Dear Mayor and City Council Members:
Thank you for listening to what is best for the San Marcos River, and moving the permitting process along to remove Cape’s Dam. There are serious public safety problems posed by the crumbling structure, and the sediment accumulating behind it is not good for the species that inhabit the river, nor for recreation. The computer model that the city commissioned by Dr. Hardy was important to determine what the shape and depth of the river channel would be after dam removal, and it is good that you are listening to him and many other scientists who have worked in the San Marcos River for decades. These include scientists at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center (Dr. Glenn Longley and Dr. Ben Schwartz).
The river in town has two dams and thus much lake-like water in it. The very short stretch of flowing river near Saltgrass is prized for recreation. We anticipate that the stretch of flowing river just below IH 35, once the dam is removed, will also be enjoyed for its flowing characteristics by all kinds of recreation. Not having to portage a crumbling and dangerous dam will be an immediate benefit to recreation and to public safety.
We look forward to the planning process for the parks around Thompson’s Island and Stokes Park, which we know will include much public input. We know there will be work to repair flood damage and configure the parks with good access points for all kinds of recreation including fishing, boating, and swimming. It will also be a great place for handicapped access points to be created since some of the banks are low at Stokes Park and Thompson’s Island in particular.
We believe you were particularly wise to wait on decisions re the use of the mill race until after the dam is removed. Much study will need to be done to understand if there are possible uses of the mill race for stormwater from the Blanco Garden neighborhood, and how much connection to the river the mill race has under Thompson’s Island, plus how to preserve historic aspects—before decisions are made on the mill race. It will also be important to wait to see how sediment moves downsteam from the piles accumulated behind the dam, and how the river channel will take a more natural shape.
SMRF was established over 30 years ago to protect public access, and preserve the natural beauty, purity and flow of the San Marcos River. Removing the dam is an important step to protecting the river, we believe, and making it a safe and fun place for recreation. We know that the science supports this removal, and it is viewed as so important that USFWS has offered to remove it for the city. Thank you for listening to this overwhelming evidence that removing the dam is good for fish and all the species in the river, as well as for recreational use.