The San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance and Texas State University partnered for the 10th Bobcat Build. SMGA participated with the University for most of the community service annual events. This year, like last, was centered at Prospect Park, a connector greenspace in the larger 463 acres Purgatory Creek natural area.
John Garcia and Ken Gees attach the wetlands interpretive sign.
An ambitious project list was compiled in the weeks leading up to the SMGA and Bobcat Build partnership. Advice was sought from Minnette Marr a local botanist and early supporter of the Greenbelt Alliance. Stewardship committee members walked the trails and discussed where best to put the efforts of more than fifty students and SMGA members. “I’m always a little worried when we plan these things – will the work be too much, too complicated, but our SMGA trail crew leaders knew just what to do, the Bobcats got right to work and in what seemed like a pretty short time an amazing amount of really good work was completed,” said Todd Derkacz, SMGA president. He continued by listing the accomplishments, “Erosion problems were solved, brush cut up and laid as ground cover, interpretive panels put back in place, sign posts installed, invasive plants removed and natives planted and tended – it’s very gratifying to see what can happen with good people working together.”
Charles O’Neil worked with a team of students on Virgil’s Trail. “On the upper part pf the trail we did a lot of work to manage the effects of rainfall. The students created water bars and cleared some culverts. They moved a lot of gravel!”
“The students in my group were extremely hard working as were all of the individuals there. When they return to Prospect they will look at it through different eyes, as do all of us with sweat equity!” said JoEllen Korthals. She lead a group clearing the fence line between the wetlands ponds and the meadow. Several invasive or aggressive plants had overgrown the fence line and anacua trees.
Mark Taylor pushes limestone as the crew loads more wheelbarrows.
It was just about fixing and cleaning up. A team of five students lead by Leah Laszewski started patches of native grasses in the meadow across from the Learning Tree. “The Bobcat seeding crew were fantastic. They cleared areas of weeds and less desirable grasses to plant Little Blue Stem and Yellow Indian grass seed all through the meadow near the learning tree. They also found a few spots that seemed wet enough to support some Switchgrass and added a bit here and there. A few previously planted trees were caged and a couple of new ones added along the trail. Their enthusiasm was terrific and everyone said they plan to come back and see what grows. Near the end of the morning, several of the guys still had the energy to take a wheelbarrow up to the trailhead for a big load of mulch to put around Steve’s Bur Oak, which looks very healthy this spring. These young people accomplished a ton of work with a joyful atttitude in spite of ants, heat and heavy lifting. The willingness to work hard and the spirit of cooperation was a real pleasure to experience and I would hope it continues for a very long time.”
After all the hard work time for photos and pizza.
Professor Susan Hanson who participated in many of these projects said, “I am extremely proud of the students who came out for Bobcat Build. We read and talk about the natural world in my class, but working on the Greenbelt gives them the satisfaction of actually doing something for the earth. What we accomplish in working on the trails is important, but what gratifies me the most is having one of the students say how rewarding it was to labor alongside a member of the SMGA, or ask how to volunteer at other times of the year. After the event, they definitely feel a greater sense of connection to the Greenbelt and, by extension, to other sensitive landscapes in our community.”