Texas Rivers Center Walk

By Marilyn Brister

The San Marcos River Walkers Club invites you to a 10K walk beginning at Texas Rivers Center (located at the former Aquarena Springs Hotel) on January 12, 2013. The Texas Rivers Center (951 Aquarena Springs Drive), home of the Meadows Institute for Water and the Environment, is an education and research project of Texas State University and partners with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and a branch of the National Park Service. It is devoted to the study and protection of Texas waters and is located at Spring Lake, the source of the San Marcos River.
Edwin Brister reads the Golden Cheek Warbler poster

The walk consists of two 5K loops. The first loop is a gradual climb on an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) trail through the Spring Lake Preserve, a wooded area with typical hill country terrain covered with cedar, live oak, cactus, and Mexican buckeye. Once the proposed site of a large hotel and conference center, this scenic area was saved from development by the outcry of San Marcos citizens and conservationists. In 2007 the Greenbelt Alliance successfully campaigned for purchase of the land by the city. Subsequent grants were obtained from Hays County, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the U. S. Department of the Interior, various non profit agencies, and individuals.

The second 5K loop winds past part of Texas State University and through the downtown San Marcos area, passing several well-known restaurants and stores. It is mainly flat with no steep hills or rough terrain. The walk is suitable for strollers. Start time for the walk is 8 to noon, finish by 3. Point of contact is Barbara Piersol at bpiersol@grandecom.net..

Mark your calendars for January 12, 2013

The San Marcos River Walkers invite you to walk Spring Lake Preserve Saturday, January 12th. The AVA sanctioned event is expected to draw 200 participants from around Central Texas. Two five kilometer walks are on tap.  The starting point is the Meadows Center (formerly the Texas River Center or Aquarena Hotel) between 8 a.m. and noon. Registration fees run from $4 for IVV credit and award down to $2 for non-IVV participants.
David Alexander checks the distance.
The route is two 5 km loops. One is the ADA trail of packed caliche that goes up the long hill with a gradual incline. The second route is through downtown San Marcos. The routes are suitable for strollers but may be difficult for wheelchairs. Pets are welcome but must be on a leash and clean-up is mandatory.
AVA is the American Volksport Association that has its beginnings in Germany. Many participants from Fredricksburg, Austin, San Antonio  and the German communities of Central Texas participate in this popular walking event.
Additional information from Barbara Piersol at bpiersol@grandecom.net

Birding Hike -- Hunter Road December 1 at 7:30 am

Last month it was spiders in Schulle Canyon but Saturday we will  be looking for birds, Sparrows. to be exact in Lower Purgatory Creek Natural Area.  The hike led by Stephen Ramirez. "Join me on a casual morning of bird watching at Purgatory Park (meet off hunter rd) http://goo.gl/maps/ikAi6 
We'll meet at 7:30 am, the weather should be delightful. My goal will be to get your eyes on some of those elusive winter Sparrows but let's see what else pops up."  --  LJ

Trail crew works to keep it going

It was a chilly morning as the moon set over Purgatory Creek Natural Area.  A few hardy souls anxious to work through the first holiday hurdle of too much good food prepared to improve Dante's Trail from the Hunter Road trail head.  Mostly loping dead branches from drought-stricken trees one group coursed through Nimrod Trail alongside dam #5.  Others using weed-wackers cleaned up the overgrown Johnson and KR bluestem grasses.  Both are non-native and invasive.  Another team scouted a potential alternate trail when floods (rare, they may be) make Dante's an impassable journey.
Join the volunteer trail crew  on Thursday morning for a little exercise, fresh air and camaraderie by checking out the volunteer page of this website. --Lance Jones

SMGA Is Thankful For... New Acreage, Capes Camp, and You

We at SMGA are thankful for so much that has happened this year, and here are some highlights.

SMGA is thankful for:

New Acres for Purgatory Creek Natural Area
We are excited to announce that the funding to acquire approximately 93 additional acres in Purgatory Creek Natural Area was approved! Thank you to Trust for Public Land for your continued efforts on the PCNA expansion.

This area is contiguous with January's acquired 107 acres.   The acquisition should be on the City Council agenda in December so get ready to share your support of this project with City Council. With this addition, more water quality land is conserved, more endangered species habitat protected, and more recreational opportunities available in the future. More to come in early December.

Capes Camp Proposition 1 Passed
The Capes Camp Proposition 1 passed with 75.5% of voters supporting the proposition. We appreciate those with River Parks San Marcos for the time and effort they put in promoting this proposition as well as everyone who voted.

Our Members and Volunteers
Of course this is all thanks to you. Be sure to get ready to attend the SMGA's annual meeting this January to celebrate the 15th year of SMGA and all that we have accomplished so far!

Happy Thanksgiving!

San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance

Master Naturalists Award for SMGA

The Master Naturalists honored the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance at their recent graduation and gala. The event was very well attended and after a great meal the graduates of this year's class walked the stage for their diplomas, Afterward recognitions were given to those who re-certified and contributed with significantly in various ways. They ended with an honorary award given to the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance. We offer plenty of opportunities for MN volunteers, advanced training and generally share their interest in protection of Hays County's natural heritage. We are delighted to be so honored.

We also strongly recommend that if anyone wants to know more about the ecology of our county you could do no better than to sign up for next years MN class. You will learn many, many interesting things from geology to climate, birdsong to butterflies. Find out more at their website http://haysmn.org/index.html or send an email to be notified of the 2013 class announcement to trainingcom@haysmn.org. You will be glad you did...t.o.d.

Spring Lake Nutrient and Water Quality Presentation

Coordinated by the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and the Upper San Marcos Watershed Coordinating Group

On December 13, 2012, the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and the Upper San Marcos Watershed Coordinating Group will present the results of a recent study that examined the water quality and nutrient inputs into Spring Lake. This meeting will be held from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the City Park Recreation Hall (170 Charles Austin Drive). The public is welcomed and encouraged to attend. There will be ample opportunity for citizens to comment on report findings, learn more about the Spring Lake watershed protection process, and find out how the public can become involved in protecting this important watershed.

