served by the Sessom Creek Sewer Shed.

The study concluded that:
1. If the Sink Creek Interceptor was built, the City would still need to make improvements to the Sessom Creek Sewer Shed existing infrastructure.
2. The City could realize significant cost savings and gain the capacity needed by making improvements to Sessom downstream lines instead of building the Sink Creek Interceptor Phase II project.
The City is now moving forward with an analysis of the Sessom Creek downstream lines to establish if bypass lines could be built to move the existing lines away from the San Marcos River and to what size the existing lines should be increased. A final alignment will be complete in December, and design will begin in January, 2012.  We expect to incorporate portions of the construction into other projects.  For example, the N LBJ Reconstruction Project could include a new wastewater line and the Downtown Redevelopment Project could include a new wastewater line. All construction should be complete by 2014.
If you have additional questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact us at the Engineering and CIP Department by phone at 393-8130 or email CIP@sanmarcostx.gov
We greatly appreciate your input and patience through this process.
Thank you,
Jennifer Shell, P.E.
City Engineer
by Maggie Hutchins-Wagner, SMGA Board Member

The Importance of Water - Blanco Shoals Natural Area

If you are ever in doubt about the importance water makes to our lives, visit the Blanco Shoals natural area on River Ridge Parkway east of I-35. The 81-acre greenspace was set aside by the city and the landowner in consideration of a re-zoning of adjacent property. The strip of land borders the Blanco River and is bounded by cypress, cottonwood and sycamore trees many in fall colors.
Blanco River

Recent rainfalls of more than 3 inches in November makes for a lush greenery. The river is running and not dry. It was so attractive that it captured an artist's interest in the majestic pecan trees in the moist, fertile riparian soils.
Golden fronted woodpecker

The natural area is a great destination for bird watching while the boardwalk at Spring Lake is temporarily closed. Birds abound in the rich riverbanks as woodpeckers are both heard and seen. Also heard circling overhead announcing his presence was a red-shouldered hawk. The usual mockingbirds, chicadees and sparrows are also easily seen and heard.

This is an undeveloped natural area with no marked trails, map or trash and doggie bag dispenser. Until it is, visitors are asked to leave the area as found. The rancher's jeep track, although out in the open field, makes for a good path to transverse one end to the other. Travel  next to the river is hampered by mud, cliffs and flora.

Best parking is at the curb before reaching either of the apartments. The TX State tram makes use of the turning radius of the cul-de-sac during university sessions.

by Lance Jones, SMGA Stewardship Committee

SMGA and Mayor Guerrero at Ringtail Ridge

Maggie finds geocache. Photo by Lance Jones, SMGA
SMGA board member Maggie Hutchins and Mayor Daniel Guerrero led a hike at Ringtail Ridge Natural Area November 13th. The history of the 45-acre greenspace and the many users of the park were discussed. The small group of 7 hiked both Tex's Trail and the Ridge Loop. Drought damage was noted as several hackberry trees fell victim and provided a new habitat for small animals. The soapberry trees were a brilliant yellow, and we learned about cochineal and its many uses. Maggie discovered a geocache, and the contents of the treasure trove were examined and carefully returned to their hiding place. The hike lasted just over an hour on a sunny, Sunday afternoon. 

-by Lance Jones, SMGA Stewardship Committee

SMGA is taking a bit of a winter break from guided hikes, but we will return in Spring 2012.

LWV Briefing Paper on Water Issues: Should Water Be a Commodity?

From Annalisa Peace of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance:
As promised, I have uploaded the League of Women Voters "Should Water Be a Commodity?" report on our website. If the link doesn't work, you can find the report on our website in the "Library" under "Resources for Member Groups"... the LWV report is one of the best summations of Texas water issues that I have seen. It is only 8 pages - and can serve as the basis of future discussions that we all need to have before the 83rd Legislative session.

You Asked for ‘Em…

You’ve been asking and we’ve responded. Look for SMGA T-shirts for sale at our upcoming FUNdraiser. Thanks to Jo Ellen Korthals and Charlotte Wattigny for their help with graphic design and message. The shirts are light green with the Enjoy Nature…your way design shown here in brown on the back and the SMGA logo on the front. Sizes available are men’s S, M, L, XL, and XXL. $12 /each. Email alliance@smgreenbelt.org for information on how to purchase.

Support SMGA: FUNdRaiser Saturday 11/12

On Saturday, November 12th, 2011, the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance will be hosting a Harvest Moon FUNdraiser! Starting at moonrise (7 pm) under the Learning Tree in Purgatory Creek Natural Area-Prospect Park, we will have food and activities for your enjoyment.

Participate in an astronomy hike guided by Texas State astronomy professor Russell L Doescher starting at 7:30PM. Or just hang out at the Learning Tree and enjoy sodas, chips, baked goods and sausage wraps for sale while they last.

Two days away from full, the moon will cast light on a live bluegrass performance from a combination of the Crystal Creek Boys & the Bluegrass Outfit, starting at 8:30PM. You will be able to look through a telescope to view planetary bodies up close, enter a raffle to win prizes, and take home a new SMGA T-shirt! Bring the kids, and they can participate in an art project.

This event raises funds to benefit the good work of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance. Our mission is to create and conserve an interconnected system of parks and natural areas for our community and future generations. SMGA is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that works to preserve greenspace in our growing city and make it accessible to the city’s residents. Come out and support our many projects, including trail building and maintenance, installing trail signage and kiosk displays, invasive plant removal, and conservation advocacy, to name just a few! 

