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New plans to preserve Texas river

todayJune 17, 2015 6 1

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By Kasandra Garza
KTSW News

Senate Bill 234 (SB 234) was introduced by Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo.) The bill was going to create a recreation district in the Martindale area along the San Marcos River. Had the bill passed, tubers would have had to have paid an additional $3 to float on the river. The money collected would have been used to hire a cleaning crew to clean the river and remove the cans and trash left by tubers in the water.

Taken by Kasandra Garza
Photos provided by Tom Goynes

President of the Texas Rivers Protection Association, Tom Goynes, said that he feels that there was some bias towards the bill by Representative Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels), who is Committee chair of the Special Purpose Districts.

Although Miller received SB234 in the middle of March, he did not schedule a hearing for the bill until May 6th, Goynes said. Even after the bill had passed, he “sat on the bill” for another 3 days, which is a “very critical” time period. Thus, causing the bill to die.

“We’re convinced the bill was killed and didn’t have a prayer because in terms of the committee it was sent to in the house, there was no intention of getting the bill passed,” Goynes said. “At least, it didn’t get there in time to pass.”

Since he bill was meant to reduce the amount of cans that are floating in the river and prevent littering, Goynes is now considering other options to help preserve our river.

One option is to get the city of San Marcos to pass a can-ban. A can-ban is going to depend on the outcome of the New Braunfels can-ban appeal. Goynes is currently working with city councilman to start the process of a can-ban.

Another option that Goynes is already working on, is to get the river declared a State Park by the Parks and Wildlife department. This would mean no public consumption of alcohol could occur on the grounds.

“If we can just eliminate the alcohol, then we would eliminate probably 99.9% of the littering,” Goynes said. “Almost all the litter we find is in the form of beer cans and beer bottles.”

Goynes said that he is hoping some legislatures will be willing to apply some pressure to the Parks and Wildlife commission and “step up to the plate.”

Of the two options, Goynes states that he has decided that the best solution is to turn the river into a state park.

Photos provided by Tom Goynes
Photos provided by Tom Goynes

If the Parks and Wildlife commission were to agree to do this, they would be able to create a state park at their next commission meeting which occurs four times a year, Goynes said. They would have the power to set a date and declare the San Marcos River a state park immediately.

Ironically, the memorial weekend floods “helped” the river despite its catastrophic effects. The rush of water “flushed” the river, allowing cans that were stuck in the bottom of the river to rise to the top and scatter along the land. Goynes states that although it’s not “the best thing in the world,” at least it flushed the river. And because the flood caused water levels to rise, tubers have been unable to tube along the river.

“The amount of trash that’s gone into the river has been significantly less so far,” Goynes said. “But it will start back up again as soon as the river goes back down.”

Goynes also believes that just because the bill did not pass, does not mean that attempts to preserve the river will end.

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