The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has begun site cleanup of the property that it recently acquired for a park in Blanco County. Now named Pedernales River Nature Park, LCRA’s newest park is being prepared for limited public recreational day use, such as fishing and picnicking, beginning in late May 2009.
With community assistance from Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC), the City of Johnson City, and Blanco County, LCRA is readying the park for visitors this summer. While PEC is helping clear utility rights-of-way and remove old electric poles, the City of Johnson City and Blanco County are helping with large-acreage mowing and tree trimming to create more of a park setting.
"This beautiful piece of land has sat vacant and inaccessible to the public for over a decade,” said Bill Guthrie, Blanco County Judge. “Blanco County is very excited about the initiatives taken by LCRA to purchase the land and turn it into a Nature Park. We look forward to the positive partnerships we have with PEC and the City of Johnson City in developing the park for public use."
Pending the park’s future development, typical LCRA access and facility use fees will be temporarily waived. During the expected 24-month planning, designing, and development phases, the park will offer limited day-use options like fishing and picnicking. As with other LCRA nature parks, admission fees will be charged and rental fees collected when the new recreational facilities are constructed and available for public use.
A decision has not yet been made on whether to open the swim facility located on the property for public use. The swimming facility has not been used for more than a decade. LCRA is going through an engineering investigation to identify any existing safety concerns as well as determining the feasibility of reconditioning the facility to meet current building and utility safety codes for public use.
"We have identified a significant number of necessary repairs and building code non-compliance issues that could not be quickly corrected, and will be likely very costly to remedy,” said David Whatley, LCRA’s manager of Parks and Resource Conservation. “When you consider that this facility has sat idle for more than 10 years, filled with rainwater and algae, many of these problems are to be expected. For future public safety, and to be good stewards of the dollars that we get from the public through park fees, we need to do this right."
LCRA closed on the 222-acre tract of riverfront land, known locally as the Rainbow Ranch Trout Farm, on November 7, 2008. The property is centrally located and easily accessible to all citizens in Blanco County.
LCRA staff anticipates that master planning for the property could begin as early as fall 2009. At that time, citizens will have the opportunity to provide input in determining the types of outdoor recreation facilities and activities they would like to see developed in their county.
LCRA owns 44 parks along the Colorado River Trail that runs 600 river miles from the Texas Hill Country to Matagorda Bay. More than 1 million people have access to the Colorado River and Highland Lakes annually through LCRA’s parks and recreation areas.
For more information about Pedernales River Nature Park, visit www.lcra.org/parks or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.