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Signs Go Up To Protect Endangered Wild-rice in San Marcos River
SAN MARCOS — New signs are popping up along the San Marcos River to educate the public about recent state actions to protect the river.
Earlier this year, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department designated a segment of the river from the Spring Lake Dam to the San Marcos wastewater treatment plant as the San Marcos River State Scientific Area.
The signs and related public education efforts are designed to protect federally endangered Texas wild-rice (Zizania texana), a plant found only in the cool clear waters of the San Marcos River. TPWD regulations prohibit uprooting of Texas wild-rice within the designated segment.
Also, when the flows within the San Marcos River State Scientific Area are 120 cubic feet per second or lower, TPWD may put physical barriers around vulnerable stands of wild-rice to help people avoid the plant while enjoying the river.
“Wading through wild-rice stands is the recreational activity that has the most potential for uprooting the plants,” said Cindy Loeffler, TPWD Water Resources Branch Chief. “With low river recreation in winter months, we don’t foresee an immediate need to provide physical restrictions. But it’s an excellent time to educate people about protecting the San Marcos River and its endangered inhabitants, and we will continue public awareness activities as we approach prime recreational season in spring.”
Loeffler said TPWD and its partners believe the public education and awareness gleaned from the new signs is a critical first step in the protection effort.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority, the City of San Marcos, Texas State University, the City of New Braunfels, the San Antonio Water System, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and TPWD are all partners in the recently adopted Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan aimed at resolving conflicts between protecting endangered species associated with the aquifer and the region’s dependence on the aquifer as a primary water resource.
The scientific area signs are the first of several educational signs that will be posted along the river in the coming months to introduce HCP activities to river users. Other signs will describe the bank stabilization project and riparian enhancements that will be undertaken this year.
The City of San Marcos will also begin several major projects in 2013 to stabilize eroding banks and create access points, remove invasive aquatic plants, (elephant ears) and animals (non-native fish and snails), remove sediment, and replant native vegetation along the river.
Funding for the HCP activities along the San Marcos River comes from the City of San Marcos, Texas State University and aquifer management fees collected by the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
For information on Texas wild-rice, visit the TPWD Texas wild-rice web page.
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