Read more at http://www.meadowscenter.txstate.edu/

Hays County Transportation Feedback

Have you provided your feedback on the Hays County Transportation Plan? If not, you can view the project and provide feedback at http://www.co.hays.tx.us/index.php?cID=872

Wildland Rescue Practice in San Marcos

From the San Marcos Daily Record

Members of the San Marcos Fire Department trained on rescuing in a wildland area recently, using a wheeled device to lighten the load. Billy Mullins (left) and Isaac Hernandez are shown in front with Micah Harris playing the victim. In the center is trainer Jay Horton.

SMGA Website

The SMGA website, http://smgreenbelt.org, is down. We are working to correct the issue and hope to have it up and running again by the weekend. In the meantime, feel free to email us (smgreenbelt@gmail.com) if you have any questions, or learn more about SMGA on this site.

Thank you for your patience.

American Trails Youth Scholarship

American Trails is an excellent organization for trail resources and opportunities!

Are you between the ages of 18-25 and interested in learning more about trails?

American Trails
21st International Trails Symposium
Hulet Hornbeck Youth Scholarship Program
April 14-17, 2013
Fort McDowell Yavapai Radisson Resort, Arizona

Through funds provided by generous sponsors, American Trails is proud to offer 20 scholarships for the American Trails Hulet Hornbeck Fund to youth between the ages of 18-25 to attend the 21st International Trails Symposium held at Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Radisson Resort near Fountain Hills, Arizona.  Learn more at http://americantrails.org/2013/hulet.html

Is SMGA Cutting Down Trees?

Several weeks ago the volunteer trail crew  received a message written in chalk on one of the benches in Prospect Park. It said (roughly) ‘stop cutting down trees. They are needed for habitat’.

Since the message was written in chalk (and not spray paint) and it showed a concern for the park, we would like to reply.

We have taken out many ligustrum and small ash junipers from the park--perhaps as many as three hundred. We hope to take more. We do this because ligustrum is an invasive which stops the growth of grasses and other flora in the understory. It also inhibits the growth of trees we do want, such as oaks and mountain laurels. In laying down the uprooted ligustrum we also hope to create a good habitat for small mammals such as squirrels.

We would also like our correspondent to know that we carry out these activities with the approval of the City, and we follow the advice of an experienced field biologist who tours the park with us about once a year to give us suggestions.

If we may make a suggestion to our concerned friend, use the web site to send us messages. With the blessed return of rain we could well miss the next message in chalk.

Capes Camp Update: A bit of history

From Dianne Wassenich with the San Marcos River Foundation, an excellent history of the Capes Camp/Stokes Park Area and update on Tuesday's P&Z meeting

TUESDAY NIGHT P&Z: San Marcans, including a lot of neighborhood folks from the east side, did a great job last night expressing their concerns to P&Z respectfully, regarding the apartments proposed for Cape's Camp. They spoke powerfully about the master plan process which has found many places to locate apartments, more than enough places for our expected growth for decades, none of which are on the river. They spoke about the east side needing a park that is actually a park, not a floodway. And they spoke about the dangers inherent in placing a 1,000 bedroom apartment complex on the river, where security would be difficult at night in the park if it became a party site. And where the built-up flood plain land the apartments would be built on, up to three stories high, would impede floodwater flows down the long streets of the nearby neighborhood, like Barbara, Linda and Conway, toward the San Marcos River. And of course, the flood dangers to the apartment dwellers, near a road crossing that floods too

I explained the story of our how existing river parks were created 50 years ago, by moving entire neighborhoods of people out of the flood plain, to higher locations at great taxpayer cost and emotional cost. Many moved east of IH 35. These eastern neighborhoods have not had walking access to the existing river park systems for 50 years, and still won't after the trail segment proposed to run from 35 to Cape Road is built with the apartment project. They have to run across a feeder road of IH 35 where cars are going 50 mph, to get to Rio Vista or other parks. These east side folks need a real river park east of IH 35, not a floodway. Some people also objected to the tiny existing Stokes Park being made into a parking lot as mentioned in the apartment plan. ( I wonder how that can be done on that open space that turns into a mudhole during wet weather, since a spring or ancient river route pours water through that open field at times. The wet spots already killed several trees there.)

I asked that the commissioners look at a flood plain map, and compare it to the land that people's homes were removed from, in order to make our existing parks. And then compare that to the apartments now being proposed on land very near the river, and mostly in the flood plain. I fear that the commissioners have not been informed about where the flood plain lines are, on this property, and they need to know that in order to decide if rezoning is what they want to do. In the brief discussion after the public hearing, some of the commissioners expressed their deep concern with issues citizens brought up. They will have it on their agenda at their next meeting, but at least some of them do not want to vote on this until after the Nov. 6th election for Proposition 1. Please continue to write them with your thoughts on the matter at Planning_Info@sanmarcostx.gov, and you can copy the Mayor_Council_info@sanmarcostx.gov at the same time, since it will go to Council after P&Z. For more info regarding Support for Proposition 1 visit http://savecapescamp.com.

Upcoming Dates:
October 23rd - Capes Camp on the P&Z agenda
November 6th - Election Day

Great Streets for Small Towns, October 25

Central Texas Transportation Policy Symposium Series

Texas State University-San Marcos
Center for Research, Public Policy, and Training (CRPPT)
Undergraduate Academic Center Room 308
October 25, 2012, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Purpose: Small towns across America are rediscovering the value of great streets to help spur economic development, connect neighborhoods, and enhance the unique characteristics of small town living. National and local experts provide an overview of the advantages and challenges of incorporating great streets in small towns and show how Texas communities can and are benefiting from time-tested great street designs.

