Tonight: Waste Water Line, Spring Lake Preserve

Below is information regarding a planned wastewater line that would go along Sink Creek at the Spring Lake Preserve. I urge everyone to attend and listen to the presentation and express any concerns that you may have. SMGA works to conserve and provide thoughtful stewardship for our natural areas. We hope that this project is in the best interest of the people of San Marcos.

City of San Marcos                                         NEWS
630 E. Hopkins
San Marcos, Texas 78666

Date April 12, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact: Melissa Millecam, Communications/ Intergovernmental Relations Director

April 18 at Activity Center
Public Meeting Slated on Sink Creek Wastewater Main

The City of San Marcos Capital Improvements Department will host a public meeting on the Sink Creek Phase II wastewater interceptor project at the Activity Center, 501 Hopkins St. at 6 p.m. Monday April 18, 2011.

City engineers and project design consultants from Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. will present information about the project and be available to answer questions.

The project will install a new 21- inch sanitary sewer main from the intersection of N. LBJ Drive and Oakridge along Sink Creek to Lime Kiln Road.

"This wastewater main will relieve capacity issues and overflows downstream of the N LBJ lift station. The new main will protect against possible discharge or overflows in the future" said Jennifer Shell, Interim Director of Capital Improvements. "Several aging lift stations in the area will also be replaced, adding more environmental value to this project."

The Sink Creek wastewater line replacement was identified as a Capital Improvements project in the City's 2005 Wastewater Master Plan. Project cost is estimated to be $3.5 million.

The City Council will hold a Public Hearing on the project at the regular meeting scheduled on May 17, 2011.

Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2011, with completion in the fall of 2012.

For more information on this project, call the City of San Marcos Capital Improvements Department at 512.393.8130.


For Your Calendar: Hikes and Plenty More!

4/9 Bobcat Build
Minnette Marr & SMGA reps
(Photo by Lance Jones)

This year's SMGA / Bobcat Build project will remove invasive ligustrum from a 9-acre portion of lower Purgatory Creek Natural Area (Prospect Street entrance).  Planning, documentation, and removal will increase watershed protection and water capture and enhance public viewing and use of the natural area. Minnette Marr a plant conservationist and San Marcos resident is consulting on this project. We are are looking for volunteer monitors for this effort. Email if you can help.

4/15 Full Moon Hike at Ringtail Ridge
Taxes! Drought! Recession! Sheesh, can it get any worse? It's enough to make you want to reach for some commiseration s'mores while sitting around a hibachi grill of hot coals with friends after an easy hike on a full moon evening. So let's do it. Friday, tax day, 15th of April we will gather at Ringtail Ridge at around 6 PM for the hike, 7:30 for the s'mores. Bring your beverage, lawn chair and anything you wish to heat on the grill. We will provide s'more makings, water, and a table. Bring kids, stories, geetar or just show up. Call 754-9321 with last-minute questions.

4/30 Earth Day
SMGA will have a booth at the 5th Annual Earth Day Celebration at
Aquarena Center. Help us promote the event's theme of making responsible choices and incorporating practices "that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The event is free and full of family fun, food, and music. More event info here. We are are looking for people to work for 1-2 hours in our booth. Email if you can help.

Save These Dates
5/14 Hike at Ringtail Ridge
5/28 Hike at PCNA
See details on our calendar. Please check back to confirm dates and times prior to each event.

Community Events

4/7, 21, & 28 TOWN Hikes: The Texas Outdoors Woman Network leads hikes every 1st, 3rd, and 4th Thursdays at 5:30pm in one of the many greenspaces around town. Email Judy at to be added to the weekly hiking email list.

4/7 & 14 Keep San Marcos Beautiful Spring Concert Series: Vendors will open their booths at 6:30 p.m. Concerts located at San Marcos Plaza Park, 401 E. Hopkins. Featured bands are Carolyn Wonderland with special guest Adam Johnson & the Pay Me's on April 7 and Devil’s Hollow with guest Jasper on April 14. Need more info? Call 512.393.8420 or email Ask to get on the KSMB newsletter list to find out how to get involved in community cleanups. 

4/16 Spring Tree & Plant Sale: San Marcos Nature Center, 9am-5pm. Check out the many native and low-water species available for great prices! 

