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.
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 ( 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 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 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

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.

• 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 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 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,, 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

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:

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

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!

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 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 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 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

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

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