San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

May 21st, 2008
From the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance: Update for May 21

SMGA Update for May 21, 2008

» Read the full newsletter on the Greenbelt Alliance’s Web site

In This Issue…

For Your Calendar

Trail-Builder Alert

Work Begins on Ringtail Ridge Trail Project

Citizen Parks Advisory Team Update

Hays County Growth Explodes

Survey / Board Retreat

Students Set an Example

Water & Energy Conservation

In The News

FOR YOUR CALENDAR

» NATURESCAPE PHOTOS NOW ACCEPTED
Your amateur nature photo taken within Hays County could be a winner! We will display up to 60 images at our contest exhibit, and winners will receive cash prizes. Tell friends and family and learn more at http://www.smgreenbelt.org/PhotoContest.htm.

» EVERY THURSDAY: TRAIL BUILDING – LOCATION TBA, 6:45 – 8:15 AM
Location to be advised via email to our trail crew list: Email alliance@smgreenbelt.org to receive location and last-minute weather cancellations. All trail builders must wear gloves, hard shoes, and eyewear. Water bottle, long pants, and hat highly recommended. We supply tools and bug repellent.
1st AND 3rd WEDNESDAYS: ELEPHANT EAR REMOVAL – AQUARENA CENTER, 4:30 – 7:00 PM
Meet at Aquarena Center at the far end of the long parking area. Gloves, supplies, and instruction provided.

» SATURDAY, MAY 24: WATER HYACINTH REMOVAL – AQUARENA CENTER, 9:00 AM – NOON
Email wassenich@grandecom.net for details.

» SATURDAY, JUNE 7 & 21: TRAIL BUILDING – LOCATION TBA, 8:00-10:00 AM (7:30 NEWBIES)
See notes above for Thursday trail building.

TRAIL-BUILDER ALERT

Our trail crew discovered something unexpected at Upper Purgatory last week: A well-meaning volunteer attempted to do some trail work on his or her own without following the flags set out by SMGA and without using appropriate trail-building techniques. The flags mark a future trail designed to avoid erosion and other problems, and cutting and grubbing techniques ensure a sustainable trail corridor. While we appreciate this spirit of volunteerism, SMGA was given permission by the city to create local trails because we have trained along side city staff, follow login/logout procedures, and follow safety and planning practices.

If you or someone you know has been working on the trail, please contact us so we can make arrangements to have all work done within project standards and guidelines. We are happy to facilitate getting everyone on the same “path”. Email alliance@smgreenbelt.org or call Todd at 754-9321. Parks and Recreation can be reached at 393-8400.

WORK BEGINS ON RINGTAIL RIDGE TRAIL PROJECT

Excerpt from press release dated 5/14/08: In August of 2007, The San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance (SMGA) was awarded a National Trails Grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TP&WD) to fund the Ringtail Ridge Trail Project in the amount of $40,087. The grant reimburses 80% of the total cost of $50,000 for this exciting trail project. More at http://www.smgreenbelt.org/NewsEvents.htm#RingtailRidge Volunteer hours and matching funds are needed to meet the SMGA’s commitment to the project. For information on how you can help with this exciting project, go to www.smgreenbelt.org or contact Chris North at 392-3932.

CITIZEN PARKS ADVISORY TEAM UPDATE

In September 2002 the Commissioner’s Court adopted the Parks & Open Space Master Plan for 2002-2012, which sets forth priorities and recommendations for a countywide park and open space system. Last year Hays County residents passed a $30M bond for, “parks, natural areas, open space, and related projects, and the preservation of water quality, aquifer recharge areas, and wildlife habitat, and the levying of a tax in payment thereof.”

Upon passage the $30M bond, the Commissioner’s Court formed the Citizen Parks Advisory Team (CPAT), charged with reviewing and recommending to the court proposals for funding from the 2007 park bond funds. Recent months have been marked by controversy and split court votes to fund projects that do not meet the scoring criteria that CPAT had developed for qualifying projects for funding. The Court recently placed a moratorium on new project proposals and hired Trust for Public Lands (TPL) to help CPAT and the Court develop a cohesive vision for how the remaining parks bond money should be spent. More at http://www.smgreenbelt.org/NewsEvents.htm#HaysGrowth

HAYS COUNTY GROWTH EXPLODES

We have an urgent need to plan growth here in Hays County and balance it with open space and parks. Trust for Public Land consultant Sandra Tassel included the information below in a recent presentation to Hays County representatives:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reports that population in Hays County increased by 229% between 1960 and 2000.
  • CAPCOG estimates that in the 7 years that followed, there was another 41% increase. Kyle grew 338% between 2000 and 2007.
  • The state demographer’s “moderate” growth scenario developed several years ago showed a 186% increase by 2040. Hays County has already reached the 2010 estimated level of growth.

