Vulnerable—that‘s how we’ve all felt at varying degrees in the time of COVID. And just when we thought we had a respite from the pandemic, the virus hit us again with a couple more variants to keep us on edge.
Fortunately, nature has been our savior and solace during these difficult times. When everything was shut down, we could still count on our natural areas to surround us like a warm blanket. Not that all of our greenbelt is warm and fuzzy, it just felt that way when everything else seemed so cold, prickly, and distant.
Thanks to a multitude of volunteers our trails are thriving like never before. Our trail crew has nearly doubled over the past year after incorporating a new crew working Saturday mornings. People from all walks of life have shown up to give back a small portion of what has been so generously given them by nature.
This past year, the trail crew has been instrumental in maintaining and building new trails so we can all venture farther into the woods. Here are a few highlights of 2021:
- The Matilda bridge was finally completed, enabling travelers to traverse flooded areas in Lower Purgatory Natural Area.
- We finished the reroute of Blind Salamander trail in Spring Lake Natural Area, making it safer and more user friendly.
- We built an extension to the Ripheus trail, including a rock bridge in Lower Purgatory.
- We rerouted Grey Fox trail in SLNA, a redesign that helped alleviate harmful erosion.
- In response to drainage problems, we rebuilt the entrance to the Blue Heron trail in SLNA.
Following record-setting temperatures and drastic winter and summer weather events, the trail crew had their maintenance work cut out for them. Without their dedication and efforts, using the natural areas would not have been possible.
One of the biggest accomplishments of 2021 was the addition of a weekend trail crew that meets Saturday mornings from 8-10 a.m. This crew has grown into a formidable team, rivaling our Thursday crew.
Finally, we hope you have noticed the new trail signage that will soon be seen throughout the natural areas.
Keep an eye out for our next big project in 2022, which will be an entirely new trail system in the Buie Tract at the west end of Bishop Street. We are excited to be getting closer to our goal of surrounding San Marcos with a giant loop of natural trails. This new trail should be completed in the next few years.
So, if you have been feeling vulnerable lately, get out and enjoy the trails, come be a part of a great volunteer team that builds and maintains pathways throughout our greenbelt, or become a member of SMGA and support us financially in our mission. Giving back is a great way to feel more connected, something we’ve all missed during the pandemic.
Written by Scott Henize, SMGA board member and chair of the Stewardship Committee.