Newsletter for April 16, 2009
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In This Issue...
Texas State IT Fundraiser
Where on the Trail?
Volunteer Profile: Sheila
Naturescapes Photo Contest
Is Ramping Up
Thanks to You All for Help
With the Annual Meeting
SMGA Accomplished Much in 2008
Collaboration With TX State
(wee-sah-chee) blooms Photo by Todd Derkacz
State IT Fundraiser for SMGA
State University’s Information Technology division
selects a local nonprofit each year as the beneficiary
of their generous fundraising efforts. This year,
the division selected SMGA to receive the proceeds
from a fish and chicken tenders fry to be held
on Thursday, April 23 from 11:00-1:00 in the pavilion
behind the Lions tube rental. Tickets for the
luncheon cost $7.50 and are only available by
advanced purchase. Download a
flyer for the event and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or call Todd at 512-392-7457 to purchase your ticket.
Join us for a delicious lunch, live music by rising
star musician Albanie Falletta, and an opportunity
to further support SMGA.
Where on the Trail
idea where in a San Marcos natural area Lance
Jones took this photo? Check your answer at the
end of the newsletter.
left: Trail workers near the grotto in Purgatory
Creek Greenspace as viewed from the trail in upper
Above right: the trail crew makes good progress
one sunny Saturday in March.
Visit the Natural Areas page on our website http://www.smgreenbelt.org/SMNaturalAreas.htm
for two new maps (see links in the right panel
near the top of the page). The first map is of
San Marcos parks and greenspaces and was developed
by SMGA with financial assistance from the City
of San Marcos. The second is the long promised
map of trails in Purgatory Creek Greenspace developed
by Clint King.
Citizens continue to report problems in our natural
areas. We reported last month on a fire pit discovered
at Ringtail and dismantled by our trail crew.
The most recent problems include red paint tagging
the Inga rock at the entrance to Prospect Park,
a razor blade left in an armrest of a bench at
Schulle Canyon Greenspace, trucks driving in the
fire pit in lower
Purgatory Creek Greenspace behind the dam, people
parking on private property so
they can get to the illegal breech in the fence
at the bottom of Purgatory Creek, .22 target practice
in Ringtail, Wiccan altars constructed for nighttime
ceremonies in Schulle, the cleanly sawed off posts
of the display panel under the learning tree in
Prospect Park, and if that wasn’t enough someone
stole our pin flags marking a newly approved grotto
trail. Some “evidence” photos appear below.
Location TBA, 7:00-8:30 am
• Saturday 4/18 and 5/2
Upper Purgatory, 8:30-10:30 am (8:00
to receive location, directions, and last-minute
weather cancellations. Gloves, hard shoes,
eyewear required. Water bottle, long pants,
hat recommended. We supply tools and bug
Day Hike • Saturday,
Spring Lake Preserve, 10:00 am-Noon
Hike sponsored by SMGA and led by Master
Naturalists concluding in time to visit
the Earth Day exhibits at Aquarena Center.
This will be an interpretive hike for advanced
training hours for the Master Naturalists
as well as informative for the public. More
about Earth Day at Aquarena below.
Annual Naturescapes Photo Contest
Entries accepted April 1-July 6, 2009
Open to resident and visiting photographers
of all ages. Cash prizes for best in show,
best San Marcos area, and awards of excellence.
Lunch Fundraiser for SMGA •
Delicious fish fry or chicken tenders for
the benefit of SMGA. Tickets for the luncheon
cost $7.50 and are only available by advanced
Plant Sale • Saturday,
San Marcos Nature Center, 9:00 am-4:00
Contact Julie at 512-393-8448
Well Service Day •
Saturday, • 4/18
Jacob's Well Natural Area, 8:00 am-Noon
Work crews will join American Youth Works
volunteers to restore the land surrounding
Jacob's Well. Email email@example.com
for more information.
Cave Day • Sunday,
San Marcos River Foundation will be excavating
a cave to remove rocks and dirt placed in
the cave’s entrance to deter cattle. Bring
buckets and hand tools and wear sturdy shoes,
gloves, long sleeves, and dust masks or
bandanas to cover your nose and mouth.
• Tuesday, 4/21
San Marcos Nature Center, 6:15-8:00
Terri Loe will present uses and crafts with
herbs. Do you know which herbs keep flies
away? Or which herbs make the most delicious
teas? This will be a fun, interactive class!
Please register at the Parks and Recreation
office no later than Monday, April 20. Cost
is $3.00 per person. Ages 12 and up.
Day • Saturday, •
Aquarena Center, 12:00-6:00
This year’s event will include a blessing
of the springs, distinguished speakers,
educational booths, live music, regional
food and vendor booths, recreational activities,
and more! Glass-bottom kayak tours and $2
off of a glass-bottom boat tour with a contribution
of 10 aluminum cans. SMGA will have a booth
and could use volunteers for an hour or
two during the afternoon. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
if you can help.
