Prospect Park Access Limited

The entrance to Prospect Park is limited but accessible via Columbia and Progress.  You can also access the Lower Purgatory natural area from the Purgatory Creek entrance off Hunter Road and Wonderworld drive. Completion date for construction on Prospect Street is slated for March 2011. Don't forget the natural area at Spring Lake Preserve is now open.

Annual Meeting Photo Preview

We had great attendance and a great time at our January 29 annual meeting. We'll have more to report next month, but for now here is a photo preview...
Plenty of food, drink and talk!

The Bluebonnet Lion...caterers extraordinaire!

New Trail Maps!

Kudos to an SMGA volunteer hero, Kenny Skrobaneck! Kenny has applied his excellent design sensibilities and geography knowhow to create all-new maps of Ringtail Ridge and Schulle Canyon Natural Areas. Kenny worked closely with trail-design master Todd (that’s Todd Derkacz for all you SMGA newbies) and stewardship committee member, Lance Jones, to make sure all of the newly named biking and hiking trails are accurately labeled on the maps. The maps also feature mountain biking trail ratings according to the IMBA system, as described in our November story on new signage at Ringtail Ridge .

Download Kenny’s new trail maps plus other natural area maps here.

Get Natural in 2011: SMGA Spring/Summer Calendar

Have fun with us in 2011 and connect with your friends and with Mother Earth at the same time. (But before you do, check back in to confirm the March-May dates and times below!)

  • February 12, Hike @ Spring Lake Preserve, 8:30 to 10:30 am (rain day February 26) Details
  • March 6, Meet & Greet @ Prospect Park/Lower Purgatory Creek Natural Area by the Learning Tree, 2:00 to 4:00 pm
  • March 12, Hike @ Blanco Shoals, 8:30 to 10:30 am (rain day March 26)
  • April 9, Bobcat Build (time and location to be announced)
  • April 15, Full Moon Hike “Marshmallow Tax Moon” @ Ringtail Ridge Natural Area, 5:30 pm. Show up anytime, bring your seat and a beverage. S’mores await you (or whatever else you bring that you can cook on the end of a stick).
  • April 30, Booth/Hike @ Earth Day Celebration, Spring Lake Preserve (times to be announced)
  • May 14, International Birding Migration Day Hike @ Ringtail Ridge Natural Area, 9:00-11:00 am
  • May 28, Hike @ Upper Purgatory Natural Area, 8:00 to 10:00 am. Hike will go from Upper Purgatory to Prospect/Lower Purgatory. Arrange to carpool with others back to our starting point at Upper Purgatory or contact us ahead of time to arrange a ride.
Photo Credit: Oak Forest in Fall, Carol Watson, Naturescapes 2010 Photo Contest

February 12 Hike @ Spring Lake Preserve

Join us on February 12 for a hike at Spring Lake Preserve from 8:30 to 10:30 am (rain day February 26). Wear sturdy shoes and sunscreen and bring water. Dress for the weather (layers!). Long pants and a camera recommended. 

Directions: Take Aquarena Springs Drive to the Texas Rivers Center, which houses the River Systems Institute (formerly Aquarena Springs hotel) and park in the section of the Rivers Center parking lot furthest from the building entrance and at the foot of the hill.

Photo credit: Web Design, Carolyn Whiteside, Naturescapes 2010 Photo Contest

Support Our River

Make sure the San Marcos River Foundation’s silent auction and wonderful gumbo dinner are on your calendar for Feb 19th at the Price Senior Center. Auction items are rolling in, including original artwork, a get-away at a local B&B, a cave tour, a plane trip, and much more to come. The folks at SMRF work very hard to protect our river and local water sources, and your participation in the auction as a buyer or donor will really help the cause. Check the SMRF web site in the coming weeks to see auction items. Email Dianne Wassenich at with questions or to make a donation.

