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USACE Asks for Public’s Help to Avoid Additional Park Closures

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USACE Asks for Public’s Help to Avoid Additional Park Closures

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Unless recreationalists start picking up after themselves and behaving responsibly, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will shut down popular sites like Canyon Lake's Overlook Park.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) pleaded with the public today to help keep its 25 lake projects — including Canyon Lake — safe and trash-free.

Without recreationalists’ cooperation, USACE’s Tim Miller, Forth Worth chief of operations, said the Corps will implement necessary measures to ensure public safety and avoid additional park closures.

Earlier this week USACE closed Guadalupe Trail and its parking lot, citing trash, vandalism and large crowds who ignored the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) protocol for social distancing.

Miller said “unpleasant” but real issues like these factor into the district’s decision to close areas or limit the number of visitors to its lake sites.

They put a strain on staff, visitors and resources, but could easily be alleviated if visitors improved their behavior patterns, he said.

“There are several other unpleasant but real issues that factor into the district’s decision to shut down or limit the numbers of visitors to our lake sites,” says MacAllister. These include:

  1. Parking in non-designated areas. This causes limited access to facilities by staff and emergency responders and thereby hindering public and life safety.
  2. Lack of compliance with safe boating and water safety guidelines.
  3. Vandalism. Large amounts of vandalism to recreational and security areas results in expending limited resources to replace damaged and broken equipment.
  4. Environmental Stewardship neglect. Natural resources are being destroyed by not practicing sound environmental stewardship; i.e. unauthorized vehicle use in unauthorized areas, destroying vegetation.
  5. Unsanitary actions while in and around the water and park areas.

“Since April 2020, we have more than doubled our scheduled cleanups and costs in these areas to deal with the trash left behind from the huge number of daily visitors.”

Littering remains a serious problem at Corps facilities and partners around the state continue to be a valuable asset to combat this issue.

Miller said USACE partners with organizations like the Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County (WORD), which provides contracted cleanup services at some of the Corps of Engineers’ recreational areas at Canyon Lake, including Overlook Park and the Guadalupe River shoreline, just below the Guadalupe Trail areas.

“Since April 2020, we have more than doubled our scheduled cleanups and costs in these areas to deal with the trash left behind from the huge number of daily visitors,” said WORD general manager of Comal County, Mike Dussere.

Similar to other Lakes operated by the Fort Worth District, Whitney Lake has encountered areas of concern and has closed two of its day-use areas; Soldiers Bluff and Walling Bend Park as a result.

According to the Bosque County Sheriff’s office, there have been large numbers of people in areas they patrol which has contributed to an abundance of trash build-up. The patrol officers have also encountered an unusually high number of underage drinkers in the areas as well.

The Corps and its partners want everyone to do their part to maintain a safe and enjoyable experience when visiting one of the 25 lakes and associated recreational areas within the state of Texas.

“It is always important to wear a life jacket when in, on, or near the water and don’t ask others to do things that might make them exceed their swimming ability and drown. There are drop-offs, currents, and underwater debris that make swimming in open water and rivers very different than swimming at a beach or pool so wearing a life jacket drastically increases your chances of survival,” MacAllister said.

Questions pertaining to concerns with environmental stewardship may be addressed to public.affairs@usace.army.mil or by calling 817-886-1306.

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