Trail Runners and Volunteers Needed February 23rd

The Purgatory Trail Run sponsored by Core Running of San Marcos is happening on Sunday, February 23 at 9 AM. This event was a blast last year and Dave Moody, owner/operator of Core Running, the shoe store on the square, donated proceeds to SMGA. The race will be a 5K and 10 mile run throughout Purgatory Creek Natural Area beginning at the parking lot on Hunter Road.

We will need volunteers to keep runners on track as they approach intersections of various trails. Volunteers could bring a light camp chair and binoculars for the in between times and enjoy the peace of Nature as well as do a great turn for SMGA.

If you are a runner and want to sign up check out athleteguild signup
If you would like to volunteer send an email to or swing by the store and to check in to the even or check out the excellent shoes and expertise they provide.

"Daylighting" Streams In Big Cities, A Lesson For This Little City

San Marcos is a well-positioned small city.  Bigger, older cities are figuring out the hard way what they did wrong when they were smaller and growing. We get to watch and learn without the expense of fixing the mistakes or losing what sometimes cannot be recovered.

I heard Ann Thompson’s three minute feature on Nation Public Radio on January 21st . She describes a process underway in large cities of “daylighting” long hidden streams. It has been happening in Cincinnati, Seattle and many other large cities. Streams that had been buried in underground vaults are now being opened up and allowed to breathe, grow vegetation and become vital elements in the urban landscape.  The people in the area are discovering that there is a wide spectrum of benefits to letting streams be streams. The neighbors and the city in general enjoy positive economic, environmental, recreational, social impacts to name a few.
Big cities in Texas are no exception as many streams and rivers have been channelized or encased in concrete or otherwise abused in Dallas, Houston, and even Austin. If San Antonio, a city who had some savvy visionaries a few decades ago, had known a century earlier that their river could be a key focal point for their economy perhaps they would not have built to its edge, perhaps they would have ensured the quality of its water. San Antonio has really come a long way in the last 10 years and is now aggressively preserving the downstream and upstream portions of the San Antonio River and its creeks where they can still be secured. Unfortunately they cannot undo some the permanent obstructions to their greenways. Some overpasses, culverts and wide highways grew up before they realized the value of those ‘ditches’, otherwise their system might truly be world class. In nearly every case they could have provided structures that would go over the creeks leaving plenty of room for people and nature to connect continuously through their city. 

San Marcos does not have to learn the hard way, we can learn from their mistakes.  The Greenway plan that SMGA proposed during the master planning process of 2011-12 recognizes what big cities are just now realizing, that our creeks and rivers are valuable assets with tremendous potential to add value to many parts of our city’s life and livelihood. Now is the time to reserve those places and let them grow and mature as our city grows and matures. But we are just beginning to put in place what is needed to ensure these greenways are protected and saved for the future.

The City of San Marcos has already taken measures to ensure connectivity and vegetation along Willow Creek as it seeks to reduce flooding in the Victory Garden neighborhood. The new Guadalupe Street Bridge and the bridge to be built over Purgatory at Hunter will accommodate biped facilities. 

As we begin to write the land development codes and grow our infrastructure we will need to be vigilant and insistent. The hard learned lessons of those bigger older cities will only be of benefit to us if we don’t make the same mistakes. 

You can stream Ann Thompson’s feature at this link:

Todd Derkacz, President

Thoughtful Note From a Trail Walker

On the day of our annual meeting one of our members, Bob Holder, wrote a very nice piece to the San Marcos Area Trail Walkers, a MeetUp group that Bob founded and that has ballooned into one of the healthiest, happiest groups I know. They hike our natural areas regularly. Here is the text Bob wrote:

The bigger picture

 Those of us Trail Walkers who attended the [annual] board meeting of the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance today learned something: we are the beneficiaries of a powerful alliance of San Marcians. This alliance has a proud history and it operates wisely and efficiently to preserve and maintain the hiking trails we regularly use. Some of us walkers in attendance already understood this.

Although we Trail Walkers want to network and support the outdoor mission in San Marcos, we are very much the junior partners in this coalition. This effort to maintain natural areas is very much a coalition as there were members from other groups beside the Greenbelt Alliance at this board meeting. As upstarts and junior members, it would be good for us to become aware of the system already in place and understand that we cannot remain just beneficiaries; we must start doing our part. The natural areas in San Marcos can be viewed as a gift for us to enjoy but, when the real picture is seen, we realize that we have an obligation. We must give as well as take.

My recommendations is that we hikers:
Seek other opportunities to network with members of this coalition

Slowly become aware of the nature of the alliance and coalition in place

Begin to appreciate the work done in our behalf

Investigate the webpage of the SM Greenbelt Alliance

Join, if you have the means, the Greenbelt Alliance

Eventually, I recommend that we:

Become aware of other organizations in this coalition (such as the San Marcos River Foundation, the San Marcos Healthy City Taskforce, and others)

Consider volunteering on the trail maintenance crew of the Greenbelt Alliance

Seek other opportunities to network with members of this coalition

Thanks Bob for those very kind and motivational words. It is people like you who make life here such a pleasure….t.o.d.