For more information visit http://crppt.polisci.txstate.edu/events.html

Capes Camp Area Parks - Get Involved!

The good people who have quickly formed River Parks for San Marcos (RP4SM), a special purpose committee in support of proposition one on the November ballot, have been doing their best to get the word out about the need for strong support for prop one. This proposition is a non-binding resolution to acquire the land most of us know as Capes Camp and Thompson's Island (La Isla to many) and the surrounding land along the river east of IH35. A strong showing of support will give our zoning commissioners and city council the confirmation and political support they need to fend off other ideas for that land including a rezoning to multifamily for apartments.
  1. Spread the word using your voice in conversation with friends and neighbors, coworkers and members of your church.
  2. Or use the social media of your choice.  There are lots of angles to this issue but you can send people to the website http://www.savecapescamp.org/ to learn more.
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/smtxriverparksTwitter: https://twitter.com/savecapescamp
  3. Support the River Parks for San Marcos group by going to the website and clicking on the "Get Involved" button. http://www.savecapescamp.org/
  4. Vote on November 6.
Here is what one member of SMGA had to say about this potential parkland:

The folks who live in and love San Marcos have hoped for, have expected, that one day Capes Camp and Thompson's Island would complete the river parks system that has made San Marcos such a great place. Every parks and open space master plan, generated by the voices of citizens, both city and county, has called for two top priorities: more river access and a regional park on the east side of the interstate. There is no other use for this property that makes sense to anyone who cares about the vitality of our economy or our ecology or the legacy we will leave. This is a key moment in our city's history. Either we grow the parks along the river we love or we let it become nothing more than a fenced backyard to more apartments.

Outdoor Recreation Economy Report: An Economic Giant

"The Outdoor Recreation Economy" Report

OIA report cover

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has released its newest economic study, which details the role that outdoor recreation plays as a major economic driver in the United States. This was a hot topic at the Outdoor Retailer's Summer Market held in Salt Lake City in early August. Outdoor recreation accounts for $646 billion in spending that each year supports 6.1 million direct jobs and $80 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue. This underscores the need for investment by the Federal Government in programs that bolster opportunities for consumers to participate in outdoor recreational activities. Learn more and download the full report... 

San Marcos Bluebonnet Lions Nut Fundraiser - Orders due by October 15th

It's that time of the year again when all the nuts are falling from the trees.

San Marcos Bluebonnet Lions Club, besides selling Pecan Halves and Pieces in 1 pound bags, are also selling Raw Whole Almonds and English Walnut Halves and Pieces, in one pound bags.

In order to get the nuts here in plenty of time for holiday baking, pre-orders are due October 15, 2012. Please contact your favorite Bluebonnet Lion right now to place your order. They will only order one time to save on the shipping and handling expenses so we can return more money to the community. All money raised is donated back into the community of San Marcos and Lions Charities. More prices and ordering information visit  http://home.centurytel.net/bluebonnetlions.

Upcoming Community Events

Nature Center Plant Sale, October 13, 9 am - 5 pm
This Saturday, stop by the San Marcos Nature Center to purchase shrubs and trees, and lots of natives. All proceeds go to the Center's programs.

There are a variety of new programs offered at the Nature Center. Find out more at http://www.sanmarcostx.gov/index.aspx?page=799.

Watershed Workshop, October 23
Register now for the Watershed Workshop, which will be on October 23rd from 8am-4pm at the City of San Marcos Recreation Center on 170 Charles Austin Drive in San Marcos.(Next to Lions Tube Rental) The workshop is FREE and open to anyone interested in watersheds and water quality, especially riverside landowners. A speaker from the Meadows Center (formerly River Systems Institute) will close out the day by talking specifically about current and future watershed planning efforts here for Spring Lake and the San Marcos River.   The deadline is Oct. 19 for pre-registraton.  It is likely to fill up, so pre-register now at http://tws.tamu.edu/workshops/online-registration/ .

Let's Plan for Greenways! Sept 10-14, 2012

Check out the SMGA flyer and map in preparation for the upcoming Master Plan Design Rodeo, September 10-14!
Greenways do not need to be created all at once. The first job for our generation is to save the places by including the creekways in our plan and using policies that facilitate the conservation of floodplain and recharge areas. The expense can often be borne by utilities, developers, state or federal levels of government, or private foundations. As demand for bike and pedestrian facilities grow the trails can grow to match. If you ask the transportation, recreation and natural lands managers from other cities they will all tell you that the big mistake their cities made was not planning for greenways when their communities were smaller. We are still small enough that we can weave Nature in and around the places we build, creating a network that will improve everyone's health, our local economy, and ecology.  Let's put greenways in the plan. 
SMGA will be represented during the natural resource scenario design process on Monday between 3-5 PM. The public is welcome to listen in on the conversation and view design materials as the design grows. Attend between 5:30-8:30 that evening to see the results for that part of the process and add your comments. Attend each evening to participate in the design process.

Help Make Connections to Last a Lifetime

Now is the time to act!

Tuesday evening
SMGA prep meeting for the Master Plan Rodeo and the Growth and Preservation Allocation exercise.
We will meet at the San Marcos Public Library large meeting room.
NEW DATE Tuesday, August 28 at 5:30 pm to get an update on the master plan from city staff and 6:00 pm to receive information about greenways in San Marcos from SMGA.
Abby Gilfillan and Betsy Robertson will give a 10-15 minutes describing the process, future and why we have a master plan followed by a brief Q&A session. Afterwards, join SMGA to hear about how greenways can be incorporated into the Master Plan and why it is so crucial for us to do it now.

San Marcos has an abundance of creeks with floodways that can serve as greenways. Greenways along creeks can become part of a hike and bike system that connects the places where we live, learn, work, and play.

