Sunday, December 10, 2017

South Pool Brushfire at Twin Buttes

San Angelo Live reported:

Firefighters from four volunteer departments knocked down a brushfire along the equalization channel near the South pool of Twin Buttes Reservoir Sunday.  Volunteers firefighters at the scene said the fire burned about 30 acre.
How did they get access?  The City installed pipe rail years ago to minimize bad behavior at Twin Buttes. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fall Ushers in Changes

This past Friday and Saturday evening I rode God's breathe on the water.  I windsurfed the North Pool at Twin Buttes.  Friday I rode my Mistral Equipe courseboard powered by a 6.6 sq. meter sail.  Saturday I started on that but switched to a F2 higher volume shortboard with stronger gusts.  I zipped across the water on that rig. The water was warm enough to be comfortable waiting for gust to waterstart.

On Labor Day I paddle boarded from the temporary boat ramp at the North Pool to the Twin Buttes dam.  The water level was down about four feet from its peak earlier this year.  That drop is a foot shy of our annual evaporation toll.  Shorter days and cooler nights help keep water in the lake.

Before that I windsurfed the outer bands from Hurricane Harvey.   I was on a light air course board with a 6.6 sail.  The gusts would've been fun on a shortboard but the lulls taxing on my hands.  This aging thing is tough.

With the city using Lake Ivie and Hickory Aquifer for our daily water needs pressure is light on moving water out of Twin Buttes Reservoir.  The city released Twin Buttes water in the past to keep Lake Nasworthy at a safe level for boat races.  It also releases water to meet the needs of downstream water rights holders.

San Angelo's two-day Lucas Oil Fall Shootout event, originally scheduled for September 30 - October 1, was cancelled in mid July.  Lucas Oil decided to cut three events to ensure the viability of the race series.

The South Concho River, Spring Creek and Dove Creek keep flowing into Twin Buttes.  Our rains are a blessing in light of our longstanding blistering heat.  I pray for all God can grant us.  The water will be cooler when I get back out.  It should be invigorating.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Live Invites Public to Shoot Fireworks in County

Lt. Jason Huebner may have his hands full this July 4th holiday policing fireworks use at Twin Buttes Reservoir.  San Angelo Live steered citizens outside San Angelo city limits to shoot off fireworks.

The City's July 4th holiday press release is silent on the subject of fireworks.  Two years ago the city spoke clearly on this issue.   Last year Concho Valley Homepage did a story on legal fireworks use.

Those wanting to shoot off fireworks will go somewhere. It remains to be seen how the city's relative silence and Live's implying fireworks are OK at Twin Buttes will pan out.  Historically, it's been the annual trashing of Twin Buttes.

Hubener just led a successful trash pickup for both pools at Twin Buttes.  Let's hope we don't need Round 2 after celebrating our nation's birth.

Update 7-12-17:  Fox reported less trash at Twin Buttes than in prior years but their story reveals a different concern, people placing human waste in park trash receptacles.  Twin Buttes master plan meetings in 2012 indicated a need for public restrooms and the city received a TPWD grant for new restrooms and a boat ramp.  It only installed the boat ramp.  A public park should provide basics for a family to spend the day, much less camp (like the city recently invited the public to do so via a Standard Times insert.) 

Monday, June 26, 2017

July 4th Looms: Public Invited to Camp

The Standard Times recently published their annual San Angelo Living 2017 newspaper insert.  It had this to say about Twin Buttes Reservoir:

The City Park at Twin Buttes is located five miles west of San Angelo off of U.S. Highway 67.  Both primitive and RV camping sites with electrical hook-ups, water and chemical toilets, and boat launches.  Primarily large mouth and white bass are found in the lake.  
The City needs to offer a correction:  Only primitive camping is available at Twin Buttes, as there are no restrooms or electrical hookups.  They've been gone for decades.

How many people received the insert?  One website said the Sunday paper goes to 31,222 readers.  How many readers have RVs?

Texas Parks and Wildlife has a Twin Buttes Reservoir page.  It steers the public to camp at San Angelo State Park at Lake O. C. Fisher.

It will be interesting to see how citizens act at Twin Buttes over the July 4th holiday.  The City has been all over the place on fireworks at Twin Buttes.  It used to be the annual trashing of Twin Buttes, but recent efforts reduced or eliminated fireworks use.  That's the plan for 2017, low or no fireworks.