Bring:
• Cash or checks
• Beverage of choice (no glass!)
• Flashlight and/or other no-flame light source
• Folding chair
• Your pup might be happier at home, but if you bring her along, remember that leashes are required in city parks. Also please bring bags and use your flashlight to pick up her waste.

Parking: Plan to park along neighborhood streets (e.g., Prospect, Columbia, and Progress Streets) and avoid blocking driveways

Directions: From downtown San Marcos, take W Hopkins St. to N Bishop St. Turn west (uphill) on Bishop and left on Prospect St. Go 2.5 blocks to dead end. Park on the street near the kiosk. Parking is limited, so consider carpooling, walking, or biking; a bike rack is available. Follow the lighted trail that winds through the cedar break, and then emerges into the field. From there you will find the fun under the Learning Tree and by the large compass.

View other SMGA and community events in our calendar

Saturday Work Day - 11/5

November 5 is the date of our  our second Saturday trail work day. We shall meet at the parking lot of Upper Purgatory at 9 AM and work until noon. We are working on a new trail which leads to the Grotto. The work is mainly clearing tread and moving rocks, and we should finish the trail around the Grotto on Saturday.

No previous experience is necessary. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and close toed shoes, and bring some water. SMGA will provide the tools. All of us provide the fun and camaraderie.

Directions: To reach the  UPPER Purgatory parking lot follow Craddock across Wonder World Drive, go one block to the end of Craddock and turn right on the calcite road for about a quarter mile.

View other SMGA and community events in our calendar

Ringtail Ridge Hike with Mayor Guerrero and SMGA

Sunday, November 13, 2-4pm

Join SMGA and San Marcos' Mayor Daniel Guerrero on a hike of Ringtail Ridge Sunday, November 13 from 2-4 pm. We will discuss Ringtail Ridge's unique history, recreational opportunities, and its location within the Loop & Check vision. Whether you have explored Ringtail many times and would like to share your enthusiasm for the area, or it's your first time, please join us in welcoming Mayor Guerrero to Ringtail Ridge. Bring water and wear closed-toe shoes.

Directions: Take Old Ranch Road 12 (Moore St.) toward Wimberley about 1/10th mile past Craddock Ave. Turn right onto dirt road between Dakota Ranch Apartments and Crestwood Center (there's a wooden sign welcoming you to Ringtail Ridge). Follow road until you reach the big oak and trailhead behind the apartments. There is plenty of parking.

View other SMGA and community events in our calendar.

Grotto Trail Almost Complete at Upper Purgatory

Ever wonder what's down below the overlook on Dante's Trail?  Down some 80 feet?

The Thursday morning trail crew has been busy constructing a trail that leads to a geologic wonder at the base of the cliff. Several master naturalists were accompanied on October 26 by retired geologist Wayne Orlowski, who talked about the limestone formations, fractures and rock layers that compose the cliff.
Edwards limestone and fractured rock layer above. Note poison ivy.

The formation of the grotto or excavation of the rock and soil leads to several explanations. Was it formed by erosion and the power of Purgatory Creek following heavy rainfalls? Has the creek selectively erroded the grotto because the rock is more fractured at this location? Why is the rock more fractured at the grotto. Was it created over geologic time as part of the San Marcos Arch and fractures caused by earthquakes associated with movement on faults along the Balcones Fault Zone? Was the rock fractured and the grotto created and localized in this spot as a result of compaction drape over a carbonate mound or a reef that lies beneath the grotto location? Is there another explanation or a combination of causes?
Orlowski (red shirt) explains geology of the grotto 10/26/11

The existence of the grotto leads to a better understanding of the ground we tread and the importance of safeguarding the fragile land that captures rainwater for later use. The distance from the Craddock Street trailhead to the Grotto is roughly 2 miles.  Common sense precautions are advised when visiting the landmark. Stay on the trail to prevent erosion, no shortcuts. Travel with a partner and no climbing the rock face.

By Lance Jones

What's in a Map?

Derkacz & Scrobanek plot waypoints, SLP, 9/9/11
Trail maps. Simple. Walk the trail with a GPS device and transfer to a computer program. Hit PRINT or these days, UPLOAD. And viola! You've got a trail map.

Not so fast.

What do you name the trail? Which landmarks get used (and which don't). What other important information goes into making a good, useable trail map? What about consistency between trail maps.

First you need an expert. SMGA is fortunate to have the services of Kenny Skrobanek, a recent graduate from a Texas State graduate program in geography. He's a runner, unicycle football player and member of the San Marcos community. His full-time job is with the city's GIS department.

Then you need to form a committee to make all those decisions. With a strong core of volunteers and leaders Todd Derckaz, Charlie McNeil, Melani Howard, Ann Jensen, Lance Jones, and others meet with Kenny and discuss the look and function of each of the maps.

Available online and at no charge are maps from Schulle Canyon, Ringtail Ridge and this month, Spring Lake Preserve.

A 3-part map of the Purgatory Creek trails should be available before the end of the year. Eight different trails compose the Purgatory Creek Natural Area. Dante's Trail alone is the longest at more than 4 miles in length. The maps denoting the trails highlight the opportunities for residents and visitors alike to get outdoors, get some exercise (with or without Fido), and just clear the head. The other important benefit to the maps is the delineation of the creeks that flow through the greenbelt loop and the reason we want to preserve and safeguard this resource.