The greenways in San Marcos can also:
  • Protect continuous linear swaths between development, parks and natural areas
  • Limit building in floodways and floodplains
  • Promote water quality and flood safety
  • Protect the interests of land owners (through conservation easement, etc.)
  • Ensure proactive planning for greenways by state, county and city planners. Assist developers with planning by designating greenway locations
  • Attract state and federal transportation money for greenways
Join SMGA at the San Marcos Public Library on August 28 at 5:30 to learn more!

Wednesday, 29 August (attend one of two sessions)
The city will conduct two sessions for the Growth and Preservation Allocation Exercise. The sessions will take place and Dunbar Community Center. The first session will run from 1-4 pm, the second from 5:30-8:30 pm.

What do you want San Marcos look like in 2035? San Marcos residents are invited to show city planners where they would like to see the community grow in the coming decades Here is an introduction from Matt Lewis, Director of Planning and Development Services:

"Now it’s time for the real work to begin. The next event is called the Growth and Preservation Allocation exercise and is scheduled for August the 29th at Dunbar Community Center at either 1 pm or 5:30 pm. This will be a fun and important activity, and the public will work together in groups with the Committees."

Learn more about the exercise at http://www.sanmarcostx.gov/index.aspx?page=34&recordid=426&returnURL=%2findex.aspx%3fpage%3d733

Design Rodeo
Date: 9/10/2012 - 9/14/2012 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Public participation is encouraged
Location: San Marcos Activity Center Rooms 1&2

This event will be a public planning process to determine the details of the city’s
comprehensive plan. Learn more at the city’s website: http://www.sanmarcostx.gov/index.aspx?page=22&recordid=2546

Upcoming Meetings You Shouldn't Miss

Capes Camp
August 16 - Thursday the Council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. to consider placing a non-binding proposition on the acquisition of riverfront parkland (including Cape's Camp) on the Nov. 6 city election ballot. This is non-binding. The contract on the property and the development can continue. We will continue to monitor this process and keep you up-to-date.

Master Plan - Growth/Preservation
August 29 – Density Allocation Exercise; 1-4pm and 5:30-8:30pm at Dunbar Community Center. Participants will place markers on a map showing where they would like to see the San Marcos population grow. Remember to conserve our greenways along the the creekways.

SMGA Public Meeting on the Master Plan: Rodeo Prep

August 30 - San Marcos Public Library; Representatives from the city will give an update on the process, and we will provide ideas and feedback to participants in preparation for the Design Rodeo.

COSM Design Rodeo
September 10-14 – Activity Center; Work with Committees to evaluate future scenarios and decide which is best.

Master Plan Goals
Have you given your feedback? Vote on the drafted goals today at http://sanmarcostx.gov/index.aspx?page=874

SMGA - Flickr - Maps

Did you know that SMGA has photos posted to flickr? Lance Jones recently uploaded some for Ringtail Ridge and Blanco Shoals with a new flickr mapping feature.

Blanco Shoals natural area:

Ringtail Ridge natural area:

Review of PCNA hiking trail

Purgatory Creek Natural Area is reviewed on AllTrails.com. What an excellent resource to share reviews of our wonderful trails in San Marcos.

Hiking Prescription Fall Internship

CORRECTION: Send your applications to alliance@smgreenbelt.org

SMGA wishes to
Engage one or more student interns from the Health Sciences, Geography
and Recreation Departments to create a "Park Prescription" program to
encourage the use of our parks and natural areas. The project offers
several opportunities for internships in different disciplines.

Physical activity is an effective method for maintaining and improving
health. It is also essential for the healthy development of children.
Furthermore, many studies show there are psychological benefits to
exercising in parks or natural areas.

Several communities in the United States have developed programs, with
the cooperation of local medical societies, which utilize parks and
natural areas to improve community health. Using 'hiking
prescriptions' and other methods the doctors encourage patients to
exercise in the out of doors. The approach is effective and virtually
free for the patients and the community.

San Marcos has a good variety of parks and natural areas which offer
walks ranging from easy strolls on flat surfaces to challenging hikes.
The project will engage the medical community in planning the project
and develop materials for use in using hiking prescriptions.

Gather information on similar programs already functioning around the
country. Identify at least three as sources of ideas and information
on successes and failures.

Present the general idea to the local medical society and recruit a
small group of practitioners who will serve as advisors for the

Utilizing GIS, GPS or other methodology measure and mark trails at
appropriate distances to enable people to know when they have 'filled'
their prescription.

Prepare materials for the hiking prescriptions, including trail
locations, distances, difficulty and other information.

Present materials to the medical society and offer training for the
practitioners' staffs.

Prepare informational materials and press releases for the general public.

At each step inform the Parks and Recreation Department of your activities.

This is a non-paid internship.

San Marcos. SMGA does not have an office, but there will be regular
meet up with an SMGA appointed representative to track progress,
ask/answer questions, and provide guidance.

Submit your resume to alliance@smgreenbelt.org.

Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), in cooperation with the Edwards Aquifer Authority; San Antonio Water Systems; the City of New Braunfels, Texas; the City of San Marcos, Texas; and Texas State University (collectively, the Applicants), will conduct seven public meetings to obtain comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) and an incidental take permit application for the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP) that includes a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (dHCP).

All the meetings are scheduled from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Friday, August 3, 2012- Dunbar Center, 801 West MLK St., San Marcos, Texas 78666

Monday, August 6, 2012- San Antonio Water System, Customer Service Building, 2800 North Highway 281, San Antonio, Texas 78212

Tuesday, August 7, 2012- Texas AgriLife Extension and Research Center, 1619 Garner Field Rd., Uvalde, Texas, 78801

Wednesday, August 8, 2012- New Braunfels Civic Center, 375 S. Castell Ave., New Braunfels, Texas 78130

Friday, August 10, 2012- Schreiner University, Cailloux Activity Center, 2100 Memorial Blvd., Kerrville, Texas 78028

Tuesday, August 14, 2012- Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas 78412

Wednesday, August 15, 2012- University of Houston- Victoria, Multi-Purpose Room, 3007 N. Ben Wilson, Victoria, Texas 77901

Who ate all the oak leaves? Katy did

This report forwarded to us from Hays Master Naturalists:
The hill country is currently experiencing a major outbreak of red katydids. They are currently in the nymph stage. When they develop wings later this month, they'll start singing day and night. They feed primarily on oak trees. I've received reports from the following counties:
Bandera, Bexar, Burnet, Comal, Hays, Kerr, Medina, Menard, Schleicher,
Tom Green, Travis and Williamson counties
Here's some links to information on the red katydid:
http://www.texasento.net/Paracyrtophyllus_robustus.mp3 - sound file of
what's coming...
Please share this information with your members.
Thanks, Mike Quinn, Austin
Texas Entomology

More Feral Hog Sightings

We are noticing increasing feral hog activity in our natural areas. Please report such activity to Melani Howard mhoward@sanmarcostx.gov. For more information on feral hog management, the Wildlife and Fisheries unit of Texas AgriLife Extension Service released four new videos directed at landowners. The links to the videos are below.

History, Biology, and Population Dynamics - http://youtu.be/GDDuYu0uiqM

Why do Landowners need to Control Populations? - http://youtu.be/FwjS059_gjg

Control Techniques and Regulations - http://youtu.be/L9F2clhrOPY

Exclusion Fencing around Feeders - http://youtu.be/1uKbZQ9IYIA

Upcoming Land Management Plan Meetings

On July 25th the City will be seeking input on the land management plan for Spring Lake Natural Area from the Spring Lake and Tanglewood Neighborhood Associations.  The meeting will be at the Activity Center Multi-purpose room 6pm.

On August 1st, the City will be seeking input on the land management plan for Purgatory Creek Natural Ares from the Willow Creek and Westover Neighborhood Associations.  The meeting will be at the Rec Center (next to Lion's Tube rental) 6pm.

The city is currently looking at 5 areas of interest in the land management plans: water quality/quantity, fire breaks, wildlife, plants, and recreation.

For more information contact Melani Howard at mhoward@sanmarcostx.gov

Support River Parkland Tuesday, 7/17, 6PM

Your support is needed this Tuesday night, July 17, for river parkland acquisition around Stokes Park on the east side of San Marcos. The meeting will start at 6PM (but plan to arrive at 5:45 if you wish to sign up to speak during the public comment period at the very beginning of the meeting). Whether or not you speak, your attendance will make a difference: Many will stand or raise a hand in support when speakers ask for that sign from the audience.

Two council members have asked that a discussion item be on the agenda in response to recent public demand for river parkland east of IH-35. Residents near Stokes Park, plus SMGA and the San Marcos River Foundation, have asked the Parks Board, P&Z and Council to acquire more riverside parkland around Stokes Park. This item placed on the agenda for Tuesday night is the culmination of that work, so please plan to be there. The actual public discussion by Council will be at the end of the meeting, but if you cannot stay for that, at least come for the beginning public comment period.

The thought of pavement and buildings near even a portion of our river is hard to imagine yet possible if we do not act. In contrast the benefits of river parkland acquisition are many. Parkland along the river furthers our vision of greenway connections that protect both water and wildlife. Creating opportunities for human access to natural areas benefits our health (spiritual, emotional and physical) and our economy; people want to visit and live in a city with a well-developed parkland system that provides access to a clear, swimmable river.

If you cannot attend on Tuesday, be sure to can email the Mayor and Council at Mayor_Council_Info@sanmarcostx.gov.

If the Council sees a lot of support Tuesday night, it is possible that they could put parkland acquisition east of IH35 on the November ballot as a nonbinding referendum to help them determine whether there is community-wide support. They will have to make this decision in the next two Council meetings to put it on the ballot. Please attend this important meeting Tuesday night or send an email to move this important initiative forward.

Bird Walk at Ringtail Ridge July 7 at 7:30 am

In seach of the Summer Tanager, June 2012.
Have you seen a Bluebird?  What about a Painted Bunting?  Both (and many others) have been seen at Ringtail Ridge natural area. Join Stephen Ramirez and others on the hunt with binoculars, spotting scopes and long lens cameras for some of the Hill Country's colorful and interesting characters.
Stephen's website is birdsiview.org and a description of the trail is located at http://www.smgreenbelt.org/SMNaturalAreas.htm#Ringtail
The trail is located on Old Ranch Road 12 between Dakota Ranch Apartments and Crestview Business Center.

--Lance Jones

Support Capes Camp at P&Z Tonight, 6.12.2012

Capes Camp

All members of SMGA, citizens of San Marcos and Hays County, and residents and visitors from around Central Texas need to be heard on the issue of Capes Camp. A well meaning, reputable developer has come to town from Georgia to build some much needed student apartments here in town. No surprise.
They chose to locate their development on the San Marcos River between IH35 and Stokes Park to include the greater part of Thompson's Island. That the city, meaning all of us, has not already secured this one of a kind location is tough to understand considering the overwhelming demand from all of us for more river and frontage access, water and riparian protection, and trail connections. This is an integral connection for the greenbelt vision.

Well it is time to start working on it now.

