March Birding Hike at Blanco Shoals

   Wet, drizzly and chilly marked our bird walk at Blanco Shoals Natural Area. Stephen Ramirez and Colton Robbins (bird list and photos) take us on an hour's adventure the first Saturday of each month. Each time we are rewarded with something new and different. This time, in addition to all the great birds we saw there were three feral hogs across the Blanco River foraging for food and routing up the river bank.
Feral hogs on the riverbank
This time the 14 of us were also joined by Gabby Cole, an excellent birder and graduate student in biology.  She also leads the monthly bug walks sponsored by SMGA. Both bird and bug walks have their own Facebook pages -- San Marcos B__ Walk.
   We're in the sixth year of the monthly bird walks started September 3, 2011 by Stephen Ramirez and have been going strong. Both men were recognized as the Volunteer of the Year in 2015 for introducing the community to birding in Central Texas.

Carolina Chickadee (c Colton Robbins) 
Red-bellied Woodpecker (c Colton Robbins)
Hermit Thrush singing (c Colton Robbins)
San Marcos- Blanco Shoals Greenspace, Hays, Texas, US
Mar 4, 2017 7:05 AM - 8:23 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.75 mile(s)
Comments:     55 degrees. Overcast, drizzling at times. No wind.
31 species

Great Egret  2
Black Vulture  5
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3
Mourning Dove  10
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
White-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  2
American Crow  1
Barn Swallow  4
Carolina Chickadee  6
Black-crested Titmouse  2
Brown Creeper  1
House Wren  1
Carolina Wren  4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Eastern Bluebird  2
Hermit Thrush  1     Singing
European Starling  5
Cedar Waxwing  20
Yellow-rumped Warbler  5
Chipping Sparrow  2
Savannah Sparrow  3
Lincoln's Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  8
Red-winged Blackbird  14
Great-tailed Grackle  11
House Finch  1

View this checklist online at

San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance

Annual Meeting, Minutes
02/12/2017, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, City Park Rec Hall, San Marcos, TX


The meeting was called to order at approximately 3:40 pm by Vice - President Bill Adams.   He introduced the board members who were present (Mark Taylor, Sherwood Bishop, Phillip Quast, Anna Huff, Lance Jones and Paul Murray).  Bill also thanked the Bluebonnet Lions for providing the food and beverages.  He introduced various VIPs in attendance:  Mayor John Thomaides; Council Members Jane Hughson, Lisa Prewitt and Ed Mihalkanin; PARD Board Members Paul Murray, Bridgett Phillips and Mary Seaborne; Edwards Aquifer Authority Board Member Pat Stroka; and Urban Forester Kelly Eby.  Later in the meeting HCP Manager Melani Howard and Keep San Marcos Beautiful Manager Amy Kirwin were also introduced.  The ongoing and supportive work of the San Marcos River Foundation was also acknowledged.

Bill invited everyone to eat and drink and to take a look at the posters around the room which provided information about our budget, accomplishments, mission, bylaws, etc.


Brandon Ross spoke to SMGA members
Mark Taylor introduced our special guest speaker Brandon Ross who works for the City of San Antonio Parks Department.  Mr. Ross is in charge of planning and developing a linear creek-side trail system that is currently 63 miles long and which has 45 additional miles in the planning stage.  The trail system is funded through a special 1/8th cent sales tax which is authorized and re-authorized by the voters from time to time.  The program has been very successful and popluar.  Our membership had many interesting questions for Mr. Ross.  For additional excellent information about similar programs, Mr. Ross recommended the website.


Mark Taylor convened the business portion of our meeting at 4:35 pm.  First he introduced Sherwood Bishop who provided a financial report which indicated that our revenues in 2016 were higher than our expenditures and that the finances of the organization were sound.

Mark gave a quick run-down of our accomplishments for the year of which the Greenways and Trails Masterplan work was a highlight.  Mark also told of a very generous donation to SMGA made by David and Lane Jones in memory of Victor Ortiz. Mark introduced the Ortiz family who were in attendance.  Mark also reported the wonderful volunteer-led walks going on in our greenbelts and the hard work done by the volunteer trail crew.
Dick McBride (l.) is recognized as the Volunteer of the Year


Mark outlined two proposed bylaws changes and their justifications.  The first expanded the size of the board from 9 to 11 members and clarified that the officers are elected by the board members. Jane Hughson moved approval, Charlie O’Neil seconded, and it was approved unanimously.  The second bylaws change involved clarifying meeting, agenda, and voting requirements for the board.  Amy Kirwin moved approval, Betsy Robertson seconded, and these changes were approved unanimously. 


Mark acknowledged the work of outgoing board members Bill Adams, Charlotte Wattigny and Melissa Nicewarner Daly.    Bill and Mark served as a nominating committee for new board members.  Bill introduced the following slate of new board nominees:  Anna Huff (returning for a full term), Diane Phalen, Scott Henize, Toby Hooper, and Susan Hansen.  Diane Wassenich moved approval of the entire slate, Amy Kirwin seconded, and all nominees were approved by a unanimous vote of the members.


Anna Huff presented the Walking Stick to Bob Holder



Outreach Committee member Anna Huff presented this year’s Walking Stick award to Bob Holder for his leadership of the San Marcos Area Trail Walkers group which now numbers over 500 members. 


Outreach committee chairman Lance Jones presented the Volunteer of the Year award to Dick Mcbride who has thrown himself into trail work and many other volunteer activities during the 8 years that he has been in San Marcos. 


Mark alerted members to the very important Greenways and Trails Masterplan which will be adopted by the city this year. Please get involved in the public input portions of this important plan. Also SMGA has many opportunities for volunteer involvement – trail work, outreach, fundraising, etc.  Please get involved, follow us on Facebook, etc.

Bluebonnet Lions once again provided the refreshments

The meeting was adjourned at 5:03 pm so that everyone could socialize and enjoy the good food and drinks provided by the Bluebonnet Lions.

(Text: Stephanie Langenkamp, Photos: Anna Huff and Dyhanara Rios)

New board members announced at annual meeting

SMGA Annual Meeting 2017
Introducing Newly Elected/Appointed Directors

Anna Huff was elected to a second 3-year term. As Communications Specialist for The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Anna is both passionate in her public relations practice and committed to inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards. Anna began her career at The Meadows Center in 2012 as a communications assistant, helping to increase the Center’s social media presence, and helping develop communications operations. She received a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Relations from Texas State in 2015. As a member of our Outreach Committee, Anna helps raise awareness about the work SMGA does to support greenways and trails in the San Marcos community. 

Elected to 3-year terms are Diane Phalen and Scott Henize. Diane and Scott are married. Diane has been running and riding on the trails in San Marcos since they were mostly deer trails. She also enjoys camping in Big Bend, riding her horses and fly fishing with Scott. When she's not playing or working outside, she's working as a podiatrist and has had a practice in San Marcos for 30 years. Diane works on the trail crew when her schedule permits.
Toby, Susan, Diane and Scott. Not pictured Anna and Stephanie

Scott Henize was raised camping and enjoying the outdoors as soon as he could walk. He had the great fortune of having parents who loved nature and raised all their children to be good stewards. He moved to Texas in the late 1980’s after serving in the Peace Corps and has been here ever since practicing psychotherapy. When he is not helping out with the SMGA trail crew, Scott enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, fly fishing and spending time with his animals.

Toby Hooper was elected to a 1-year term to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Bill Adams. Toby is a native Texan and has lived with his family in San Marcos for 16 years and loves the outdoors. He currently enjoys being a scout again by supporting his son's troop as a leader and hopes to develop the connection of SMGA's mission to the greater scouting community. He has worked in public health for thirteen years and sees a trail system as an essential part of a healthy community. Toby has also served on many local boards and commissions and looks forward to helping SMGA further its goals.   
SMGA Board 2017 Scott, Mark, Sherwood, Diane, Paul, Susan, Lance, Anna, Bill, Stephanie and Toby (not pictured Philip)
Susan Hanson was elected to a 3-year term in one of the newly created director positions. A resident of San Marcos since 1971, Susan is a longtime member of the English faculty at Texas State, where she teaches a variety of writing courses, including environmental writing and an honors course in nature writing. She also worked for almost 20 years as a newspaper journalist, and for 13 as the lay Episcopal chaplain at Texas State. Susan is the author of Icons of Loss and Grace: Moments from the Natural World, a collection of personal essays, and co-editor of What Wildness Is This: Women Write about the Southwest. She enjoys native plant gardening, canoeing, hiking, bird watching, and doing underwater photography while snorkeling in the San Marcos River. Susan is married, with a grown daughter and six-month-old granddaughter.   

Serving a 1-year term in the other newly created director position is Stephanie Langenkamp. Stephanie has been ably taking minutes of our monthly board meetings for two years.  She recently retired from the City of San Marcos where she served as director of the San Marcos Public Library for 32 years. She and her husband, Phillip, are avid river swimmers and spend most of their vacation time camping, hiking, and messing around beaches and rivers.  They have lived in the San Marcos area since 1977.