The place where the San Antonio River begins is called the Blue Hole, and this amazing natural area needs some help.
On Saturday morning, more than 100 volunteers are expected to show up for one of the largest restoration events ever to help clean this urban sanctuary and rid it of both man-made trash and invasive plant species.
“This is a collaboration with the San Antonio River Authority and the San Antonio River Foundation," said Alex Antram, the executive director of the Headwaters at Incarnate Word group. "We all came together because oftentimes they clean up the San Antonio River, but this time they chose the headwaters, thankfully, to come to the source where we have continuous cleanup and restoration to do.”
Antram said that she expects about 150 volunteers to invest some sweat equity in the project.
“They will be coming from a number of different community organizations and people will be coming together to clean up, hopefully, every inch of this property," Antram said. "They're basically lining up and walking to remove trash, other debris, and invasive plants."
Plant expert Patty Leslie-Pasztor, who led a bird walk through the natural area on Friday morning, said that the 53-acre refuge is a San Antonio treasure.
“This sanctuary is also just a haven to come relax and slow down. All the research has shown that nature is healing, so it's great therapy and taking a walk in the woods is just really important and most people are getting away from that," Leslie-Pasztor said as she pointed out the hackberry trees in the area. “Over 40 species of birds feed on hackberry and the fruit is high in lipids, so it's great for resident and migrant birds, plus 10 species of butterflies lay their eggs on nothing but hackberry.”
Leslie-Pasztor also said that she played in the area as a child and has vivid, happy memories of swimming in the springs.
“The headwaters are a very special place because they are right in the heart of the city. They are the birth place of the city, really,” Leslie-Pasztor noted.
Antram also explained that even though the focus of the cleanup is nature, the real purpose of the event is to nurture a place for people. She said that the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word want this to be a place of renewal, to connect San Antonians and Mother Earth for generations to come.
“I think it's incredibly magical because there's this overwhelming feeling of calm and wonder I get, especially when I'm at the Blue Hole. And perhaps it's just a recognition that so many people have valued this space culturally, spiritually, ecologically for millennia and you can really sense that, especially at the Blue Hole but really throughout the property,” Antram said.
To learn more about the Headwaters Sanctuary, you can visit the official website here.
If you can't make it this weekend, the group does sponsor regular workdays and this is one place that ought to be on the bucket list of any nature lover.