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Aquatic Plant Community Restoration

planting Texas wild-rice
Ecological Research Group biologists and technicians plant Texas wild-rice downstream of Cape’s dam in spring 2022.

Project Summary

The Upper San Marcos River is a 4.5-mile stretch that begins at Spring Lake on the Texas State University campus in San Marcos and flows down to the confluence with the Blanco River. This clear, spring-fed waterway is a popular destination for paddlers and anglers who target Largemouth Bass, sunfish, and Rio Grande Cichlids. Notably, the Upper San Marcos is the exclusive habitat of Texas wild-rice (Zizania texana), a federally endangered species that provides essential habitat for recreational fish species and the federally endangered Fountain Darter (Etheostoma fonticola). Texas wild-rice faces numerous threats, including reduced habitat from drought, trampling by humans, and competition from invasive aquatic plants such as Hydrilla verticillata.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has supported a restoration of native community rehabilitation designed to enhance fish habitat in the Upper San Marcos River, funded under the Habitat for Angler Access Program (HAAP). The initiative entails the removal of aquatic invasive species in early spring 2024 and planting native aquatic vegetation in their place, including Texas wild-rice, which will increase biodiversity in the river channel. The project area covers approximately 3.1 river miles of the Upper San Marcos River, overlapping with 1.3 river miles that received restoration work in 2021 under the Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership grant. In addition to this river reach, the HAAP restoration program expands the restoration another 1.8 miles downstream.

The Meadows Center’s Ecological Research Group, in collaboration with Dr. Kimberly Meitzen and Dr. Jason Martina, has spearheaded this project alongside TPWD. Through our joint efforts, we demonstrate a steadfast commitment to preserving and restoring the ecological integrity of the Upper San Marcos River. Together, we are dedicated to safeguarding the unique biodiversity of this remarkable waterway for future generations.

Project Lead

tom heard

Tom Heard, M.S.

Wildlife & Fisheries Biologist, Habitat Field Crew
(512) 245-3553


This project is funded by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.