Texas rivers access is being blocked by private landowners erecting fences on public property to limit or block public access at county, state and federal highway bridges. This web page is dedicated to removing all illegal fences constructed by private landowners that block or limit public access in the rights-of-way alongside highway bridges where they cross rivers.
Specifically, landowners on both sides of the San Marcos River in Gonzales County, Texas have erected illegal barbed wire fences that effectively eliminate public access to the river at the US Highway 90A crossing. Federal and state laws prohibit such construction. Occasionally, an easement may be granted by the state for such fence construction, but the generally accepted uses are for conveyance of natural gas, oil and/or gasoline through pipelines, electric transmission lines and the infrastructure that supports them, as well as similar uses that are for the greater public good. The law does not allow fences to be constructed for the private, commercial interest of private landowners including those who own cattle grazing lands on both sides of a state or federal highway.
The Texas General Land Office has informed me that no easement for the fences at the US Highway 90A bridge in Gonzales County, where the highway crosses the San Marcos River, has been issued. Therefore, no other governmental agency has the right to permit such construction, and it is up to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to enforce the law protecting public rights of access alongside bridges on state and federal highways. It is also up to TxDOT to oversee the removal of illegal fences where they exist in the public right-of-way just as they would be required to do for a fence strung across the roadway itself.
People who canoe, kayak or raft the San Marcos River, or other Texas streams, should be particularly concerned over these illegal fences since our public access to rivers is already severely constrained by the vast amount of private land ownership along our rivers and the very limited amount of public access rights-of-way that we have available for getting to or from a river where we want to paddle. If you have an interest in access to Texas rivers for the recreational or commercial purposes of boating, fishing, swimming or other activities, then you need to become actively involved in this matter by contacting appropriate public officials whose agencies have jurisdiction over such matters.
Below are links to some of the statutes and rules regulating these issues:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Code
If A River Runs Through It, What Law Applies?
For maximum effectiveness interested parties should contact ALL of these elected and appointed representatives to call attention to this serious matter that requires broad participation from all levels of state and federal government. The names and addresses (to the right) for sending letters are: