Fiesta on the San Antonio River’s ‘Garbage Reach’

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The view from my bike. Photo by Robert Rivard

Robert RivardThe close of Fiesta for me belongs to the Southside and the San Antonio Charro Ranch on Padre Drive.  The Charreada is an afternoon of traditional Mexican music and rodeo as charros and adelitas on horseback ride into the arena, mariachi rousing the Sunday crowd with the sound of brass, gritos and whistles.

Plan A was to write about the charreada to bring Fiesta 2013 to a close. What I saw Sunday changed my mind.

This year, sadly, the lasting image of Fiesta’s final day for me will be the storm-washed litter that destroyed any sense of civic pride that I or anyone else in this city should feel today for the reborn Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. Go see for yourself. Is this what we claim is worthy of World Heritage site status?

A river runs through it: Fiesta garbage litters the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. Photo by Robert Rivard

A river runs through it: Fiesta garbage litters the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. Photo by Robert Rivard

Some will say the visual destruction of the river is no big deal, a temporary mess that “they,” meaning the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio River Authority and Bexar County can somehow quickly and quietly clean up.  It’s the “somebody else will take care of it” mentality that makes it so easy. Aren’t there volunteers who do this kind of work?

Some will say I’m making too big of a deal out of a one-time thing: “Our river” wouldn’t look so bad if there hadn’t been a big storm Saturday night, a storm that brought enough rain and lightning to force the first-ever cancellation of the Fiesta Flambeau.

The storm and the ensuing runoff bring into focus what officials at the San River Authority have been telling us for years in their Watershed Wise outreadch program. What we put on the ground we are putting in the river. Revelers have been littering for days along parade routes, at festivals, in parking lots and on neighborhood streets.

If Fiesta defines in some larger way San Antonio and its traditions, it also says we are a city with public habits more often found in the developing world. People litter because, well, people have always littered in San Antonio. Our expectations are low. So people keep littering, and that begets other people who litter.

What can officials do about it?

The view from my bike. Photo by Robert Rivard

The view from my bike. Photo by Robert Rivard

For starters, clean up. The Mission Reach was marred by visible litter along its banks and in its waters even before Fiesta. A more systematic approach to capturing downstream litter and policing the banks and waters must be devised. Are sturdy nets placed at low-water points a possibility?

City employees can’t possibly keep up by themselves unless people want to pay higher taxes. I see three categories of people who can help on litter patrol: paid summer interns, adult and juvenile offenders serving sentences in county facilities, and individuals caught littering ordered by the court to perform community service.

Second, start enforcing anti-litter ordinances and laws. If people have to pay fines or perform community service they will respond, just as a lack of enforcement tells people there is no punitive price to pay for littering.

Increase receptacles for garbage and recycles materials. The City already is doing a good job here, but more can be done.

Embark on a public education campaign that appeals to people’s civic pride in building a better, cleaner city. That campaign should include the school districts and public signage appealing to people’s best instincts. Children taught not to litter at an early age can be very effective in making less thoughtful parents and siblings behave more responsibly.

Why did we spend hundreds of millions of dollars improving the San Antonio River and its banks to create one of the nation’s unique linear parks if we are going to treat the river like a garbage dump as we have this Fiesta?

It’s a question for a whole city.

A litter-strewn bridge on the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. Photo by Robert Rivard.

A litter-strewn bridge on the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River. Photo by Robert Rivard.


Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.


Related Stories:

A Booth with a View: Chicken Dances, Drunks and (too much) Big Red

While Others ‘Fiesta’, San Antonio Cops Keep Things Cool

The Feed: B–Roll on the Mission Reach

SARA Documentary Chronicles Story of the San Antonio River

Basura Bash Volunteers: ‘Clean it Like You Mean it’

The San Antonio River: Respected Around the World

San Antonio Symphony: A Fiesta Duchess in our Midst

Rendon Retrato: Veronica Prida

A Cornyation Virgin’s Voyage Through Cringes and Glitter

A Brief Guide to Fiesta for First Timers & The Cascarón App

Fiesta Excess: When Commemoration Turns Sloppy



52 thoughts on “Fiesta on the San Antonio River’s ‘Garbage Reach’

  1. It’s like someone took a bag of garbage and cut it open over the edge of the river. That’s probably multiple bags of garbage right there.

  2. Yes, its disgusting. Trash everywhere, even though there are plenty of trash cans all over the parade route. We live downtown, and see the disgusting aftermath of the attendees. Its the same every year.

