has many more projects going on than can be listed, and volunteers
are needed for all of them. This section gives sketches of
a few of the projects. For weekly information about river
events and volunteer opportunities, contact
SMRF and ask to be added to the email list.
Read the newsletters for more information
about projects that SMRF members are involved in,
to protect the river.
information on the Instream Flow Water Right
There are several river cleanups each year on the San Marcos
River. A spring cleanup of the whole San Marcos River, usually
the first Saturday of each March, has long been coordinated
by Tom Goynes, president of the Texas River Protection Association
and a board member of SMRF. It is also traditional for SMRF
to provide the thank you barbecue dinner the night of the
cleanup for the hundreds who come from all over Texas to help,
and many volunteers are needed to cook and serve the dinner.
Clean up in canoes or on the banks in the morning,or all day
if you paddle further downstream with the more expert canoers.
If you are not able to do that kind of work, bake desserts
for the dinner, carve up the barbecue for serving, cook beans,
make tea, and help serve and/or clean up after the dinner.
It takes a lot of volunteers.
There are other river cleanups during the year that are coordinated
by the City of San Marcos, and many groups adopt a stretch
of river that they clean up regularly, like the Lions Club.
The river is helped by those who clean up tributaries and
roadways as well, since all the trash ends up in the river
eventually. Check out some of these cleanup websites for more
information or contact SMRF if you'd like to help.
Spring River Cleanup: http://www.txrivers.org/calendar.html
City of San Marcos cleanups and Adopt-a-River program:
Water Quality Testing
The San Marcos River Rangers are doing the steady volunteer
water quality testing that is so basic and so necessary to
all water quality defense. They are the first eyes on the
river in case there is damage or deterioration of the water
Their website is http://www.riverrats.net/smrr/ranger01.html
and they train volunteers regularly to replace any who have
had to leave. The group tests fifteen sites from San Marcos
to Luling, twice a month at most sites. SMRF purchases their
test kits and supplies, and applauds their volunteer work
for the river, for over ten years now.
Water Hyacinth Removal
Water Hyacinth is an invasive exotic floating plant that tries
to cover the slough and parts of Spring Lake, at the head
of the river, every summer. The seeds of this plant live for
at least ten years in the mud, and continue to sprout. Excess
growth can crowd out native plants, and when the hyacinths
freeze in winter and sink down to rot, they often consume
so much oxygen that fish kills occur.
Once a month, SMRF volunteers head out to the boardwalk at
Aquarena Center, to remove water hyacinth from the slough
and Spring Lake. It is usually illegal to boat on Spring Lake
and the slough, but this supervised activity is a good way
to get to enjoy the lake legally. Bring your own boat or use
one at the Center, or stand on the boardwalk and gather hyacinth
from there. Gloves and rakes and bins are provided. SMRF volunteers
work on the fourth Saturday morning of each month, but special
dates can be arranged for large groups of volunteers. Contact
SMRF for details.
River Gauges and Surveys
SMRF has volunteers reading the river gauges every day, lately
twice a day, to watch for any collapse or leaking from Rio
Vista Dam. If the lake formed from the dam were to lower even
a few inches, some wild rice stands would be exposed to air,
which could kill it. Texas Wild Rice is an endangered plant
that is very important to the San Marcos River. Because it
is endangered, pumping is regulated from the Edwards Aquifer,
to keep the springs flowing. Without the wild rice, San Marcos
River would not continue to flow. SMRF volunteers also help
with a wild rice survey each summer that Texas Parks &
Wildlife does, standing in the river and measuring the stands.
If a dam collapses, and rice needs to be transplanted suddenly,
SMRF volunteers are called upon.
on City, County, State Committees
SMRF volunteers serve on many committees, task forces, and
boards to represent the interests of the river. In addition,
meetings need to be attended that involve the aquifer, water
planning, parks, planning and zoning, and many other important
issues. There are never enough volunteers to attend all the
meetings and give input to the city, county, state, and other
governmental bodies, so please consider helping out. It may
seem confusing at first, but if you attend any meetings regularly,
you will begin to understand how important it is to have a
river representative there to inform others on how their actions
affect the river, and to take notes and report back to SMRF's
board. It is this network of people that keeps an eye on all
the entities who make decisions which affect the health of
Annual Party and Silent Auction
Every year near the end of January or early February, SMRF
has a big party, membership meeting, and silent auction. It
takes months to gather all the donations for the silent auction,
contact businesses all over Texas that want to help, pick
up gift certificates or prepare displays. This year the silent
auction will also go on the website and a volunteer could
compile the bids that are sent in by email. Many volunteers
are needed to make the event a special and festive one. The
silent auction is a major fundraiser for SMRF. The party food
is baked and cooked by SMRF volunteers, set up as a buffet
at the party location, which in recent years has been the
Price Center where the SMRF office is. Decorating and setup
the day of the event are also fun jobs for volunteers. Call
the office 353-4628 to volunteer.
Trading Volunteer Hours for Rent
SMRF's office is in the historic and renovated Price Center
at the corner of Comanche and San Antonio Street just two
blocks from the courthouse in downtown San Marcos. The office
is in the choir loft of the original chapel built in 1893.
This tiny building was added on to many times over the last
hundred years to create the big building now fully renovated
on its first floor.
When SMRF needed an office in order to qualify to join Earth
Share of Texas (a payroll donation federation of environmental
groups), the Price Center offered the unfinished choir loft.
Volunteers refinished floors and furniture, donated desks
and chairs, and installed carpets. The office hours are weekday
mornings, 9-noon, and volunteers from SMRF trade their hours
for rent in this beautiful building. Gardening, indoor plant
care, and helping set up for events in the Center are the
usual jobs, but just about any skill can be put to use including
painting, carpentry, masonry, and even vacuuming. Stop by
and see what you might like to do. Office phone, 353-4628
SMRF provides a computer, pump, electricity and phone connection
for the water testing going on deep under San Marcos in Ezell's
Cave. There are times when electrical knowledge or other skills
are needed. There are many cave experts involved, and Edwards
Aquifer Authority scientists, as partners. The Lions Club
and Centurytel help with the costs involved, and we hope to
soon have the water quality data online in cooperation with
the Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center. Contact
SMRF if you'd like to help. There are property cleanup
days around the cave about once a year, and tours are given
then to the volunteers who help with the brush cutting.
SMRF has long worked to improve local ordinances in order
to protect the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer, which
feeds the springs of the San Marcos River. Now SMRF is proud
to be in the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, a large group
of environmental and water protection groups from Del Rio
to Austin. Read about this alliance and its work at http://www.aquiferalliance.org.
Greenbelts and Trails
SMRF is proud to work with the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance.
For more information see their website at http://smgreenbelt.org
and enjoy the many walks in San Marcos in greenspaces and
parklands that have been purchased in recent years. Some do
not yet have trails or amenities, and so San Marcos Greenbelt
Alliance members and volunteers are building trails steadily.
These Greenbelters were instrumental in helping the 2005 bond
proposition pass in San Marcos, to purchase the tract of land
above Spring Lake and the head of the river for a park, which
will help preserve water quality in the San Marcos River.
photo contest encourages entries taken in the San Marcos
parks and greenspaces, many of which are river photos.
Details on their website.