Last Updated on January 30, 2024
The “My River POV” series provides readers the opportunity to learn about the unique insight and experiences of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) staff and their personal connection to the San Antonio River in hopes of inspiring stewardship of our creeks and rivers.
Born and raised in San Antonio, family vacations as a kid usually meant packing our van with a tent, air mattresses, sleeping bags, Coleman camp stove, and a lantern or two. We would travel to local state parks such as Garner State Park for a weekend retreat most of the time. Still, I considered the real vacations to be when we went camping in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Sometimes we would camp in designated campgrounds. At other times, we would find spots along the national forest access dirt roads. We’d camp, hike, and fish at reservoirs or along the mountain streams and rivers. These camping trips instilled in me a deep appreciation and respect for our natural resources and our shrinking remote “wild” spaces that allow for solitude and repose.
A 2016 Mast family day hike in Mt. Ranier National Park
These early camping experiences eventually inspired me to work in Yellowstone National Park over four summers and one winter during my younger adulthood. Van camping trips quickly turned to multi-night backpacking trips. Spring in Yellowstone comes with 20-foot high snow bluffs lining the higher points of the mountain roads and frozen creeks covered by snow in the shadows of lodgepole pine forests. These icy mountain streams melt and come to life in early summer as they flow toward the larger mountain rivers, including the Firehole, Lamar, Madison, Snake, and Yellowstone rivers. The roaring mountain rivers of summer portend in-your-face tourist chaos.
A vacation picture of Everest Base Camp from a neighboring hill
Because of my experiences in the outdoors, the phrases “Leave no trace,” “pack it in, pack it out,” and “leave only footprints” mean so much to me. On a remote hiking trail in Yellowstone, finding an energy bar wrapper is a jarring intrusion to the otherwise peacefulness of the surroundings. Like the waterways in Yellowstone, we in San Antonio, the 7th largest city in the United States, are stewards of a precious natural resource. The San Antonio River meanders through our downtown, our neighborhoods, and past the historic Spanish colonial missions. These days, our river is now all too frequently littered with trash such as fast food packaging, to-go cups, and plastic water bottles. In the 2021 Basin Report Card“F” rating for Public Trash in our waterways.
In 2020, The River Authority collected over 100,000 lbs of public trash from the Mission Reach
In an old Peanuts comic strip, Pigpen says, “cleanliness is next to impossible.” However, I’d like to disagree with Pigpen. We can make an individual and collective difference through our actions, including joining the River Authority’s “Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” trash initiative. For my part, I pledge to pick up trash that I come across and properly dispose of it in the appropriate recycling or trash container. Please join me, my colleagues, River Warrior Volunteers and others in helping keep our city, communities, and waterways free of litter.
River Warrior volunteers pick up litter along the San Antonio River during an event.