Annual Volksmarch set for this weekend in San Marcos

  The San Marcos River Walkers play host to a Volksmarch Saturday, February 28, 2015.  The local chapter of the American Volkssport Association anticipates more than 100 walkers will participate.  The chilly forecast will not stop the hardy walkers from around Central Texas as they walk for fun, fitness and friendship. 
   Starting at Dunbar Park, 801 Martin Luther King Drive, San Marcos, the first 5K leads to Prospect Park past karst features, woods of live oak and ashe juniper and a meadow. The heritage “Learning Tree” and stargazing circle are also sites on the walk. 
   The second 5K continues into Purgatory Creek natural area up a small hill that fronts a flood control dam and winds into hill country landscape of mesquite, prickly pear cactus and grasses. Most of the trail is single-track dirt under shade. Some rock covers the trail and a walking stick is a handy tool.  Start time is 8 am to 11 am and finish by 2 pm there is a $3 registration fee.

Annual Meeting Recap

SMGA once again hosted a successful annual meeting with 75 people in attendance.  We celebrated our many successes, especially the continuing expansion of Purgatory Creek Natural Area. We look forward to a year of more growth and improvement in both our natural areas and our community support!

Hays County Master Naturalists was awarded the Hiking Stick award for their dedication and devotion to the natural areas. We would not be as successfully without their ongoing stewardship and focus on the ecological conservation of the natural areas.

Ann Jensen received our Volunteer of the Year award. "Everyone who has participated with her on the Board, and now on the Conservation Committee, knows how well she balances creativity with analysis and organization. Ann dreams like the best of us, then she gets the dream done!"

Congratulations to our award winners.

Hiking Stick Award - Hays County Master Naturalists (accepted by Art Azipe)

Volunteer of the Year Award - Ann Jensen

Ann Jensen, Earth Day 2008

Update: Purgatory Needs Your Help

Wildenthal Tract Update

The Wildenthal tract is at the San Marcos City Council on Monday, February 23, and with the executive session at the Hays County Commissioners Court agenda (item 19) on Tuesday, February 24th. This is a rare opportunity to conserve additional acres in Purgatory Creek Natural Area. This parcel is a key link in the greenbelt connections around the city and to the hundreds of acres of the county's conservation and park land (not shown on this map) to be created over the coming year. Do your part to create a lasting legacy and conserve the beauty in San Marcos.

Please contact your San Marcos City Council members at and especially your County Commissioners, contact information here.

More info at the Purgatory Needs Your Help, Jan 19, 2015

New Membership Rates Effective March 1st

Have you renewed your SMGA membership? Do it before March 1st, and renew at the old rates. For new membership rate information, please read below. You can renew at

NEW Membership Levels
Bootstrap $10 + 10 volunteer hours
Senior $25
Individual $35
Family $45
Lifetime $500

Small Bus. $125 (up to 25 employees)
Med. Bus. $250 (26-50 employees)
Large Bus. $500 (51+ employees)

Evergreen $1,000 annually

Don’t miss the 30th Annual Great Texas River Cleanup March 7

The City of San Marcos is calling on volunteers to register for the 30th Annual Great Texas River Cleanup on March 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and help make it the biggest cleanup in the event’s history.

Those who would like to participate in the upper San Marcos portion of the annual cleanup (Sewell Park to Stokes Park) should visit and select one of the five available watershed locations or contact Amy Kirwin at512.393.8407 or

To participate in the lower San Marcos River portion (Stokes Park to the Guadalupe River), contact Tom Goynes at512.787.5574 for more information.

For the past 30 years, the Texas River Protection Association has coordinated volunteers to clean the entire 90 miles of the San Marcos River by picking up trash as they walk the banks and canoe down the river.

This year, the City of San Marcos is expanding coverage in the upper San Marcos River watershed by coordinating efforts of an expected 500 volunteers in five groups in and along the creeks, tributaries and upper San Marcos River from Sewell Park to Stokes Park.

Watershed locations and headquarters ( 

Purgatory Creek- 800 S. Stagecoach Trl.
Sessoms Creek- 151 Sessom Dr.
Sink Creek- 1600 N. LBJ Dr,
Willow Creek- 320 Mariposa St.
San Marcos River- 170 Charles Austin Dr.

On cleanup day, volunteers will gather at the watershed location they chose at 9 a.m., sign in, meet up with their team leaders and receive supplies and instructions. All volunteers will be provided with a free t-shirt, lunch and Frisbee in appreciation of their cleanup efforts.