4/16 TXState E-waste Recycle Day: Bobcat Stadium parking lot, 9 am to 1 pm. Accepted items include computers, cell phones, printers, scanners, TV's, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, etc. Contact Sue Bruning at with questions. They are NOT taking appliances, microwaves or household hazardous waste. Protect your identity and security by cleaning electronic devices with tools at http://security.vpit.txstate/edu/awareness/ecycling_idtheft.html.

4/23, 31 Invasives Removal: The San Marcos River Foundation works hard to keep our river and Spring Lake free of invasive plants that compromise the ecology of the river and its ability to support native species. Please email to find out how you can help this effort. Experience our local waterways first hand in a boat or from the shore and get to know a great group of people!

4/25-26 Low Impact Development (LID) Workshps, Austin/Pflugerville: As urban runoff continues to be a significant burden to Texas waterways, implementing LID principles and practices allows water to be managed in a way that reduces the impact of built areas and promotes the natural movement of water within an ecosystem or watershed. Come learn how LID practices and policies can be implemented in your Texas community! More info here.

5/2 Riparian Workshop, San Marcos Activity Center: This day-long workshop will explain many topics of interest to landowners who live near creeks, streams, or the river (so that would be almost all of us!), including erosion, vegetation, and the many quirks of waterways. Email for more information. A $7-8 fee covers the lunch and is payable at the door. Afternoon river field trip included.

5/21 Texas Invasives Class: Same class described here repeated in New Braunfels. More info at

Ways to Help in April: Bobcat Build & Earth Day

Bobcat Build Monitor
Description: Help coordinate the work of small groups of students who will repair trails, remove ligustrum and other invasives, plant native grasses, and perform other chores. Students will be divided into teams of 3-4 each, and we need help directing their work.
Approximate time requirement: 4 hours on April 9
Desired skills: Experience working with the trail crew is desirable but not required.
For questions or to volunteer, contact: Email for more information.

Booth Helper
Description: Assist in our booth at Texas State's Earth Day Festival by providing literature and information to those interested in SMGA.
Approximate time requirement: 2 hours on April 30.
Desired skills: Will provide in-booth training.
For questions or to volunteer, contact: Email for more information.

More Trail Maps Coming Soon

A group of SMGA volunteers and city representatives are working towards the development of updated trail maps for Purgatory Creek Natural Area and Spring Lake Preserve. The latter will likely come during the summer so it can build upon work done by TX State students who are currently mapping the area under the supervision of Drs. Jim Kimmel and Alberto Giordano.

Kenny and Todd GPS Purgatory (Photo by Lance Jones)

Kenny Skrobanek displayed his talent for graphic design and communication in the development of recently updated Ringtail Ridge and Schulle Canyon trail maps (downloads available here). Kenny and Todd Derkacz are busy gathering GPS data for the many new trails at PCNA so Kenny can develop a comprehensive map of this 465-acre retreat to help all bicyclists and walkers have a safer, more enjoyable experience on the trail!

Adorn Yourself and Help SMGA

Two businesses, Cypress Sun Jewelry  and Lost Marbles Jewelry, have committed to donate a portion of their proceeds to SMGA. Be sure to check out their lovely necklaces and bracelets at the links above. And remember that anything you purchase comes back to benefit our local natural areas.

Green Living Expo 2011

Jeanine Wilder explains SMGA's Loop & Check greenbelt concept to a visitor to the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance booth at the 2nd Annual Green Living Expo sponsored by the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce. Charlie O'Neil (seated) talks to a family about opportunities for hiking and biking in San Marcos natural areas. More than 750 people visited the Expo held at the Embassy Suites/San Marcos Convention Center on 3/26.

Lots Got Done in 2010!

Read through our list of accomplishments from last year, and we think you'll agree that we made important gains in our outreach, stewardship, and conservation efforts!

