JOHNSON CITY – As preliminary planning continues on its new 222-acre Pedernales River Nature Park, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is envisioning a park that will meet the area’s recreational needs and also will be a major showcase for land, water, and energy conservation practices.
Some concepts being looked at include using custom-designed, prefabricated structures made from recycled materials and using solar and rainwater collection features; solar lighting for trails; wildlife and fishery programs; and development and use of innovative soil and water conservation techniques.
LCRA officials hope that individuals and organizations will learn about “best practice” conservation and stewardship techniques when they visit the park and, when appropriate, apply them in their own surroundings.
LCRA acquired the property in November 2008 and opened up about 50 acres for limited public use in May 2009 after cleaning up the site with significant help from Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the City of Johnson City, and Blanco County. The property, located off U.S. Highway 281 at the northern edge of Johnson City and along the river, had sat vacant and inaccessible to the public for more than a decade. It was locally known as the Rainbow Ranch Trout Farm.
“We are excited about the innovative concept for this park and believe it will be a significant asset to the community,” said Fran Irwin, LCRA manager of community development and parks. “We also believe it will be a public attraction that will bring attention and visitors to the area.”
LCRA will be enlisting feedback from the public as it moves through the planning process, Irwin said. Current plans call for LCRA to hold open houses around Blanco County next spring to hear from the public on development of the park, she said. Initially, LCRA had planned to seek public feedback this fall, Irwin said.
“But over the past several months we have come to realize that this park could offer a number of very forward-looking conservation and public recreation opportunities that are not associated with your typical nature park development,” Irwin continued. “We thought it was important to do some additional pre-planning first to take advantage of these unique opportunities.”
Meanwhile, the public will be able to track progress on the park’s planning and to comment electronically at the following Web site: www.lcra.org/pedernalesnaturepark, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
One thing that will not be part of the new vision of the park is the existing swimming pool, which LCRA has determined will be too expensive to restore, maintain, and operate.
Meanwhile, LCRA is planning to fence the park’s boundaries for safety and security and will be sending notification to adjacent property owners advising them of the work.
LCRA continues to offer limited day-use recreation options, such as picnicking and fishing, at the park. Standard LCRA access and facility-use fees are being waived temporarily until the park is developed over the next several years.
LCRA’s acquisition of the Blanco County property rounds out its plans for the Colorado River Trail by having an LCRA park in each of its 10 statutory counties. LCRA owns 44 parks along the Colorado River Trail, which runs 600 river miles from the Texas Hill Country to Matagorda Bay.