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Pecos River, Lewis Canyon Rapid, photo by Nathalie Le Coz

Winter 2023 TRPA News

Happy New Year!

Letter from the President

As we look ahead in 2023, we have pretty much the ongoing challenges regarding threats to our rivers that we have been involved with since Tom started TRPA. Development continues to put pressure on them through runoff and sewage discharges. Lack of rain continues as an issue.

But there is also hope. Grassroots organizations are helping in the issue of wastewater discharge permits. TRPA is working with many groups in not only trying to get the developers to do zero discharge, but we are also working with them to show the economic benefits.  TRPA presented a white paper to the TCEQ Commissioners last year showing the benefits and costs associated with doing zero discharge. This paper also spoke to the economic benefits of doing zero discharge.

The water situation in Texas is – and will remain – an ongoing challenge. Texas now has over 30,000,000 residents, along with many new businesses. All of these consume water. In the Austin area, Samsung alone will use vast quantities of water in their new plant.

Where will this water come from?  There are not sufficient surface reservoirs for the water needed for the State. There are no new surface reservoirs, so ground water has been the source. Aquifers have limited supply, and with the drought, are slow to recharge. The bottom line is we need to recycle and reuse all of the water we have. Closed systems need to be designed, built, and operated with the idea of using no outside water. A group called One Water has spearheaded efforts in this regard (Board Member Nick Dornack is heavily involved in this). 

All is not lost. TRPA also met with the Texas Association of Builders, in a meeting spearhead by Dan Wheelus, an attorney representing many Hill Country property owners that do not want surface waters impacted by development. TRPA presented another paper, similar to the one to TCEQ, showing the economic benefits of doing zero discharge systems (this paper will be available on the TRPA website).

There has been continuing involvement with a multitude of groups on the wastewater permits, and some groups with full-time paid staff are able to more closely monitor these wastewater applications (than we volunteers). The challenge is finding out about them before preliminary permits are issued, so we have the opportunity to work with the engineers that do the paperwork and design for the permits, and show them the benefits to doing zero discharge.

Rivers continue to run at extremely low levels. Some storms on the Rio Grande watershed refilled the river (it ran dry last year, at Santa Elena Canyon).  I know folks are still trying to get out on the water (wheels on the boats are optional), but the challenges remain.  I encourage each of you to get out on the water.

On other things, the new website is cruising along.

Hope to see folks at the Annual Meeting and River cleanup next month, where we will fill in more news.

SYOTR, David

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

“The possibility of more water in Texas rivers as a result of winter rains and snow. ” Grace A.

“I plan on doing some special paddle camping trips to Matagorda Island and along the Laguna Madre” Paul P.

“I’m looking forward to more water. Not just at Hidalgo but around the state.” Scott C.

“I’m hoping to welcome a lot of new members to Hidalgo Falls on Saturday April 8th for our Spring membership drive” Patti C.

“Enjoying some rivers on my cataraft and hanging out with great people.” Brian N.

“2023 is a year of transformation!! On the paddling front, …The Great Texas River Cleanup and help to expand GHKPO by serving on the leadership team” Darlene M

“To get the cataraft wet” Mike

Goings On…

38th annual Great Texas River Clean Up

Trash Hauler on the San Marcos

It is time again for the 38th annual Great Texas River Clean Up on the San Marcos River!  

On Saturday, March 4, 2023 folks from all over Texas will be participating in the world’s longest river clean up. We will be picking up trash along most of the San Marcos River (approximately 60 miles).

What’s in it for you?  Free Camping!  Free Beer!  Free T-Shirt Free BBQ dinner

PRE-REGISTRATION IS ESSENTIAL Please register by Thursday March 2, 2024 with the section leader for the area you wish to paddle. Pre-registration will ensure you have a place to camp, T-shirts in the correct size and enough BBQ for everyone.


1. Thompson’s Island to The San Marcos River Retreat (3.5 miles) Contact: The Eyes of the San Marcos River

2. San Marcos River Retreat to Sculls Crossing (4 miles). Contact:

3. Sculls Crossing to Spencer Canoes (2 mi.) Contact:

4. Spencer Canoes to Staples – Hwy 1977 (5 miles) Section full

5. Staples to Fentress – Hwy 20 (9 miles) Contact:

6. Fentress to Prairie Lea 1 (2miles) Contact:

7. Prairie Lea 1 to Stairtown (5 miles) Contact:

8. Stairtown to Luling – Hwy 90 (6.5miles) Contact:

9. Hwy 90 to Zedler Dam (6 mi.) A TPWD paddling trail Contact:

Update on TRPA activity to – Save The Cutoff

An on-going lawsuit in Henderson County over access to The Cutoff of the Trinity River, or The Cutoff, is being carefully followed by TRPA, the Texas Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and various news outlets. In June of 2022, TRPA became aware that the long-established public water body known The Cutoff was being illegally blockaded from the public by a neighboring private landowner. TRPA engaged in discussions with local government and local users of the waterway, offered advice and made suggestions on how to navigate the issue and restore public access to The Cutoff.

