The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Student club helps preserve environment at VIDA trail near campus

Student club helps preserve environment at VIDA trail near campus - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

(From left to right) Water Resources Club President Destiny Guerra, Vice President Timothy Guevara and PR Secretary Cassandra Maldonado help clean the headwaters of the San Antonio River during an event hosted by the San Antonio River Aid on Aug 13, 2022. The club and the Water Resources Science and Technology program at Texas A&M University-San Antonio aim to bring awareness of protecting the quality and resources of water.

The Water Resources Club advocated for a green space in the construction of a new trail in the VIDA development near Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Developers recognized the students at the trail’s opening last month.

The club is a student organization developed from the Water Resources Science and Technology program at A&M-San Antonio. Both aim to bring awareness of protecting the quality and resources of water. 

Destiny Guerra is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in the program. She is president of the club, which she founded in 2021.  

“A fact that caused me to create this club was that I didn’t know we only have 3% of fresh water available on earth to use,” Guerra said. “The 3% out of 75% of water is broken down into 2% of it being stuck in ice caps and glaciers, leaving us with only 1% found in surface waters, lakes, streams and rivers.” 

Developed by Southstar Communities, VIDA will include houses, apartments, restaurants, shops and green spaces. The Madla Greenway Loop West Trail is part of VIDA’s low-impact developing plan, which recognizes the importance of green infrastructure. The planning, based on hydrology, permits the water near the area to flow naturally. 

A&M-San Antonio professors, Dr. Davida Smyth and Dr. Walter Den, had been in contact with the VIDA developers before the club’s project regarding Guerra’s skills at the university.   

Her role in the extensive project was to sample the soil in the area, create knowledge and understanding of the development processes and advocate for green space.  

Dr. Den, professor and program director of the Water Resources Science and Technology program, said Guerra has done an excellent job at leading the club and their commitment to contribute to low-impact development for water resource protection. 

“These students are passionate about bringing water resources issues and opportunities in the Southside of San Antonio to the forefront,” Den said. “I think they left a footprint in this development because they represent the voice of a student community at A&M-SA that want to practice low-impact development as a way to balance the development and environmental protection.” 

The Madla Greenway on Oct. 11, 2022. The trail is made of recycled asphalt. File photo by Amber Esparza

The first mile of the trail is part of VIDA’s phase 1 development. 

The developers of VIDA fabricated the trail out of recycled asphalt, which is beneficial to improve the environment. The material used in asphalt helps lessen carbon footprints and doesn’t go into landfills, Guerra said. It is also more permeable, allowing water to sweep through and become saturated instead of contributing to runoff. 

The walking trail passes through an oak grove along a creek bed. The area also has natural seating areas from recycled rock stones. 

Southstar Communities help develop and operate master plan communities across the United States.  

Gretchen Howell, senior vice president of community development at Southstar Communities, gave a speech at the entrance of the trail when it opened Oct. 11. Howell said the Madla Greenway trail will be “a great living lab” for students from A&M-San Antonio, allowing them to learn and sample elements in the surrounding area. 

Howell gave Guerra recognition for her role in the development, and Guerra participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the new trail. 

On weekends, the Water Resources Club volunteers at clean-ups in local waterways. Not only does it help the environment, but it creates a great way to connect with others and the community, Guerra said.  

Some of their partners are the San Antonio River Authority, Edwards Aquifer, San Antonio River Aid and other local river authorities around the San Antonio River basin. 

The club also aids in Givepulse, which allows students to create a hands-on experience and gain service hours through their clean-ups.

About the Author

Ashley Garza
Ashley Garza is a communications senior with a minor in education. She is a first-generation in her family to have graduated High School and to have furthered her education in college. She attended Palo Alto College from fall 2017 to spring 2020 and is set to graduate in spring 2023 from Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Her goal after college is to work in the school system as a human resource specialist.

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