At the March 1 WORD meeting, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in conjunction with Comal County, announced details of the contract awarded for the major instream clean up of the Guadalupe River upstream of New Braunfels city limits. The contract was given to J.R. Ramon & Sons, Inc. of San Antonio for a surprisingly low bid of less than $400,000.
Work began March 8. The contractor has 75 days to complete the project and will work six days a week, from sunup to sundown. He will run three crews simultaneously, one on each "reach" of the river. One crew started at the easternmost Hwy. 306 bridge; the second at the third crossing of River Road; and the third crew at the first crossing. Each crew’s work area will encompass 1,000 square feet as they move downstream. This large area is required as a safety buffer, and the contractor will post the areas with some type of warning, but some flexibility will be necessary due to the "fluidity" of the work area and the required crew movement.
WORD passed an ordinance prohibiting public activity within the work areas. Violators will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
The contractor has offered to restrict work done on the weekends to streamside activity only (hauling trash, burning). While the outfitters present at the meeting agreed to restrict tubers and rafters from floating into the work zones, I pointed out there are hundreds of anglers that do not access the river through the outfitters and may possibly enter the work areas unknowingly. The NRCS representative stated that the crews are required to stop work when something like this happens, inform the unintentional intruder and allow them to leave the area without violation. The contractor’s goal is to remove potentially hazardous debris from the 3,000 cfs watermark on the banks to the center of the river, not to endanger people fishing.
It is also possible that the river flow will be varied to facilitate the work.
My recommendation for anyone planning to fish the Guadalupe during the next couple of months is to be aware of the situation. Know the flow before you go, avoid the work areas by looking for the crews before entering the river, and don't fish downstream of a crew. (How will you know what the crews will look like? They will be wearing hardhats and using heavy equipment. Fly fishers will be wearing all sorts of hats and using fly rods.)
The Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce planned to post the work areas on their website (www.canyonlakechamber.com), but it will be impossible for them to pin-point the crew locations moment by moment. Take responsibility and pay attention while you're out on the Guad. (You can check with one of the outfitters, also.)
This work will cause disturbance to the stream that is unavoidable. There are limits and regulations stated in the contract that restrict the potential damage and provide as much protection of the resources as possible. Chances are, with the exception of some dirty water downstream of the work areas, the trout will also be avoiding the crews, just like you!
Be Careful Out There! Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Stacy Lynn Trimble, VP-Chapter Affairs