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2016-05-05

River cleanup this Saturday

By Robert Brischetto Special to the Courier

More than 200 people are expected to gather at Bandera City Park near the dam this Saturday for the 16th annual Medina River Cleanup in search of trash from the flood of last May.
A water level of 24.9 feet – almost 12 feet above flood stage of 13 feet – was reached on May 23, 2015. This level was next to the highest since gauges were put in place to measure the water level in 1983. The highest water level measured at that site by the United States Geological Survey was 38.9 feet during the flood of July 5, 2002.
But, residents who were here almost four decades ago remember the most devastating river flood when, in 1978, many homes and businesses were flooded in downtown Bandera. Debris from that flood is still being removed each year in the annual cleanup.
Since 1983, the USGS records show the river has exceeded the flood level 15 times, seven times more than seven feet above flood stage.
The Lake Medina Conservation Society initiated the Medina River Cleanup in 2001 to bring together various communities in the county to protect and preserve Bandera’s most valuable natural resource. In 2005, the Medina River Protection Fund was established as a 501(c)(3) public charity to raise funds to protect the river and ensure that each year there would be a community effort to clean the river.
Paddlers from throughout the state join with local and nearby residents in the annual cleanup event. The largest attendance was in 2010 when 250 people pitched in to clean up after an April 13 flood that exceeded the banks by five feet.
The North Prong of the Medina River begins in the springs of northwestern Bandera County and crosses the county diagonally until it reaches Medina Lake, then the water way continues past the Medina Dam southeastward finally joining the San Antonio River near the town of Von Ormy.
The cleanup effort covers the estimated 50 miles of river within Bandera County.
A frequent comment from members of canoe clubs throughout Texas has been that the Medina River, lined with giant cypress trees, is among the most beautiful rivers in the state – when it is not dry. There are parts of the river that flow underground and sections that go dry as evidenced by the four-year drought that ended last May.
On Saturday, May 7, the river should be running in all 12 sections. Section heads have been identified to protect the safety of paddlers and coordinate the shuttle in each section. They are posted along with maps of the river and information on the cleanup at www.MedinaRiver.net. A liability release form, also available on the website, must be signed by a parent or guardian for each person under 18 years. The cleanup begins with 9 am registration at the entrance to City Park near the dam.
A free barbecue for all participants will follow at 5 pm, with entertainment by Josh Peek from 5 pm to 7 pm.