By Lance Jones

SMGA Supports Prop 8

Proposition 8, found on every Texas ballot this November, is very much related to our mission and we hope you will vote to approve it. This is one more tool that can be used by owners of undeveloped land to use land management practices aimed at protecting water resources. The two similar options currently available for undeveloped land are known as the agriculture or the wildlife management exemption. These exemptions allow owners to avoid high property tax rates if they meet standards of land use practices. This enables open space to remain open, producing value for the people of Texas. Land owners faced with enormous tax burdens might otherwise be forced to sell out. The cost of food and natural resource protection for the rest of us would increase. Protecting our water resources is clearly a value dear to Texans and that is what proposition 8 would allow. It is not expected to exempt lands that would not qualify for exemption under one of the other options so it will not cause our taxes to increase. It will mean that those lands in watersheds above sensitive water resources can be managed for maximum water quantity and quality and we believe San Marcos and every other Texan could certainly benefit from this kind of management. Please vote in favor of proposition 8. You can learn more by checking out the website Ballot Pedia at http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Texas_Water-Stewardship_Tax_Amendment,_Proposition_8_%282011%29.

Californians in The Loop: Great Geocaching Resource

We think you'll enjoy reading this email from a teacher in Chula Vista, California. Thanks to her student, Andrea, for sharing the helpful link below with SMGA geocachers.
Hi-
I'm a teacher in Chula Vista, California. I've started a geocaching club with the older students here at school, and it's really taking off! Right now, I have my students looking for resources and information as well as cool caches we can go check out, when we get to that point!

One of my students, Andrea, brought your page (http://www.smgreenbelt.org/Links.htm) to my attention. It was really helpful and I'm using it with the group. Andrea wanted me to share another page she found with you, since we used your stuff!

It has a bunch of great geocaching tips and resources and we thought it'd make a nice addition to your page! Plus, it'd be great to show Andrea she was able to help you too! Please, let me know what you think!

Thanks again, and Happy Monday! (If there is such a thing! lol) :-D

FUNdRaiser: New Date 11/12, Poem by Bridgett Phillips

Our rained-out FUNdraiser will take place on Saturday evening, Nov 12 (times TBA). So mark your calendars and enjoy this wonderful poem contributed by SMGA supporter and volunteer Bridgett Phillips:
I do party in the park,
I do party when it's dark!
I party with the moon and stars,
I party while I look at Mars.
I party as the sun goes down,
I party with my friends around.
I do celebrate what we do,
It's SMGA for me and you!
View other SMGA and community events in our calendar.

Dream San Marcos - Build a Greenbelt

Don't forget to vote for SMGA's Build a Greenbelt Around San Marcos post
Use hike and bike trails along creekways to connect parks, natural areas, and neighborhoods, while at the same time protecting our water quality - a greenbelt around San Marcos.

by Maggie Hutchins

Parks: Not Just a Budget Line Item

From the National Parks Service October 2011 Newsletter: Conservation + Recreation
It can be easy these days to get caught up in the negativity of our sluggish economy. Everywhere it seems people are cutting back on spending. In such a climate, it becomes tempting for municipalities and states to look at their parks and say, "sorry, but maybe next year. "

However, some folks would offer different opinions. Anne Schwartz in the Gotham Gazette argues that parks should not be ignored during economic downturns. Parks raise property values (hence property tax revenues too), offer free or inexpensive recreation, and provide public health benefits from exercise. Additionally, State park attendance has had a noticeable bump up during the recent downturn, which means visitors were putting money back into local economies by spending on food and gear.   

A State of Tennessee study finds that every $1 in its parks budget creates $17 dollars in direct expenditures. The Trust for Public Land has documented the dollar value returned by parks in a wide range of U.S. cities and counties.
  
Here at Conservation + Recreation, we celebrate all the ways in which people benefit from enjoying their public parks, rivers and trails.  But during an economic downturn, it's timely to recognize the role these assets play as economic catalysts.   

Parks become an even more valuable resource during tough times.  Thinking of millions of families spending time together in a nearby park -- and worlds away from the stresses of home -- reminds us also that the benefits from parks aren't merely financial. 

Highway Funding for Hike & Bike Amenities - Hunter Entrance to PCNA

From a recent city press release:

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy board of directors awarded the City of San Marcos $12.2 million in state transportation funds at its Oct. 10 board meeting. The funds will go toward two projects:
  • $6 million to widen and improve Hunter Road between Wonder World Drive and Bishop Street; the project will allow for the inclusion of hike and bike amenities and intersection improvements
  • $6.2 million for intersection improvements at Loop 82 and SH 80 at IH-35
"These improvements will enhance mobility and safety at very important entrance points to our city," said Mayor Daniel Guerrero. "The fact that CAMPO awarded the funds shows how important these projects are and how diligently our Capital Improvements and Transportation staff worked at developing them."

Construction is slated to begin by August 2013.

Did You Know? - Prospect Park

Did you know that the 9 acres of Prospect Park was the first greenspace in San Marcos? It was to be a residential development, but this karst-rich area was saved thanks to a joint venture of citizens and the city. The city paid $90,000 and provided the developer an additional $90,000 worth of development credits to be used elsewhere. The sequence of events that gave us Prospect Park was also the catalyst for the creation of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance and the beginning of the vision of a greenbelt around the San Marcos.

Source: San Marcos Daily Record, 12/19/99, Greenspace: 1999 was busy year for city acquisition of sensitive sites.