I hope to be on the water, windsurfing or standup paddling.  Stay safe and have fun this July 4th.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Twin Buttes Cleaned Up

I went to the South Pool for the first time in months to check out the Equalization channel and the condition of the dirt road, which can be in bad shape after a few rains.  On the way in I pulled over to let a truck pass and it was Lt. Jason Huebner with Texas Parks and Wildlife.  He said they just bladed the South Pool road and it's in good shape. 

Jason shared they just had a volunteer cleanup day for both the South and North Pools.   The picture below is from the dumpster at the South Pool:

It was comprised of volunteers from Twin Buttes user groups and Goodfellow Air Force Base.  The crew did a great job of gathering dumped trash.  Here's what they gathered at the North Pool:

The next big event is July 4th weekend.  Jason said fireworks won't be allowed this year at Twin Buttes.  We talked about the recent moves by the city to eliminate or reduce fireworks use and the corresponding trash.  Two years ago a SAPD officer parked at the Highway 67 entrance to Twin Buttes North Pool.  Whatever they paid him it was worth it.  Jason said TPWD planned to bring in extra officers for July 4th.

Lt. Huebner has a vision, enthusiasm and energy.  I see improvements and congratulate him and his team.  I did share several things about the South Pool.  Last summer it was full of pond weed.  I'd never seen that much in my years windsurfing there.  Also, to the left of the pipe rail that goes into the water there are three huge submerged rocks that cannot be seen.  The boulders are a safety hazard to boaters and swimmers.  The city put those in years ago when the water went down and pumps were a constant feature.  What made sense to the city then is now a safety hazard to South Pool users.

After my visit with Jason I loaded up my windsurfing gear and went to the North Pool.  I rigged a 6.6 sail and my Mistral Equipe course board.  I needed its daggerboard  to get upwind through a launch narrowed by brush.  Once out on the water the volume helped in the lulls and it was easier to get and stay upwind.  If the launch had been simpler I could have used my F2 130 liter shortboard.  Anyway, it was great to be out on the water powered by God's breath.  There's nothing like it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

San Angelo's Current Surface Water Supplies

The Water Advisory Board did not get an update on San Angelo's above ground water supplies in their last meeting.  The Board did not seem concerned about not getting an update from Water Chief Bill Riley.  They did take umbrage with not being notified of the $43 million Ford Ranch deal and having to learn about it in the newspaper.

This harkens back to the days of Water Czar Will Wilde when the Water Board was a rubber stamp.  The Water Board should know they are not alone.  City staff bypassed the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee on ordinance revisions for mandatory micro-chipping and which city staff can issue Animal Control citations.

San Angelo's water bills continue to become more expensive but it's not due to drought level markups.  I am grateful for the water sent our way and pray for more. 

Note:  This data is from 6-3-17, the day before thunderstorms blew through San Angelo.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Nasworthy Races Coming Soon

Lucas Oil's first boat race of the year at Lake Nasworthy is three weeks away.  I imagine the city will let water out of Twin Buttes Reservoir to raise Nasworthy's water levels for the race.  This is the first year Lucas Oil is exclusively promoting the event.  It's been a big regional draw the last few years. I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable event.

Rain in Watershed

Twin Buttes Reservoir declined slightly the last week.  There is potential for runoff today with area thunderstorms.  Pray for rain for crops, yards and area lakes.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Runoff Hits Area Lakes

Lakes O.H. Ivie and E.V. Spence have been the beneficiaries of recent rains.  Spence took on 5,000 acre feet:

Ivie is up 4,000 acre feet. 

With storms in the area how much runoff might area lakes receive?  I'm cheering for Twin Buttes to continue its multiyear rise.  That would be a blessing. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Water's Up: City Service is Not

For decades San Angelo City officials said they would maintain areas around Twin Buttes Reservoir "when the water came up."  It's up over twenty five feet and there is no evidence of city plans to make improvements.

The city will have saved nearly $1 million for 2016 and 2017 as the annual Bureau of Reclamation payment for dam construction ended in 2015.  The city put none of those savings into the park.

It did contract Twin Buttes security to Texas Parks and Wildlife via the Public Hunting Program.  Citizens have been told "the park is treated bad because it looks bad."  Actually, it is treated bad by irresponsible users dumping and conducting illegal activities.

Twin Buttes has many responsible users who pack out their trash and pick up dangerous items left by others.  I know because I've done it for decades as an avid windsurfer and paddle boarder.  Other responsible user groups recreate at Twin Buttes, bird watchers, hunters, fisherman, off road enthusiasts, boaters, jet skiers, kayakers, disc golfers and more.  .

