13 Chapters
Medium 9781603442015

Falling in Love With Bottomlands Waters and Forests of East Texas

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

Janice Bezanson

I FELL in love with East Texas bottomland forests while trying to protect them. for most people it’s the other way around: they love them first, so they want to keep them from being cut down, paved over, turned into pasture, or flooded by reservoirs. But I got involved in conservation issues as an activist first. The late Ned fritz, legendary for recruiting people to do things they didn’t know they wanted to do, coaxed my husband and me into representing Texas Conservation Alliance, then called the Texas Committee on Natural Resources, in permit hearings against a proposed reservoir on Little Cypress Creek in the Cypress Creek Basin in northeast Texas. This boondoggle project wasn’t needed for water supply and would have flooded 14,000 acres of wonderful forest wildlife habitat.

A glance at history suggests that I’m not the only one who loves bottomlands. People have always lived close to rivers, seeking the basics of life—water, food, transportation, and shelter—from the river and the fertile land it nurtures. Rivers are the essence of the southeastern United States—land formed by the ebb and flow of ancient beaches and shaped by abundant rainfall, rivers, and the passage of time. Small ephemeral streams bubbling up from drift sands become creeks that converge and gather in ever-increasing volume. They become winding rivers that spill across wide floodplains and spawn diverse bottomland forests. These rivers and their “bottoms” capture the imagination of poets and musicians and the hearts of settlers who revel in their beauty and mystery and abundant life.

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Medium 9781603442015

Where the First Raindrop Falls

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

David K. Langford

BEFORE Lyndon B. Johnson was a politician, he was a child of the land. Growing up in the Texas Hill Country amid grazing sheep, cattle, and sparkling, clear springs, he inherently understood the relationship among sky, land, and water. Like most Texans, LBJ felt a strong kinship to the land because, since the days of the Republic, our lives and our livelihoods have been shaped by the diverse landscape that characterizes our home.

Although the former president was not part of my biological family, he was part of a large extended family of clannish, pioneering souls determined to eke a living from the Hill Country’s rock-strewn terrain. We were not kin by blood, but we were bound by shared experiences.

My biological family is like the ancient live oaks that dot the Texas Hill Country. For as long as there are memories, we have sunk our roots into the shallow soil and battled to survive in a place whose beauty belies its harshness.

Seven generations of my family have called Gillespie County and Kendall County home. From the beginning, my family has had a love affair, for lack of a better phrase, with water. The Hill Country can be unforgiving when you’re trying to coax a living from the soil. Water was the one thing that made the land hospitable—and offered the promise of a future.

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Medium 9781603442015

Springing to Life Keeping the Waters Flowing

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

Dianne Wassenich

SPRINGS seem miraculous to me. Water pouring from the ground! The sight of it reminds me of the nature books I read as a child, like Gene Stratton-Porter’s Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost and the fairy tales that told of spring water having magical properties.

Go stand on the lowest porch of the Texas Rivers Center in San Marcos and look at one of the springs that feed the San Marcos River flowing into Spring Lake. It is a strong flow, strong enough to ripple the surface in a rainy year when water is plentiful. But even in the dry years, when the sight may be different, I’m drawn again and again to this deep blue spring. I think of the countless people who have admired the flowing water at this spot, one of the oldest continually inhabited sites in North America.

Central Texas can be dry, with predictable droughtlike stretches in summer for at least a few hot months. Though the archeological records include longer and far worse drought periods, the local yardstick remains the great drought of the 1950s, when nearby Comal Springs stopped flowing and San Marcos Springs slowed to a trickle.

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The Bays and Estuaries of Texas An Ephemeral Treasure?

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

Ben F. Vaughan III

CHARLES KRUVAND’S coastal photographs in The Living Waters of Texas are works of art, but even they are inadequate to portray the riches all Texans have inherited through the public ownership of the bays and estuaries along our Texas coast. My fond hope here is to explain how the health of Texas bays and estuaries and their freshwater inflows are so precious to me, to the fifty thousand Texas members of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), and to everyone. So important indeed are these resources that we dedicate ourselves unstintingly to their continued maintenance and future enhancement.

Our interest and our dedication may have stemmed from our personal experiences. Perhaps it started with the toe in the water, a gull’s cry, a whelk’s moan, a perch’s nibble, or a chandelier-like spray before the bow of a boat running into a southeast breeze. Such indelible impressions are memory makers not easily forfeited to the political expediency demanded by the shortcomings of human imagination.

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Texas Water Politics Forty Years of Going with the Flow

Ken W Kramer Texas A&M University Press ePub

Ken Kramer

EVEN after forty years I can still visualize it. The “it” is the cover of the first issue of the biweekly Texas Observer I had ever seen. The year was 1969, and I had just embarked on my first graduate school experience—starting work on a master’s degree in political science at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches in East Texas. The professor in one of my classes had offered his students the opportunity to participate in a class subscription to the Observer, a liberal journal of opinion that provided exceptional coverage of Texas politics and government (and still does). Although I was a Republican at the time, I was extremely interested in politics, and, political philosophy aside, the Observer was touted as a good source of information about the state’s political comings and goings; so I signed up to receive one of the copies twice a month.

As it turns out, that was a momentous decision in my life—although not perhaps recognizable as such at the time. The first issue of the Observer I saw was devoted in its entirety to something called the “Texas Water Plan”—about which I knew nothing although I was already interested in environmental issues. The cover, which struck me so profoundly, showed a cartoon of several leading state officials, including then former governor John Connally and then governor Preston Smith, waterskiing or otherwise frolicking in or around some body of water. These folks were promoting this thing called the Texas Water Plan.

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