- Chris Belcher
River Warriors Fight to Help Our River
The River Warriors are volunteers dedicated to helping the San Antonio River Authority with its mission.
SARA’s mission statement says it is, “committed to safe, clean, enjoyable creeks and rivers.”
The River Warriors help with this mission through their time and effort in several areas according to Minna Paul, SARA’s education and volunteer engagement coordinator.
“Volunteers are trained and participate in invasive apple snail removal, beaver dam building erosion control project, Texas Stream Team citizen science water quality monitoring, bio-diversity data collection on iNaturalist, to mention just a few.” Paul said, “They also join us for post-storm riverside litter clean-ups and ecosystem restoration workdays on the Mission Reach.”
The River Warriors’ impact on improving the San Antonio River can be seen in the number of Apple Snails and Apple Snail egg casings they’ve removed.
“The River Warriors have dispatched a total of 1363 egg-cases and 51 adults. Each female lays cases of 500-700 eggs which puts the estimated total number of eggs dispatched at 681,500 to 954,100,” said Paul.
This is important because the Apple Snail is an invasive species in the San Antonio River.
Texasinvasives.org states that, “Apple snails are voracious herbivores and feed on a wide variety of both native and introduced submerged, floating, and emergent aquatic plants. These invasive snails reproduce prolifically and can attain high population density, decimating the aquatic vegetation.”
This impacts native species that depend on the river plants. Apple Snails don’t have natural predators in the San Antonio River. The only way to remove them from the river is through human action. This is where the River Warriors help the river.
River Warriors also impact the rivers cleanliness. After a storm hits trash and debris is washed into the river from storm drains and creeks. The River Warriors conduct 1-2 trash clean-ups a month at the request of the River Authority. Minna Paul estimates that the River Warriors are responsible for removing between six and 24,000 pounds of trash a year.
They don’t just spend their time on the banks of the river fighting the Apple Snails and picking up litter though. They also spend time with training and education.
Paul said, “They attend virtual lab tours, assist with River Authority events and receive trainings and other educational opportunities to engage with us. Recently they are learning to make litter observations on the Litterati app to support us in our Don’t let Litter Trash Your River anti-litter campaign.”
The actions of over 500 River Warriors actively supporting SARA are having a positive impact in the San Antonio community. They’re helping monitor the health of the river, improve its cleanliness and remove invasive species. San Antonio should take pride in the volunteers who give their time and energy as River Warriors helping to make our city a better place.
Do your part to improve the San Antonio River and become a River Warrior volunteer, you can get more information from SARA’s volunteer page.