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

The Loop


SMGA News: April-May 2023


The trail crew is getting so big that we have to take two pictures to fit them all in! If this photo looks a little odd, that’s because it’s two shots stitched together to make a circle flattened out. Just don’t look at it too critically.


A highlight of our display at the Earth Day celebration was the activity provided by our Spring intern, Texas State student Lauren Thompson. She not only had a matching game for the kids to play, but she also gave away copies of the Natural Areas Passport that she and fellow student Courtney Stuhldreher created as part of their Geography service- learning internship. 


If you think SMGA volunteers only build and maintain trails, think again.

On this particular day, work included teaming-up with city crews on trail work at Prospect Park and restoration at River Recharge natural area.

In Prospect, the crew reworked some of the switchbacks on Virgil’s to allow rainwater to flow off the trail and not down the trail. They also completed the short re-route on Limbo Loop to prevent damage to the tree roots that were being impacted.

Photo caption: Three rows of pollinator plants were planted, caged to prevent critter loss, and watered

In River Recharge, SMGA received a grant from the Native Plant Society of Texas to enhance the pollinator plants in the natural area.

Skeletonleaf goldeneye, lanceleaf coreopsis, gaillardia, purple coneflower, and bluebonnet – 10 of each for a total of 50 were planted, and several pounds of Butterfly Retreat seed mix and goldenrod were dispersed. This project was completed in cooperation with the staff from the City of San Marcos Discovery Center and SMGA members of Team Flora.

Photo Caption: Bernie and Marilyn getting plants from Eric


The May bird walk was held at the most natural area of all—the San Marcos River. We saw 42 species in the different river parks from the wide sidewalks and bridges. With the Spring migration and the enhancement of the riverbanks, we were able to view many warblers, flycatchers, swallows, and herons. The outing did not disappoint the 31 of us willing to rise with the sun.

The checklist on eBird (S136280467) was provided by Colton Robbins and the bird photos are courtesy of Jennifer Bauerkemper.


In April, Dr. Christina Lopez was profiled in the “Featured Faculty” section of the Texas State Newsletter. As a Master’s-level student, Christina was one of our first SMGA Fellows. Since that time, she has earned her PhD in Geography from Texas State and now serves as the Coastal Coordinator for Watershed Services at the Meadows Center. She is also a lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Texas State.

To read the article about Christina, click here.

Also in April, former SMGA board member Susan Hanson received the award for support from a nongovernmental agency from Texas State’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. The award was presented by Dr. Colleen Myles, whose classes in Environmental Interpretation Susan has worked with for the last three years.

During that time, Myles’ classes have completed numerous projects for use by SMGA. Among them are a series of videos focusing on alternatives to planting exotic species. These videos are available on SMGA’s YouTube channel. They also designed an online scavenger hunt, and most recently created a Natural Areas Passport for elementary school students. Another recent project was a GIS story map of the Greenbelt trails, developed by SMGA’s Spring intern, Lauren Thompson.


The crew worked on Prospect and Lower Purgatory Creek sawing, lopping and string-trimming trails. Rain in the past week amounted to 2.5″ and resulted in vegetation growth throughout the natural areas.

If you haven’t been out recently, the trails are bursting with flowers. All that green is good for your health even if it isn’t spendable.

Photo caption: Monique, Vee, and Melani looking eager to get to work


It was a banner day for birding as we saw 50 different species at one of the best locations for birding. Spring Lake had more ducks than we’d seen in a while. Some of the unusual sightings were a swamp sparrow, a northern parula, and wood ducks. The osprey flying overhead was a treat as it continued circling.

Stephen and Colton provided excellent commentary and brought scopes for that close-up look. Jennifer (JB) and Julie (JC)  provided the bird photos to share in this post.


Once again, volunteers tackled invasive species in Prospect Park under the direction of the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Prospect has many karst features and water quality is important.

Eric Weeks directed two crews composed of residents, TX State students and SMGA trail crew members. They removed ligustrum, nandina and red-tipped photinia.

Eric makes sure everyone has gloves and tools before the safety briefing. He divides the volunteers into three teams. Large limbs were reduced to lay flat on the ground. After the cutting crew finished, the seeding crew dispersed seeds: Eve’s necklace, evergreen sumac, flameleaf sumac, persimmon, yaupon, shrubby boneset, and native wildflowers.


We had lots of good merchandise for sale on a beautiful Saturday.


 The GAI team—Lisa Arceneaux, Aspen Navarro, and Sarah Simpson—recently released this summary of their accomplishments so far this year.

  • The February “Mothering Earth Podcast” featured our very own Green Alley Initiative with Salwa Khan
  • The Texas Water Development Board and EPA Region 6 are supportive of the GAI concept with potential loan relief of up to 70% for planning, design and build.
  • TWDB Clean Water State Revolving Funds have double the funding from Federal monies for the next two years and can be used to plan, design, and build the GAI.  Deadlines to apply are March 1, 2024, and March 1, 2025.
  • The GAI was enthusiastically embraced by other Texas Municipalities at the Downtown Conference in November 2022. The workshop, held behind Splash Coworking in their activated alley space, gave other city representatives from across Texas a chance to learn about the beauty, function, and funding opportunities with green alleys.
  • The GAI pilot project, Kissing Alley, is moving forward with 60% Design Phase nearing completion.  Rohit Vij, P.E. Project Manager, is being assisted by paver expert David Hein, PEng in Canada and Cobb Fendley Engineering in San Marcos.
  • The GAI is included in the 2020 Final Draft Downtown Area Plan and the 2023 Final Draft Comprehensive Plan

We look for your insights, knowledge and connections to keep this project moving forward.  The challenges of staffing, experience level, and work load within the City Departments are real and this is only one of many stormwater projects in the works as the City grows.  We feel like it’s a project that will have long lasting value for the City and the environment, and bring Downtown to a level many will visit and want to recreate.

Thanks to contributor Lance Jones for his reports on trail work and bird walks.

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