Ways to Help! Minutes Taker(s), Kiosk Display Case Builder

Please consider these opportunities to help out with SMGA projects and ongoing activities!

Minutes Taker(s)
Description: Take minutes at SMGA committee meetings. This is an excellent way to gain an operating knowledge of SMGA and its committees.
Date / Time / Frequency: 1 to 2 hours once a month depending on your availability.
Approximate time requirement: 90 minutes for the meeting plus time to type and forward the minutes to the meeting leader.
Desired skills: Able to take notes and use email and a word processor
For questions or to volunteer, contact: SMGA by emailing alliance@smgreenbelt.org or calling 512-754-9321.

Kiosk Display Case Builder
Description: We are looking for someone who has tools and experience to build a couple more display cases like those at the entrances to Ringtail Ridge and Lower Purgatory / Prospect Park. We will provide all necessary building materials and supplies. This is a great opportunity to help out on a one-time basis if you have the time, skills, and tools.
Date/Time/Frequency: Flexible! This project can be spread out over several weeks/months if necessary.
Desired Skills: Table saw and other necessary woodworking tools and ability to design and build display cases as described above.
For questions or to volunteer, contact: Ann Jensen by emailing alliance@smgreenbelt.org or by calling 512-392-7025.

Check out many other ways to help on our volunteer blog. We look forward to working with you to protect, maintain, and promote our precious natural areas!

Hikes and More For Your Calendar

Before you escape on Spring Break, join SMGA for a couple of fun activities.

Meet & Greet @ Prospect Park / Lower Purgatory - POSTPONED UNTIL APRIL
Join us in Lower Purgatory at the Learning Tree (from the entrance at Prospect, hike to the end of the walking trail on the map) to learn more about who we are and what we do. Or, if you already know about SMGA, stop by to visit and enjoy a glass of refreshing lemonade.

3/12 - Blanco Shoals Hike
Saturday at 8:30 am, join Todd Derkacz at Blanco Shoals for a hike through this beautiful natural area along the Blanco River.

Also don't miss these other opportunities to benefit from local events and help local causes.

Thursday Hikes - The Outdoor Women's Network (TOWN)
Every 1st, 3rd, and 4th Thursdays of the month at 5:30 pm. Hikes take place in greenspace trails around this area. Contact Judy at judy@americruit.com to be added to the hiking list to receive weekly notices.

Farmers' Markets
Downtown on the Square every Saturday from 9-noon.

TX State on the Quad 3/3 from 11am-3pm. Fresh, sustainable, local produce, prepared foods, grass-fed beef, raw cheese, fair-trade organic coffee, organic soaps, lotions, granola, nuts, salsas, fish, jewelry and more. More info: http://ediblesanmarcos.wordpress.com.

3/5 - Annual Spring River Clean Up 
Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. at San Marcos Plaza Park. Volunteers meet at the stage across from the Grant Harris Building, 401 E. Hopkins, to register, pick up trash bags, and grab a breakfast taco and coffee. You can canoe, kayak or walk the banks of the San Marcos River collecting solid waste and recyclable materials. Lunch at 1:00 p.m. For more information: Heather Powdrill, 512-393-8420, hpowdrill@sanmarcostx.gov.

3/9 - Creating a Sense of Place - Janisse Ray Reading & Discussion
Wednesday 7:00 p.m., San Marcos Public Library. How does a writer create a sense of place? Janisse Ray writes with passion and wit about growing up poor, white, and fundamentalist in the midst of an auto junkyard. Ray not only explores the dilemma of owning her “cracker” heritage, but also bears witness to the destruction of the longleaf pines of southern Georgia. She will also read at UCM Wesley on Tuesday, March 8, at 3:30 pm. For more information call 512.393.8200 or email SMPL@sanmarcostx.gov. 

3/24 - Spring Eco Concert Series
Opening night kicks off Thursday, March 24 with Beans & Rice, Kinfolk and headliner Fastball! The series will continue every Thursday evening through April 14. Art, eco and food vendors will open at 6:30 pm., opening act at 7:00 p.m., and main performance at 8:30 p.m. KSMB Spring Concerts are held at the San Marcos Plaza Park stage at 401 E. Hopkins. For more information: Heather Powdrill, 512-393-8420, hpowdrill@sanmarcostx.gov.

3/26 - Green Living Showcase
The San Marcos Chamber's 2nd Annual "Green Living Showcase" will take place at the Embassy Suites San Marcos Hotel Spa Conference Center on Saturday, March 26, 2011 from 10-4. Vendors will demonstrate green products and present exhibits geared towards promoting a cleaner, more sustainable environment, including tips on green building, energy efficiency, water conservation, recycling, commuting solutions, alternative energy ideas and earth friendly products. For more information, contact the Chamber at 512.393.5900 or visit the website at www.glshowcase.com.

4/9 - Bobcat Build
Texas State’s annual community service event. SMGA will need help with volunteer coordination-details to follow.

