Wildflower field at Jackson Nature Park in Wilson County.
This series provides readers the opportunity to learn about the unique insight and experiences of the River Authority Board of Directors and their personal connection to the San Antonio River in hopes of inspiring stewardship of area creeks and rivers.
John J. Flieller is a graduate of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, where he earned a degree in business administration with an emphasis in risk management insurance. Following his graduation, he began working at his family owned business Flieller Insurance Agency, providing services to the Floresville community for the past 20 years. Mr. Flieller has been an active member of his community through his participation in organizations like the Floresville Chamber of Commerce and the Sacred Heart Catholic School Board and he has also served on the Wilson County Tax Review Board for four years. He has been board member of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) representing Wilson County since 2008 and his current term expires in 2021.
What is your favorite section of the San Antonio River?
The River Authority operates several parks and trails throughout our four-county jurisdiction and Wilson County is fortunate to be home to three very different parks developed and supported by River Authority staff. Jackson Nature Park is a smaller 4-acre park that provides visitors the opportunity to enjoy nature trails and picnic tables in a beautiful natural setting. Bird watching is a favorite activity at this park. Graytown Park on the San Antonio River is a larger nature park with river trail access, a training area, and a wonderful tournament-level 18-hole disc golf course.
Finally, my personal favorite park that the River Authority brought to fruition in Wilson County is John William Helton San Antonio River Nature Park. This 98-acre park offers so many options for a wide range of interests in such a beautiful natural setting! Nestled among carefully preserved pecan groves are picnic tables and benches, campgrounds with grills, a large pavilion, basketball courts, a playground, restrooms, access to the San Antonio River, the SASPAMCO Paddling Trail, and a nature trail that winds through the whole park. When I visit, I like to walk for exercise, and the trails of this park allow me to disconnect from the hectic world. I appreciate the sounds and beauty of nature while others in the very same park are playing basketball or on the playground. There is truly something for everyone!
Of all the San Antonio River Authority’s current Safe, Clean, and Enjoyable projects and efforts, which do you think is the most impactful or inspiring?
As part of our commitment to safe, clean, enjoyable creeks and rivers, the River Authority has invested in education and outreach efforts to help raise awareness on the challenges our creeks and river face. One of these concentrated efforts is to eliminate trash throughout the San Antonio River Basin through the support of local, regional and state projects and initiatives to help preserve the river and surrounding features. Trash in the river continues to be a major issue, especially after rain events, and we are working to make sure everyone is aware of this and that they can do their part to address this issue.
Why is it important to be stewards of the San Antonio River Basin and protect area creeks and rivers?
The role of the San Antonio River and creeks in the San Antonio Basin has evolved over time. Once critical for transportation and irrigation of crops, these waterways are currently an indication of the health of our environment and are crucial not only to people but also to the native species who rely upon it for survival. It is our responsibility to protect the river and preserve it as much as possible for future generations.
What is a positive action someone can take to Be River Proud?
There are several ways that the average citizen can take action and join the River Authority staff and Board of Directors in being River Proud. The River Warrior program sponsored by the River Authority provides an opportunity for people 15 and older to become stewards of the river. Participants receive education and training to help remove invasive species like Apple Snails, plant native grasses, shrubs, and trees, apply mulch, and spend tireless hours removing trash from the river and surrounding areas. If nothing else, removing trash from the river and creeks is something we can all do to ensure that the San Antonio River and its watershed are preserved for generations to come.