Calling all artists -- enduring art project

City of San Marcos and Texas State University Launch Public Art Competition to Protect Rivers

The City of San Marcos and Texas State University are sponsoring an art competition seeking a design for storm drain manhole covers that will be installed on all new City-owned storm drains.

The contest is intended to raise awareness of water quality issues and the impact that pollutants, dumped into city storm drains, can cause to the San Marcos River and other tributaries.  Stormwater pollution, such as oil from roads and parking lots, lawn fertilizer, pet waste, cigarette butts and construction sediment, directly impacts our rivers, wildlife, and quality of life.
PUBLIC ART - The City of San Marcos and Texas State University will initiate a design contest for stormwater manhole covers, similar to the contest completed by the City of Springfield, MO, to educate the community about stormwater pollution. (Photo courtesy of City of Springfield, MO)
  “This art contest is an innovative way to engage and educate our community about the impacts of pollutants in our storm drains,” said Sabas Avila, Assistant Director of Public Services-Transportation. “Public art is a great way to spread this message.”

The contest is open to people who live, work, or attend school in San Marcos, including Texas State students. Contestants’ designs should be uniquely created for San Marcos and show how protecting our local waters begins at the storm drain. Designs should be original, black-and-white art that fits in a six-to eight-inch circle.   

Designs will be accepted until Nov. 1, 2013.  A panel of judges will select the top four winning designs based on the relevance to the intended water quality message and on overall appearance.

 For more information, contact Shawn Wolfshohl at the City of San Marcos Transportation Division, 512.393.8036 or Texas State University Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management Department, 512.245.3616.

Full contest rules, entry forms and information can be found at

Reprinted from the City of San Marcos, TX website --  Trey Hatt

CommunicationsSpecialist, 512.393.8242

9th Annual Naturescapes

Sponsored by the Hill Country Photography Club and Hays County Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists the contest was open to resident and visiting photographers of all ages. The unique beauty and value of green spaces in San Marcos inspired the first Naturescapes Photography Contest, 9 years ago, this year, photographers were encouraged to roam farther afield to natural areas throughout Hays, Blanco, Comal, Guadalupe, Caldwell, and Travis Counties.   

c Zarella Michael
Goals of the contest and exhibit include increasing public awareness of the importance of protecting our natural world and giving photographers at all levels of experience a chance to capture, share, and receive recognition for beautiful and inspiring images.   This year 186 entries were submitted and 60 selected.  A $100 prize will be awarded for Best in Show, $75 for the best Youth Category photo, and $75 for the best Natural Waterscape photo. Up to four $50 Awards of Excellence will be presented for the next most outstanding photographs. Additional Awards of Merit will be presented at the discretion of the contest juror.

This year's contest juror was Texas Parks & Wildlife Department staff photographer, Chase Fountain. His photography has been featured in many publications including National Geographic Explorer Traveler, Men's Journal, Tide, Prime, Texas Highways and Texas Monthly as well as the Associated Press. He graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Applied arts and Sciences degree specializing in photojournalism and fine art photography. 
To complement the Naturescape exhibit, the Hill Country Photography Club sponsors an annual "exhibit within the exhibit' . — best entries from their member photographers submissions in response to a theme.  This year's theme is "Icons" and the entries cover a lot of territory.  From the ubiquitous Golden Arches in the sunset  to the Broken Spoke, the Golden Gate Bridge to the Statue of Liberty and iconic cultural images far beyond.  

c Scott Mitchell
Elusive dragonflies and hummingbirds flitting through  color-filled moments of wild grass and flowers—Naturescapes reminds us of nature's fragile freshness. Portraits of ancestor trees and spanning vistas— Naturescapes reminds us of  nature's commitment through generations.

The public is invited to attend the reception and awards ceremony for the 9th Annual "Naturescapes" Photography Contest and "Icons" exhibition Saturday, September 21, 5-7 p.m. at the Walkers' Gallery in the San Marcos Activity Center.  The Wimberley Friends of Music will provide musical entertainment.

Exhibits at the Walkers' Gallery are sponsored by the San Marcos Area Arts Council and the City of San Marcos with support from the San Marcos Arts Commission.

-- Linda Kelsey-Jones

What a difference a year makes!

July 6, 2012

July 31, 2013
SMGA's second trail crew focus is on invasives and dominant natives. What does that mean to you the trail user?  Have you noticed how some plants seem to crowd-out others? How few wildflowers there are when you expect to see them?
  Led by Donna Browning and a team of volunteers worked several of the natural areas.
  Many hours were spent at Ringtail Ridge natural area off Old Ranch Road 12 between Crestwood Shopping Center and  Dakota Ranch Apartments. Last Spring bastard cabbage, also known as mustard, rose to a height of four feet and crowded out many of the grasses and wildflowers that do not grow as tall. Because invasives dominate native plants are often crowded out.
  A second, more ambitious attack plan was the removal of an excess of prickly pear cactus at the Ringtail natural area. Notice in the two photos the area directly behind the kiosk. Two large stands of cactus were removed by the trail crew.
  Invasives at Ringtail include chinaberry, Johnson grass, King Ranch bluestem, horehound and cockleberry to name only a few.  Then ther is the native prickly pear cactus and abundance of mesquite trees.
  The removal of the invasives is a long process that will take years to yield results.  The photos above highlight only a small section of the 45 acres at Ringtail Ridge.  Larger natural areas have different issues with invasives and are similarly being removed.
  Prospect Park, part of the larger Purgatory Creek natural area, has been the focus of our collaboration with Bobcat Build over the past years.  (Stories about the removal of ligustrum from around the karst features can be found on this blog.)
  It is not just about the removal of non-native plants and the damage they do but also about the seeding and planting of native grasses and wildflowers.  During this drought period we have not see the results of our efforts but given the rains at the right time we should be rewarded in the future.  If you would like to volunteer for this crew contact  The crew schedule is more flexible and usually works weekends. --LJ

Eight of an army of volunteers that worked at Ringtail to remove invasives.  (l. to r.) Barbara Jordan, Anne Child, Donna Browning (hiding), Mark Taylor, Ben Taylor, Leah Laszewski, Jo Ellen Korthals, and Lance Jones. [Feb. 17, 2013]

Bird Walk 7:15 am at the Nature Center

  This Saturday marks the second anniversary of bird walks in the natural areas and along the San Marcos River and Spring Lake. Stephen Ramirez has led us to some amazing sights as we watched a pair of hawks mate in the trees above the river, numerous warblers and other song birds along Purgatory Creek and even a rough green snake in a tree at Spring Lake natural area.
  Since it's so hot we are shooting (pun intended) for a little cooler temperatures along the San Marcos River and under the shade of the cypress and pecan trees that line the river. Park along Riverside Drive across from Herbert's Tacos.
  More information at
  Hope to see you on the trails! Bring your binoculars and cameras.

Hawk viewing March 3, 2012

Along the river restoration August 3, 2013

Spring Lake natural area April 7, 2013

Dante's Trail June 2012

Purgatory Creek Natural Area December  2012