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Senator Judith Zaffirini: District 21
Press Release
February 20, 2017
Contact: Will Krueger
(512) 463-0121
Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
Designates Lower San Marcos River a National "Hot Spot"
March Events Will Raise Awareness About Responsible Recreation.

(AUSTIN) — Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, announced today (Feb. 20) that the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has selected the Lower San Marcos River as a national Hot Spot to help raise awareness about outdoor recreation ethics in natural areas.

The number of visitors to the San Marcos River, especially for tubing, has increased substantially in recent years, resulting in problems related to littering, trespassing, noise, underage drinking and public intoxication.

"Enjoying the river ethically and responsibly not only improves the recreational experience, but also helps keep this treasured resource pristine for future generations," said Senator Zaffirini, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development. "That is why I asked the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to share its expertise regarding responsible recreation. I am delighted that, based on my nomination, it has selected the Lower San Marcos River as one of only 16 Hot Spots in the country this year."

Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers from the center will partner in March with Senator Zaffirini, the City of San Marcos, Texas State University, the San Marcos River Foundation and other organizations to host an entire week of events, including a river tour, trainings and outreach events.

The Traveling Trainers visit locations throughout the country, providing public education about how to reduce impacts in the outdoors. The Hot Spot Program identifies areas around the country facing heavy recreational use and, consequently, the misuse of trails, parks and other recreational areas. Experts then offer solutions and preventative measures to reduce impacts and protect these areas.

Simple tips visitors of the San Marcos River can use to protect the waterway and keep visitors safe include:

  1. Trash your Trash, and don't mess with Texas rivers! Take a garbage bag with you on every trip to the river. Put litter—even crumbs, peels and fruit remnants—in the bag, and carry it home or dispose of it in designated trash receptacles. Extra food, even apple cores and banana peels, can do great damage to wildlife and to water quality. Do not bring glass or Styrofoam products, as these can be especially harmful if they get into the river. It takes up to two years for orange or banana peels to decompose in nature, more than 10 years for plastic bags and more than 80 years for aluminum cans.
  2. Take Only Pictures. Leave Only Footprints. Take out what you bring in. Fill your Instagram feed rather than your pockets, and leave nature as you found it for others to enjoy.
  3. Keep Wildlife Wild. Human food is unhealthy for all wildlife and feeding them can have unfortunate consequences such as drawing them toward humans and roads and making them sick.
  4. Clean up after your dog. Use a plastic bag to pack out your dog’s waste to a garbage can. Dog waste can be harmful to the natural environment and can cause the spread of invasive species. Bring a life jacket for your dog, if necessary.
  5. Respect Private Property. Most of the land along the river is private property. Entering someone's property without permission can result in a $500 fine.
  6. Drink Responsibly. Use good judgment, and stay safe. If you drink too much on the river, you could endanger yourself or others and could be arrested.
  7. Secure your belongings. If you don't secure hats, eyeglasses, sunglasses, flip flops or other belongings, they could end up on the bottom of the river, where they could pose a danger to wildlife.

Senator Zaffirini has prioritized working with recreationists, landowners, law enforcement, local officials, river advocates and other stakeholders to preserve the San Marcos River and promote safety, environmental quality and responsible recreation. This is the third consecutive legislative session during which she has filed legislation to create a water-oriented recreation district to fund law enforcement and clean-up efforts along the river.

"All Texans have the right to enjoy the river, but they should do so safely, lawfully and without causing irreparable damage to the environment," Senator Zaffirini said. "Count on me to continue to work with stakeholders to protect this precious natural resource."

More information about Leave No Trace and the Hot Spot Program is available via

Z photo

INCREASED RECREATIONAL USE of the San Marcos River has led to littering and other problems.