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This is the annual end of year Texas Rivers Protection Association electronic newsletter.
The Tuber Case
It’s always great to have some good news to share at the end of the year (victories seem kinda few and far between for environmental protection these days). So, I am happy to report to you that the parties in the San Marcos Tuber Nuisance Case agreed to some fantastic terms that will go a long way toward protecting the San Marcos River. Some people might have a little trouble understanding how an activity like tubing can have a negative effect on the ecology of a river. But, once you experience 10,000 college age people on a two mile stretch of river, with lots of beer cans and whiskey bottles, not to mention boom boxes playing “X” rated rap music that can be heard for a mile, coupled with the fact that almost all of those people are spending hours standing around on gravel bars or on the bottom of the river - well, let’s just say that you can then understand the problem. The crystal clear San Marcos starts looking like the muddy Brazos.
I think the biggest problem is that, for some reason, tubing operators just don’t seem to spend a lot of time orientating their customers. I was in the canoe rental business for years, and we would never consider putting someone on the river without telling about the hazards, telling them about proper etiquette for running a river, and telling them what to take and what to leave behind. For instance, we would never allow people to take glass containers on a river (except, perhaps on an extended canoe camping trip where extra care is taken to keep the bottles in a safe place until you reach the campsite). And, folks were always reminded that the land along the river was private and that they should stay in the river.
During the tuber trial, this was pointed out, and the tubing operators agreed to add an orientation talk to their procedure. They will also check ice chests for glass bottles, tell their clients not to stop along the float (neither on land nor standing on the bottom) they will prohibit boom boxes that can be heard more than 50 feet away, and they will put bags for trash on all their tubes. To enforce these new regulations, the tubing outfitters will hire police and kayak monitors who will float the river and remind folks to behave properly. Legal age drinkers will be given brightly colored wristbands so that the police will be able to easily spot underage drinkers. We will meet with the tubing outfitters once before the season starts and once after to discuss ways to make the situation better.
Our lead lawyer in this case was Norm Thomas from Corpus Christi. An environmental lawyer from Houston, Jen Powis, assisted. Jen had offered her services pro bono. And Norm had set a very reasonable fee of $10,000 to try the case (he said he would welcome any amount over that figure, because he knew this case would require a lot of hours). We set up a special fund to raise the money. The TRPA Board voted to match (with general fund money) the first $5000 that we raised. And, most of the money that we have raised has come from local landowners. We have been able to pay the expenses for the case and we have even been able to pay Norm a couple of thousand dollars over his minimum amount. We have even been able to pay Jen a thousand dollars for the many hours she worked, plus some of her expenses. And, she has some ideas about some additional action that will encourage the State to do more to protect the river. So, she has offered to apply any money we raise for her to this new case.
Right before we settled this case, Norm found out that his wife Brenda has brain cancer. She has since undergone surgery and is set for radiation. And, since there are going to be lots of travel and miscellaneous expenses ahead for them, we would like to raise as generous a “love offering” for them as possible.
So, If you can afford to contribute, one more time, to the San Marcos Tuber Case, please do so. The money will be split between the two lawyers. Remember, your gift is tax deductible. Just be sure to note that your check is for the tuber case (or, if you donate online at our website, just send an e-mail telling me what the donation is for).
Hidalgo Falls Fund
Since April 2001, canoeists, kayakers, and river lovers have been donating money and time to purchase and maintain 13 acres of land at Hidalgo Falls on the Brazos River. Now there is a restroom and camping area for TRPA members to enjoy. For more info see the TRPA website. We can always use more money so we can continue to make improvements.
Friends of the Brazos River
TRPA continues to help the Friends of the Brazos in their continuing effort to maintain stream flows of the Brazos by fighting a huge water right that has been requested by the Brazos River Authority. There are still significant legal expenses that need to be paid regarding that case. Your generosity would be appreciated.
Other special needs
TRPA has, in the past, helped to stop a rockcrusher on the Guadalupe River at Center Point, and got the city of Castroville to agree to build a state of the art sewage treatment plant. This past year we helped the Friends of the Lydia Ann Channel (FLAC) group protect the bays near Aransas Pass. If you know of a special need, please let us know and we will establish a special fund to address the issue.
To donate to any of the special funds, you may either send a check to:
444 Pecan Park Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666
Or you can make a donation online. Go to our website: www.txrivers.org click on the “Donate / Join” link on the left side of the page, then on the page that opens, click on the “make a donation” button down a ways on the left side. Be sure to send me an e-mail telling me what the donation is for.
Thanks again! We can’t do this without you.