Local land owner calls for community support to ensure the protection of Kerrville’s river is not overlooked

May 6, 2018

Kerrville has been busy planning for the future of the river and town through their Kerrville 2050 committee. Many meetings have already been held to plan the next steps Kerrville will take for their resident’s future.

A topic of the meetings has been to develop the town to feature more of the river. However, it has been said by local resident, land owner, and entrepreneur, Barbara Burton, that one specific and extremely important factor is not being shown enough attention.

Burton owns one of the last riparian buffers in the city. She states that this is the largest natural water buffer in Kerrville, a wilderness in the middle of the city, and it is in danger of being developed on for the future growth of the community.

“(If the buffer is disturbed or developed on) we’re going to lose the river, lose the wildlife in and around it, and lose the integrity of the natural waterway itself. The river is dependent on the grasses and trees and so is the wildlife. The wildlife uses the buffer for hunting, birthing, and other things.”

“I’ve been a vocal environmental activist and have lived in Kerrville for 30 years. I have been fighting the city over the building of the river trail for 9 years. The city wanted to run the river trail right behind the homes on my property. Three years ago, they wanted to serve me with emanate domain and take my land to build the trail. After much effort on my end to prevent this from happening, we finally came to an agreement and the trail now cuts through the middle of my property. I am already seeing a big change for wildlife since the river trail construction began,” explains Burton.

She notes that before the construction started, you could hear an abundance of birds chirping. Now that they have begun building the river trail on her land, the birds have stopped chirping and the number of deer have diminished.

During the recent construction, a big, old, black walnut tree was dug up which has Burton worried about other trees in the area.

The land Burton owns is a heavily natural area and has a massive “granddaddy” cypress tree growing tall. Burton explains that the tree could be measured with 5 adults stretching their arms out around the tree. She tells KBN that she would be devastated if anyone were to dispose of the tree just for the reasoning of expanding the river trail or for any other future city plans.

Burton, also a member of the Kerrville 2050 subcommittee, has heavily advocated for the promise of preserving the riparian buffer. She aims to ensure the river, animals, and plant life remain in abundance in the city.

However, she feels as though her efforts are being overlooked by developers and other members involved in the planning. During the previous meetings, she says that the buffer was only mentioned once by the committee. She was told that it was too late for the subcommittee to make any further effort to protect the riparian buffer but it was not too late for the community to voice their concerns.

UGRA’s natural resources coordinator previously explained what a riparian buffer is. A riparian buffer is often described as the place where the land and water meet. Riparian areas also provide essential flood control by slowing rushing flood waters and providing a place for swollen rivers to expand outside of their banks.

They come in all shapes and sizes and can be as small as a foot or so wide like the steep bank of a small creek or hundreds of feet wide along lowland rivers. In general, a riparian buffer needs about 20 feet to provide stream shading benefits for the river around it.

Burton deeply hopes that the community will come together to stand up to the developers and demand a promise for the preservation of the river and the land and banks around it. She believes that our children’s future is at stake, as well as the river’s future if nobody shows support for the natural environment. The future of plants and animals that call the river, the banks and the buffer their home will be affected, also.

To voice your concerns about protecting the area’s natural river buffers, it is encouraged to immediately contact the city’s deputy city manager EA Hoppe by phone at 830-258-1110 or by email at EA.Hoppe@kerrvilletx.gov.

When contacting Hoppe, be sure to tell him of your support to preserve the Guadalupe River and the land surrounding it, specifically the remaining riparian buffers in the city.

The next Kerrville 2050 meeting will be held on Monday, May 7, 2018.

For more information about riparian buffers, you can reach out to the UGRA (Upper Guadalupe River Authority) at 830-896-5445.

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