The event could not happen without wonderful donors: Sur-Powr, Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, Texas State University- Environmental Services Committee, L&L Portables, Greater San Marcos Partnership, H.E.B., the San Marcos Lions Club and Green Guy Recycling.

The cleanup event is sponsored by the Texas Rivers Protection Association, City of San Marcos, Keep San Marcos Beautiful, Habitat Conservation Plan, and Texas State University.

For more information, call Amy Kirwin at 512.393.8407 or email Stay updated with the Annual Great River Clean Up by liking the Facebook page (

Expanded parking lots offer relief to finding a spot

Direction to Valencia parking
            It's tough when you're loved too much. At least that was what was happening at several of our natural areas. On a beautiful Spring-like day parking at Purgatory Creek Natural Area was so crowded that folks were blocking other trail users into their spots.

New parking lot on Lime Kiln Road

The City of San Marcos manages five natural areas around the city and strives to insure safe access to one of the top amenities for residents and visitors. Blanco Shoals, Purgatory Creek Natural Area, Ringtail Ridge, Schulle Canyon and Spring Lake Preserve are growing in popularity and nowhere is that more evident than the parking lots.

The Parks and Recreation Department worked the winter months expanding the existing parking spaces to double the number of vehicles being accommodated.  Jimmy Venable led 15 Parks workers in three crews who graded and cleared the spaces at three of the most popular natural areas; Spring Lake, Purgatory Creek at Hunter and Valencia (formerly Craddock). At the Lime Kiln trailhead they built a wooden rail fence and a shelter for an ADA-sized port-a-potty.
If the parking lot is muddy at any of the natural areas turn around, the trail is too, and using the trails after a big rain will only cause damage.
Purgatory Creek parking at Valencia
Bert Stratemann, Parks Operations Manager said, "These lots have already proven to be very popular and are a much needed improvement over the previous lots. We have straightened the boundaries and added defined parking spaces, along with the added space. In all areas we are identifying no parking zones for access of emergency vehicles. It is important to note that once signage is in place towing will be enforced."
            Now hikers, mountain bikers, birders, trail runners and other users can expect a better chance of finding parking -- unless the wildflowers are in full bloom!

   Blanco Shoals Natural Area 80 acres, 0 trails
    # River Ridge Parkway   # spaces       Note: unimproved trails, borders Blanco River 

 Purgatory Creek Natural Area: (600+ acres, 10 trails, 9.4 miles of trail)
      1751 Valencia                # spaces   Note: caliche road, cattle guard
      2102 Hunter Road      # spaces   Note: most popular trailhead, water fountain
      1414 Prospect Street   # spaces   Note: neighborhood, do not block driveways

  Ringtail Ridge Natural Area (45 acres, 5 trails, 2.5 miles, includes .5 ADA trail)
   # Old Ranch Road 12     Approx. 30 spaces   Note: caliche road between Dakota Ranch and Crestwood

  Schulle Canyon   (21 acres, 3 trails, .86 miles, includes .43 mile ADA trail)
   100 Ridgewood Lane       8 spaces         Note: additional parking off Joshua Street

Spring Lake Natural Area   (251 acres, 9 trails, 4.225 miles, including .9 ADA trail)
   921 Aquarena Springs Drive,   # spaces    Note: Meadow Center parking fee M-F
   685 Lime Kiln Road                   18 spaces   Note: port-a-potty    
   #  N. LBJ                                       4 spaces   Note: Hillside Ranch II apartments trail head being developed

If you enjoy the new parking be sure and let the mayor and city council know by writing them at 

Birding at Stokes Park

The monthly birding hike was held at Stokes Park on Cape Street in San Marcos. Since it is a heavily wooded area many of the birds sighted were in the leafless trees that border the San Marcos River. The February 7th hike was notable for the sighting of a Black-throated warbler in the woods.  Absent were the expected wading birds -- egrets and herons which are often sighted along this stretch of the river. Ten of us enjoyed the opportunity to bird in a different location. Colton Robbins provided the list of birds we were able to view.
Stephen, Colton and Richard at Capes Camp
-- LJ

2015 Feb 7 Stokes Park/Capes Camp

22 species total
Double-crested Cormorant
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
White-winged Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
American Crow
Carolina Chickadee
Black-crested Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Northern Mockingbird
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler _Continuing male
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
American Goldfinch