  3. You’re talking about uneducated, immoral southside/westside/eastside folks of San Antonio. That sums it up….

    • This is such a classist, ignorant thing to say. Rich, Middle-Class people are just as guilty – it’s about a culture of negligence and entitlement that pervades all strata. As the author said, it’s thinking that ‘someone else’ will clean it up, as well as a complete disconnect from the natural world we live in and our built environment.

      If anything, the entitlement of the rich is more revolting, because these days, their goal is to evade the taxes that pay for those services that they think should clean up after them.

    • How ignorant of TheRealBen. Seriously, you’re gonna assume the northside is so high class and clean. What’s worst is seeing trash spillage from overflowing trash cans. You cannot put a name to this, its how to prevent it.

  4. Revolting yes, but check out the creek at the Olmos Basin golf course, where plastic bags are intertwined with every bush & branch every day of the year and no one ever cleans it up either

  5. & Salado Creek…I always do my bit by taking a trash bag with me while walking my dog…guess I should do the same when I boat Mission reach

  6. Good article. I think the photos are impacting. The litter has always been am issue and I think as you mention this incident is a great reminder of how much effect we have on our environment durning such celebrations.

  7. There is a huge problem with trash and thinking it’s ok to litter in SA. I wish it would change and people would have more pride in their surroundings.

  8. @ TheRealBen, this is a citywide problem that includes the northside as well. You obviously haven’t spent any time along the Salado or Leon Creek Greenways on the northside of the City.

  9. When we start, if we clean up not only our downtown, but neighborhoods (challenges? competitions?), San Antonio will garner national attention and activities, pre Olympics, summer Olympics, etc. Following a Thanksgiving Day parade in Chicago which has three receptacles on streets, recycling, general and paper, I couldn’t believe how clean the areas were. Street sweeping machines instantaneously moved into action post parade and employees on the streets, but, lo and behold!, there was very little street refuse for them to clean up. It IS a matter of civic pride: View, Clean, Leave (cleaner than you found it). A CARE program of caring about our health and our environoment can work hand in hand. Punishment/fines have less effect than instilling a desire to be healthy and have attractive surroundings.

  10. I really don’t understand why picking up after oneself seems to be an unheard of concept for many who live in San Antonio. Littering is a problem all over town, in just about every venue, from movie theaters to Wolff Stadium to college campuses to the streets and parking lots and Fiesta events. It’s disgusting, embarrassing, and illogical for people who claim to be so proud of their city and their state.

  11. Some of the polluting items are things that are appropriate in public but should be tossed into trash cans, like water bottles and cans. Some of the polluting items probably shouldn’t be there at all, like confetti and silly string. For some reason, these items have been an integral part of our celebrations and synonymous with “fun.”

    But there is nothing fun about cleaning it up.

    I escorted a film crew from “One Square Mile: Texas” at this year’s King William Fair. They observed that the free portion of the parade was heavily littered, while the portion inside the Fair Zone was much cleaner, probably becase the event organizers can use their admission booths to prevent confetti cannons and silly string from entering the Fair Zone.

    Along Guenther Street, even folks who live in the area were using (abusing?) confetti cannons, silly string, and cascarones as they celebrated the parade. Did they give any thought to whether this stuff will be picked up at all, much less before the rain swept it into the river?

    The King William Association, the host of the Fair, did indeed pay to have the street cleaned before the rain started Saturday night. However, many tiny particles and silly string were still on the ground and still likely reached the river. What more can KWA/KWF do to protect our environment? Encouraging more of the same doesn’t seem like the right answer to me.

  12. I think Chris got it right. We live in a culture of entitlement. People think someone else needs to “do” for them.
    There’s a high rise apartment building in Lavaca on Barrera St. for low income elderly people that’s the poster child
    for trash abuse. Many of the residents won’t walk down the hall to deposit their trash in the garbage shoot. They just throw the bags off their balcony onto the front yard of the building. And they’re getting rent subsidies, Medicaid, foot stamps, Social Security, and every other kind of welfare. Their Residents Association makes a big effort to curb this behavior to no avail.
    New York City had this problem and one of their mayors took this on as a major part of his agenda to correct. And he did to a great extent. Maybe we can elect a mayor who has the political courage and leadership to take this problem head on. Sometimes these problems have to get worse before they can get better. But it’s up to us. When we get our belly full of this garbage we’ll rise up and say ENOUGH! And take serious action. Ban all plastic from parade routes would be a start.

