Just Two More Reasons Why We Do What We Do

One of the many functions of SMGA volunteers is to explain why it is beneficial to the community to conserve natural areas alongside the places we develop.  A complete response is a challenge because there are many advantages for many different interests and we are learning more about the advantages as time goes on. There are hard core economic, cost-benefit considerations as well as intangible but meaningful values from the beauty of natural landscapes.

Each individual will have his or her own perspective and prejudices. A preacher may cherish the place to be alone and connect with God's creation while the adventure runner may crave a place to be deep in concentration with each foot fall along the stoney tread while watching the stopwatch. There is the person who relaxes on the back porch watching the sunset over the trees or the person who might never set foot near a trail but is nevertheless grateful to breathe clean air and drink clean water.

Asking why we should keep some natural landscapes close to the places we build is similar to asking why should we have street lights, or libraries, or protections for the river. We may not need natural areas nearby to stay alive. But to have a good life in a thriving city you have to go beyond just putting pipes, paving and power lines on the landscape and include green spaces as part of a city's infrastructure. Below are two links noted under the heading of "one of many reasons to explain why" you might want to keep some natural areas intact and nearby.

First is a report on how a simple walk in a wild area can reduce "brain fatigue." It references a study featured in the New York Times.

The second link is about decline bird populations. Their survival is challenged by plate glass, high rise buildings, cell towers and cats. But the real culprit? Habitat loss.

Two of the many reasons we are passionate about what we do at SMGA. As more come to our attention we will share them with you. [Thank you Lance for the lead on the bird story and Thank you Betsy for the Treehugger link...t.o.d]

Trail Work on the PCNA

Beatrice re-done
Thursday morning regulars
  Your Thursday morning trail crew has been busy working re-routes and erosion controls these last couple of weeks on the Purgatory Creek Natural Area.  More specifically, on Beatrice, Ovid and Dante's trails. The area above the flood control dam east of Summit Ridge is a maze of renegade trails and incursions onto private property.
  This is also an area of frequent complaints about hikers losing their way and getting turned around.  The trails made by frequent users but not shown on the Greenbelt Alliance's maps were often crossing private property, another source of complaints, and failed to meet trail design standards for erosion mitigation.
  Some of problems have been resolved but additional work remains.  Unfortunately, summer heat is edging toward triple digits and high humidity. Another constraint on the trail crew is the need to perform maintenance on the other natural areas that are benefiting from Spring rains coupled with a history of drought causing trees to shed limbs or completely collapse.

  Please respect the blocked trails.  The reasons are often erosion controls or private property. New/revised maps will be created once the work is completed later this year.

PCNA map link:

Photo link:

Tonight's Council Agenda: Item 27, Purgatory Creek Expansion

The board of directors and members of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance strongly urge the San Marcos City Council to support Item 27 of the council meeting agenda for 18 June 2013. This item provides a rare opportunity to expand Purgatory Creek Natural Area with zero funds required from the city's budget. Funding for the expansion of the acreage, currently known as the Barker Tract, will be paid for by The Trust for Public Lands with a $148,000 contribution and, upon approval, $1,242,209 from grant funds. This parcel offers many values to our community, including protecting our water resources, habitat, flood reduction,  recreation opportunities, and economy.

Please let City Council know that you support Item 27 of tonight's agenda, in support of the Purgatory Creek Natural Area expansion.

You can email city council at

Schulle Canyon is site of June birding hike

Stephen Ramirez and birders
  We are fortunate to have a variety of natural areas located around the City.  Each property differs in size, features and trails.  This means a variety of birds to view at each park.
  June 1st Stephen Ramirez led a group of us out Virginia Witte Way and back on Warbler Way.  Highlights of the hour-and-a-half walk were a Summer Tanager, a Yellow Billed Cuckoo, who sat for admiring looks from each of us, and a pair of Chickadees in aerial sparring just feet from our view on the trail.  The usual suspects of wrens, cardinals, titmice, vireos and others were also noted and observed.
  Recent rains have greatly enhanced the vegetation and colors in the 21 acres which led to  spotting a toad enjoying his private pool of water in the base of a tree. 
More photos at