Waste Collection •
Saturday, • 4/25
Bobcat Stadium parking lot,
8:00 am-3:00 pm
Dispose of personal electronic items in
a safe, secure and totally recyclable manner.
Volunteers needed: e-mail Ivana Flowers
Cinco de Mayo Celebration
Friday & Saturday, 5/1-2
Hays County Civic Center, San
The event features exciting live music and
entertainment, arts and crafts as well as
a downtown parade. Free. For more information,
contact (512) 353-VIVA or visit www.vivacincodemayo.org
Gardening • Tuesday,
San Marcos Nature Center, 6:00-7:00
Jennifer Matthews will be giving a presentation
on how to make your garden flourish this
spring and summer. Free demonstrations and
Manager’s Update/Chamber Breakfast
San Marcos Activity Center,
7:00 am breakfast, 7:30 presentation
City Manager Rick Menchaca will report on
his successes in his first year and what
he hopes to accomplish in the future. $10.00
if RSVP by 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 12; $12.50
after May 12.
truck in Purgatory; Center: tagged Inga rock; Right: sawed
SMGA’s email to San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department
describing the vandalism resulted in a meeting with the park
staff, new fencing and signage in key locations, and the adoption
of rules specifically for natural areas. Our park ranger and
the police department have also stepped up their patrols.
Of course if you witness acts of vandalism as you are out
in our local parks and greenspaces, report them immediately
by calling 393-8470 or 393-8426.
There may always be some kooky people who do things we may
never fully understand, but if those acts are fewer in the
future then a measure of success can be counted. We have achieved
a great deal and many visitors are enjoying the areas with
Work Volunteer Hours
Here’s some great news to help counter the bad news above:
a more complete tabulation of sign-in sheet data shows 621.5
hours spent building trails by SMGA volunteers in 2008. Adding
the trail work hours logged by John Griffis’ cadets, the total
comes to around 750 hours!
Walkabout With Master Naturalists
completed primitive path bridges at Ringtail Ridge
Master Naturalists are scheduled to hold a class at Ringtail
Ridge on Tuesday, April 14 from 6:00 PM to dusk. The class
will be challenged to address the health and management of
the meadows and enhance the wetland possibilities, while at
the same time minimizing visitor impacts.
and Wildlife Viewing Stands at Spring Lake Preserve
If you get to Spring Lake Preserve, take note of a kiosk going
up at the beginning of the trail just past the university’s
storage areas. Eagle Scout candidate Omar Rashad is working
with crews to build something similar to the Prospect kiosk
with guidance from SMGA. We recently walked with Melani Howard,
the city’s watershed protection manager, to identify locations
for wildlife viewing stands. Any bird watchers, hunters or
nature watchers with viewing stand design tips should contact
Melani or email@example.com
Preliminary reports show a great deal of work accomplished
at Upper Purgatory Greenspace. A full report and photos to
follow in our May newsletter.
Profile: Sheila Torres-Blank
asked outgoing board member Sheila Torres-Blank to tell us
a little bit about the many years she has spent in service
to SMGA. As you’ll read, Sheila’s contributions have been
invaluable and helped make our organization what it is today.
Thank you Sheila!
When did you first get involved in SMGA and why?
My initial involvement was motivated primarily by a selfish
desire to have trails in town. I was tired of always driving
an hour to go mountain biking. I already knew Todd so I started
tagging along for the morning trail work. At first the Thursday
morning trail group was just the two of us but eventually
word got out and we had picked up a group of a half dozen
or so regulars. I continue to be involved because it turns
out that designing trail and building trail are almost as
much fun as using it. And I'm not sure you can ever have too
are some benefits you have derived by volunteering for SMGA?
I think what I have enjoyed most is making new friends with
like-minded folks. People who dig the outdoors are so cool
and it has been a pleasure working with and getting to know
all of them. The day-to-day stuff may not always be big and
exciting but the work is vitally important. I feel proud to
be a part of an organization that is working towards a future
where San Marcos is NOT just one more stretch of pavement
in a completely urbanized Austin-San Antonio corridor. I would
much rather imagine us as a green oasis in the middle of that
concrete wasteland. But that vision won't be realized without
a great deal of work and commitment on all of our parts.
Sheila (on the right) and friends
at SMGA’s annual meeting.
Tell us a little more about you. I grew
up in Lincoln, Nebraska (Go Big Red!) and spent time
in Michigan and Kansas before moving to Texas in 1994.
I came for the librarian job at Texas State University
and stayed because I love living in San Marcos. I've
been a cyclist and/or runner for years. After coming
to Texas I got hooked on adventure racing, a team sport
that includes trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, map
& compass navigation throughout and an assortment of
other physical challenges. So if I'm not at my day job,
building trail, or helping out at my husband's bakery,
then I'm probably out training for my next race. I'm
also a foodie and this year decided to try gardening
for the first time. We'll see how that goes!