On August 5th, 2022, TRPA President David Price wrote a letter to the landowner formally demanding the restoration of public access and offered guidance on mitigation efforts for dredging work which occurred while the landowner was acquiring unpermitted dredge material from the streambed of The Cutoff for enlarging the area where he would erect an illicit fence. This dredging activity violated the Clean Water Act as confirmed by the US Army Corps of Engineers; additionally, the illicit fence was erected on state right-of-way, without permission, as confirmed by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT). The demands and guidance offered in TRPA’s letter were neither acknowledged nor adhered to at the time of this writing.

In September of 2022, TXDOT wrote a similar letter with a deadline to remove the fence within 30 days – another request met with silence and non-adherence by the landowner. TXDOT has since forwarded its issue with the encroachment to the Texas Attorney General’s office, who has not issued a public response nor made legal action. During this time, the non-profit sportsmen’s organization, Texas Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, also engaged with local users of The Cutoff and invited TRPA to strategic discussions regarding restoring access and how to best communicate with local, state, and federal officials regarding the issue. Eventually the local users of the waterway, consisting of fishermen, hunters, and paddlers, organized the Save the Cutoff Corporation (EIN: 88-4183447) to continue fighting for the restoration of access to the stream. Save the Cutoff also seeks to ensure that the environmental and Clean Water Act violations that occurred at The Cutoff by the hands of the adjacent landowner are properly addressed within an appropriate timeframe. Through their mission, Save the Cutoff has engaged in litigation against Henderson County in a suit that merely asks the County to restore access to The Cutoff.

TRPA is committed to assisting Save the Cutoff in their efforts to restore boating, paddling, hunting, fishing, and bird-watching access to one of the premier public waterways on the Trinity River of Texas. Over the past six months, TRPA and Save the Cutoff have been urging various local and state-wide news outlets to cover the access and environmental issues at The Cutoff. In addition, Save the Cutoff has hosted a successful fundraiser event in Trinidad, Texas, which featured TRPA Board Member Alexander Neal as a guest speaker to discuss TRPA’s mission and support, and to discuss The Cutoff’s significance to the Trinity River and Texas as a whole.

Save the Cutoff Fundraiser held in Trinidad, Texas

Please consider a targeted donation to TRPA for this water protection campaign by specifying Save the Cutoff in the honor/memoriam section on your donation. For more information on how to support this effort please check out the Save the Cutoff Facebook page.

You can also write your State Representatives asking them to support the team is pushing Henderson County to do their job in restoring access to The Cutoff. Be sure to reference: 173rd District Court of Henderson County, Texas; file number: CV23-0015-392, style: SAVE THE CUTOFF vs. COMMISSIONERS COURT OF HENDERSON COUNTY, TEXAS; WENDY SPIVEY IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER, PRECINCT ONE, HENDERSON COUNTY, TEXAS. Save the Cutoff (EIN: 88-4183447)

LUse the links below to learn more about Save the Cutoff from our friends at Texas Public Radio,

Texas Standard land dispute

Texas Standard TxDot discussion with landowner

Texas Standard Save the Cutoff lawsuit

Clean Rivers. . .

Texans for Clean Waters is once again pursuing efforts to establish state and national deposits on beverage containers. Pictures of the beverage containers as pollutants to Texas rivers would be helpful to support the effort to capture the current state of Texas rivers.  Please share any photo evidence  to  Be sure to indicate the body of water the photo captures.

TRPA will continue to engage with No Dumping Sewage and the community to affect the situation.  Stay tuned to our website for updates.

Keep an eye on the TRPA calendar for more member events at Hidalgo Falls on the Brazos River.

Tributes, donations in honor of . . .

Members recognized fellow paddlers and paid tribute to Zachary Collier, George & Ann Lackey, Rust Reid, Pat Isley, David Reichert, Ed Lowe, Gustav Alker and David Green through their continued support and generous donations to TRPA.

Pat Isley dedicated decades of her life to educating scouts, scout leaders, and other members of the public in safe and effective paddling.  Since her death in June of 2021, she has been sorely missed by her friends, students, and fellow instructors.  The Spring Woods Canoe Group, which she founded, is continuing her work.

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