  • Reached triple-digit membership for the first time in our history.
  • Repaired kiosk display cases and updated displays at Ringtail Ridge, Prospect Park/Lower Purgatory, and Schulle Canyon Natural Areas.
  • Continued to develop and improve display materials for meetings and booth events.
  • Finalized a high-level graphic of the Loop & Check greenbelt concept for display in booths and on the web site.
  • Grew list of newsletter recipients to just under 700.
  • Established a Facebook page.
  • Continued to expand and improve the natural area monitoring program to report on trail conditions to the city and SMGA.
  • Weed-whacked tall thistle, rerouted trails to protect sensitive areas, and repaired over 15 miles of trails.
  • Completed the Ringtail Ridge Improvements grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Final improvements included installing gravel, an additional bridge, signs, trash barrels, and other amenities.
  • Worked with large student groups: Bobcat Build supplied more than 50 students at Ringtail to improve drainage, remove fencing, and plant trees. For the Fall River Clean-Up more than 75 Chi Omega members worked in Purgatory, planting seeds, removing trash, and painting bollards.
  • Installed signs, blazed trails with emergency responders, and developed names for the trails to improve the user experience and safety.
  • Developed trail maps for Schulle Canyon and Ringtail Ridge natural areas.
  • Scouted new trails, including one at San Marcos High School.
  • Advocated with the City of San Marcos in install barriers to block automotive traffic at Blanco Shoals and assisted with improvements to the access road to Ringtail Ridge.
  • Sponsored a spring golden cheek warbler habitat survey in the Sink Creek watershed.
  • Developed a powerpoint presentation on existing natural areas in San Marcos, the greenbelt concept, and SMGA's vision.
  • Convinced Paso Robles developers to dedicate the headwaters of both Cottonwood and Willow Springs Creeks for parkland.
  • Met with the city Parks and Recreation Department to review existing parklands along waterways and identify connections between them.
  • Reviewed and provided updates for the San Marcos Parks Master Plan, including adding the greenbelt concept and correcting the omission of existing parkland.
  • Assisted the Trust for Public Land in applying for county parks funding for expanding the Purgatory Creek Natural Area.

Not Too Late to Comment on City Block Grants

The City of San Marcos held a stakeholder workshop on March 29 to receive citizen input on the proposed use of Community Development Block Grant funds for the 2011 program year. CDBG funds are provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and are used for projects that benefit the City’s low to moderate income residents.

Citizens unable to attend the workshop may download a survey from the City’s website by following the link: and click Citizen Comment Form. The form is available in English and Spanish and due by April 8.

Texas Invasives Class Benefits Natural Areas

SMGA, the Hays County Extension office, and the Hays County Master Naturalists sponsored a training session February 26th in San Marcos to learn more about invasive plants and their safe removal and replacement with native plants. Thirty students from around the country, including six SMGA members, spent their Saturday learning from Travis Gallo, a specialist on Texas invasives, based at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The curriculum included identifying , recording locations via GPS, and adding to a statewide database that tracks the spread of invasives. The  database is shared nationally. (In photo above, Lance Jones presents Travis Gallo and Minnette Marr with a token of appreciation for educating Citizen Scientists about invasive plants. Photo by Dick McBride.)

Texas invasives include chinaberry, ligustrum, nandina, yellow star thistle, Chinese tallow, insects, aquatic plants, and even animals like nutria. Invasives persist and spread due to a lack of natural predators, competitors, or diseases that normally regulate their populations. Invasive plants crowd out native plants and fundamentally change ecosystems. Ligustrum groves block out sunlight and prevent protective ground cover like mallow or grasses from growing underneath. Chinaberry and nandina spread by birds eating the seeds and then depositing them along fence and power lines.  Many invasive plants are  introduced by landscapers and nurseries to bring attractive, flowering plants to local yards.

A focus of this year's SMGA / Bobcat Build project on 4/9 is removing
Minnette Marr explains karst features
(Photo by Lance Jones)

ligustrum from a 9-acre portion of lower Purgatory Creek Natural Area.  Planning,  documentation, and removal will increase watershed protection and water capture and enhance public viewing and use of the natural area. Minnette Marr a plant conservationist and San Marcos resident advised SMGA members in the removal of ligustrum and replacement with Texas native plants. This multi-year effort will improve natural areas that are critical to the capture of rainwater runoff.

New Stories of Interest

Death on Dallas trail sparks concern about safety of Austin's trails

San Antonio Takes Lead in Land Conservation

Where on the Trail Is This?

Coral honeysuckle (lonicera sempervirens caprifoliacease) was found growing on a large ashe juniper tree along an ADA trail in one of our natural areas.  It's only the beginning of spring and already plants are busting out in our greenspaces.  Due to dry weather, we probably won't enjoy the abundance of wildflowers that we did last year, but our hardy Central Texas natives are strong and resilient. Coral honeysuckle is a native of the Hill Country and grows in sunny locations.  It is non-invasive and drought tolerant (Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of the Texas Hill Country by Jan Wrede.

So, where on the trail was the photo above taken?  Lower Purgatory Creek Natural Area, just before the learning tree and star gazing circle when entering from Prospect St.