The City adopted a Twin Buttes Reservoir Master Recreation Plan in 2013 and I don't think it's been dusted off since.  Parks Chief Carl White said the city has been "hands off" at Twin Buttes.  He made the statement years after the city adopted the Master Recreation plan.

I admire TPWD Lt. Jason Huebner's energy and vision for Twin Buttes.  I had it once.  Hopefully, the city will make promises they can keep to him.   When I go out there I see the water's up and the city hasn't done jack to maintain areas around Twin Buttes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Vandalized Trucks Dumped at Twin Buttes

San Angelo Live reported:

Two abandoned stolen trucks were recovered near the north side of the Equalization Chanel.  Both trucks’ interiors and exteriors were severely vandalized.
This is the no man's land the City of San Angelo allowed to exist for decades.   Texas Parks and Wildlife Officers have been contracted to reign in bad behavior at Twin Buttes Reservoir. I wish them luck.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

City Remains Hands Off on Twin Buttes Information

Having missed the public meeting on Twin Buttes Reservoir I was interested in viewing the slides from the three presenters, Lt. Jason Huebner of Texas Parks and Wildlife, a representative from the Bureau of Reclamation and a local off-road enthusiast who'd mapped the trails around the North Pool.  I assumed other citizens might want to view the presentations so I requested the city post the slides on its website.  City officials refused, saying they did not have access to the documents.

The City issued a press release on March 15th promoting the event.  It hosted the meeting in City Council Chambers, recorded the meeting on the city's audio-visual system.  The press release for the event said:

Twin Buttes is owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. That federal agency contracts with the City of San Angelo to manage the lake, which serves as a water source for San Angelo. The City last year contracted with Texas Parks & Wildlife to manage the public hunting program at Twin Buttes.
The meeting reiterated the City is responsible for lake maintenance and operations at Twin Buttes Reservoir.  So the responsible party who promoted, hosted and recorded the meeting does not have material on planned changes under its operational bailiwick?  The city has historical black marks in vendor management, so one might expect it to aspire to do better.  Not so.

the City does not have that main PowerPoint presentation, which was produced by and belong to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; Game Warden Lt. Jason Huebner.
Parks Chief Carl White confessed the City had been "hands off" at Twin Buttes for quite some time.  It remains that way on sharing basic information with members of the public who could not attend the Twin Buttes update last week. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Unbreaking Twin Buttes Reservoir

Last week's public meeting on Twin Buttes Reservoir provided a glimpse into changes since the city surprised citizens with a new annual permit arrangement just before Labor Day weekend.  The city subcontracted recreation and some security enforcement to Texas Parks and Wildlife's Public Hunting Program starting September 1, 2016.

Lt. Jason Huebner with Texas Parks and Wildlife shared the most information in the meeting.  Here are a few highlights:   

"The place looks bad so it's treated bad.  The idea here is to eventually get it cleaned up.  Hopefully we start to take care of it better once we see that."  

"There will be tension and conflict.  That's what happens when there's multi-use."

"I'm asking for your time, 10.5 hours per year.  I need user groups to adopt an area and we start to clean it up little by little." 
I assume clean up means improving behavior and the physical grounds, something I've long advocated and worked toward as a park user.

Citizens asked questions like:

1)  Will there be improvements at the park, covered picnic tables or restrooms?  There will not be restrooms or other improvements until things improve.  What happens when there are more trashcans?  They overflow and people dump.  With no restrooms "a good Huisache bush is what you've got."

2)  What about long term campers who appear to have limited resources trashing the place?  They contribute to the place looking broken and it doesn't take a genius to realize they are using the public huisache bush for toileting.  Camps must be clean and campers can only stay 14 days.

3)  What's the game plan for getting out information on efforts at Twin Buttes?   Parks and Wildlife does not want to do this.  It will be up to the city and local user groups to communicate with citizens to post information.

4)  What about signs for no dumping?  The "joke" in the city is those signs are used for target practice.  The warden wants to put signs all over.  It will take catching someone and publicizing their prosecution to change things.

5) Who should I call when I see someone dumping trash or driving drunk?  Answer:  Tom Green County Sheriff's Department as they have jurisdiction.  The City's Lake Police and Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens either don't have jurisdiction or may not be available.  Game wardens "are a limited resource" and "most of those people (bad actors) slip through the cracks."  If there was a TGC Sheriff's Department representative at the meeting they did not speak

6)  Where should I put large trash items (other people dumped) when I pick them up?  The city doesn't want to put around trash cans as they don't want to encourage dumping and/or empty them.  Parks Chief Carl White suggested citizens take a picture of the item, it's location and send it to the city.  They didn't specify who or how to contact.

