The San Marcos River Foundation (SMRF) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation founded in 1985 during the Sesquicentennial celebration for the community by a small group of San Marcos citizens with a mission to preserve and protect the flow, natural beauty and purity of the San Marcos River.



Vol. 15, No.4 Printed Quarterly on Recycled Paper October 30, 2005


SMRF’s annual benefit at Taco Cabana is Wednesday November 2, and everyone is invited. No tickets to buy, just come any time between 5 and 9 p.m. that you would like to eat or drink. When ordering, just drop the receipt in the fish bowl by the cash register. Even take-out orders can benefit SMRF; just remember to come inside and drop receipts in the fish bowl. Last year SMRF members filled the Cabana all evening! Maybe Wednesday night the weather will be warm enough to fill the patio too. The Taco Cabana menu is varied. The enchiladas and salsas are excellent, but their roasted chicken is great too and not spicy at all. SMRF is grateful to Taco Cabana for giving us 20% of all the purchases of food and drinks. Thanks to all who plan to dine there Nov. 2---write this date on your calendar today. Taco Cabana is located on Long Street, which connects IH 35 and Hopkins/Hwy.80, behind Wendy’s. We’ll see you there Wednesday night this week!


Among the many community service projects that Grande Communications is known for in San Marcos, they are sponsoring the printing and mailing of the fall SMRF newsletter! (Note that this newsletter marks SMRF’s fifteenth full year of publishing a quarterly account of river news and events.) FYI, Grande Communications offers high-speed internet, local and long-distance telephone, digital cable television and wireless home security services over its own advanced broadband network to homes and businesses, all on one bill. As an example of their community service, below is the team of Grande staff participating in the San Marcos Education Foundation’s recent Rattler Roundup (benefitting schools) in the riverside City Park. Thanks Grande, for being such a good neighbor, and for caring about the San Marcos River too!


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Aquarena Center invites the community to come over for a stroll on the grounds, a tour of the aquarium, a glass-bottom boat ride for only $2, plus lots of exhibits to view, all day on Saturday, November 5. This Fall Fling event is an annual one and many children and families attend. As always, admission is free at Aquarena Center. The boardwalk and its exhibits are also one of the unique and interesting things to see at Aquarena, enabling people to walk out over the slough and enjoy seeing turtles, fish and many different birds. All exhibits are free and open to the public as part of Aquarena’s educational service to the community, every day. In the gift shop is a tiny model of the interior exhibit space planned for the remodeled hotel, soon to be the Texas Rivers Center at San Marcos Springs. The hotel building is looking lovely these days, with tasteful color choices on the exterior, and is near completion.


SMRF completed the spending of the $30,000 educational grant from Texas Parks & Wildlife this summer, which provided transportation and other expenses for about 2,000 schoolchildren and teachers to experience a water education field trip to Aquarena Center. Thanks to Texas Parks & Wildlife for this great educational opportunity, and to Jane Moore, the grant coordinator and scheduler of all those 2,000 students and teachers. Also thanks to the staff at Aquarena, including Ron Coley the general manager, and the countless volunteers who helped this year-long project make water education a reality for the many underserved school districts in this area. We’re proud to be a part of the good work Aquarena Center is doing to educate the public about the aquifer, water quality, endangered species, wildlife, groundwater, rivers, and bays too.


Well, the long awaited date arrived October 13, when Judge Covington of Travis County’s 261st District Court convened a preliminary hearing to consider SMRF’s appeal of the TCEQ Commissioners’ denial of our water right application at their March 2003 meeting. (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is the state agency that grants water rights, allowing individuals or water suppliers to develop and sell the state’s water.)

SMRF applied for an instream water right in July 2000 for sufficient water to maintain a healthy flow in the San Marcos River, as well as flows continuing downstream to San Antonio Bay and its estuaries. To name the needed amount accurately we used the thirty years of scientific studies done with millions of dollars set aside by the Legislature, and completed in 1998 by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Texas Water Development Board.

