Report on the San Marcos River Task Force

VII. TPWD Staff Summary

Clearly there is intensive recreational activity, sometimes illegal, in the study area, and the trend is for continued growth in recreational use. At present, the evidence does not show wildlife and water quality to be adversely affected by recreational activity. TPWD staff believes the main concerns are adequacy of local enforcement of existing laws (such as public intoxication, underage drinking, and trespass), and control over trash disposal and cleanup.

The tubing companies have only partially met their commitments to one another and legislators as to funding local law enforcement and trash control. The tubing companies’ compliance with their commitments is not subject to open records law or enforceable by the public or any governmental entity. There is no legal barrier to additional tubing companies going into business in this stretch of river, and such new entrants would have no obligation to provide for law enforcement or litter control. Enforceable agreements between the tubing companies and the affected counties have not been reached.

TPWD’s legal authority over the recreational use of the study area is limited to enforcement of existing laws. In the past, when faced with concerns over riverbed misuse in unincorporated areas, the Texas Legislature has responded in two different ways. In Local Government Code chapter 324, the Legislature created a Water-Oriented Recreation District, thereby delegating to a local regulatory body the authority to collect funds and to provide for local law enforcement, trash abatement, and public safety. In Texas Parks and Wildlife Code chapter 90, the Legislature banned (with some exceptions) recreational use of riverbeds by motor vehicles.