Purgatory Update - Expansion, Nature Center, and Hike


Expansion of Purgatory

The acquisition of additional acres to Purgatory Creek Natural Area (PCNA)  has been a challenging project. We are happy to report that there is light at the end of the tunnel. At this time the Trust for Public Land continues to work on the acquisition of the 289 acres to take place in two phases – the first 106 acres could be conveyed to the city by the end of January 2012. The second phase depends on funding by US Fish & Wildlife Service Habitat Conservation Plan funds in the next cycle (2012). The project is well positioned for eligibility and funding, and a match has been secured.

As some of you may remember, at one point this project included the acquisition of enough acres to put the total acreage at Purgatory Creek Natural Area at over 1,000. This is still possible, although it may take some time. The Trust for Public Land continues to work with landowners and funders to conserve additional property contiguous to the existing Purgatory Creek Natural Area. We look forward to continuing our partnership with TPL and appreciate the work that they are doing to conserve these sensitive areas in San Marcos for conservation and recreation.

Nature Center


Last night the City Council directed Parks and Recreation staff to focus on the items in the original application for Hays County Parks Bond funding of trails, roads, kiosks, restrooms, directional and educational signage, and hopefully water. The nature center facility at PCNA has been delayed due to a lack of wastewater infrastructure. SMGA is working with Parks and Recreation to ensure that the best services are provided for with these funds to improve the experience of park users in Purgatory Creek Natural Area.

Hike Along Purgatory Creek - This Saturday, October 22nd at 8 am

This hike will follow Purgatory Creek along a route that may become a future greenway connecting Purgatory Creek Natural Area to the San Marcos River. Hikers convene at Children's Park, with hike culminating at the Hunter Road entrance to Purgatory Creek Natural Area (approximately 2 miles). Wear close-toed shoes, long pants, hat and sunscreen. Bring water. Please RSVP by e-mailing alliance@smgreenbelt.org so we can set up ridesharing back to our starting point at Children's Park.

Texas State's Master Plan and Spring Lake Preserve

SMGA is joining many fellow organizations in expressing our concerns with Texas State's Master Plan. For a quick overview of the project, visit http://austin.ynn.com/content/top_stories/280968/golf-course-expansion-plans-spark-protest-in-san-marcos. Briefly, the university is proposing major alterations to the woods and the land behind the maintenance shed for golfing and golf buildings. This area serves as the entrance to Spring Lake Preserve.

While SMGA develops our particular discussion points, we would like to share those of the San Marcos River Foundation:
1. Golf is not part of the educational mission of the university, and they promised to protect this spring when they bought the land. This is not protecting it.
2. This is a world-class ecological and archeological site and not a place on which to build unnecessary facilities.
3. A sensitive area like this should not have such buildings on it to serve such a few users, it should be a place that serves the whole community and university, and the general public as well by being as natural and undisturbed as possible.

Or you may include your own concerns regarding the master plan.

SMGA will provide sample language in our upcoming newsletter. In the meantime, please mail your concerns to:
Chair of the Board of Regents, Mr. Charlie Amato
Texas University System
208 E. 10th, Suite 600
Austin, TX 78701
and feel free to contact us for additional information.

A few links and additional information

http://fss.txstate.edu/cmp-update/contentParagraph/01/document/TxSt-Master-Plan-Update-Final-Recommendations-080311.pdf
http://austin.ynn.com/content/top_stories/280968/golf-course-expansion-plans-spark-protest-in-san-marcos
http://star.txstate.edu/node/4785
http://star.txstate.edu/node/4768
http://smmercury.com/49284/prehistoric-bones-discovered-at-texas-state/

POSTPONED: 10/8 Harvest Moon FUNdRaiser

Today’s Harvest Moon FUNdRaiser is POSTPONED due to chance of rain and lightening this evening, mud, and potential cloud cover obscuring stars and moon. Stay tuned for a new date in early November to be announced. (Sad irony that our event was rained out in the midst of a drought, but we’ll have something to look forward to in November!)

Help Support SMGA at our Harvest Moon FUNdRaiser: October 8

On Saturday, October 8th, 2011, the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance will be hosting a Harvest Moon FUNdraiser! Starting at sundown (7 pm) under the Learning Tree in Purgatory Creek Natural Area-Prospect Park, we will have food and activities for your enjoyment.

Participate in an astronomy hike guided by Texas State astronomy professor Russell L Doescher starting at 7:30PM. Or just hang out at the Learning Tree and enjoy sodas, chips, baked goods and sausage wraps for sale while they last.

Four days away from full, the moon will cast light on a live performance by the Crystal Creek Boys starting at 8:30PM. You will be able to look through a telescope to view planetary bodies up close, enter a raffle to win prizes, and take home a new SMGA T-shirt! Bring the kids, and they can participate in an art project.

This event raises funds to benefit the good work of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance. Our mission is to create and conserve an interconnected system of parks and natural areas for our community and future generations. SMGA is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that works to preserve greenspace in our growing city and make it accessible to the city’s residents. Come out and support our many projects, including trail building and maintenance, installing trail signage and kiosk displays, invasive plant removal, and conservation advocacy, to name just a few! Rain date will be in early November, date to be announced.

Bring:
• Cash or checks
• Beverage of choice (no glass!)
• Flashlight and/or other no-flame light source
• Folding chair
• Your pup might be happier at home, but if you bring her along, remember that leashes are required in city parks. Also please bring bags and use your flashlight to pick up her waste.

Parking: Plan to park along neighborhood streets (e.g., Prospect, Columbia, and Progress Streets) and avoid blocking driveways

Directions: From downtown San Marcos, take W Hopkins St. to N Bishop St. Turn west (uphill) on Bishop and left on Prospect St. Go 2.5 blocks to dead end. Park on the street near the kiosk. Parking is limited, so consider carpooling, walking, or biking; a bike rack is available. Follow the lighted trail that winds through the cedar break, and then emerges into the field. From there you will find the fun under the Learning Tree and by the large compass.