4/30 - 5th Annual Aquarena Earth Day Celebration 
Spotlighting the theme of Sustainability, Aquarena’s Earth Day Celebration, will be the final event for Texas State’s 2011 Common Experience.

5/2 - Riparian Workshop
8:30am-4pm - San Marcos River in San Marcos. Learn from leading experts the hows and whys of rivers and riparian function. Participants will learn basic riparian dynamics: the interaction of hydrology - vegetation - erosion/deposition. This information has been successfully used in many locations to promote cooperative riparian management among landowners. Leading riparian experts ‐ Kenneth Mayben, James Smith and Steve Nelle team teach these half classroom / half field workshops that are sure to change the way you look at creeks and rivers forever. Hosts: Agri-life/San Marcos River Foundation/TPWD

Trail Updates: Omega Delta Phi at Ringtail, High School Blazes Blackland Trail

A dozen Omega Delta Phi fraternity members from Texas State University assisted trail crew members on Friday, February 11th. As part of the City of San Marcos "Keep San Marcos Beautiful" program, the fraternity helped with erosion problems, knocked back prickly pear, planted wildflowers and native grasses, and hauled water to two young bur oaks. The fraternity's volunteer work comes as spring is ready to burst out in all the natural areas that surround San Marcos. Thanks frat brothers for helping us maintain and access our living landscapes! The group included Albert Hensen, Jay Johnson, Jonathan Lopez, James Sprinkle, Angel Banda, Frank Lara, Mark Dominguez, Richard Dentch, Lorenzo Davila, David Banda, and Justin Longoria.

Meanwhile at San Marcos High School there is some serious trail building going on led by the bicycle club and other campus groups under the leadership of Adam Wagner, co-chair of the history department and club sponsor. The route will pass through mesquite brush near the pond and head around the meadows on the far side of the athletic fields. SMGA is assisting with trail alignment and providing instruction on trail-building techniques. Blackland soils and open meadow are new to our trail crew, but the enthusiasm and determination of the students will no doubt make this trail a permanent plus for students and a great learning tool for would-be mountain bikers, cross-country runners, ecology students, and those seeking regular exercise.

Mountain Biking - Where Do I Go?

I have never been mountain biking. I have ridden one down the street, sympathized with my friends' mountain biking bumps and bruises, and picked up the bike reflectors left on the trail. But it is a new year and time for a new activity and a new perspective on the trails in San Marcos. It's time for me to try mountain biking. I've borrowed my sister's hand-me-down bike, cleaned it up, and now it's time to hit the trail (hopefully not literally with any of my body parts). Oh wait, where should I go?

What's the best trail in the San Marcos natural areas for a first time mountain biker? If you have any ideas, email me, Maggie, at alliance@smgreenbelt.org. And if you see me bouncing around the trail (or leaning against a tree), try not to laugh too hard.

-Maggie Hutchins-Wagner, SMGA President

Talk About Greenbelts...

In 2010, San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance’s Conservation Committee worked hard to develop a presentation demonstrating the existing greenbelts in San Marcos. On February 1st, the presentation was viewed for the first time in public by the Bluebonnet Lions Club. They learned that the majority of greenbelts occur along waterways, a linear landform that is difficult to build on due to flooding. The presentation displays the existing dedicated parklands and the gaps yet to be filled in, culminating with a take-home message that our vision of contiguous greenbelts is an achievable goal!

We plan to give this presentation to residents and decision makers, educating them about SMGA’s vision, so when lands-use changes are on the table in potential greenbelt areas, informed choices will be made.

Contact us to book a presentation to your organization. Or read our newsletter for future opportunities to view our greenbelt presentation.

Now Open: Upper Purgatory Trail Re-route

A new section of trail between the view of the dam and the bluff over Purgatory Creek is open to offer hikers a way off the straight, open meadow trail and into a shaded world of cool comfort. The 1/3 mile re-route was completed February 24th from the efforts of the Thursday morning crew. The change from open meadow grassland to live oak, ashe juniper and persimmon woodlands will make all the difference during the hot summer months.

Pictured are Todd Derkacz, Mark Taylor, Lance Jones, Marilyn Brister, John Payne, Charlie O'Neil and Kay Banning.  Not pictured is Sheila Torres-Blank, Dick McBride (photographer), Mike Baugh, Susan McGhee, and Charlie O'Neil's daughter Johanna and grandson Jacob.

And the Winners Are...

Hiking Stick Award
Liz Sumter honored for conservation work
Each year at our annual meeting we honor someone who has helped us achieve our conservation, stewardship and recreation goals. It takes leadership and courage to insist that we assign the attention and resources necessary to preserve our most valuable living landscapes. Former County Judge Liz Sumter is such a leader.

