A Look Back At 2022
RIVER RECHARGE NATURAL AREA
The biggest news in 2022 was the transformation of the Buie Tract into what will become our seventh natural area, River Recharge NA. Trail building began in February and continued through the year. Although the project was interrupted to give TCEQ time to evaluate geologic features of the property, which is part of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, work continued on plans for a kiosk and signage. The trail crew hopes to resume work soon.
In July, approximately 130 people came out for a hike celebrating River Recharge Natural Area. A good many of the hikers continued the celebration at Roughhouse Brewery, which created a special beer to benefit SMGA. Hike leaders for the event were Andy Grubbs, Monique Tschurr, Dick McBride, Cindy Hobson, Andy Nance, Lance Jones, and Alan Holzgrafe.
SMGA was the beneficiary of the first annual Shady Fest, held by the Oaks Heights neighborhood. Besides being a lot of fun, the event brought in a number of new members and raised money for the Greenbelt Alliance. Definitely a winning combination!
SMGA continued its collaboration with the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) staff to remove invasives—principally ligustrum—from Prospect Park.
WILDLIFE VIEWING STATION
This blind in Schulle Canyon Natural Area was a joint project of SMGA and the Hays County Master Naturalists. Note the water collection system, which will help keep the birds and other wildlife happy.
INTERPRETIVE SIGN ON DAM
Members of the Upper San Marcos Watershed District (USMWD) board joined with SMGA and Texas State student Ian Long to celebrate the installation of an interpretive sign at the dam in Lower Purgatory. Ian created the sign as a class project. He and several SMGA members are currently at work on a similar sign for River Recharge Natural Area.
SMGA AT THE MERMAID FESTIVAL
The San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance was well-represented at the 2022 Mermaid Festival. Trail crew leader and founding member Todd Derkacz was presented with the Guardianship Award at the River Guardianship Symposium, while members Kimberley Meitzen and Susan Hanson were named Mermaid Queen and Arts & Culture honoree, respectively. SMGA also participated in the Mermaid Promenade and Faire.
WALKING STICK PRESENTATION
Because SMGA’s 2022 annual meeting was held online, the Walking Stick presentations were once again made at Wake the Dead, this time recorded and shown as videos during the meeting. Winners were Monique Tschurr, who was named Volunteer of the year, and Wake the Dead, Community Partner.
WORKING WITH SMCISD
Thanks to the leadership of SMGA member Monique Tschurr and SMCISD PE Coordinator Leslie Adamson, local elementary school students are making great use of the natural areas. This year, SMGA members Lance Jones and Melissa Katz joined Monique in leading hikes in the natural areas.
TEXAS WATER SAFARI
The report from team member Mark Taylor: “The good news? We made good time through the first three checkpoints and got cheers from lots of people who recognized the SMGA logo on our boat! The bad news? About 2:30 a.m. Sunday, we hit a snag in a fast section of the river below Palmetto State Park, and our boat bent into a “V” around the snag, taking us out of the race. We were unhurt, and a Water Safari rescue team picked us up at daybreak and took us to a downstream bridge where our support team (Trail Crew members Brandon Smith, Pat Egan and Gordon Holt, and city HCP manager Melani Howard and her daughter Morgan) was waiting. It was a bittersweet end to our race, but who knows—we may have begun a new SMGA Trail Crew tradition!”
COLLABORATIONS AT TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY
This year, SMGA board member Susan Hanson worked with Dr. Colleen Myles’ Environmental Interpretation class to create the San Marcos Natural Areas Passport, both a virtual and in-person activity designed to increase community engagement with our natural areas. The project will be implemented by two Texas State interns in the spring.
For their final project this semester, students in SMGA member Jason Julian’s Geography 4326 class, “Parks and Protected Places,” created land-use plans for currently undeveloped properties in Texas. These included ranchland owned by Beverly Wootan and Sherwood Bishop, pictured here, and Blanco Shoals Natural Area.
MONTHLY BIRD WALKS
Monthly bird walks, led by Stephen Ramirez and now in their 12th year, continue to attract good crowds.
IMPROVEMENTS ON THE TRAILS
The trail crew was busy this year building trails in RRNA and re-routing others, repairing bridges, putting up new signs, planting grass and wildflower seeds in the experimental plot in Prospect Park, installing a bike rack in Lower Purgatory, removing ligustrum from Prospect Park and Lower Purgatory, spreading seed in Sessom Creek, and more.
WORK IN UPPER PURGATORY
OUTREACH AT WORK
In 2022, the Outreach Committee participated in 10 community events, with the help of 37 volunteers, many of whom participated on more than one occasion. Outreach also worked with SMGA members Kenny Skrobanek to create a new bandana, featuring a map of Spring Lake Natural Area, and Vicki Giere, who produced a new batch of SMGA caps.
Jennifer Bauerkemper received SMGA’s first Naturescape Award for her photo of a painted bunting in one of the natural areas.
SMGA AT REST
Trail crew members at Wake the Dead after a hard morning at work.
Trail crew members showing off their new SMGA shirts bearing the new design by Brandon Smith
SMGA’s new bandana bearing a map of Spring Lake Natural Area, designed by Kenny Skrobanek, SMGA member and Great Springs Project