Hikes and More For Your Calendar – October (Lots Going On!)

SMGA Events

October 8, 7PM: Harvest Moon FUNdRaiser
Mark your calendars for a night of festivities under the Learning Tree in the Prospect Park - Purgatory Creek Natural Area. There will be a guided hike, live music, raffle, kids activities, T-shirts for sale and more. Come out and support the good work of SMGA! Click here to read about this event.

October 15, 9-11:30AM: Trail Building @ Purgatory Creek Natural Area
We have had many requests for Saturday workdays from those who cannot work on a weekday. We have scheduled two workdays, October 15 and November 5. On 10/15, the work will depend on how many people show up, but will be either completing a new trail from Dante's trail to the Grotto, or placing signs with trail names and distances on them. In either case there will be digging and some hard work.
Wear closed-toed shoes and long sleeved shirts and jeans or other strong pants. Bring some water. SMGA will provide tools. An elegant PIZZA LUNCH will be served in the Upper Purgatory parking lot.

Meet at the parking lot at the Upper Purgatory entrance: From downtown San Marcos, take W. Hopkins St. past Bishop and Belvin Streets to Wonder World Drive and turn right (west) on Wonder World. At the intersection with Craddock Avenue, make a left onto a ranch road and watch for natural area signs guiding you to the parking area and trailhead. Hope to see you there!
October 22, 8AM: Purgatory Creek Hike
This hike will follow Purgatory Creek along a route that may become a future greenway connecting Purgatory Creek Natural Area to the San Marcos River. Hikers convene at Children's Park, with hike culminating at the Hunter Road entrance to Purgatory Creek Natural Area (approximately 2 miles). Wear close-toed shoes, long pants, hat and sunscreen. Bring water. Please RSVP by e-mailing alliance@smgreenbelt.org so we can set up ridesharing back to our starting point at Children’s Park.

November 5, 7:45AM: Guided Bird Walk with Stephen Ramirez
Prospect Park (Map). Meet at the trailhead on Prospect Street. By this time most sparrows should be present to give us practice at some harder to identify species. Read more about Stephen's bird walks at http://birdsiview.org/SanMarcosBirdWalks.html Click "Blog" in the upper left corner of the page to read about the October walk attended by 12 people who helped Stephen identify over 30 birds at the SM Nature Center.

November 5, 9AM: General Clean Up and Trail Repair (location TBD)

November 13, 2PM: Hike with Mayor Guerrero at Ringtail Ridge Natural Area

Community Events

October 6, 7PM: Council of Neighborhood Associations City Council Debate
San Marcos Activity Center. This debate is open to the public with questions coming from the attendees. There will be a reception afterward sponsored by Grande Communications.

October 8, 9AM-Noon: River Clean Up
LOCATION CHANGE: The clean-up has been moved to the new recreation center near Lion's Tube Rental in City Park. Volunteers can canoe, kayak or walk the banks of the San Marcos River collecting solid waste and recyclable materials. It is always best to wear long sleeves and long pants, plus socks and tie-on tennis shoes. No shorts, no flip flops. This will help you get into the weeds of the riverbanks to reach the trash without getting poison ivy. Includes breakfast tacos and lunch. Questions: Contact Heather Powdrill, KSMB Coordinator, hpowdrill@sanmarcostx.gov, 512-393-8420 

October 11, 6:30PM: Advancing Social Justice in Health Promotion: Realizing the Potential of Parks and Open Space, Myron F. Floyd
Alkek Teaching Theater on the Texas State campus. The presentation will examine how the provision of parks and open space contribute to public health through opportunities for physical activity and psychological restoration. Emphasis will be given to exploring how expanded access to parks and open space can further social justice goals in health promotion. All are invited to the lecture. Dr. Floyd’s research examines built and natural environmental effects on physical activity and health. He specializes in understanding racial/ethnic disparities in access to parks and open space. Learn more at http://www.hhp.txstate.edu/Brennan-Smith-Lectures.html

October 10, 6PM: Science Café – Texas Drought
Wake the Dead Coffee House, 1432 Ranch Road 12. Science Cafés are free events for anyone with a general interest in science to meet and discuss current topics with a scientist and members of the community. On 10/10, certified professional hydrologist and retired USGS hydrologist Raymond Slade will join us to discuss “Texas Drought: What is it?” Café contact: vlopes@txstate.edu

October 15, 10AM-7PM: Dream San Marcos and Art & Eco Fest
On the Square in Downtown San Marcos. The event will consist of art and eco vendors from around the Central Texas Area, food vendors, onstage performances and a concert. The Art and Eco Fest’s goal is to display the city’s unique beauty and artistic quality while promoting the focus areas of Keep San Marcos Beautiful.

October 17, 6PM: League of Women Voters City Council Candidate Debate
San Marcos Activity Center. Voter's Guides will be in the San Marcos Daily Record on Oct. 23.

October 26-November 3: TOWN Oaxaca Multi-Sport Adventure for Women
Oaxaca Multi-Sport Adventure for women combines conservation, culture, and adventure in a relaxed, non-competitive and supportive atmosphere. Read more at www.greenedventures.com/oaxacawomen

February 22-24: Statewide Land Conservation Conference
Each year, the Texas Land Trust Council hosts the premier land conservation conference in Texas. The Statewide Land Conservation Conference offers three days of concentrated training and education on a wide range of topics relevant to the Texas conservation community, as well as fabulous opportunities for collaboration and networking. Registration info at www.texaslandtrustcouncil.org!

