The first Submarine Theater at the Texas State University's Aquarena Center was removed from Spring Lake on May 24.
Attempts earlier this year to remove the first submarine were halted when two cranes were unable to provide enough power to lift the structure from the water. The removal is part of a plan to restore the natural habitat to Spring Lake, which forms the headwaters for the San Marcos River.
“This is thought to be, probably, the most significant environmental restoration project taking place in the United States,” said Andrew Sansom, executive director for the River Systems Institute at Texas State University.
After five years of working with U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-District 25, to obtain funding from Congress, Sansom spent another five years finalizing the restoration plans for the sensitive environment.
“We started this project when I came here in 2002, so this has been something we’ve been working on,” Sansom said. “Even though the purpose of the project is environmental, this much disruption on the site calls for a great deal of care.”
The lake is home to eight federally endangered or threatened species and is the second-largest artesian spring in the western United States, he said.
The San Marcos River Foundation has also been involved with the Habitat Restoration Program, routinely removing invasive aquatic plants from the area, a labor-intensive process.
“We just try to help however we can. We want this to be a natural ecosystem,” said Dianne Wassenich, program manager for the San Marcos River Foundation.
Texas State acquired Aquarena Springs in 1994 and began focusing on the educational rather than entertainment aspect the area offers.
“The restoration of the Spring Lake area is a wonderful thing for San Marcos. It will be an open meadow of grass, native grasses and wildflowers,” Wassenich said. “It will be a beautiful, natural place.”
Dozens of people turned out to watch the process May 24, and some said they were not happy to see the Submarine Theater removed.
John Taylor, who graduated from Southwest Texas State University—the forerunner to Texas State University—and visited the Theater frequently, said he opposed the process.
“[I visited] lots of times. I spent many happy hours on this old lake fishing,” Taylor said.
The restoration project will continue May 25 with the second submarine’s removal. The process will begin at 9 a.m., and the public is welcome to attend.
More information about Aquarena Center is available at www.aquarena.txstate.edu/home-page.html.