  13. I think the author did an excellent job of educating the public on this issue. He also presents a “key” solution to addressing this issue, and cleaning up our city on a broader scale.

  14. Rose makes a good point. Fiesta is fun enough without resorting to harmful excessive behaviors. It’s over the top now and will be painful to rein in. For instance, here in La Villita, a number of years ago we had to ban those poppers from festivals. Those were the things that looked like matches that were scratched on rough surfaces and they crackled & popped like firecrackers. People would scratch them on the walls of these ancient historic houses and it defaced them. So the shop owners had the City ban them. But we had to take the initiative. The City won’t do it on their own. They don’t have the backbone. Now if we could get the Conservation Society to act like they are serious about conserving historic buildings instead of just talking about it, we wouldn’t be shuffling along in NIOSA trash 3 days after their event was over. They would never do this to their own accessioned properties but since La Villita is public property anything goes.

  15. Thanks Bob, for bringing to light this most uncomfortable subject. I cross the river daily on my walking commute to work and I see the suds from detergents and other flotsam and jetsam from the great ship Litterbug. I see the ducks swimming in this and it is not a pretty picture.

    We don’t need more laws, and we don’t need more budget for the city workers. We just need to realize that we are the ones dropping this stuff on the streets and just because we have always done that in the past, we should consider being less slovenly in our own home.

    I fear that I am preaching to the choir here, as most RR readers seem to care a bit more than others about the reality of an urban renaissance. This topic strikes at our core and it tells us how far we really have to go. I did not like looking at the images in this post any more than I like looking at the trash in the river every day, but I do hope we get the message.

  16. Sickening. Plain and simple. It’s all I can do to keep myself from walking around downtown and smacking people as they litter. They just don’t freakin’ get it. The scene on Broadway around 12:30 A.M on Sunday was surreal. Road graders had to make two passes, followed by a brigade of sweepers. There were umbrellas, full bags of trash, a sea of plastic bottles, foil, beer cartons, discarded souvenirs, cigarette butts, turkey bones, cans, glass bottles, paper products, everything! You name it, it was down there–all one block from our river–much of it being pulled into it by rain run off. I watched the cleanup from the fourth floor of my building and had to stop myself numerous times from retching.

  17. “People litter because, well, people have always littered in San Antonio. Our expectations are low. So people keep littering, and that begets other people who litter.” This is PATHETIC!. Low EXPECTATIONS are NOT a viable excuse. The only reason “people keep littering” is because they are lazy, selfish and don’t give a sh*t. People who don’t give a sh*t “beget” more sh*t. I absolutely appreciate this article putting a spotlight on this, but let’s not be tentative about calling it for what it is: a selfish disregard for responsibility and thoughtfulness. And, while it is noticeably aggravated in San Antonio, it is pandemic in this country. Thanks and kudos to the author.

  18. I commit to raising expectations and awareness. Rick, you’re almost as old as me, give or take a dozen years, but we are at our age of majority (second time I’ve used that phrase today) and we have the right and responsibility to speak up. And demonstrate proper behavior by picking up litter and disposing of it properly.

  19. We and much of America is are a 21st century modern society that is incapable of tossing our waste into a trash can. The saddest part is that much of the pictured trash is recyclable material!

  20. It’s the same way outside the city…our here it goes out the car window to litter the roadside. Potranco Road is shameful.

  21. Let’s discuss a city permit fee to set up “camp” for Fiesta, Easter, etc. Part of the permit process could be environmental education.

    • We are making very real progress in Brackenridge Park during Easter. Almost every campsite I visited this year had and was using a clear recycling bag for their cans, bottles, and cardboard. Simply visiting in a friendly way with campers–handing out free t-shirts with an environmental theme–and explaining the need for recycling has helped change behaviors over the past three years. Kudos to the volunteers who helped Brackenridge Park Conservancy carry out this work this year, and to the Parks Department, who adopted the model for four other parks. This outreach program is not rocket science and it’s not even terribly expensive: we spend a few thousand dollars on t-shirts (sponsored by San Antonio River Authority, Valero, VIA and BikeSA) and have seen recycling at Easter grow from none to more than four tons. I am not opposed to a camping permit with a fee, but it is impractical to consider a refundable charge. Who would inspect each campsite, and when?

