The Big Picture
Though the San Marcos Springs have flowed for thousands of years it is generally recognized that this could easily be jeopardized by unhindered dense-development and the paving of the aquifer recharge zone, coupled with increasing demand and the possibility of longer periods of drought. Over 2 million people from San Antonio to Austin now rely on the Edwards Aquifer for drinking water so long-term solutions are critical. Protected green-space made up of parklands and conservation easements in sensitive recharge areas is now considered one of the most important investments to be made to preserve spring flow, protect the unique eco-system found in the San Marcos River and ensure fresh water continues to flow to downstream communities. Watch Video on San Marcos Recharge Land
For the last decade, as development and growth have expanded greatly in central Texas, SMRF has made land conservation its immediate concern, specifically in aquifer recharge zones that are critical to the San Marcos Springs. SMRF, working with the City of San Marcos, the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance, regional experts and local residents, developed a plan in the late 1990’s to create a protective buffer of greenspace around the springs with parkland and private conservation easements, piece by piece. These natural areas would incorporate flood plains and sensitive recharge land, and the green spaces could lead to the development of a cross-city trail system eventually linking to urban trails through the city and providing alternate options for transportation. This would also open up natural venues for local residents and visitors to explore the unique eco-system that feeds Edwards Aquifer.
Twenty years later, much of this has been accomplished. Over 1200 acres have been set aside as natural parklands with 22 miles of trails and other properties in the Spring Lake area, above the springs, have adopted conservation easements As this protective loop has developed, we are now down to the last key pieces to link the various natural spaces together and we are seeking assistance as we finalize the purchase. Two key tracts of land, Elsik Ranch and Icehouse property, will enable us to close these gaps and prevent dense development in the middle of the protective greenbelt.
Working with the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance and the City of San Marcos, most of this protective buffer is complete. Land conservation has been SMRF’s priority, but as a community, we have managed to preserve some of the most sensitive and desirable land in the area which affords undeniable protection to the San Marcos springs and provides residents important natural recreational space. The community and city continue to work together to obtain and protect other key properties that complete the green protection zone and allow cross city trails to link up with popular urban and river trails. SMRF’s work with private landowners to place conservation easements on other properties has also afforded more protection in these critical recharge areas. SMRF has 35 year long history collaborating with many groups to ensure these springs remain clean and flowing.