Similar applications to SMRF’s were later done by Caddo Lake Institute, Matagorda Bay Foundation, and Galveston Bay Foundation/Galveston Bay Preservation and Conservation Association to preserve their river and bay systems. Since their applications were also denied, they have also filed appeals in the same court.

The purpose of the Oct. hearing was to get agreements between the Judge and the attorneys representing the

various groups on the procedures for going forward with the cases and setting dates for the necessary legal steps.

The Judge set January 30 as the date to consider issues common to all the groups.

The Judge also gave parties who wish to intervene in the case two weeks to request that. San Antonio Water System and Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, and “every water hustler in Texas” are expected to intervene against SMRF, according to SMRF’s attorney Stuart Henry. Other groups may choose to intervene on SMRF’s side, or submit amicus briefs.

This legal action is the most ambitious and important effort SMRF has initiated thus far to protect our river. We are all looking forward to seeing it through to a successful conclusion. As our attorney said when we first disclosed our idea of applying for a water right to him, “This is a legacy case!”

---Jack Fairchild, President, SMRF Board of Directors

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Tuesday November 8th is a City of San Marcos Election Day. City Proposition 1, to purchase the land above Spring Lake, is among several items on the ballot. San Marcos citizens will vote on whether the City should purchase this land for a City park, to protect water quality of Spring Lake and the river. Much of the 251acres is on the recharge zone, so keeping the land undeveloped would also protect the aquifer, which affects city’s drinking water wells. This land was the controversial proposed site of a conference center/hotel. That center is now planned for the McCarty Lane and IH 35 area, a spot that already has the roads and wastewater and water lines in place to serve such a large project.

The SMRF Board approved a resolution supporting the purchase of this natural area above Spring Lake, which branches all the way to Oak Ridge Drive near N. LBJ, and even over to Lime Kiln Road, encompassing Sink Creek as well. Hays County has already voted to give $700,000 to the City from their County Parks Bond Fund approved by voters several years ago. The County has purchased park land all over the county, in a carefully balanced way between the four county commissioners’ districts, and has quadrupled the Parks Bond Fund with grants from outside sources to make these purchases and improve the parks. The City hopes to do the same with this Spring Lake land purchase, and the park will be City-owned and managed, once bought.

The Texas Nature Conservancy is handling the negotiations and appraisals for the City, since this land. is on their list of critically important areas for water quality protection in Texas. For information about how park land can benefit a community economically, ecologically and health-wise, please look at the excellent “Benefits” page on the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance’s website .

Residents can read about the several bond propositions in the Voters Guide published by the League of Women Voters, available at the Public Library and the Hays County Elections Office. The City also mailed a letter about the bond propositions to the community, with a simple instruction sheet about the new voting machines that will be used in this election for the first time. Early voting will go on until Nov. 4, call 393-7310 (County Elections Office) for more information on locations and times, or for Election Day voting locations. City Hall is open for Early Voting 8-5 weekdays until Nov. 4.


November 13 at 9 a.m., swimmers will congregate from all over central Texas to swim non-competitively in the San Marcos River. The swim will start in Rio Vista Park and fins are recommended. It is free and open to everyone, just for fun. They will swim upstream against the current, from Rio Vista Dam to City Park and then regroup and swim rapidly downstream to return to the dam. People do rest along the way upstream, or even stop and catch the rest of the stronger swimmers as they return. Some who want an easier workout just start at City Park by the Tube Rental later, when the swimmers gather to head downstream. It is fun to watch too.


Check to see if the date on your mailing label on the front of this newsletter is accurate. This date notes the last date a donation or dues were received, so please let

us know if the date is incorrect. (353-4628 SMRF office). Lifetime members of SMRF may ignore this reminder on the label.


On Thursday, November 17, 7 p.m., SMRF is hosting a public meeting at the Price Center to allow the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service an opportunity to talk about the big Cryptocorynae (or water trumpet) removal project starting in about a month. The Crypto plant, as most call it, is from Sri Lanka and is quite an invasive problem for the river, probably introduced by a dumped aquarium. Worst of all, crypto likes the exact same conditions that Texas Wild Rice does, so it could easily crowd out the endangered wild rice if floods washed it into the areas where wild rice currently grows. Right now, Crypto is blanketing areas of the river bottom between the City wastewater plant and the confluence of the Blanco and San Marcos rivers. Blanco floods can push water upstream into the San Marcos River.