  22. If I am a family wanting to use city property for an event, I would be willing to pay a $25 clean-up fee to ensure the longevity of our public spaces and events. That could even be a one-time yearly fee.

  23. The only way to curb this littering problem is to put a stiff fine on litterers.
    The collected fines could bank roll anti-littering campaigns in schools, Earth Day Activities, corporations, McDonalds, Burger King, Whataburger, HEB, La Fiesta Grocery Stores (their plastic bags are a big part of the problem), WalMart,Valero Corner Stores, Family Dollar Stores,etc. Any and all who sell or use plastic. Everyone is going to have to get on this. It comes down to education and that starts at a very young age. Teach people it’s not COOL to litter. It needs to start with a positive approach but be backed up with a stiff fine. Good Cop – Bad Cop approach. The carrot and the stick. The fines can finance the public education ad campaigns. Where do we start with this Robert? City Council, The Mayor, Fiesta leadership, Fiesta Royalty, where and who? Anyone want to weigh in on that?

    • Readers:

      We are getting a very robust response to today’s article and already have heard from our friends at the San Antonio River Authority, who are stuck with the cleanup. Clearly, we need to move from a clean-up mentality to a litter prevention and public education campaign. It is our hope that the continuing attention we are paying to the issue will spark a concerted response in the public sector and by sponsoring organizations, including the Fiesta Commission, the San Antonio Conservation Society, the King William Association, and others. The change that all of us want and deserve to see happen is long overdue.

      Today I saw city workers using leaf blowers to gather the litter along the Broadway viewing areas into piles that could be shoveled up. That litter is like a fingerprint. We know exactly what organization leased that space and left it in that condition. It would be relatively easy for the City to establish a fee/fine schedule for each leased area that requires cleanup. $1,000 per pound of litter might get people’s attention. Thus, if the business or non-profit entity leasing and selling seats at a given space left it littered with trash, a stiff clean-up penalty would be assessed by the City. If the organizations that lease space and resell it faced losing their profits they would get religion quickly.

      I also agree with those who commented that enforcement and fines have to become part of the equation. I like the idea of making Basura Bash at least a quarterly event. What is most clear is how many good people in san Antonio are sick and tired of seeing their city trashed every year.

      –Robert Rivard

  24. People will keep littering because they don’t face any consequences. It isn’t their yard or streets being trashed; they come in to enjoy the festivities, and then leave the urban dwellers with the aftermath. I walked parts of the Battle of the Flowers route – trash and recycle bins were not easily accessible or in large quantities. Some of us might be willing to walk a block to the bin, but most won’t. The city can do better! Has a fine ever been handed out to a litterer? Also, whose responsibility does it become to educate those who cannot understand the consequences of litter?

    I was very proud to see virtually zero trash at the King William parade because the residents made sure of it. I personally scolded a man in his late 20’s who “did not know” that the styrofoam and plastic he was squeezing into the drains went into our river. The number of residents and businesses downtown are few – will the increasing density put pressure on the people’s attitudes and how the city deals with Fiesta trash? We can only hope!

  25. I love Basura Bash! It’s a cool way to meet people and clean up the community areas at the same time. I don’t even live in San Antonio and I’m cleaning the mess the residents left behind. Is it sad? Maybe.

    The problem is going to continue but enforcement might not be the way to fix this. How about a marketing effort to raise awareness or some other strategy?

  26. Excellent report on the consequences of ignoring the problem throughout the years, and as the response indicates, happens throughout the City. In addition to a cleanup, a campaign appealing to civic pride and environmental concerns should be a priority. It’s happened elsewhere, including in Texas with the Don’t Mess With Texas campaign.

    • I agree. The Don’t Mess With Texas campaign is a huge hit and continues to this day. The campaign has done a great job of reducing litter in various areas across the state. We can do the same thing here too, maybe launched by SA2020 or the City of San Antonio or both as a joint effort.

  27. permits fee during fiesta and littering fines year round. that money should go towards funding clean-up citywide. the hard part about fining littering is that its rarely seen occurring. *sigh* i don’t know anymore.

  28. Yes, there are volunteers. And yes some of us will clean year round, upstream, and we are making progress, but Saturday is a setback. There is even a Riverwalk contingent. We walk among you, and some of us even have our own trash bags in the car and litter grabber at the ready I have even benefitted from a great bunch of MeetUp volunteers in some cleanups. volunteers are great, but this is a job, a real job, beyond what you can assign to a Saturday cleanup.

