Neches River paddling trail transformed - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Neches River paddling trail transformed

Richard Donovan Richard Donovan

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email   Photojournalist – Brad Hill | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Parts of it have become nature's dumping ground.

Fallen trees, brush, and other debris left over from hurricanes Rita and Ike are blocking parts of the Neches River.

Now the Texas Conservation Alliance is taking action, by calling in the pros to clear the river.

It takes hours of back-breaking labor to clear the fallen trees lining this lazy river.

"There's cold water, alligators. Everything is wet. It's muddy and you can slip or fall. Some places you are ankle deep, and some places it's over your head," said Shaun Elliott, who spent all morning clearing the debris.

For Elliott, the outcome is well worth the sweat equity earned on the job.

 "We're trying to make a canoe trail through here. The hurricanes have made it impassable by canoe or boat."

Finishing touches on what's been named the Davy Crockett paddling trail were made Tuesday.

Boaters can enjoy the roughly 27 mile trail stretching from Anderson Crossing to Highway 94.

"It's a place where you can take the family and get out and have a great outdoor experience," said Richard Donovan, the director of the Texas Conservation Alliance.

Donovan says the project is part of broader efforts to protect the river's rich bio diversity.

"There is no guarantee that this river will be here for their children and their children's children. if we don't speak up to protect it, I promise you that these people who want to make a lot of money off of it will damn it and pump the water away from here and diminish the flow of the river and virtually destroy it," he said.

Speaking up means supporting efforts to maintain river waters.

"It is our very soul in East Texas so if we don't preserve that we've lost who we are," said Donovan.

Their dream is for others to float down the Neches, creating memories of their own.

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