Angie Ramirez and a group of Blanco Gardens neighbors have the momentum going with their first appeal to the Parks and Recreation Board to issue a memorandum to the Planning and Zoning Commission in which the board "fully supports the Blanco Gardens neighborhood's vision" of this property as eastside parkland.
They could really use our help. Here is what you can do:
  1. Go to the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday night and speak to the issue during citizen comment period. Tell them you want to see this property for its highest and best use - parkland to serve as an extension of our river parks system. To learn more about signing up to speak go to http://www.sanmarcostx.gov/index.aspx?page=826. This is the best way to support the effort but being in the audience is helpful too.  OR
  2. Send the commissioners an email asking them, in a few words, to avoid rezoning this property until the city has a chance to purchase this property. Send your email to planning_info@sanmarcostx.gov before 5pm Tuesday. Or send a fax to 512-396-9190

Message from the River Foundation:

PLEASE ATTEND: 6 P.M. Tuesday evening, City Hall, Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Blanco Gardens neighborhood rep Angie Ramirez will speak, along with several others, in the citizen comment period at the very beginning of the meeting re the need for a riverside park east of IH 35 to connect our very crowded and worn river parks with the east side of IH 35. There is a lot of state and city owned land there beyond Stokes Park that would create a big swath of riverside park if it were only connected. But instead, another apartment project might take the land that could provide this connection, Cape's Camp. Many of us would rather see a parks bond proposed for November 2013 ballot, and a unified effort to raise funds and grants to make this a park instead of apartments. Please attend, no need for everyone to speak, but the visible support of many citizens will make ALL the difference. Please take time to spread the word to all your friends via Facebook or email, or any way you can tonight or tomorrow. See you at 6 on Tuesday, and here is the agenda packet re other issues that will be heard later that night, if you want to stay: http://www.ci.san-marcos.tx.us/index.aspx?page=827.

Your Vote Counts

Want to support the San Marcos Natural Areas at no cost to yourself other than some time?  Log into www.livepositivelycom/parks and mark Purgatory Creek Natural Area as your designated, favorite park.  If enough people designate PCNA as their choice then Coca-Cola will award a $100,00 grant.
This is a nationwide contest and you can vote everyday until July 15th.  If you register a Foursquare account then you receive 100 votes right off the bat.  The top 25 vote getters receive a $15,000 grant which will purchase much needed trail equipment, trailhead amenities and lots of doggie bags.  The complete rules are listed in the Live Positively website http://m.livepositively.com/aiyp.jsp so get out and vote -- everyday!

Tonight: Parks & Recreation Advisory Board: Cape's Camp & Thompson's Island Vision

Tonight, at 5:45 pm at the San Marcos Activity Center, representatives from the Blanco Gardens neighborhood will present a vision of a San Marcos river parks system that would extend from the west side of the highway, through Cape's Camp/Thompson's Island, and beyond Stokes Park. They are asking for the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board verbal approval of this vision.

Parks and recreational opportunities along the east side of IH-35 are repeatedly called for in the 2010 Parks Master Plan and the city master plan. In addition, the expansion of the city's river parks system is only possible in a substantial way on this parcel. The extension of the greenbelt along to the east side of IH-35 was one of the most popular items proposed by citizens in the Dream San Marcos on-line input process. In the Hays County Parks Master Plan 2012, the citizens asked for more river access. The citizens of San Marcos have insisted over and over again of the need to ensure that we are able to conserve the greatest amount of parkland possible in this location. This is an opportunity to provide the citizens of San Marcos with additional river access, a greenway trail to connect to the west side, and recreational opportunities for the Blanco Gardens neighborhood. Cape's Camp from the interstate to Cape Road (and beyond) needs to become an extension of river parks system. Spread the word, attend tonight's meeting to learn more, and we will continue to update you on this project.
Additional agenda items include:
  • Discussion and consideration - presentation from Neighborhood representative of Blanco Gardens on vision for riverside parkland that would extend from the west side of IH 35 to the east side of IH 35. Requesting support from the Parks Board in their efforts. 
  • Discussion and/or Recommendation - Casey development - approval/denial of combination proposal of Fee-in-lieu of with on site parkland dedication - Allison Blake Alison Brake, Planning Department
  • Discussion and/or Recommendation - Options for disposition of the Leah tract previously acquired by the city in exchange for park land. 

Agenda for tonight's meeting

CORRECTION: the planning department representative for the Casey development is Alison Brake, not Allison Blake


Photo Courtesy of Lance Jones
Every turn opens a new view on the trails this month as the wildflowers are in their full glory.  Mealy blue sage and thistles cover the meadow below Summit Ridge on Dante's Trail in the Purgatory Creek Natural Area. Yarrow, bluebonnets and thistles are abundant at the Spring Lake Preserve. Blanco Shoals, Schulle Canyon and Ringtail Ridge Natural Areas all are overrun with bastard cabbage reaching heights of five and six feet topped with tiny yellow flowers.

But it is the thistle that truly amazes. Several years ago, after a particularly wet winter, Tex's Trail at Ringtail Ridge was bordered by the tall Texas native. Butterflies and finches really enjoyed the nectar and seed respectively. The abundance of thistle this year has drawn comments on the Hays County Master Naturalist forum.

A local Master Naturalist noted noted "Texas Thistle is a biennial. It is my working hypothesis that last year's drought followed by a wet winter has given annuals and biennials a window of opportunity to flourish and rebuild their seed bank investment. I would be very surprised to see Texas thistle and the other currently abundant annuals/biennials flourish as well in a 'normal' year. In fact, they have not had such a good year while we have owned this property. And I suspect they may not do so well for many years to come. But the seeds that became this year's abundant Texas thistle didn't just appear from nowhere. They were already here waiting for the right conditions. And this year's deposit in the seed bank is likely to wait a number of years for the right conditions to occur again."

Hopefully the rains will return this month as all the natural areas are extremely dry and the danger of fire is real. Now is a good time to hike and bike the trails with the views, be mindful of the bugs, most of them beneficial, and spend some time with nature.
--Lance Jones

Edible Plant Walk in Purgatory Creek Natural Area

Holding Pattern by Randy Lenz
Spring has sprung and with it many lovely and, in some cases, edible wild plants. On Saturday the 28th at 2:30 in the afternoon, twenty-five members of Edible San Marcos explored those wild edibles in Prospect Park. The plant walk, lasted three and a half hours, covered around twenty plants, and had a casual but academically rigorous tone. The demographic was decidedly diverse: a midwife, an aquatic biologist, many gardeners and a few children.

