Photo by Matthew Mohondro courtesy of the Meadows Center
Meadows Center announces plans for partial reopening of Spring Lake
The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University has announced plans to reopen after closing in March due to COVID-19 pandemic and public health orders. Beginning Friday, the Meadows Center will be open to the public in a limited capacity Monday-Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
To ensure the health and safety of staff and guests, the Meadows Center has implemented temporary procedures for visiting Spring Lake. Guests will be required to wear a face mask and maintain a distance of at least six feet from others at all times. Glass-bottom boat tours will run at 50% capacity and the open-air boats will also be equipped with plexiglass to create a barrier between boat drivers and guests. Other safety initiatives implemented by the Center’s staff will include stringent cleaning protocols before and after each boat tour.
“We want to thank the public for all of your patience as we made a plan for the best way to reopen Spring Lake in the midst of a pandemic,” said Miranda Wait, Deputy Director of Spring Lake Operations. “Our guests have been dearly missed by the Meadows Center family and we look forward to welcoming you back.”
Glass-bottom boat tours will be available on a reservation-only basis, with a maximum capacity of 10 people per boat. Preregistration is required and will be handled by online reservation at https://www.meadowscenter.txstate.edu/Education/Glass-BottomBoats/Reserv..., so that Meadows Center staff can closely monitor attendance. Spring Lake Annual Pass holders and guests with promotional passes, such as gift certificates and Texas State employee vouchers, must reserve their complimentary tickets online in advance as well.
The 30-minute boat tours will run on the hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In order to better ensure physical distancing, guests with confirmed reservations will be provided with an arrival time to check-in before their scheduled tour. Prices are: Adults - $9.75; Seniors (62+) - $8; Children (ages 3-12) - $6 2 and under free; and Texas State University faculty, staff and students - $5 with Valid ID
The Meadows Center is not conducting group field trip tours at this time. The trails at Spring Lake and wetlands boardwalk will be open during operating hours with no reservation required, however the Discovery Hall and offices at Spring Lake Hall will remain closed to the public.
In addition to reopening educational operations for visitors, the Meadows Center is also resuming Spring Lake Diving operations. This includes reopening the Dive Training Area for scuba diving instruction and the return of the Center’s volunteer diving program, AquaCorps. Spring Lake has not seen any activity from the AquaCorps since the closure in March. AquaCorps dive volunteers play an important role maintaining Spring Lake’s habitat and keeping the San Marcos Springs flowing by removing debris and invasive species from the bottom of the lake.
“Our volunteer divers are without a doubt an essential component of keeping Spring Lake healthy and viable for the threatened and endangered species,” said Caleb Henderson, Spring Lake Dive Coordinator. “With the lapse in diving activity, aquatic vegetation began to establish itself in spring areas resulting in potential loss of habitat. I’m very excited to open back up so we can continue to keep Spring Lake in good health utilizing one of the most successful conservation programs in the country.”
Spring Lake Diving COVID-19 Policy and Procedures can be found online, along with a new online reservation system at https://meadowscenter.txstate.edu/covid-19-updates.html#diving.
“This crisis came at our busiest time of year, and the impact has been significant,” Wait said. “Our facilities are not able to reopen at full capacity, some of our facilities still remain closed and most of our education programs and initiatives have been halted until further notice. This first phase of reopening is not the end of our journey and we still have a long road ahead to recovery.”
The public can support the Meadows Center by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Meadows Center Excellence Fund at http://Donate.MeadowsWater.org.
Vehicles parked at the Meadows Center must display a valid Texas State University parking permit between 7 p.m. Sunday - 5 p.m. Friday. One-day temporary permits are available for $3 at the pay-and-display station located near the ticket kiosk. For questions about the Meadows Center and the reopening, visit https://meadowscenter.txstate.edu/covid-19-updates.html. You can also keep up on the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
And for those that are not ready to be out in public, the Meadows Center offers educational videos and hands-on science activities that can be done at home, which are posted on the Center’s social media accounts as well as online at http://learninghub.meadowswater.org/.