The small test Crypto project that many SMRF volunteers were involved in years ago has helped USFWS plan a much bigger project funded by federal grants. An underwater vacuuming-type device will suck up the plants and their roots, with some gravel and silt, and send it to a big bag made of a fine mesh, located up high on the ground away from the river. The water will filter out slowly and with minimal clouding of the river. Their plans include ways to alert canoers of the operation so they won’t be too surprised to see the forklift on the bank holding the huge suction tubes and pump high up in the air.

At the Nov. 17 public meeting, there will be samples of the plant available, and a chance to ask questions and learn about the interesting project. Please put it on your calendars today. This effort to protect the wild rice is vital to the river. Without the endangered wild rice and endangered fish found in the river, the river would very likely not be flowing today. Pumping from the aquifer is regulated mainly to protect these fish and plants, listed as endangered under federal law. Without regulation of pumping from the aquifer, the San Marcos Springs and River will not flow in the future. Call 353-4628 for directions or other questions.

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SMRF summer intern Stephen Coley, pictured below, helped SMRF put compost on the Price Center gardens in June and July, allowing a great flower show with less water required. Another volunteer, Wes Johnson, just put two more truckloads on the gardens in October. TDS and Gardenville generously donated some of the organic materials and soil conditioners to the Price Center. SMRF volunteers work at the Price Center on the building and grounds to pay the SMRF office rent, so volunteer gardeners are always welcome. This month, Irene Hoadley donated about 20 pots of perennial xeriscape blooming plants. Those who have divisions or seedlings of such plants can call the SMRF office to donate them, 353-4628. Low water use is the main feature SMRF is looking for in the plants chosen, plus blooms. A small masonry repair to the garden wall is also needed, if there is any volunteer with that skill.


SMRF has a new recycling service that will pay for ink cartridges from printers of all kinds, as a fundraiser for SMRF. This will be used to help match the $10,000 Mitchell grant that SMRF just received. (see page 5). The company that pays for the ink cartridges will also recycle cell phones, laptop computers and PDA’s. For a complete list of the items they take and the prices they will pay SMRF, you can go to or you can just drop the cartridges by the SMRF office and let us worry about it. The company will handle the cartridges in a safe manner environmentally even if they are not able to pay SMRF for some non-recyclable items. Please start a recycling box at work for such items, and get your friends and family to save them for you. This is a way to help SMRF and keep harmful materials out of the landfill. Bring items to SMRF events to turn in (like the Taco Cabana benefit Nov. 2). Our local representative of the recycling company will box and ship them for us once a month or so. This company started out doing schools, so that is why their name is Cartridges for Kids. Our local rep, Jane Moore of Maxwell, is also an accomplished grant writer, having worked with us on the Aquarena educational grants.


One Environment. One Simple Way To Care For It.

The City of San Marcos recently held their fall kickoff campaign for Earth Share of Texas and United Way, which both receive generous payroll contributions from City employees. Below is the photo taken that day, of city employees and the banners on the steps of City Hall.

SMRF has been invited to speak at many businesses and government offices in San Antonio and Austin this fall, and worked several booths where information is passed out to employees who requested Earth Share’s presence. Earth Share of Texas represents SMRF and 70 other environmental groups in workplace payroll contribution plans throughout Texas. For more information on how you can support SMRF and other leading environmental groups at your workplace, call 1-800-GREENTX, visit, or come by the SMRF office for an Earth Share brochure. State and federal employees, including Texas State University employees have the Earth Share option in their payroll contribution plans, as do many businesses all over Texas.


The natural birding trail that connects with the wider, stroller and wheelchair-accessible trail in Schulle Canyon is finished by Greenbelt Alliance volunteers. A dedication of the trails was held in September in the 16-acre greenspace. The natural birding trail, which is a location noted on the Texas Parks & Wildlife Central Texas birding map, can be found by turning on Joshua Street from Holland Street in San Marcos. Drive past the Lutheran Church parking lot and park at the dead end of Joshua. It winds through the woods and past an old barn that is often a nesting site for vultures. (Do not disturb them if they are still there.) There are all kindsof migrating birds coming through San Marcos now, and this location is also a great one for butterflies. The native vegetation of the woods of Schulle Canyon is a delight for birds, butterflies, and hikers too.

