San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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The public is invited to a celebration ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. at the Spring Lake Natural Area (formerly called Spring Lake Preserve), located across from the River Systems Institute parking area on Laurel Ridge Lane.

The event will celebrate the fulfillment of a Texas Parks & Wildlife outdoor grant to construct amenities at the 251 acre natural area. The project is jointly sponsored by the City of San Marcos, Hays County, and Texas State University.

The TPW grant was for $400,000, requiring a match equivalent to $400,000, said Hays County Grants Administrator Jeff Hauff. The match was met through the value of the land purchased with city/county and other funds, which greatly exceeded $400,000, said Hauff. The TPW grant was utilized for both constructed elements and for a small portion of the land purchase.

Texas State University supported the construction of an accessible ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) trail from the River System’s Institute parking lot through its 16 acre parcel that adjoins Spring Lake Natural Area. The university also installed two sign kiosks with maps and park information to help inform and direct the public.

The county and the city carried the ADA trail from the university’s 16 acres up to the highest point on the parkland – the overlook. Had Texas State not recently amended its master plan proposal for the area, the university’s portion of the trail would have passed through two golf course greens.

The entire ADA trail is almost 2 miles in length. Along the trail are benches with a hub of trails at the overlook leading out into other portions of the 251 acre natural area. Maps and park information at the hub provide direction and interpretation to the park users.

The city, university, and the Nature Conservancy collaborated years ago to buy the property for Spring Lake Natural Area, which was the site originally proposed for the hotel and conference center now located near I-35 at McCarty Lane. The natural area used to be zoned for residential development and may have been the site of hundreds homes.

City voters approved a bond proposition in November 2005 to spend up to $2 million to buy the property, then owned by Terry P. Gilmore. County commissioners voted to award $700,000 from county bond funds for the natural area. In December, 2005, the Nature Conservancy bought the land for $5.1 million from Gilmore, and in January 2006, the county and the city reached an agreement with the Nature Conservancy to purchase the land, pledging to pursue grants and donations to repay the cost.

For more information on the joint celebration, call the City’s Parks & Recreation Department at (512) 393-8400.

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