Groups working to protect the Neches - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Groups working to protect the Neches

Michael Banks is the Co-Chairman of Friends of the Neches River. Michael Banks is the Co-Chairman of Friends of the Neches River.
Janice Bezanson is the Executive Director of Texas Conservation Alliance. Janice Bezanson is the Executive Director of Texas Conservation Alliance.
ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) -

By Holley Nees - email

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE)- Michael Banks wants the river he kayaks protected. He's part of an organization working to get congress to authorize a study on the Neches River.

"You have unnecessary litter on the river and with more attention called to it then we would have better boat ramps, better trash pickup," said Banks, Co-Chairman Friends of the Neches River.

The study would take a few years and when it's completed, it could make a recommendation to designate the Neches River as a wild and scenic river.

"We're talking about a process where landowners, timber industry, tourism industry, people who recreate on the river, hunters, fisherman, everyone would be brought together to determine what's the best way to protect the river," said Executive Director of Texas Conservation Alliance Janice Bezanson.

If the river eventually gets the designation, they said it would protect more than just the river itself.

"It stops further damming of the river," explained Bezanson.  "There are already a couple of reservoirs on the river, but this would prevent there being additional ones."

"It would protect the private property of the private landowners along the river because they would not lose their land by condemnation to any future dams," said Banks.

A designation often means tourists that could boost the local economy.

"There's not much question that it would qualify as a wild and scenic river," said Bezanson.  "What this study will really be looking at more is does it fit with being a good way to protect the river for the local community."

Banks said although it may be a long time before Congress takes any action, it'll be a worthwhile wait.

"The wheels of bureaucracy do move slowly and so of course, it may take several years to have this designation to have this river protected, but if you don't do it, it's going to be lost forever," said Banks.

Banks said no new money would have to be appropriated by congress for the project.

He said the National Parks Service and the U.S. Forest Service already have money in the budget for program.

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