    What really matters is that the public agencies get involved – somebody has to organize this effort, at least arrange to pay for a garbage truck or three to haul it off to the appropriate landfill, etc. What we are lacking is a workable plan to retrieve all that stuff as soon as it happens. Come on Planners, make a strong response to a sudden surge trash and storm debris part of normal “best practices” for river care. You cannot rely on volunteers, this is real work, with real hidden hazards, and trained city/county/SARA/etc. workers are the best folks to run this kind of cleanup.

    I certainly agree with Mr. Rivard that San Antonio festivals condone an immense amount of trash making that is not flattering to any of us that love this city. and it is NOT just a “side” of San Antonio that litters, every storm that arrives with gusty winds and follows with sudden rains does this, you are seeing trash from all over town in those photos.

    As SARA says, we are all on a watershed. I will add – even when it is dry.

    • I certainly agree with Mr. Rivard that San Antonio festivals condone an immense amount of trash making that is not flattering to any of us that love this city.

      — Well stated, Lissa. I have walked around quite a few downtowns in the last year, photographing them. I believe we as a city condone an immense amount of trash, not just the festivals. Bigger and smaller cities than San Antonio are a lot cleaner.

      While litter fines would potentially help, others have commented accurately that it is hard to catch the perpetrator in the act. Somehow we as a city need to get the point that we are empowered to be slobs or to take pride in our city.

      Just as it takes a lot of energy to turn ice into water, it will take an incredible amount of energy to create a sea change in the behavior of our citizens and visitors. This is as much a part of urban renaissance as getting infrastructure to residents of downtown, and it impacts us in so many ways. I hope the The Rivard Report will take the lead on this issue as it is so basic and important to us as individuals and as a city.

      • Education, education, education!
        This litter disaster solution requires a multi-pronged approach. I just read in my morning paper about the opening of the Mission Reach water education park. Including the subject of the impact of litter on our watersheds should be a no brainer. Education about watershed conservation in every school is another prong. San Antonio Conservation Society should step up and take a leadership role. City Council should lead as well. As our local government they should have never let it get so out of hand to begin with. This whole litter problem should have been addressed years ago. Litter during Fiesta is nothing new. In fact, flagrant littering during Fiesta may have propagated, hatched, and enlarged that’s it’s ok to engage in this nasty behavior city wide at all times.The idea that if its ok to do it during Fiesta then it’s ok all the time. Another prong is ordinances, enforcement, and fines. It must be on the books that its a crime against our city to litter. How else can the behavior be discouraged. Just like graffiti. It’s against the law. So do it at your own risk of being caught. Then there is the general pressure placed by society at large that this is unacceptable behavior and it needs to stop. People who engage in it will have their bad behavior frowned upon. That alone is a big deterrent. If you do something like this your not cool & no one wants to be uncool these days. Great conversation about this topic. Let’s all commit to getting something done.

        • According to the Suraya Foundation Case Study, the “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign was the best ever. Here is the text from their study:

          In ’80s the state of Texas faced huge littering problem spending at least $25 million per year and the costs were rising 15 percent per year. Standard messages like “Please don’t litter” did not work. Secondly the authorities tried using emotional messages like Native American shedding tear over litter which also did not work until Texas authorities hired an advertiser Dan Syrek who figured out some-type of macho-looking male members to whom saying “please” would fall on deaf ears, were mostly littering the state. Penalizing by imposing hefty fines did not work as macho kind of people were anti-authority. So Dan figured out the best way to convince these macho-people was to use people they look up to or people like them. Based on the research the department of Texas approved a campaign built around the slogan “Don’t mess with Texas”. Below is one of the earlier commercials featuring two Dallas Cowboys players – Randy White and Ed Jones.

          There have been many other versions of the video which you can view by going to Dont Mess with Texas. The campaign “Dont Mess with Texas became the most successful anti-littering campaign in the history. Within a few months of launch an astonishing 73 percent of Texans polled could recall the message and identify it as antilitter message. Within one year, litter had declined by 29 percent. The campaign is credited with reducing litter on Texas highways by 72% between 1986 and 1990. You can read more about this in the book – Dont Mess with Texas – the Story behind the Legend

          Successful Campaign Template

          Two Harvard researchers – Dan Heath and Chip Heath have broken down elements on “Truth Ad” and “Dont Mess with Texas” ads and showed why it worked in their famous book – Made to Stick. We have adopted the “Success” template discussed in the book and incorporated it in our messages to ensure it has desired positive effect on listeners and viable results. You can read about our campaign strategy here.