February 10 Speech & Hike: Ghetto Plainsman

Ghetto Plainsman: One Man's Journey Towards Ecological Health
Texas State, Evans Liberal Arts 116, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

As part of Texas State’s Common Experience sustainability theme for 2010-11, Jarid Manos, founder of the Great Plains Restoration Council  and author of Ghetto Plainsman, will be speaking about his incredible life journey. Jarid’s is a deeply spiritual story of redemption and healing through America's underbelly and soul, from a rural childhood to the inner city streets to the even more violent outback of the American West. This journey led Jarid to find solace in nature, and he now works to restore and protect our shattered prairies and plains by promoting Ecological Health. Jarid believes that protecting wild nature is a matter of public health, and participating hands-on in its recovery offers therapeutic modalities for many social and physical ills. His own life has been a testimony to that, as he will share from his memoir Ghetto Plainsman, which was recently reviewed by the Huffington Post.
Ghetto Plainsman website Event poster (PDF) 
Texas State Common Experience Calendar

Jarid and Todd Derkacz will also lead an ecotherapy walk-and-talk/hike for social work students on the morning of 2/11. Email Christine Norton at for details.

Help From Our Friends

In Memoriam: Margaret Fisher Bishop
Margaret Fisher Bishop’s friends and family, including children Sherwood, Sheran, and Paige Bishop and grandson, Dylan Hiroms, generously donated over $1,000 to SMGA in Margaret’s name after she passed away on May 28, 2010 at 89 years of age. These funds will be spent on projects that honor Margaret’s family and the Fisher and Bishop names. This great example of generosity will help future generations connect with the natural world, something that Margaret would have greatly appreciated. Read more about Margaret's exemplary life here.

Cypress Sun Jewelry
SMGA supporter Amy Friend with Cypress Sun Jewelry has generously offered to donate 5% of her online and local (San Marcos) sales to SMGA in 2011. What a generous offer and great example to all of us. Thanks Amy!

Be sure to check out Amy’s beautiful and unique earrings, bracelets, and lariat necklaces at Her work is both earthy and feminine, and definitely eye-catching!

Hobby Foundation Donation
We will be able to help fund many worthy projects with the Hobby Foundation's recent donation of $5,000, including promoting and expanding our Loop & Check greenbelt and trail concept for San Marcos, our natural area monitor program, and our trail map development effort to help you access our local greenbelts with greater confidence and appreciation for our living landscape. Our most sincere thanks goes out to the Hobby Foundation for its continued, generous support.

We'll have more 2010 thank you's to share in our next newsletter! Thanks to you all for your generosity.

Spring Lake Interpretive Project

SMGA’s stewardship committee has been meeting with Melani Howard with the San Marcos Nature Center and Alberto Giordano and Jim Kimmel with Texas State’s geography department. Drs. Giordano and Kimmel plan to have students from their classes collaborate on interpretive elements for Spring Lake Preserve that the city and SMGA will help develop and install. The interpretive elements may include kiosk displays, maps, and a brochure. Several hikes to help students access and understand Spring Lake Preserve occurred in January and may continue into February. Let us know if you have an interest in this project and we’ll hook you up!

Hiking with the Mayor and Council

Mayor Guerrero’s plenty busy, but not too busy to hike in our local natural areas. He recently met with SMGA representatives Maggie Hutchins and Todd Derkacz in Purgatory Creek. They discussed SMGA’s vision and the many benefits of natural areas—from health and wellness to recreation to water protection. We have also invited each of the council members on hikes and look forward to sharing our greenbelt vision and what has already been accomplished. We look forward to working with the mayor and council now and in the future.

Photo credit: Blanco River Sunset, Herb Smith, 2010 Naturescapes Photo Contest

Resolve to Get Back to Nature … and Take the Kids

From Texas Parks & Wildlife Winter 2011 Edition of State Parks Getaways:

If you’re thinking this is the year to make a change in your life, we have some ideas. What’s cheaper than a movie, healthier than a veggie plate, and way more fun and creative than a video game? Time spent outside --- where life really is better. Read more here  about the influence of time outdoors on health and well being and ideas to help your family “go outside and play”. Get reconnected to nature and to your kids!

Photo credit: Roadrunner, Carolyn Whiteside, 2010 Naturescapes Photo Contest

Library Display-Things to Do!

The San Marcos library has a new display to encourage readers to get out and enjoy the natural areas.  Books in the library can help you with geocaching, mountain biking and nature photography.  Visit the display and check out Charlie O'Neil's list of things to do in our local natural areas. Charlie is SMGA's stewardship committee chair.