Commissioners reaffirm support for extending John Graves Scenic Riverway

By Kathryn Jones

Editor

A move to extend the John Graves Scenic Riverway to Somervell County and offer more protection to the Brazos River paddled forward on Monday.

Somervell County Commissioners reaffirmed their support by unanimously passing a resolution to extend the designation. The John Graves Scenic Riverway starts in Palo Pinto, where the Brazos was dammed to build Possum Kingdom Lake, and continues through Parker County.

The nonprofit advocacy group Friends of the Brazos, which has many members in Somervell County and holds an annual fundraising event at MW Ranch, has been trying to get the extension approved by the Texas Legislature.

Somevell commissioners approved a similar resolution in 2008. However, because the makeup of the commissioners court has changed, Friends of the Brazos thought it prudent to ask the court to consider the resolution again as the group tries once more to get the designation approved by the legislature.

“This is a new court and as they’re approaching the legislature this year, a reinvigorated approach to this might be something they can take to the legislators to press forward,” County Judge Mike Ford said.

The Brazos flows through the county for about 26 miles.

People use the Brazos for recreation, such as swimming and canoeing. However, rock and materials quarrying and mining operations “historically have had detrimental effects on the Brazos River,” according to the language of the resolution.

“The potential of pollution from such mining and quarrying industries continue to threaten the Brazos River in Somervell County,” the resolution continued.

Friends of the Brazos, the Brazos River Conservation Coalition and concerned landowners and citizens several in 2005 spurred passage of Senate Bill 1354, which created the John Graves Scenic Riverway in Palo Pinto and Parker counties.

The Texas Legislature designated 115 miles of the Brazos as a scenic riverway and named it after Glen Rose resident John Graves, who is now 92 years old. His book Goodbye to a River chronicles a canoe trip Graves made in 1960 to see the Brazos before dams changed its character. It remains in print and is considered a Texas classic.

Friends of the Brazos said on its website that it “seeks to extend those gains by working with the Brazos River Authority and state agencies (TPWD, TRDB, TCEQ) in obtaining minimum instream flows to ensure a healthy and sound ecological environment for the Brazos River, especially upstream of Lake Whitney.”

The Senate bill set up a 20-year pilot program to help protect the Brazos watershed from  quarry activities. It requires the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Brazos River Authority to “coordinate efforts to protect the water quality” of the Brazos and to conduct visual inspections of the scenic riverway.

The program also sets rules for quarry operation and requires the TCEQ to take and test water samples at least twice a year and report those results to the legislature. Read last year’s report here:  John Graves Scenic Riverway ReportIM001253

As of last year seven monitoring stations had been sampled in the scenic riverway.

 

 

 

 

One Response to Commissioners reaffirm support for extending John Graves Scenic Riverway

  1. Warren Lewis Reply

    January 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Kathryn,
    That is great news. Thank you for covering the story.
    Much appreciated
    Warren

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