          — I believe the point is, fines are not a deterrent, and neither is a campaign that doesn’t hit home. I think there are plenty of smart people in San Antonio who could come up with a campaign that would work. Tying pride of ownership to the problem worked with “Don’t Mess with Texas”. We can do something here too, but it will have to be a whopper as the problem is so ingrained now, as Sherry has pointed out.

          • Excellent background info from Kevin to add to our litter solution arsenal. The mention of two of my favorites, Randy White and “Too Tall” Jones brought to mind how we’ll need a very prominent high profile widely respected local personage as our spokesperson to lead our 21st Century charge. I’m reminded of Mr. Beautify San Antonio, OP Schnabel. He lead the charge to clean up and beautify our city back in the 70’s. Won some national awards for us too.
            He had a fathomless supply of energy, charisma, and an engaging personality. His love for our city was all encompassing and contagious. He wanted San Antonio, every inch of it, every nook and cranny, to be as beautiful and lovely as he imagined it to be. I remember as a young professional how inspired I was by him. He left a huge legacy and a lovely park off Bandera Road. Maybe we can clone him. If not that, who will step up and fill his shoes and take us forward? Any ideas folks?

          • Yes, I agree! Enforcement and fines increase government involvement, intervention and don’t do a whole lot besides have the opposite effect. Making an act illegal does not deter an individual or organization from committing the act.

  29. OP’s passion for this city was so profound that every bus stop had a Beautify San Antonio trash can by it. Does VIA know whatever happened to all of those? OP owned an insurance agency. He belonged to every chamber of commerce, civic organization in existence. At that time no business person would even dare snub out a cigarette butt on the sidewalk much less toss a plastic bottle or McDonalds carton out their truck window. We had this prevailing sense that to do anything that detracted from the beauty of our city was tantamount to being a traitor. We all had a high stake in its well being. It was OUR CITY and we treated it with kid gloves. It was our precious home.
    Somewhere along the line we’ve lost that personal feeling for San Antonio.

  30. I’m glad to see the interest in creating this change in San Antonio. After years of cleaning creeks and parks, I’ve become a garbage geek and I also take photos of other cities and parks and theme parks where large gatherings are held. This change can happen, but it takes focus and a little creative effort. Other touristy towns make it a contest to design the best recycling containers. Or they follow simple rules to place the recycling containers next to the garbage cans. Or, imagine this, they restrict disposable bottles. and they do fine violators, and places get cleaner over time. Don’t Mess with Texas is a fine example. And OP Schnabel, rest his soul, got San Antonio off to a good start decades ago. Basura Bash started because this river has been dirty, much dirtier than today, and all that helps. Do we need another charismatic leader? How about ALL of us? I’m hearing lots of citizen leadership in these exchanges.

    Our current mayor is trying, and a lot of community organizations are volunteering, but it really takes professional attention. I’ve run a lot of flood plain and creek cleanups and I’ve had volunteers injured in cleanups, and that is why I am saying it takes planning. Enthusiasm is not a substitute for preparation! And the best time to clean is when the skies are clear, before the rains flood the waterways. It is dry here a lot more than it is wet. I’ll spare you folks the entire seminar, but we need to clean these waterways while it is dry if we want to make any progress, and we need to prevent them getting dirty again by year round “Don’t Mess with Texas” efforts all across the county.

    Love you all for your energies. Hope SARA and the city Public Works and the Bexar Regional Watershed Management teams are listening and appreciating this citizen input.

  31. We are making very real progress in Brackenridge Park during Easter. Almost every campsite I visited this year had and was using a clear recycling bag for their cans, bottles, and cardboard. Simply visiting in a friendly way with campers–handing out free t-shirts with an environmental theme–and explaining the need for recycling has helped change behaviors over the past three years. Kudos to the volunteers who helped Brackenridge Park Conservancy carry out this work this year, and to the Parks Department, who adopted the model for four other parks. This outreach program is not rocket science and it’s not even terribly expensive: we spend a few thousand dollars on t-shirts (sponsored by San Antonio River Authority, Valero, VIA and BikeSA) and have seen recycling at Easter grow from none to more than four tons. I am not opposed to a camping permit with a fee, but it is impractical to consider a refundable charge. Who would inspect each campsite, and when?

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