River Foundation offers thanks for help protecting land in recharge zone

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Many thanks to all those who showed up at the last city council meeting in September and stood in support, or emailed the Council, which the Record covered on their front page.  As you heard, council did vote to fill out the loan application for conserving land to protect water quality. San Marcos was ranked first in the pool of applicants for this type of very low interest loan, with just their very basic preapplication packet submitted to the Texas Water Development Board last spring.  SMRF found out about this loan pool that was not being utilized by cities, informed the city about it, and asked the city to consider applying in March.

The two tracts of land that SMRF purchased at very reasonable prices over the past few years were the ones discussed in the council meeting but we hear there may also be other tracts being considered.  Thanks to Dr. Ben Schwartz who was able to be there on short notice and stayed late to wait for the agenda item. He was able to answer any questions the council had about these two SMRF tracts, their recharge zones and karst limestone, his scientific field of expertise.  

SMRF and Meadows Center will be working to line up the grants needed to fund such a purchase.  Of course, there is a very big plus involved with the loans, and that is the possible forgiveness of 30% or more of the loans, through TWDB, the state agency managing those grant funds. Only a city can apply for these funds and the forgiveness of the loan. That could be well over a million dollars. All this will take some time to arrange.  Both the council and we will know more about the timeline on such loans soon.  The city staff is inquiring about when the city would actually have to borrow the funds, because of course we’d all like for the grants to be lined up ahead of time. The council only agreed to fill out the loan application, and then will discuss this again before taking the step of actually going ahead with a loan.

Thanks also to Andy Sansom of the Meadows Center who wrote a letter of support to council that we read aloud, and handed to council, since Andy could not be there that night.  We were able to speak and answer questions during the agenda item too, since the council and mayor asked questions of us. And all of this is archived on the city website for that council meeting, if you wish to learn more about this public discussion.  

We are encouraged to keep working toward conserving this band of recharge zone land, which protects Spring Lake and our river, to keep it flowing and clear. We do not have much time left to protect land in that watershed. As SMRF worked to buy those two tracts we competed directly with those who wanted to build on them. So much recharge zone land has already been platted and approved for building on it, which people cannot see yet. There will only be a few places left that can even BE conserved.  And remember any land we can work together as a community to protect in the hills west of town will help prevent even worse flooding in town.  Once built on, this vegetated land is lost forever. So we thank the council for acting at this critical time.

Please take time to view a great video of a cave on one of the tracts of land needing conserving, the Millican tract.www.sanmarcosriver.org. The video shows rain runoff from miles around the tract rushing into the aquifer that feeds the head of the river. We hope this inspires everyone to support this project that will protect the river, keep it flowing, and also provide more connectivity of trails that can be used for recreation and transportation from Spring Lake Preserve all the way to Purgatory Preserve. If you have questions at any time about SMRF’s efforts to protect the river for the community, please contact us at info@sanmarcosriver.org or 512-787-6392. We will have having walks and volunteer workdays soon when it gets cooler, on the two tracts, so sign up for our email list on our website to get the notifications of those events.

Dianne Wassenich,

Executive Director, SMRF

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666