  • Liz led the support and funding for our Hays County Greenprint for Growth in collaboration with Envision Central Texas, Trust for Public Lands, and surrounding counties;
  • She placed a parks and open space bond vote on the 2007 ballot worth $30 million.
  • She has been a leader in watershed protection issues ranging from water conservation measures in support of rainwater collection to support of funding the Watershed protection planning process for the upper San Marcos River;
  • She supported the funding of the expansion and development of parks at Five-Mile Dam and the new nature center at Purgatory Creek Natural Area;
  • She supported the recent court vote to apply an additional $800,000 to expand Upper Purgatory as part of a Trust for Public Lands project.
This list does not include the many other actions, statements, behind the scenes phone calls and meetings that have furthered the legacy of mixing our valuable, beautiful natural landscape with developed areas where we live, learn, work and play. Thanks to Liz Sumter for her leadership and hard work.

Volunteer of the Year
Each year we also honor an SMGA volunteer for long hours of hard work, helping us overcome a challenge, or completing a noteworthy project. This year our award is given to someone who can claim achievement by each of those measures.

Sheila Torres-Blank volunteer of the year
The many miles of trail carved by SMGA have a kind of signature of someone who has had a hand in just about every inch. She has scouted and re-scouted, brushed out and polished and tested and commented on all of it. She has been in the trenches since SMGA started making wilderness trails. She helped bring in Troy Parker, the guy who literally wrote the book on trails, and the Trail Crew with the International Mountain Biking Association to San Marcos to train our crew. But Sheila know about more than trails: She served three terms on our board of directors and she continues to serve the San Marcos citizens as a member of the San Marcos Parks Advisory Board.

It was a hands-up unanimous vote by everyone we asked that this year’s recipient for volunteer of the year award should go to Sheila Torres-Blank.

Welcome to New Board Members Leah & Rebecca

Thanks to our new board members, Leah Gibson and Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez, for stepping up to help preserve and maintain local parks and greenspaces. Leah and Rebecca introduce themselves below.

Leah Gibson
I graduated from Texas State University in May 2010 with a B.S. in Physical Geography, and am currently working for the City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department, planning to re-enter Texas State as a grad student in the fall. I was very active in the Texas State and San Marcos communities during my undergrad years with the National Association of Environmental Professional, Earth Day, and various environmental activities at Texas State. I can be seen riding my bicycle around town. 

Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez

My husband, Jon Ramirez, and I have been married for 12 years. I can honestly say, he is not the outdoorsman, so getting him out on the trails has been a challenge. I on the other hand would rather be outdoors than indoors, weather permitting of course. I’ve lived in San Marcos since the age of three, when my family moved to San Marcos from Martindale, Texas. I attended and graduated San Marcos High School and Texas State University. In 1995, an opportunity presented itself to join the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce /San Marcos Convention & Visitor Bureau, and I am fortunate to continue with the SMCVB today. As the chief marketer for the San Marcos tourism industry, I invite people to tour our many local attractions, dine at area restaurants, shop our retail, and relax in our natural areas. As a citizen, I enjoy telling others about  how this community has partnered with various groups to enhance what we have.

Social and Prairie Work, German Students and Hiking

Valentines weekend featured no fewer than three unique, SMGA-led hikes at the newly improved Spring Lake Preserve.
Dr. Christine Norton of the TX State School of Social Work organized a Friday hike with visiting lecturer Jarid Manos. Manos is a leader in connecting troubled people with abused prairies as a way for both to find health and resilience. His successful work is being developed further through his organization the Great Plains Restoration Project so that it can be modeled and replicated. His recent popular book, Ghetto Plainsman, offers a deeply personal revelation by Manos that led him from the violence of the ghetto to an understanding of the violence committed in the prairies of our nation. You can learn more about his impressive work at http://www.ghettoplainsman.com and http://www.gprc.org.
We had a great time Saturday morning as part of our regular Saturday hike series. The bird migration has begun, buds on some trees are just beginning to peek and the mild weather made for a very refreshing jaunt up and over the mountain. Good people and conversation made for a very pleasant morning.
Sunday afternoon we hooked up with students from Germany, who were hosted by the English Department as organized by Dan Lochman, Phd. Again the weather was near perfect and the students were pleased to slough off layers of clothing and soak up sun--hard to find in Germany this time of year. The students spoke English quite well and we had interesting discussions about the natural history of Spring Lake Preserve. They are part of an exchange program that will find Texas State Students headed to Germany later this summer.

    Adopt-a-Spot 2011

    Adopt-a-Spot 2011 is now in full swing. The program continues to grow as the year moves forward. The program has been fortunate to welcome two more organizations this year. The Sierra Circle Neighborhood has adopted Schulle Canyon Greenspace and Beta Alpha Psi at Texas State has co-adopted City Park. The growing Adopt-a-Spot program has been an exceptional litter prevention and beautification program. Our park staff has noticed less littering, less graffiti and an overall more respected park system. The Parks Department and the public couldn’t be more grateful for the hard work the Adopt-a-Spot groups have given. They all are truly an asset to our community. If you know of a group that would like to adopt a park or greenspace, please contact Heather Powdrill at 512.393.8420 or by email at hpowdrill@sanmarcostx.gov.