River access pits property ownership against recreational use
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Visitors to the Bosque River in McLennan County could soon lose access to one section of the river if property owners convince the county to close a public road that leads to the water. That would close a section of the river that many feel should stay open for public use.
When some look at the North Bosque River, they see opportunities for kayaking, fishing and other recreations, but others worry it’s home to vandals and other criminal activities.
At the center of that conflict is a short dirt path near Delmar Ranch and Deer Run roads.
For decades, the road led to a low-water crossing used by nearby dairy farmers, but twenty years ago, the bridge was destroyed in a flood.
"Action should have been taken at that time,” McLennan County Commissioner Ben Perry said. “Either the county should have put the crossing back in place or returned the easement to the landowners."
Since then, it's been an access point for recreational river users.
They declined an on-camera interview, but property owners say recreation was not the roads original purpose and river users are often a criminal nuisance.
Property owners want the county to abandon the rest of the easement, effectively cutting off public access to the Bosque River.
That plan doesn't sit well with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
"That would end the access for the public which I think would be a mistake," John Tibbs with Texas Parks and Wildlife said.
They say closing the easement would leave an 18 mile stretch of the North Bosque inaccessible.
"That's really too far to try and attempt to canoe or kayak in one day. It pretty much privatizes that whole section of the river," Tibbs said.
But for County leaders, it boils down to original intent.
“If we are no longer going to use that for the intended purpose that we were granted the easement, then in my opinion, we should give it back," Perry said.
McLennan County Commissioners will take vote on the Delmar Ranch Road easement closing next week.