SABINE COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - As a whole, Toledo Bend, managed by Louisiana on one side and Texas on the other, provides recreational opportunities for anglers and their families nationwide.
But when it comes to hosting pro bass tournaments, Sabine County judge Daryl Melton knows Louisiana has an advantage over Texas. “I'm very envious actually," admitted the judge.
Louisiana, unlike Texas, has recreational sites on Toledo Bend capable of handling the big pro tournaments that stimulate the local economy.
“They turn tournaments away, so there’s a spot for everybody,” said the judge who has worked for years trying to get a development on Toledo’s Texas side for pro bass anglers
The Sabine River Authority manages about 600 miles of Texas shoreline at Toledo Bend. It’s testing the waters to build a marina and resort on over 400 acres within the Sabine National Forest.
“The tournament facility is the big-ticket item with a big pavilion, large open beach and dock facilities that we can hold big tournaments such as Bass Masters,” explained Sabine River Authority operational manager, Bill Hughes.
Phase 1 of the proposed $8 million El Camino Recreation Site would be built on about 110 acres down a forest service road off Highway 21, just west of the Pendleton Bridge.
Anglers are the draw, but facilities would serve families too.
“There will be RV camping, some picnic areas, day-use facilities, nature trails,” said Hughes.
A $2.5 million dollar improvement at Haley’s Ferry Recreation Site in Shelby County is also included in the proposal.
The two projects combined can lead to the expansion of existing businesses and the addition of others according to Texas Forest Country Partnership president Nancy Windham.
“Like hotels and restaurants and recreational.”
Stakeholders are asking for letters of response by June 17.
“We would like to have the marina/resort permit completed by the end of this year. And working with our partners of the U.S. Forest Service we think that’s likely,” explained Toledo Bend administrator Don Iles. “So, the earliest for construction we’re looking at the first of ’21.”
The Sabine River Authority has budgeted $25-million for economic development at five sites within the Sabine Basin. A testimony that tourism is considered an investment.
District forest rangers are accepting letters now. Again the deadline is June 17.
Letters can be mailed to:
Kimpton Cooper, District Ranger
Attn: SRA Marina and Resort Permit Project, Sabine National Forest
5050 Highway 21 East
Hemphill, TX 75948
E-mails can be forwarded to: