New Canyon Lake Boat Ramp Alliance Outlines Next Steps at Commissioners Court
Six members of the Canyon Lake Boat Ramps Community Alliance (CLBRCA) submitted a proposal for addressing multiple issues at county-operated boat ramps to Comal County Judge Sherman Krause today.
The group’s three-page document — presented at Commissioners Court and now posted to the group’s Facebook page — was drafted at Krause’s request after a summer of meetings and public hearings failed to produce any consensus over proposed language changes in an agreement between Comal County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and operates the lake.
CLBRCA is not recognized as an official partner in the information-gathering process, the alliance said. The county will lead and make all decisions about how to proceed over the next year.
Canyon Lake Pct. 1 Commissioner Donna Eccleston in June unwittingly kicked off the huge controversy by proposing the words “free public access” and “free public use” be removed from the agreement, resulting in a split from Canyon Lake’s other commissioner, Jen Crownover, Pct. 4.
Crownover also is the driving force behind the Dam Community Alliance, another stakeholder group which partners with USACE to fund amenities and improvements to parks, and plans to take over the operation of North Park.
Although Eccleston said she was merely updating language, Crownover said she was asking for changes to a 1964 document without a plan in place, and Canyon Lake residents were angered about the possibility of losing free access to boat ramps.
With $30.3 million of $1.9 trillion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal funding now headed to Comal County, according to treasury.gov, the stakes are even higher. Parks and recreation is a category included in the funding, although commissioners have not specified how much might be used to fix up boat ramps and add parking on land owned by USACE.
According to the Texas Association of Counties, counties will receive their allocation directly from the Treasury Department in two portions, or tranches: The first 50% started arriving in May, and the remaining 50% will arrive about 12 months later. Each county’s allocation is based generally on its share of the U.S. population.
CLBRCA said it will seek meaningful solutions to long-festering problems at boat ramps, which were only meant to serve the small neighborhoods that sprang up around Canyon Lake starting in the 1960s yet are visited by thousands of visitors every day during summer months.
Comal County did not close boat ramps during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when thousands were desperate to find outdoor destinations to escape quarantine restrictions, making the summers of 2020 and 2021 even worse for Canyon Lake residents trying to live, work and enjoy the area’s amenities themselves.
CLBRCA’s Doug Leecock, who lives right by Boat Ramp #1, said Krause two weeks ago asked the group to come up with a document that identifies key stakeholders and issues and proposes a timeline for bringing some relief to the community by mid-2022.
“You’ve got to concentrate down to a one- or two-pager and say, ‘here’s a good place to start and say go,'” he said. “That’s kind of where we are. We’re looking forward to working with the county and just being a partner in the thing.”
Today’s proposal identifies Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County (WORD), USACE, the county, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA), Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), CLBRCA, and DCA as key stakeholders.
Key “guiding principles” outlined in the document include public safety, lake access (foot traffic, watercraft and vehicles), environmental considerations, community/business impacts, stakeholders’ participation and input, financial needs and opportunities, best practices, and timeline considerations.
CLBRCA proposes forming Safety, Environment, Lake Access, Deed Restrictions, and Financial committees to oversee workshops that would identify goals and solutions for the summer of 2022, the medium-term (two to five years), and long term (five to 10 years).
Its proposal calls for two community workshops per topic.
“Beginning in January 2022 through the end of March 2022, the public will be invited to join other key stakeholders and subject-matter experts to generate ideas, input, and feedback into the development of solutions,” CLBRCA said in its proposal.
Workshop topics include:
- Unique amenities and issues at each boat ramp
- Lake access (boaters, swimmers, shoreline access, commercial renters, fishing and other recreational)
- Parking (with and without watercraft trailers, parking overflow, rental-craft user pickup)
- Boat ramp maintenance, clean-ups, etc.
- Safety, security and law enforcement
- Operational partnerships/management expansion/additional boat ramps
- Deed restrictions, right-of-way, easements
Leecock hopes a meeting in December could be used to bring stakeholders and experts together to discuss the history of Canyon Lake boat ramps; current issues; various rules/regulations of stakeholder groups like USACE, WORD, GBRA, and county; management differences at county-operated boat ramps, and best practices from other lakes.
He said workshops would run from January through March 2022, culminating in “optimized solutions” to be presented at Commissioners Court in April.
Committees would establish recommendations and devise a short-term rollout plan for May 2022 adoption by the county, Leecock said.
Bill Blackwood, who lives near Boat Ramp #1 and also serves on CLBRCA, said that not all solutions will be simple.
Many different governmental entities have some form of regulatory authority on Canyon Lake and every boat ramp is unique.
Tourists and visitors to the lake tend to be blamed for some of the mayhem, but the chaos and confusion is sometimes due to simple ignorance and lack of signage.
He said the increase in boat rentals drives a lot of traffic to the lake. Those who show up to board pontoons may not be aware some parking is for boat-trailers only. Children who pull up with their parents don’t know that the floating dock at Boat Ramp #1 is for boaters, not swimmers.
“There is no malicious intent,” he said. “People just don’t know.”
“All we’re trying to do is help (Krause) lead from the front and give him the support and the tools that he may be asking for from us to accomplish some of these things,” Blackwood said.
About Canyon Lake Boat Ramps
There are 23 boat ramps located around Canyon Lake. Twenty-two ramps are on the main body of the lake. One ramp is upstream on the Guadalupe River leading into the lake.
Most boat ramps are operated by either Comal County or by USACE.
COUNTY BOAT RAMPS:
1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 22 and 23.
#1 Canyon Lake Village, 579 Skyline Dr.
#2 Canyon Lake Village West, 2410 Colleen Dr.
#5 Canyon Lake Forest, 3150 Canyon Lake Forest Dr.
#6 Canyon Lake Hills 1 – East, 2078 Canyon Lake Dr.
#7 Canyon Lake Hills 2 – West, 2050 Ledgerock Landing
#8 Canyon Springs Resort, 1298 Canyon Springs Dr.
#11 Cypress Cove, 3850 Tanglewood Trl.
#22 Canyon Lake Shores, 808 Park Shores
#23 Mystic Shores, 22100 N. Cranes Mill Rd.
USACE BOAT RAMPS: 10, 17, 20 and 21.
USACE rules also apply to 3, 4 and 18, which are located in Canyon and Comal parks, now operated by the Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County (wordcc.com).
OTHER BOAT RAMPS:
Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA): 14, 15 and 16.
Crane’s Mill Marina: 9
Canyon Marina: 10
Canyon Lake Yacht Club: 12