San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance •  107 E. Hopkins St. Suite 121A; San Marcos, Texas 78666

The Loop


2022 Mermaid Fest: SMGA Makes a Splash

River Guardianship Symposium

The 2022 River Guardian Award was presented to Todd Derkacz—trail crew leader, former SMGA president, founding member, and all-around steward and defender of the living Earth.

The theme for this year’s event “was on blue [river-based] and green [greenspace area] trails and how to balance environmental protection/conservation with recreational area use,” Kimberly Meitzen, symposium co-chair and assistant professor of Geography at Texas State University, told the Daily Record.

This year’s panel focused on three main questions:

  • What are the greatest challenges and/or threats to protecting the natural resources of our rivers and green spaces for recreation?
  • How does your entity/organization address these?
  • What can our audience and community do to reduce the impact to our river and greenspace resources and support and/or continue to provide recreation opportunities in these environments?

Of the threats and challenges, one of the themes panelists brought up the most was the need to combine recreation with education.

“We can post all of the signs we want to post,” [Parks Director Jamie Lee] Case said. “But that doesn’t mean you’re going to read them or follow the rules.”

San Marcos Daily Record, Sept. 15, 2022


Remarks by SMGA President Diane Phelan

This Guardianship award could not go to a more deserving person than Todd Derkacz. He has been 100 % invested in our Natural Areas since the creation of SMGA in 1998. A lot of people think of him as the trail guy, but he is so holistic in his approach to making each Natural Area an accessible experience for every user, it is almost a religion for him. To watch him enter a new area, soak up the energy of the landscape and visualize a path is quite a sight. It is truly an art form. Then the details start to happen and he explains every detail to the crew. Those of us who have heard the whys and wherefores of proper water drainage, for example, learn to appreciate his bank of knowledge. His explanations have a Mr. Rogers quality so that by the end we are all in a happy place and know more than a human deserves to know about the topic.   Todd thinks about all aspects of the Natural Areas, not just the trails. He is just as concerned with responsible stewardship by removing invasives and seeding with natives to encourage the healthy growth of grasses and so much more.

Susan Hanson, Texas State University President Dr. Kelly Damphousse, and Dr. Kimberly Meitzen

SMGA Members Honored by Mermaid Society

Two other SMGA members were among those honored during the 2022 Mermaid Fest.

Dr. Kimberly Meitzen—associate professor of Geography at Texas State, president of the San Marcos River Foundation, and member of SMGA’s Conservation Committee—was named Mermaid Queen for her work in protecting the San Marcos River.

Susan Hanson—SMGA board member, Outreach chair, and editor of The Loop—was this year’s Arts & Culture honoree for her work photographing underwater life in the San Marcos River.

Both Kimberly and Susan were presented with river-themed paintings by local artist René Perez, and both participated in the Mermaid Promenade.

SMGA at the Mermaid Fest


Video by Larry Mock

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