County Releases Survey Results for Canyon Lake’s Community Boat Ramps

boat ramp #1
Will overcrowding issues at Canyon Lake boat ramps be resolved in time for the busy summer season? Probably not, but Comal County commissioners will identify areas for improvement at their meeting Thursday. Image courtesy of Holiday Lodge on Canyon Lake.
Will overcrowding and other issues at Canyon Lake boat ramps be resolved in time for the busy summer season? Probably not, but Comal County commissioners will identify areas for improvement at their meeting Thursday. Image courtesy of Holiday Lodge on Canyon Lake.

Detailed survey results compiled by the Canyon Lake Boat Ramps Community Alliance (CLBRCA) are now available online.

Comal County this week posted a PowerPoint presentation prepared by the alliance and commissioners will discuss the group’s findings at a workshop session during their weekly meeting 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Comal County’s historic courthouse, 100 N. Seguin Ave., New Braunfels.

CLBRCA prepared the 28-page presentation based on an online survey fielded by the county and other stakeholders March 11-25.

“The next step, really, is to quantify for each boat ramp what it’s going to take (to address) the issues we’ve identified in the survey,” said Doug Leecock, who serves on CLBRCA, a group of Canyon Lake residents working with the county to resolve issues at overcrowded county boat ramps.

Comal County Public Information Officer Cary Zayas said no action on a final operations plan will be taken at this week’s meeting.

The county operates nine boat ramps, #1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 22 and 23.

CLBRCA said the county’s explosive growth especially impacts neighborhoods in and around Canyon Lake.

The recent survey captured 9,000 comments from area residents. Parking was the main concern identified at all boat ramps except #23, where ramp congestion topped the list.

Top concerns at all boat ramps include:

  • Parking/congestion
  • Security/enforcement/rules
  • Swimming/fishing
  • Access/shoreline
  • Docks/piers
  • Fee/no fee
  • Scuba diving
  • Restrooms

Commonalities identified by CLBRCA are:

  • Enforcement – Delineate county/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) boundaries, need for clarity of direction to enforce rules, and controlling congestion on busy days.
  • Address and enforce parking improvements – striping, signage, trailer/non-trailer vehicles.
  • More year-round parks needed for water access – county should work with USACE to open all public parks/ramps to reduce congestion at county ramps.
  • Invest in docks and piers where applicable.
  • Signage – Swimming/fishing/camping at a safe distance.
  • Mixed reviews on fee (for visitors only)/no fee.
  • Heavy fines needed for trash
  • Neighborhoods need alternatives to lake access.

Proposed solutions/common problems identified at all boat ramps:

  • Ask law enforcement to enforce rules for peak-season crowds.
  • Congestion of people using ramps for park-like activities and creating unsafe mixture of people and watercraft.
  • Work with USACE to create/open more parks with extended hours, year-round.
  • Mark locations of parking spaces intended for trailered/standard parking vehicles.
  • Maintain restrooms and consider long-term options for permanent restroom locations.
  • Empty trash containers more frequently during peak season and add lighting.
  • All ramps need an area where watercraft operators can clean boats (e.g., remove zebra mussels) after recovery
  • Need more docks/piers at all boat ramp locations.
  • Improve safety at points where boaters board vessels on boat ramps.
  • Find alternatives to extensive use of boat-ramp parking areas (e.g., excursion/renal companies).

Unique Needs by Boat Ramp

  • Ramp 1 – Rental companies’ use of parking spaces
  • Ramp 2 – Rental companies’ use of parking spaces, hotel guests’ use of dock as beach, more parking for regular un-trailered parking
  • Ramp 5 – Clear rocks from ramp; need deeper, longer ramp; need lights; fix extreme drop-offs and holes; regular maintenance of a port-a-potty; control overflow from Comal Park
  • Ramp 6 – Turnaround too small and too steep; repair/resurface ramp; better lighting; fix overgrowth along sides of ramp; service dumpsters more frequently; add restrooms and clean often; stop property owners from blocking shoreline (USACE easement)
  • Ramp 7 – Relocate and service restroom; sand/rock berm about 20- to 30-feet out; end of the ramp is too shallow; widen roads’ extend ramp; repair drop off at the end of ramp; add lights; more frequent trash service
  • Ramp 8 – Rocky, slippery ramp location; pave, stripe and sign parking lot
  • Ramp 11 – Slippery, shaded ramp; pave, stripe and sign parking lot
  • Ramp 22 – Cranes Mill road too narrow; finish resurfacing; need larger dock/fix broken dock; one-lane, needs to expand; repair access road; restripe parking area; replace dumpster and port-a-potty; more trashcans, service often; add lights
  • Ramp 22 – Need lights; mow the grass more often; bring dumpster back/relocate; fix dock bumpers/repair docks; pave parking needed; mark/stripe to show three ramp lanes; fix broken ramp concrete; repave N. Cranes Mill Road

Community and Users’ Concerns:

  • “Provide parking for non-trailered vehicles and safe, clearly marked pedestrian access to the shoreline.”
  • “I believe we need to format a way that non-resident boat-ramp users and businesses need to pay a fee to access county-owned boat ramps. While taxpaying local residents would be able to access for free.”
  • “Please make it so we can also use it for walking along the lake’s edge. Maybe a path along the side of the parking lot/ramp so it is safer.”
  • “Have law enforcement actually enforce the rules in place, especially the swimming in the launch area. May need LEO on site on the weekends, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
  • “Creation or leasing of more parks from USACE. The problem most people have is lack of places to swim.”
  • “A lot of the parking is taken up by individuals who are renting boats from the rental businesses around the lake. They should be the ones who should offer parking at their place of business.”
  • “Comal County property taxes paid by business and residents, along with enforced fines for violators, should be more than sufficient. No additional taxes should be levied against property owners.”
  • “Boat docks at each boat ramp would help tremendously. We have taken elderly and not-so-agile friends and family members out on our boat with difficulty getting on and off the boat.”
  • “No swimming within safe zone around ramps. Nonresidents should be sent to parks to swim. More access is needed. Parks should be open year-round. Neighborhoods should be encouraged to buy access easements for residents who don’t own core-front property.”
  • “Make people pay for the ramp usage, even if it is just a nominal amount. Add free swimming areas and picnic areas with parking away from the boat ramps; this is most of the issue.”
  • “…Work to have all of the “other” ramps operating in harmony with same rules, signage, operational guidelines and law enforcement.”
  • “A dedicated access point for divers.”
  • “The community businesses depend on the ‘tourists’ that use the lake (and abuse the lake) in order to survive. I do not feel that we should start charging for the use of the ramps but somehow find a way to enforce overcrowding and provide more areas for non-boater recreation around the lake.”
  • “Canyon Lake is a beautiful lake and the people are going to come, make more access to the lake so that everyone can enjoy without it being a headache to access the lake.”
  • “Scuba divers are an integral part for the overall health of Canyon Lake. Last year our group pulled out over 125 trash bags weighing in at over 1,500 pounds. Comal County can help the scuba-diving community by providing us access at these various boat ramps.”
  • “I want the (Commissioners) court to consider the negative economic impact this may have on small-business owners like myself. We rely on the elevated population and vacationers in the summer months. And the use of our free boat ramps to access Canyon Lake.”
  • “Use buoys marking no-swim zones 100 feet each side of ramp.”

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