AUSTIN – A recent media release by the Preserve Lake Dunlap Association (PLDA) stated that stump removal was underway at Lake Dunlap with full approval and with permission from TPWD. This statement is inaccurate. TPWD staff did not approve or consult on this ongoing stump removal project and was unaware of these stump-removal efforts until obtaining the PLDA media release dated Wednesday, September 25, 2019.
TPWD does not have jurisdictional authority to make such an approval. Sole authority for this type of approval lies with the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA). The GBRA notified TPWD on September 26, 2019 that GBRA would be permitting the ongoing stump removal in order to document the removal and quantify damages and loss to structural fish habitats. Furthermore, a verbal commitment was provided by GBRA to replace structural fish habitat losses, authorized or unauthorized, that occur while the lake beds are exposed. TPWD staff prefers that structural habitats be left in place where practical. In some limited cases where stumps must be removed for public safety concerns, we will work with controlling authorities to help mitigate the loss of fish habitat.
Background information on the issue:
TPWD has a successful history of working cooperatively with reservoir controlling authorities throughout the state to preserve and enhance structural fish habitats, which are important in supporting valuable reservoir fisheries. During the drought of 2011, water levels were reduced in lakes throughout the state, resulting in structural habitats being dewatered and exposed, making them susceptible to cutting and removal by local groups. During 2011-2012, TPWD cooperated directly with the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority to assist in their development of a stump-removal policy and permitting process protective of structural fish habitats in the Guadalupe Valley Lakes, including Lake Dunlap.
Upon the failure of the flood gates at lakes Wood and Dunlap, and upon learning of the recent proposal by GBRA to conduct drawdowns of the remaining Guadalupe Valley Lakes, TPWD recommended efforts be taken by GBRA to preserve structural fish habitats exposed in the dry lake beds. Specifically, TPWD supported proactive education and outreach efforts by GBRA to local constituents to discourage and avoid cutting and removal of structural fish habitats from the lake beds, especially tree stumps. TPWD recommended that GBRA stump removal guidelines be a focal point within GBRA’s outreach efforts. TPWD also recommended that if any removal of structural fish habitats occurred, GBRA stump removal guidelines be observed.