Your Vote Needed: Dreaming of a Greener World

SMGA’s board supports this addition to the Dream San Marcos site and hopes you will too:
Build a Greenbelt Around San Marcos
Use hike and bike trails along creekways to connect parks, natural areas, and neighborhoods, while at the same time protecting our water quality - a greenbelt around San Marcos.
Our goal is to float this dream to the top of the list, and you can help. Just click here by 10/15, log in, and vote for Build a Greenbelt Around San Marcos. Then, look around and see what other ideas you support.
Dream San Marcos’ public input will inform the development of an update to the Horizons Master Plan by letting city staff and officials know what’s important to our community. There will be many more opportunities to share your vision of San Marcos, including the Art & Eco Fest on October 15 (stop by the SMGA booth while you're there). SMGA will continue to follow this comprehensive master planing process, but we need you to use your voice (or computer) by October 15 and help the vision of a Greenbelt Around San Marcos float to the top of Dream San Marcos.

Volunteer Opportunities

Meeting Note Taker
We could sure use a note taker at our board and outreach committee meetings. This entails taking notes for about 90 minutes, then typing them up and emailing them. This is a great way to get an inside look at SMGA. Email alliance@smgreenbelt.org if you can help.

Many, many thanks to Kara Sweidel for helping with this task over the past year. Kara will be heading to Seattle soon; San Marcos won’t be the same without her.

Signpost Installation
We are working on sign installation in Purgatory Creek Natural Area. We are ready right now for someone to fill the channels of the routed lettering of the sign posts with paint. We will need folks who are willing to install, which means some hauling and digging after we get a completed set of signposts later this month. While there is a measure of flexibility in scheduling, there are preferred times:
  • For installation the best times are: Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Some late afternoon - early evenings could work if the volunteer is willing to begin early, say 4-5ish with prior arrangement.
  • Sign painting can happen at their leisure, 4 in the morning is fine with us.
Email alliance@smgreenbelt.org or call Todd at 754-9321 if you can help.

Parks Board Needs You!

Your service on the city’s Parks and Recreation board could make all the difference in promoting a network of greenways and trails that connect the places where we live, work, learn and play.

Citizens may fill out volunteer interest forms and send them to the City Clerk’s office by Tuesday, Oct. 11 to be considered for appointment. The volunteer forms are available at www.sanmarcostx.gov 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.

Goodbye Wangari Maathai

How lucky we were to have her. She passed away last week, but she generated so much life on this planet her legacy will surely go on for a long time. Wangari had a powerful, disciplined mind that earned the first PhD for an East African women, a Nobel Peace Prize (2004) and the respect of power politicians in her home country of Kenya, where she eventually became a member of parliament. 

Her passionate, generous heart provided the conviction, the leadership and inspiration to thousands of women in her homeland who planted millions of trees to heal the wounds exacted by clumsy deforestation. Her Greenbelt Movement brought life and resilience back to the ecology of her homeland and empowered citizens who helped strengthen the democracy as well as the ecology. 

She insisted that we always think in the 'We': together We make change that will continue long after the individual is gone.

Here is a short radio interview in which she draws the parallel between her life and tree. She asked not to be buried in a wooden casket.
Goodbye Wangari, thanks...t.o.d.

by Todd Derkacz

7th Naturescapes - It Just Gets Better Every Year

The amazing work of some of Hays county's best nature photographers is on exhibit now at the San Marcos Activity Center's Walkers Gallery. The show is the product of the 7th Annual Naturescapes contest, which was sponsored by the Hill Country Photography Club and the Hays County Master Naturalists and features 60 of the 275 photographs submitted. A new youth photographers category has broadened the perspective on the natural areas of our county. More than 100 people turned out for the reception and were treated to acoustic music from a small chamber style band 'Friends of Music.'

It was an extra special occasion as we celebrated the 100th exhibition presented by Linda Kelsey-Jones who does a fantastic job of getting a diverse set of exhibits hung. A companion exhibit was on display across the hall titled 'Round & Round' also produced by the photography club.

Go - you won't regret it. Take your time; each image has a story and plenty for your eyes and soul to ponder. You may want to purchase an image for the holidays and to help support these programs. Contact Linda Kelsey-Jones lky@centurylink.net.

This year's juror Amanda Smith had a tough job. Here are her selections for contest.

Awards of Merit
"Lost in Lavender" - Lisa Kay
"The World is Turning Upside Down" - Abby Linam
"Full Moon" - Winifred Simon
"Black-eyed Susans" - Art Arizpe

Awards of Excellence
"White-Crowned Sparrow - Zonotrichia leucophrys" - Stephen Ramirez
"Dragonfly Landshark" - Lynny Moore
"Bee and the Candlestick" - Carolyn Whiteside
"Water Strider" - Winifred Simon

Best Youth
"Life Through the Lens" - Hannah Whisenant

Best Natural Habitat
"Dragonfly Reflection" - Carolyn Whiteside

Best in Show
"Sculpture by Cypress" - Herb Smith

by Todd Derkacz

SMRF Update on Aquarena Master Plan

Here is an update from San Marcos River Foundation about plans for a golf course improvements at Aquarena Springs.

