The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University has reopened its Wetlands Boardwalk after it was damaged in the 2015 Halloween floods.
The boardwalk stretches around the protected wetlands that are native to San Marcos and gives guests an opportunity to explore the area’s wildlife and natural scenery.
“The boardwalk is really used as an educational tool for The Meadows Center,” said Anna Huff, community relations specialist at The Meadows Center. “We have about 30,000 school children that come here on school trips every year along with our visitors.”
After the October floods ravaged through Hays County, the San Marcos region was declared a disaster zone by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Obviously, our wetlands have never seen the water rise that high, and when the water level rose, so did our boardwalk,” Huff said. “Its mounts or pilings became undone, and it did not set back down correctly, so nobody could walk on it or do anything. We had to wait for FEMA funds before we could restore it, which recently happened almost one year later.”
When the San Marcos City Council secured $25 million for recovery projects, a portion of that funding went toward the reconstruction at The Meadows Center. Some of the funds went toward restoring the boardwalk, said Spring Lake diving coordinator Taylor Heard.
Reconstruction for the Wetlands Boardwalk began in late 2016, and was completed within a couple weeks.
“When the flood happened, the water raised the boardwalk off of its pillars which were connected to the ground,” Heard said. “When they were set back down, they came back down off of the pillars, making the whole thing unstable. We now have pillars that go up nearly 18 feet above predicted water levels for another flood, so we are very much in the clear if another flood happens.”
Wetlands are a natural nursery for many of the species that are native to Spring Lake. They form a protective barrier for young species that inhabit the lake and natural springs.
Graham Gaither, aquatic biology senior and boat driver at The Meadows Center, said the best part about having a boardwalk in the midst of the wetlands is the inside perspective of fish, spawning and birds that come in and out.
“The boardwalk allows you to really zoom in on those little details, and I think allowing people to see those details is what will help us save wetlands as a whole,” Gaither said.