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n Saturday, Aug. 3, people gathered at the boat launch off Airport Road, between George West and celebrate The Mid Nueces Paddling Trail, the state’s newest officially recognized Texas Parks and Wildlife Department paddling trail.

The idea may have been suggested to her by local canoeing enthusiast Robert White, but Rena McWilliams’ efforts to promote and obtain official recognition for a paddling trail on the Nueces River in Live Oak County are worthy of our appreciation and support.

McWilliams, the director of the George West Chamber of Commerce, has been a driving force in helping to get approval and recognition for this paddling trail, which offers a chance to bolster tourism from outdoor enthusiasts coming to the area to enjoy the amenities.

Kayaking, canoeing and floating down Texas rivers is a popular pastime for many, although those who aren’t involved in this pursuit may not be aware of just how many enjoy this sport.

When many people think of floating a river, they often focus on inner tubes in places like New Braunfels, but paddling trails offer a completely different way to enjoy nature and see areas that aren’t often visible from the road.

When I worked as a public information officer for the Brazos River Authority in Central Texas, we often got calls from people wanting to enjoy recreation on the river. While many of those callers were from North Texas, there are some scenic places in South Texas that deserve attention, too.

Quite often when I am on Facebook, I see posts from Central Texas friends, acquaintances and former co-workers who enjoy traveling to the Corpus Christi and/or San Antonio area to enjoy all that those areas have to offer. If people enjoy canoeing and kayaking, another option they can enjoy is smack-dab in the middle of those two tourist meccas right here in Live Oak County.

On of the sites which we often told people to check out when they were interested in canoeing and kayaking on Texas rivers is the Southwest Paddler website which offers detailed descriptions of what people can expect when they are canoeing and kayaking.

Unfortunately, the website does not currently offer information on the Nueces in Live Oak County, but hopefully that will start to change as word gets out about our new paddling trail and also thanks to publicity from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We already can enjoy some great water recreation in our own backyard at locations such as Choke Canyon Reservoir and Lake Corpus Christi, so why not add the Mid Nueces to the mix, as well?

It’s certainly not too far for people to travel from San Antonio or even Austin to enjoy a new experience paddling the river, whether they combine that with other attractions in the region or just want to enjoy an outing on the river itself.

McWilliams, who has been the spark plug to get the paddling trail going in Live Oak County, also has talked with the leadership and members of the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce about the possibility of extending the trail even further.

Currently, the paddling trail stretches from a launch site at the Airport Road boat ramp to the Nueces River bridge at Highway 59  — a little over four miles. It’s a great start, but there is the potential of the trail to be longer and even more attractive to those canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts.

Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. A Texan since 1973, he has worked for Texas newspapers for 25 years.