Photo Contest Is Ramping Up
The Hill Country Photography Club and SMGA are ramping up
the Naturescapes Photo contest and are seeking sponsors for
the contest to help cover its cost. Please contact Chris North
if you know of a business or sponsor who would like to be
associated with a contest that helps photographers as well
as two great nonprofit organizations. Read more about the
contest at http://www.smgreenbelt.org/PhotoContest.htm.The
Hill Country Photography Club and SMGA are ramping up the
Naturescapes Photo contest and are seeking sponsors for the
contest to help cover its cost. Please contact Chris North
at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of a business or sponsor
who would like to be associated with a contest that helps
photographers as well as two great nonprofit organizations.
Read more about the contest at http://www.smgreenbelt.org/PhotoContest.htm.
Don’t miss this update on greenprinting at http://www.newstreamz.com/2009/04/08/county-works-up-greenprint-map/.
to You All for Help With the Annual Meeting
Many different details, attended to by many of you, made
our annual meeting a success. The food and drink were
plentiful and the guests enthusiastic about visiting with
others who contribute to and appreciate natural areas.
Greenspace bingo and door prizes made for a fun, interactive
event. Attendees also approved bylaws revisions, voted
in new and returning board members Vicki Giere, Charlie
O’Neil, Vaughn Thayer, Ann Jensen, and Julie Hulbert-King,
and said thanks to departing board members John Thomaides,
Murray Holley, and Sheila Torres-Blank. John Griffis received
recognition for bringing Hays County Juvenile Justice
Center youths into our natural areas to complete trail
work and Todd Derkacz was honored for his many years of
service to SMGA and our community.
Accomplished Much in 2008
Also highlighted at our annual meeting were SMGA’s numerous
accomplishments during 2008, including:
John Griffis receives walking stick as
a token of SMGA’s appreciation
usher through $3.2 million county funding of San Marcos
parks and natural areas.
up conservation committee activities and helped connect
landowners with agencies and organizations for ultimate
conservation of lands.
the feasibility research from intern Abby Gillifan on the
Purgatory Creek Trail Project to eventually connect Purgatory
Creek with the San Marcos River Parks.
in Trust for Public Lands greenprint process to combine
detailed maps and data with Hays County citizen values to
determine best locations for conservation.
City of San Marcos to conservation land acquisition opportunities
that would help create the greenbelt loop around the city.
with City of San Marcos to improve and enable appropriate
recreation in local natural areas, including Spring Lake
Preserve, Ringtail, and Purgatory.
with and established contract for improvements to Ringtail
Ridge with Environmental Survey Consultants under 2007 National
Trails Grant from Texas Parks & Wildlife.
trail crew and coordinated about 750 hours of trail work,
which included creating trail connections between upper
and lower Purgatory Greenspaces and between Ringtail Ridge
and Wonderland School.
a clearinghouse service for reports from the many “eyes
on the parks” to the appropriate agency.
a variety of courses at Texas State University-San Marcos.
development of promotional brochure including map of San
Marcos parks and greenspaces.
new imagery and color scheme for logo and other outreach
and published trail maps for Prospect Park and Purgatory
web site to make it more navigable and visually appealing.
email list to an online system (Constant Contact); increased
SMGA newsletters recipients to over 500.
Texas State students with the development of a San Marcos
nature tourism marketing plan.
Full Moon party at Ringtail Ridge to encourage residents
to interact with this newly renovated natural area.
online membership survey to gather input on mission and
bylaws to address various gaps and weaknesses.
job descriptions, revised board member agreement, and created
an annual budget.
18-month strategic plan (June 2008 to December 2009).
board members attended Texas Land Trust Conference and received
training from Greenlights for Non-Profit Success.
With TX State
Giordano and Dr Simpson are combining classes again to do
some detail data collection in Purgatory Creek Greenspace.
Their data will be used to add details to maps of local natural
areas and to provide a baseline of flora and fauna.
year’s Common Experience theme for lectures, readings, films,
and presentations across the curriculum will be “The Sustainability
Revolution”. We hope to participate by leading interpretive
hikes and assisting with panel discussions.
Recycling Has Arrived
We hope you are starting to take advantage of the city's new
single stream recycling program (http://ci.san-marcos.tx.us/departments/publicworks/Trash_Service.htm).
We heartily endorse any and all efforts to preserve our environment
and thank our city leaders for making it easier than ever
to reduce waste. Share your enthusiasm for recycling with
your neighbors and friends so that everyone realizes what
a benefit the small extra cost and effort on their part will
bring to future generations.
Board & Committees
Todd Derkacz, President
Sherwood Bishop, Chair
Julie Hulbert-King, Chair
Ann Jensen, Chair & Newsletter Editor
Where on the Trail Answer
fossil pictured at the top of this month’s newsletter
is in the
rock pictured above right near the trailhead at Prospect
a date below to view past News & Events:
18 , 2008