The meeting on campus about the master plan was very well attended. After we saw all the plans, there was a time for comment. As one of the earliest to comment, I was surprised that most people in the room applauded when I listed the many concerns we have about a golf pro shop/clubhouse and parking lot in this sensitive location. Also of concern are driving range and golf greens that would require much bulldozing and clearing in the woods on the hill, which is the entrance to the Spring Lake Preserve. This preserve was paid for by taxpayer-funded bonds the city and county citizens passed, to protect Spring Lake. And now the University wants to clear and doze the hillside immediately by Spring Lake, which should be the entrance to the Preserve. Plus we have flooding concerns about building the clubhouse near Sink Creek (the slough), concerns about water withdrawn from the slough and nutrient runoff into the creek and lake, and how these affect the river just downstream of the Lake. Golf is not part of education mission of the University, and we believe these building ideas are quite inappropriate for this site. Many attendees did a great job, and some commented that there should be a serious look at the whole Aquarena property to decide if golf is the right use, serving a very small number of users, in a such a sensitive spot that is a very important spring ecosystem. The university runs full page ads in Texas Monthly about being the "Water University" so we would like to see acknowledgment that this world-class spring ecosystem so often mentioned, is really protected. The archeological and environmental value of this site needs to be appreciated and protected by the University, not treated as another site to build unnecessary facilities on. I was surprised how many attended and spoke, but your voice may not have been heard yet. If you could not be there, here is the way to comment via email to the Regents, who will meet in November and review this same master plan. Regular mail your comments (politely, please, and you can use the talking points above and elaborate on them as you wish) to Chairman of the Board of Regents, Mr. Charlie Amato, Texas University System, 208 E. 10th, Suite 600, Austin, TX 78701.

For Kids With ADHD, Regular 'Green Time' Is Linked to Milder Symptoms

Thanks to SMGA supporter Gena Fleming for pointing us to this article. As Gena says, “I think we all know this already, but it's always nice to see it in print.”
ScienceDaily (Sep. 19, 2011) — A study of more than 400 children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has found a link between the children's routine play settings and the severity of their symptoms, researchers report. Those who regularly play in outdoor settings with lots of green (grass and trees, for example) have milder ADHD symptoms than those who play indoors or in built outdoor environments, the researchers found.

2010-2011 Fall/Winter Activity Guide

The San Marcos Parks & Recreation Dept. 2010-2011 Fall/Winter Activity Guide is now available and chock full of fun and rewarding community events and outdoor opportunities! Download the guide at http://www.sanmarcostx.gov/departments/parks/index.htm

In the News and Other Tidbits: Christmas in September, Nature Ctr Nixed by San Marcos City Council, Landowners Speak

Council blocks $3 million nature center
A contract to design a nature center for the city’s Purgatory Creek Natural Area was rejected on a 3-3 tie last week with opposing San Marcos City Council members saying the expensive project should be postponed or scrapped all together.

Texas State University to manage Christmas Mountains
A mountainous tract of West Texas land that has been a point of contention between the General Land Office and environmental groups will serve a new purpose — a research and educational area for university students. Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced today that the Christmas Mountains, a remote 9,269-acre property in Brewster County that adjoins Big Bend National Park, will be transferred to the Texas State University System.

TSUS accepts donation of Christmas Mountains
Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall, Ph.D., and Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson today announced the transfer of the Christmas Mountains to the Texas State University System. The rugged 9,269-acre tract of land in Brewster County will become an outdoor classroom, open to all, with conservation of the land guaranteed forever.

Hill Country Conservancy: Here Forever
Enjoy this 14-minute film featuring Andy Sansom of the River Systems Institute, Texas State University:
The Hill Country Conservancy explores the loss of ranch land in and around Austin, Texas in this touching short film. Several local ranchers speak about the environmental, cultural, and health risks that become inevitable if we allow our rural heritage to fade away..For more information, visit www.hillcountryconservancy.org.

First Birding Walk a Success!

Stephen Ramirez IDs birds. Photo by Lance Jones.
Stephen Ramirez’ September tour of Spring Lake was a great opportunity to see both birds and the area around Spring Lake. Twenty-two birders turned out, with all ages and levels of birding experience represented!

Be sure to visit Stephen’s blog, where you'll find links to information about the many birds spotted on the hike: over 30 species in all!

Also check here for future hike dates (10/1 and 11/5) and locations: http://birdsiview.org/SanMarcosBirdWalks.html

Needed: GPS

Did you just upgrade your GPS and have an older, still functional one laying around? If so, SMGA would love to take it off your hands. We are looking for fully functional GPS units (i.e., with all the cords) to use to accurately determine the locations of sign posts and sites of interest. Email alliance@smgreenbelt.org for more information.

Did You Know? - Schulle Canyon

Did you know that in 1998, a subdivision was planned at what is now Schulle Canyon Natural Area? The city was able to trade land along IH35 in exchange for Schulle Canyon. At the time, the 21-acre greenspace was the largest natural area in San Marcos. We sure have come a far way in just 13 years!

Source: San Marcos Daily Record, 12/19/99, Greenspace: 1999 was busy year for city acquisition of sensitive sites.

Signposts at Purgatory

SMGA volunteer Isaac Spoon makes sign posts
You will soon see sign posts installed at Purgatory Creek Natural Area, thanks in part to funding from the Bluebonnet Lion's Club and to dedicated SMGA volunteers. The signs will be 4x4 posts with location information engraved into the posts and anchored into the ground. We could use more help with this project! Email alliance@smgreenbelt.org for more information.