7)  Fireworks are not allowed. 

8)  Mudding in the wetlands are not allowed.  Driving on a muddy road after a rain is not considered mudding.

I spent the late 1990's cleaning up the city maintained park on the north side of the North Pool.  The city did not care to build on this effort and it quickly returned to the wild west.  City staff promised more than once they would maintain the park once the water rose.  The lake rose and fell, rose and fell and the city's stance changed only briefly with the intervention of Ken McNease.  The City's convention center is named after Mr. McNease.

The City of San Angelo did not present at the recent Twin Buttes Reservoir meeting, although Parks Chief Carl White made several comments.  Thus citizens don't know the city's vision or the standards, however minimal, to which it will maintain the park area.

Six and a half years ago the city said it would do better to make Twin Buttes safe for users.  Six years ago it commissioned a Master Recreation Plan for Twin Buttes.  Four years ago it adopted the Master Recreation Plan.  Yet, last week's public meeting revealed boorish behaviors of illegal dumping, drug use, drunk driving and leaving dangerous trash continue at Twin Buttes.

The park looked much better when I moved here in 1994.  It had camping hookups, public restrooms and a marina.  Those are long gone.  The city broke the park by viewing it exclusively through a revenue/water source lens.

There is no evidence the city plans to repair it, even with nearly $500,000 freed up to spend on Twin Buttes.  The city made its last payment to the Bureau of Reclamation for the dam in 2015.  However, the City asked Texas Parks and Wildlife to spruce up the recreation side, something it refused to do for decades.

Lt. Huebner is motivated and has more resources, but he admits they are inadequate to turn the tide.  It's up to citizens to pack out our trash, donate time for cleanup and contact the correct authority when they see bad behavior.

But it's up to the city and the Bureau of Reclamation to repair the broken infrastructure from decades of inattention.  Shot up signs are a different form of broken window and no laughing matter.  Twin Buttes Reservoir is a significant water source, from which the city makes millions.  Unless the city and Bureau step up it will continue to look like a wide open restroom in the wild, wild west.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Public Meeting on Twin Buttes

The City of San Angelo is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the park on the north side of Twin Buttes North Pool.  Historically it's taken a "hand's off" approach to the park and all lands around Twin Buttes Reservoir.  That includes security and maintenance at Twin Buttes.

The city delegated management of lands for hunting, fishing and other recreational uses to Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife by participating in the public hunting program.  The city effectively subcontracted part of its responsibilities to TPWD.  This subcontractor led a public meeting the other night with other city, state and federal officials in attendance.   

San Angelo Live reported:

Lt. Game Warden Jason Huebner led the meeting last night in city council chambers at the San Angelo Convention center. 
The city stated it's role on their website:
Lake Operations is responsible for the maintenance on and around Lake Nasworthy and Twin Buttes Reservoir. This includes: repair and upkeep of City-owned boat docks and ramps, watering and mowing of park facilities, removal of dead or diseased trees and planting of new trees, repair and/or replacement of buoys, emptying more than 200 trash cans on a regular basis, and brush abatement.

To report vandalism, contact the San Angelo Police Department at 325-481-2750

To report illegal dumping, contact the Tom Green County Sheriff's Department. at 325-655-8111. A license plate is required.

Two years ago the city banned fireworks in the park but relaxed that in 2016.  The total fireworks ban is back and is now year around.

Despite getting a TPWD grant for new restrooms and boat ramp years ago, the city only installed the boat ramp.  There are no public restrooms in the park and none nearby.

The city has a public face for Twin Buttes and it's Game Warden Huebner.  He won't pick up trash and he can't arrest bad actors, especially with only two game wardens in Tom Green County.
The City never mobilized the will or resources to manage its contractual responsibilities at Twin Buttes Reservoir.  It entered into a contract with a group that may have the will but admits it doesn't have the resources. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

North Pool Up Ten Feet

What a difference a year makes.  The San Angelo forecast has high rain chances the next few days and the possibility of one to two inches of rain.  Such a blessing!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Twin Buttes New Year

I paddle boarded at the North Pool yesterday afternoon.  The banks of the Middle Concho are well under water in front of Diaper Beach.  There's brush and logs to avoid but it's wonderful seeing a wider expanse of water in the western portion of the North Pool.  The elevation as of 1-1-17 was 1904.63.  That's eight feet higher than January 1 of last year.  I am grateful for our blessings of rain and for the beauty of God's creation.