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USACE: Tell Us What You Think

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Fort Worth District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) says Canyon Lake residents have 30 days to submit written comments about proposed revisions to Canyon Lake’s Master Plan, presented at a public hearing at the CRRC’s Mabel Jones Rec Center on Thursday, July 20.

To download forms or view proposed changes to the master plan, click here.

Despite the fact the existing plan is 47-years-old, there aren’t many changes to the 2017 draft, which guides long-range land-and-water-use planning for the federally owned and managed lake.

USACE Attendees
Westhaven residents Tammy and Thurman “Skip” Smith discuss the USACE’s proposed Master Plan with USACE’s Rhonda Fields.

Some 333 new acres will now be re-classified as “environmentally-sensitive areas” or ESAs. Aside from this, most of the changes are designed to align USACE language and regulations for all of 25 lakes managed out of the Fort Worth office.  The 1970 plan was enacted just one year after the federal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and does not necessarily reflect changes in that legislation.

Lake Manager Marcus Schlmank says the new ESAs are located in North Park and Crane’s Mill Park. Access to these areas could be restricted when golden-cheeked warblers are nesting.

“Overall, in terms of high-density recreation areas, there was only a 3.4-percent decrease,” he says.

In general, 1,097 total acres were reclassified, with fee and conservation pool acreage changes due in part to siltation and improvements in measurement using Geographical Information System (GIS) technology. This software allows for more finely tuned measurements so “stated” acres may vary from official land acquisition records and acreage figures published in the 1970 Master Plan.

USACE wants the public to carefully review its suggestions and submit them in writing using forms available online. Printed copies of revisions to the 1970 master plan are available for review at Tye Preston Memorial Library, 16311 S. Access Road, Canyon Lake, and at USACE’s Canyon Lake office, 601 C.O.E. Road.

“This is our lake out here,” says Schlmank, who has managed the park for eight years and lives in the area. “It’s a great place and it’s important to get feedback from you guys. Not that we can implement things just like that. But trust me, we do keep things in mind.”

Schlmank says USACE received 346 comments last year after a March 2016 meeting to kick off the planning process for the new master plan. Thirty-six people attended that meeting. Approximately 60 attended the July 20 meeting.

“They were good comments, but a lot of them did not apply to the master plan. They were shoreline-management issues and we have a separate policy that outlines shoreline management. Other issues related to water quality, streamflows and some were related to roadways and signs.”

Other stakeholders or groups asked to comment on the plan include Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA), Water Oriented Recreational District of Comal County (WORD), and Comal County.

According to USACE documents, the master plan serves as a comprehensive land-and-recreation management guide with an effective life of approximately 25 years. The focus of the Plan is to guide the stewardship of natural and cultural resources, and to make provision for outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities on federal land associated with Canyon Lake. The Plan does not address the flood risk-management, hydropower, or water supply purposes of Canyon Lake (see the USACE Water Control Manual for Canyon Lake for a description of these project purposes).

About Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake is one of the deepest lakes in Texas. With an average depth of 43 feet, it features 95 miles of scenic shoreline and covers 8,306 surface acres of water. The USACE has its headquarters for the lake near the uncontrolled spillway along Corps of Engineers (C.O.E), which connects to State Highway 306.

Canyon Lake construction was completed in 1964 to serve primarily as a flood mitigation and water conservation project, with authorization to construct hydroelectric power facilities.

The reservoir and adjacent areas have been developed for recreational purposes and the conservation of fish and wildlife resources and habitat. While maintaining the primary purpose of the reservoir as flood control, a record-breaking drought in Texas during the 1950s created an additional emphasis on reservoirs serving as water storage facilities for Texas residents, communities, businesses, agriculture, and others.

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