Here we go again
Almost exactly five years ago, I wrote a column that was very similar to what you are about to read now. It was on a subject that many had hoped would be dormant for a lot longer, but this past week it popped back up, so here we go again.
It seems the fine folks in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex just can’t seem to find their way to doing things as complicated as water conservation, so they are once again talking about digging a huge hole out in the Sulphur River bottoms to make a reservoir. They, and those who are partners with them here in our neck of the woods, want to dig this big hole so they can make sure they have enough water to fill up their pools and run their water sprinklers 24/7 365 and not have to worry if the tap is going to run dry.
The Sulphur River Basin Authority, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a press release last week stating that not only were they making plans for Marvin Nichols, they are also going to raise the water levels 6 to 7 feet out at Wright Patman, to also create more water for the thirsty land grabbers in Dallas. I wonder how many folks will lose their land in that six or seven feet?
Well, if you haven’t lived here long you might not know much about the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir.
This massive lake will flood thousands upon thousands of acres of timber land that is crucial to the economy of Northeast Texas. I don’t guess you see a lot of log trucks running up and down the roads around Dallas, but in these parts we all know that those trucks are providing a lot of jobs.
This hole in the ground that they want us to dig for them is about a 100 square mile behemoth that will put over 70,000 acres under water. It is proposed to stretch from a dam that is set to run alongside Hwy. 259 in Bowie County all that way back across the southern section of Red River County.
Those here that do want the lake built look at the possible chances for recreation and related industries to be the draw for its construction, and then there are those who simply say it will get built whether we want it or not. They are probably right on that last count.
By the way, for all of those who look to days in the sun out on a new lake, or maybe opening up a bait shop on its shores, we are talking about a lake that most likely wouldn’t get built until most of us are dead and gone, and also a lake that will most likely not have much use for recreational purposes. Mitigation will swallow up so much of the land around it, and the lake itself will be very shallow in most parts.
I have been covering this issue since all the way back when Dr. Jane Morris happened to be in a meeting where a lake was first talked about. Dr. Morris took some of the most comprehensive notes of a meeting I have ever seen and those notes became the foundation for the efforts to stand up to Dallas and the lawmakers and oppose the construction of the lake. I have also seen the research that shows that raising the levels of Wright Patman would eliminate the need for a new reservoir, and I still believe today that if land is going to be lost to raising Wright Patman, that should be where it stops. Nobody else should lose their lands, homesteads and history to a watering hole for Dallas.
For close to 20 years, I have sat in meetings and heard the people of Northeast Texas talk about the negative impacts of this proposed reservoir and heard the overwhelming majority of folks say they do not want it built.
Folks like Max and Shirley Shumake, who along with others like Dr. Jim Presley in Texarkana, formed the Sulphur Oversight Society and made it their mission to keep locals informed and fight the lake on every turn. They went to Dallas, they lobbied in Austin, and they have held their meetings at local churches and with civic groups. They talked to the media and they have been recognized on a national level for their efforts to protect the environment.
Most importantly to me, they did all of that not to garner attention or for monetary gain. No sir, they did it to protect their homelands. They did it to protect the bottoms and forests that they have called home since the days they opened their eyes, just like the generations of their family before them.I have no doubt that they will do the same again now.
This lake may get dug out of our Northeast Texas land one of these days and it may be true that it will happen if we want it or not, but that doesn’t mean we should just let it happen without saying a word.