Goers were particularly entertained to learn that our native Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata) was used in the Revolutionary War as a substitute for hops in the making of beer; to hear the nefarious account of how Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) came upon its scientific name; that rabbits fed a steady diet of Turk’s Cap foliage (Malvaviscus arboreus) grow fat and happy; and concerned, but ultimately amused, to observe that after cautioning the group about the dangers of collecting Pencil Cactus fruit (Cylindropuntia leptocaulis), I emerged from the bushes covered in pernicious pokeys.

Adam Salcedo, a seasoned forager, leads plant walks about once a week.
At the close of the walk chatter abounded as phone numbers were exchanged, and desires for further expeditions expressed. Food has a funny way of bringing people together. And wild edible plants you’ve seen but overlooked a thousand times before do this exceptionally well. 
-Guest Post by Adam Salcedo

Be still in the place and know it without you

It isn't often that you see someone just enjoying our natural areas.  More correctly, many people are out in our natural areas having fun, grateful to have nature all around them as they hike, bike and maybe chat with a friend. And especially this spring with so much color and song.  You can almost hear the vibrating shades of green and waving flowers; you can almost see the bird song and whisper of the wind.  Almost.

As we like to say among our volunteers - get out and get in to it. But perhaps we should add try stopping and standing still, alone, and just soak it up.

I did this recently on Limbo Loop by the big oak that greets those headed up from the meadow to the top of the ridge that now leads back to Virgil's Way and the overpass. But near where the trail runs between the trunks on the low rock platform I hung my hammock on Sunday afternoon. My intentions where industrious: jot out some gratitude cards, plan the busy week ahead, some other tasks for which my over-stuffed fanny pack was equipped. I forgot a small pillow, nothing some improvisation can't fix. I laid back and listened. I looked up and into the canopy. I fell asleep and snoozed for a nearly an hour.

That is what is supposed to happen if you try to meditate and you are really tired. That is what nature can give you - a moment away, a moment unplugged. The squirrel and the roadrunner had time to adjust to me so they could return to their industry when I woke still very calm and feeling completely unencumbered. Watching them gave me a sense of this place without me.

Early Saturday and Sunday mornings I listen to recorded radio features. On Sunday it was "To the Best of Our Knowledge" featuring interviews under the theme Into the Woods. They reminded me of the thinking of Thoreau, Muir, Wendell Barry and Annie Dillard.

Many people reading this will believe they do not have the time, it's too hot, too something. It is more likely they have forgotten how valuable it is to get away, get out and get in to it and stay quietly, still enough to the place completely, to see what it is like without you...t.o.d.

- Todd Derkacz, SMGA Board President

Supermoon this May 5, 2012

Skywatchers take note: The biggest full moon of the year is due to arrive this weekend.
The moon will officially become full Saturday at 11:35 p.m. EDT. And because this month's full moon coincides with the moon's perigee — its closest approach to Earth — it will also be the year's biggest.
The moon will swing in 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) from our planet, offering skywatchers a spectacular view of an extra-big, extra-bright moon, nicknamed a supermoon.
And not only does the moon's perigee coincide with the full moon this month, but this perigee will be the nearest to Earth of any this year, as the distance of the moon's close approach varies by about 3 percent, according to meteorologist Joe Rao, Space.com's skywatching columnist. This happens because the moon's orbit is not perfectly circular. Read More...

Several Big Cat Sightings

Photo Courtesy of the City of San Marcos
There was a bobcat sighting on Lisa Lane on April 5, and what Animal Control thinks is the same bobcat was caught at the Frost Bank on Wonderworld Drive in San Marcos on April 12. It was released in a remote part of Purgatory Creek Natural Area. Another newspaper published a photo a resident on Belvin St. took of a bobcat on their shed roof. 

In addition there have been reports of mountain lion in the Onion Creek area. Originally native to the Texas Hill Country and beyond, the cougars were killed off by the 1960's in the area. Their populations have started to migrate back towards the land. Each individual cat can have a huge range. Some worry about the dangers of the animals, but cougar attacks in Texas are very rare.

We must be aware of these animals, and work to protect greenspace in our ever-growing city, in order to provide habitat and live in harmony with them. They are majestic creatures and can help to keep a balance in our local ecosystem as a top predator.

Falling Aquifer Level Triggers Stage 1 Water Restrictions

Dry Earth, Courtesy of TPWD
The City of San Marcos will enter Stage 1 water restrictions on Monday, April 23 as the Edwards Aquifer continues to decline due to insufficient rain and high aquifer demand.

Stage 1, which limits lawn watering to once a week on designated days and other restrictions, will take effect on Monday, April 23, 2012 following the publication of a legal notice in a local newspaper.

“Even though we have experienced good rainfalls this winter and spring, it has not been enough to help the Edwards Aquifer recover from nearly two years of extreme drought conditions,” said Tom Taggart, Executive Director of Public Services.

He issued the order to implement Stage 1 Wednesday after the index well in San Antonio reached a daily level of 657.1 feet above sea level, bringing the 10 day average to 659.9.  The aquifer has been dropping at a rate of a foot or more a day recently.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority declared Stage 1 mandatory pumping reductions Wednesday for the San Antonio pool of the Edwards Aquifer. The City of San Antonio has already entered Stage 1 restrictions and the Uvalde Pool of the region is in Stage 2.

San Marcos and the San Antonio pool of the Edwards Aquifer enter the Stage 1 critical period affecting outdoor watering, car washing, swimming pools and other uses when one of three conditions occurs over a 10-day rolling average:

  1. The Edwards Aquifer falls below 660 feet on a 10-day rolling average at the J-17 index well in San Antonio 
  2. San Marcos springflow drops below 96 cubic feet per second (cfs)  
  3. Comal Springs in New Braunfels fall below 225 cfs  

San Marcos spring flows were recorded at 216 cfs and Comal springs at 276 cfs on Wednesday.