The separate Schulle Canyon wheelchair and baby stroller accessible trail is flat and smooth. It is also good for evening strolls, or fast walks for exercise, and is entered by turning on Alamo Street off Holland, and driving to the dead end of Alamo. A kiosk and trail entrance is obvious there. This trail was built by the City with grant funding from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

In other exciting local birding news, the elusive Ringed Kingfisher was seen again this fall at Spring Lake’s slough from the boardwalk, and along the river. Some birders even saw the Ringed and Belted flying near each other, which made it very easy to judge the enormous size of the Ringed. If you haven’t been to the boardwalk at Aquarena, try it out soon during this great fall weather. See osprey, hawks, egrets, herons, phoebes.

To order a San Marcos birding check list from the Master Naturalists, send $1.00 by mail to Winifred Simon, P. O. Box 398, Wimberley, TX 78676. The Aquarena gift shop also has them for sale.

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These stores have Remarkable Cards to offer good discounts as you check out. Be sure to get SMRF down on your card as the charity of your choice if you use one of these cards, or if you know any family member or friend who does, even in other cities. Spread the word! SMRF’s code number is 1808 for the Remarkable Cards. Ask at the checkout counter about this fundraiser and how to get a Remarkable Card. It’s easy and free.


The owner of the old cotton gin and the Martindale Dam, David Long, has applied for a federal permit to use the hydroelectric generator at the dam. He contacted U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to be sure that he was meeting all their requirements, and he has agreed to only generate when the flows are sufficient to always keep water flowing over the dam. He pledged to keep records for those two agencies on river flows when the river gets down to 100 cfs, and NEVER surge generate.

Surge generation by previous dam owners had the locals up in arms years ago, because raising and lowering gates at the dam caused the river to rise and fall every day, and cut off most of the flow of the river for many hours each day. Raising and lowering the level of the dam caused trees to loosen on the river banks, and fall into the river. Erosion and interruption of the river flows were a problem for riverside landowners, who objected strenuously back then.

David Long says he wants to get along with his neighbors, and is trying to do this project correctly, and without damage. He provided his email address,, so that people can email him their questions about the project. He hopes that enough electricity can be generated to make the repair expenses of the equipment financially feasible. He has done some work to repair the old building, but has not yet worked on the generating equipment. He says the former owner took out the main gate in the dam when he left years ago, in a fit of anger over the objections to his surge generating. It will not be easy to replace that gate.


Nolan and Jan Smith, who lived in Martindale for many years and now live in San Marcos, lost their daughter Keri Nebgen in a car accident. Keri is survived by her husband and two small sons. She and her family lived in Jacksboro, near Fort Worth. Memorials in honor of Keri from several of the Smiths’ friends from the San Marcos and Martindale area have come to SMRF, and a tree planting will be done by the river when the time is right for the family. SMRF takes memorials as a serious symbol of trust placed in the organization, to make sure that the work to preserve the river goes on beyond our lifetimes. Memorials make us work even harder for future generations. Our heart-felt sympathy goes out to Keri’s family at this very sad time for them.

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Check out to get an idea of what SMRF plans for its revamped and updated website format. The Greenbelt Alliance has an annual photo contest with pictures taken in San Marcos parks. The river photos from this year’s contest are particularly wonderful in their photo gallery, so take the time to view those at their website. Josiesque Designs, a San Marcos Chamber member, is working on SMRF’s site, adding a new calendar feature and a way to pay dues by credit card via Paypal. SMRF Board member John Tolbert is busy taking photos of the river to use in the new format. Our new website that will be completed December 15, so check it out then.


SMRF was honored to receive a $10,000 grant recently from George Mitchell of The Woodlands, who is generously helping the many aquifer and water protection groups in central Texas grow and work together in the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance. The amount needs to be matched, so SMRF is planning lots of fundraising events and projects to meet that goal. Any donations to SMRF in the next three months can be doubled with this matching grant.

