By Jeff Osborne
LIVE OAK COUNTY – More than two dozen kayakers joined local residents and leaders of Live Oak County and George West in a celebration marking the state’s latest official paddling trail at the boat ramp at the end of Airport Road on Saturday, Aug. 3.
“This is an exciting day, and it’s an example of a win-win situation and partnership between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the local community,” said Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff.
“This trail is something that people will be able to enjoy for many years. It will provide enjoyment for urbanites seeking tranquility, and locals have it in our backyard.”
Huff thanked Rena McWilliams, director of the George West Chamber of Commerce, “for being so steadfast in the pursuit of this project.”
McWilliams worked behind the scenes for about a year to have TPWD recognize the 4.1 mile section of the Nueces River between the Airport Road boat ramp and the Highway 59 bridge as the Mid Nueces Paddling Trail.
She has also been working with representatives of Three Rivers to place an additional put-in and take-out spot in the Three Rivers area, which would widen the trail and attract even more canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts to Live Oak County.
George West Mayor Andy Garza welcomed those from near and far who had traveled to participate in the official unveiling of the paddling trail.
“You can rest assured that when you come to our beautiful town you’re going to experience the unanimity of our residents and businesses always eager to extend a heartfelt welcome to everyone,” Garza said. “No one is ever a stranger, that’s just our nature and why it’s so easy to call George West home.
“Our numerous churches, local groups, civic organizations and citizens always come together and support one another to promote positive community events and services — for example, this extraordinary paddling trail.”
Garza also thanked McWilliams for her role in promoting the trail.
“If it were not for the diligent efforts of Rena McWilliams and the George West Chamber of Commerce, this would not be possible. I know there are many others involved in making this possible and I would like to extend a special thanks to each and every one of you.
“Your visions, actions, ideals and principles establish a foundation that enriches our community and enables us to endure and grow and for that we thank you.”
Representing TPWD at the event was John Botros, TPWD biologist and River Access and Conservation Areas program coordinator.
He identified himself as a “member of the Texas Paddling Trails team, noting that the program had begun statewide in 2006 and has grown significantly since then.
“This program is wildly popular and very successful,” Botros said. “It helps promote river habitat conservation efforts and also economic development in the communities which have paddling trails.”
Water paddling sports have become even more popular in America than soccer, Botros said, adding that it involves paddling, angling and wildlife viewing.
“It’s great to get people out on the rivers, creeks, lakes and bays of our state,” he said. “We have over 600 miles of paddling trails and 138 access sites.”
The Mid Nueces Trail offers paddlers plenty to enjoy while partaking in the great outdoors, Botros said.
“This is a really nice float – there are lots of things to see, and the fishing is good as well,” he said. “This is a great trail — and I hope you enjoy it.”
Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. He can be reached at 361-786-3022 or email@example.com.