Sandra points out that, “If the same growth rates and subdivision approaches continue, most of what is now open land is going to be converted in the next decades…Seeing a map with 86% of Hays’ acreage developed is especially sobering given a few other statistics. Texas is 49th in the country in funding of state parks on a per capita basis…And don’t look for federal lands to give you opportunities to be outdoors. Texas is dead last in acres of public land overall.”

SURVEY / BOARD RETREAT

Thanks to the 48 of you who took the time to complete our recent survey. We learned a lot about our constituency and your concerns about the negative consequences of unplanned growth and the importance of protecting our natural areas. Your ratings and written comments will be very helpful as we develop short- and long-term strategic plans at a board retreat on June 1. While the survey is now closed, you have a standing invitation to share your comments, questions, hopes, and fears via email to alliance@smgreenbelt.org.

STUDENTS SET AN EXAMPLE

Here’s an excerpt from an email shared recently by Green Guy Recycling: “My name is Sean Vajgrt and I am a student here at the university and have lived here for three years… Recently three other students and I have begun a trash pick up on Sunday mornings at various parks around town and so far all of the recycling materials that we have gathered have gone straight to [Green Guy Recycling]… So far we pick a different area in San Marcos early in the week and at 10 in the morning on Sundays we meet up and pick up trash. Today between the four of us we picked up five garbage bags of trash.” Thanks to Sean and his crew for setting an example for all of us to follow. To help out, email Sean at subcontraoctave@hotmail.com.

WATER & ENERGY CONSERVATION

Despite recent rains, the San Marcos River has been getting lower (down to 141 cfs on Sunday 5/17), and the San Antonio index well has been dropping. As water levels drop, less fresh water makes it to the coast; salinity is so high in the bays that the Aransas Refuge managers are worrying about reproduction of crabs and other creatures that birds and people depend on as food. And of course water levels are likely to drop further as the summer heats up. Please conserve water now by limiting how often you water your lawns and landscaping and reducing the amount of water you use in the kitchen and bathroom. The water you conserve may be the very amount needed to keep the springs flowing if the weather gets really dry. (See “Flowing, But Slowing” below.)

From midnight Saturday May 31st through midnight Monday June 2nd, you can buy Energy Star appliances without paying state and local sales taxes. You can also purchase energy and money saving light bulbs, air conditioners, ceiling fans, programmable thermostats, etc., under the same sales-tax waiver. Get a double win by taking advantage of the city’s rebate on low-water washing machines. Call Jan Klein at City Hall to get the scoop on which washers qualify for $75 or $100 rebates or email her at Klein_jan@ci.san-marcos.tx.us.

IN THE NEWS

» Flowing, but slowing | San Marcos Daily Record

5/17/08 | You can see it at Sewell Park, where the stand of endangered Texas wild rice pokes above the moving stream. Those who visit the San Marcos River regularly see it at all their favorite spots: Stream flow is falling.

» Green energy policies report dominates City Council meeting | Newstreamz

5/01/08 | The San Marcos City Council held a special meeting last night. Council members Pam Couch and Daniel Guerrero were absent from the meeting. The presentation of the update and council discussion of the Sustainable Green Energy Team (SGET) dominated the agenda taking up an hour and fifteen minutes.

» Nature Center rebirth | San Marcos Daily Record

4/29/08 | Parks facility to spread wings again in May: The big “Closed” sign on the front door of the San Marcos Nature Center should be coming down soon. The facility on the southbound IH 35 frontage road has been closed since the former director left in January. A new director has been employed and will start on Monday, May 19. Update: Julie Hulbert has accepted the position of Nature Center director. Julie worked for the city in the past as a biologist and as a subcontractor who helped manage the river ecosystem.

» Earth Day celebration a huge success | Newstreamz
4/20/08 The 2nd Annual Earthday Celebration took place Sunday from 1:00 PM to 6PM at the Aquarena Center. Despite overcast skies, throngs of people attended, enjoyed the wide range of music, participated in demonstrations and activities, and shared information on everything from environmental sustainability to outdoor opportunities.

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