Steve and Martha Hixon of San Antonio donated to the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance in response to a mailing from the Alliance, and also enclosed an extra $500 check for SMRF because they admired our work on preserving instream flows in Texas Rivers. Steve already had a lifetime membership, so now Martha has one too. We appreciate their kind words and donations!

Another generous couple, Anne and John Olden of Houston, donated $300 recently, in addition to the many volunteer days they have put in for SMRF at the Price Center and on the hyacinth project. They helped with our annual party last year too, donating several CD’s of their favorite “river” music for the silent auction.

Thanks also to Grande Communications which covered the cost of printing and mailing this newsletter, mentioned on the front page. And thanks to Purgatory Creek Chili Pod which donated $500 to SMRF from their annual July benefit cookoff at Shorty Grumbles’ place at Staples Dam on the river. See their photo on the back page, handing over the donation.

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SMRF’s monthly volunteer workdays on Spring Lake, to remove water hyacinth, an invasive exotic floating plant, have been well organized by Minnette Marr. She is a botanist hired by the University to assist with volunteer coordination, and also worked with the City on a grant to remove elephant ears and plant native plants along the lake and slough. Minette has been hired away from San Marcos by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and we wish her well in her new job.

SMRF plans to continue the hyacinth workdays, but November and December have holidays around the fourth Saturdays, which SMRF traditionally uses for hyacinth volunteer days. We will probably not work on those weekends, since so many people travel during the holidays. Watch the weekly email updates for the next date of a hyacinth volunteer day, which is a great excuse for a morning on the lake. If you really want to work through the holidays, let us know and we’ll arrange it. SMRF office: 353-4628.


The big annual SMRF membership party and silent auction in late January will be extra special this year. Already, items for the silent auction are being gathered. If you have an idea for the silent auction, please call the SMRF office, 353-4628. Anything from baked goods to artwork to fishing trips is great, and any business that wishes to donate items is appreciated. There were many donations last year, but this year will be even bigger. SMRF will publish a list of those items in the January newsletter, list them in the newspaper, and even put them up on the website around January 1 for email bidding by members and friends of SMRF all over Texas. Final bidding will happen at the party. If you would like to help gather silent auction items, please call and volunteer a couple of hours. To be a really fine event, it will take everyone pitching in to help put on the party and silent auction.


A big thank you is in order for volunteer Mark Kosary of San Antonio who has been updating the SMRF website for several years. Mark notes that the counter on the website read 1500 hits when he started, and recently the counter read 102,897. The counter was not installed at the beginning of SMRF’s web presence, but within a year or two. Check on December 15 to see the new “look” of SMRF’s website.


Learn all about trails and greenspace from the experts, and enjoy lots of fun social events all weekend. You can just come to the social events, or all of the weekend’s fun, depending on how much time you have. Silent auction items are also being accepted if you have one to donate (call Amy Kirwin, 754-0912). Information on the conference, sponsored by the City and the San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance, is on in the News and Events section, where you can also get registration forms and phone numbers.

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Join the SMRF email list to get weekly updates about volunteer projects, and special events. Send an email to to join this list today. Dates are posted of each volunteer event, like the monthly water hyacinth removal project on Spring Lake. Remember to update SMRF when an email address changes. Also, since SMRF’s office rent at the Price Seniors Center is paid for by volunteer hours, there are many little jobs around the center. Garden, paint, repot plants, vacuum, dust, fold newsletters, decorate for Christmas, arrange flowers, and enjoy working with fellow SMRF members. Many hands make light work, especially when working with other members!


In July each year some of the best chili cooks in Texas gather at the Staples Dam and the home of Shorty Grumbles to hold a cookoff and silent auction. The money they raise has gone to SMRF, the Staples Civic Center and York Creek Fire Department for the last few years. This year several SMRF members served as chili judges, which was an honor and a tasty privilege. This group has a lot of fun, but they also do a great job of raising money to help SMRF protect the river, too.

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