The Edwards Aquifer, the underground source of water for more than 2 million Central Texans, also produces the San Marcos and Comal Rivers. The region was under drought restrictions for much of 2011, beginning in April last year and reaching Stage 2 restrictions in the summer.

San Marcos draws about 20% of its annual water supply from the Edwards Aquifer and 80% from surface water from Canyon Lake.

Stage 1 Water Restrictions

  • Waste of water is prohibited.
  • Irrigation with sprinklers and automatic sprinkler irrigation systems is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday between the hours of midnight to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight.  The designated weekday is as follows:

Monday for addresses ending in 0 or 1.
Tuesday for addresses ending in 2 or 3.
Wednesday for addresses ending in 4 or 5.
Thursday for addresses ending in 6 or 7.
Friday for addresses ending in 8 or 9.

Upon written request to the conservation coordinator, customers may designate an alternate watering day, although sprinkling is allowed only one day a week.

  • Hand watering and irrigating with a soaker hose or drip irrigation system is allowed any day and any time.  Hand watering must be done using either a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose equipped with a positive shutoff device.
  • At-home car washing is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday, and must be done using either a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose equipped with a positive shutoff device.
  • Swimming pools located outdoors must have at least 25% of the water surface area covered when not in use.
  • Filling of new decorative water features is prohibited.
  • Washing of impervious surfaces is prohibited unless required for health and safety use.
  • Foundation watering is allowed any day and at any time.
  • Restaurants are allowed to serve water only upon request.  
  • All other non-essential water uses must be is limited.   

The San Marcos ordinance has four critical stages based on the severity of drought conditions. Aquifer users in the San Antonio pool are required by the Edwards Aquifer Authority to reduce pumping by 20% in Stage 1.

Those violating the restrictions are subject to criminal penalties ranging from $100 to $2,000 and civil penalties up to $1,000. 

For information about current drought status and rules, please visit the website at http://www.sanmarcostx.gov/water/ or call Jan Klein, Conservation Coordinator, at (512) 393-8310.  Aquifer levels and springflow conditions are published daily on the EAA website at www.edwardsaquifer.org

New Park Rules Ordinace Approved

The controversial new park rules were approved by the City Council on Tuesday May 1st. While the ban on alcohol got the most press, there are many other aspects to the rule changes, such as a ban on polystyrene coolers and cups, smoking, and increases in fines for littering. The rules will go into effect in January 2013. Most of these rule changes effect activities that take place in the river side parks.

Big Issues on Table at Community Open House: Zoning Strategies, Park Rules and LDC

San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance encourages its followers to attend this event and voice your thoughts on these important topics. From the City of San Marcos:
San Marcos residents, organizations and interest groups will have the chance to voice their opinions on Interim Zoning Strategies, Park Rules and Land Development Code/ Smart Code changes at a day-long, come and go open house on Wednesday, April 18, 10 am - 7 pm at the Activity Center. The open house will focus on:
1. Developing Zoning Strategies—especially where multi-family zoning is appropriate in San Marcos--over the next several months while the new Comprehensive Plan is being developed?
2. What park rules should the City Council adopt to improve safety, enjoyment and environmental protection at City of San Marcos parks and natural areas? Should alcohol be allowed?
3. What amendments to the Land Development Code, San Marcos SmartCode and Architectural Standards should be considered by Planning & Zoning and the City Council?
See more...

Prospect Park Gets Some Good Advice

Botanist and neighbor, Minnette Marr, took members of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance on a walking tour of Prospect Park, a 45 acre section of Purgatory Creek Natural Area, to discuss plant diversity, invasives, and water quality. This is the third time she has donated her expertise to advising the membership the direction we need to go.

Minnette Marr talks about the importance
of opening up the area around the karst features.
The two-hour hike consisted of progress made since last year's Bobcat Build when Inge's Bench and Metz Bench were opened and viewsheds were established for visitors. The small meadow with prickly pear cactus were examined for evidence of native grasses taking hold. Unfortunately, no new grasses had established themselves.

Much of the ligustrum (glossy privet) was cut down and opened up new areas around the two karst features. A new karst feature was located following the 6+" rain of January 25th, 2012. More light into the area allows native plants and grasses to take hold and send more rainwater into the Edward's Aquifer.

Future rains will also be the focus of projects for this year's Bobcat Build as new water bars will be constructed over the ADA trail and divert the flow from the trail to the ground. Repairs from the beneficial rains will also encourage more retention of the water and less run-off.

The wetlands area had three active ponds that are graced with numerous wildflower borders. Bluebonnets once again are prominent in the meadows that Limbo Loop and Virgil's Trail transverse. Further evidence can be found at Steve's Bench and bur oak planted in his memory.
Marilyn Brister checks out the Ashe juniper 
surrounded by coral honeysuckle, hackberry, 
prickly pear, and other plant.
A row of bois d'arc or osage orange trees follow the trail to the Learning Tree. It looks promising that the seven trees will take hold and provide shade from the summer sun. An ashe juniper tree is surrounded by a dozen different plants and adds to the knowledge database.

Further down the trail Mexican plum trees were planted to encourage birds and small mammals to feed on the fruit of the tree. Work on the meadow kiosk and two wildlife viewing stands were also discussed in the trail visit. 

Prospect Park, as part of the larger 463 acres of Purgatory Creek Natural Area, is a microcosm of what is natural and what is introduced into the landscape. Previous use as a grazing area for cattle and goats and the use of invasive species as landscape plantings farther up the watershed cause issues and requires thoughtful resolution. The opportunity presented by having a large workforce available, even if just for a day, makes an impact for years to come. We are fortunate to have the advice and guidance of a local resident to preserve these areas and provide learning opportunities for future generations. The University program allows for strong backs and young spirits to enjoy community service.