San Marcos Monthly Bird Walks Start this Saturday, 9/3

Immature Eastern Phoebe by Stephen Ramirez Aug2011
Thanks to Stephen Ramirez for leading San Marcos Monthly Bird Walks in conjunction with SMGA. Stephen hopes to introduce people to birding as well as establish a strong birding community. Read more on Stephen’s web site at http://birdsiview.org/SanMarcosBirdWalks.html. (Don’t miss Stephen’s great photos available via the links on the left side of the page.)

Our first hike is this Saturday, September 3rd at 7:30 AM at Spring Lake Preserve. Meet at Aquarena Center (click for map). Please RSVP Stephen@birdsiview.org, but feel free to join the hike with or without advanced notice. Stephen writes, “it won't take too long to cover the entire lake, and for those willing we will also venture up into the spring lake preserve. A total round trip including the lake would be about 3.5 - 4 miles. This is an interesting time of year where we can expect the fall migration to be well on its way, with opportunity to see migrating raptors and song birds, don't miss it!”

Be sure to bring binoculars, if you have them, and water. Dress appropriately for walking on possible uneven surfaces.

Note: Birding is about moving slowly and quietly. If your young ones are loud and rambunctious, this may not be the right event for them. That said, if your children are excited to come out and will behave accordingly, we'd love to have them!

Harvest Moon FUNdRaiser: October 8

On Saturday, October 8th, 2011, the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance will be hosting a Harvest Moon FUNdraiser! Starting at sundown (7 pm) under the Learning Tree in Purgatory Creek Natural Area-Prospect Park, we will have food and activities for your enjoyment.

Arrive at 7 pm to participate in a hike with a fascinating astronomy theme guided by a Texas State University astronomer. Or just hang out at the Learning Tree and enjoy sodas, baked goods and sausage wraps for sale while they last.

Four days away from full, the moon will cast light on a live performance by the Crystal Creek Boys starting at 8 pm. You will be able to look through a telescope to view planetary bodies up close, enter a raffle to win prizes, and take home a new SMGA T-shirt! Bring the kids, and they can participate in some artistic activities.

This event raises funds to benefit the good work of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance. Our mission is to create and conserve an interconnected system of parks and natural areas for our community and future generations. SMGA is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that works to preserve greenspace in our growing city and make it accessible to the city’s residents. Come out and support our many projects, including trail building and maintenance, installing trail signage and kiosk displays, invasive plant removal, and conservation advocacy, to name just a few!

Bring: Cash, beverage of choice (no glass!), and a flashlight.

Directions to Purgatory Creek Natural Area-Prospect Park: From downtown San Marcos, take W Hopkins St. to N Bishop St. Turn west (uphill) on Bishop and left on Prospect St. Go 2.5 blocks to dead end. Park on the street near the kiosk. Parking is limited, so consider carpooling, walking, or biking; a bike rack is available. Follow the lighted trail which winds through the cedar break, and then emerges into the field. From there you will find the fun under the Learning Tree and by the large compass.

Texas Parks Seek Public Input on Recreation Plan

Here’s an easy way to influence funding for land and water conservation programs in Texas! Please participate by 9/27, at which time the survey will no longer be available.

From Texas Parks and Wildlife:
The Recreation Grants Branch at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is conducting a survey of Texas citizens to determine the kinds of outdoor recreation activities in which people participate, and their opinions about outdoor recreation in Texas. This survey is being conducted to assist in the development of the Texas Outdoor Recreation Plan (TORP) 2012-2017. The TORP ensures that Texas continues to receive federal Land and Water Conservation Funds program and other grant funds. Click on the link below and complete the survey on the TPWD web site.

Tell us about park needs in Texas.

Please note, because we are using a variety of outlets to encourage participation in the survey, you may receive more than one request. You are only able to answer the survey once, and your email is anonymous, so please ignore additional requests. However, please share this message and link with your friends, family and any others that have an interest in parks. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at Rec.Grants@tpwd.state.tx.us. Thank you for your assistance in getting the word out on the survey.

City Seeks ‘Dreamers’ for Comprehensive Plan

Here’s another opportunity to voice your support for a network of greenways and trails that connect the places where we live, work, learn and play. As you contribute to a shared vision for our city, remember that greenbelts offer an inviting and easy way to move throughout our community as a pedestrian or cyclist experiencing our natural landscape and heritage along the way. Greenbelts also help protect creeks and rivers, our water supply, and habitat for native plants and animals. And greenbelts help you access natural areas that contribute to your spiritual and physical health as well as to the economic vitality of our city.

Here is an excerpt from a recent City of San Marcos press release. Read the full release here.
What is your “dream San Marcos?”
Dream San Marcos

That is the question the City of San Marcos will be asking residents over the next several weeks as part of a visioning process to update the City’s 1996 comprehensive plan. City staff will gather ideas from residents about what San Marcos should become in the future using online software, suggestions by email, comment cards, and more traditional public events. Activities will include meetings with citizens, businesses, students, and civic groups, as well as presentations at City boards and commissions, community events such as the Farmers Market, and a daylong public input session.

The City is using “IdeaScale,” an online software that invites community participation in an open forum. Over the next few weeks, City staff will pose a variety of questions and invite residents to weigh in with their opinions, questions, ideas and dreams for San Marcos. Visitors may also log in through their accounts with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, or OpenID. Participants can submit their own ideas or questions and vote and comment on ideas. The best ideas will float to the top

To submit your ideas online, visit http://sanmarcostx.ideascale.com or send them by email to dream@sanmarcostx.gov For more information about times and locations of public events, visit the city website at www.sanmarcostx.gov/ideas, send an email or call the Development Services Department at 393.8230.