WORD withdraws from gorge project

At a meeting on Tuesday, December 7, the Comal County Water Oriented Recreation District board voted to withdraw from a partnership with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority to develop the Canyon Lake spillway gorge.

Kay Cote, WORD public relations director, explained that the organization has numerous other projects that it is already committed to.

"The board re-evaluated our involvement and decided not to continue," said Cote. "We decided that our time, energies and monies would be better spent in other projects."

At a public meeting about the gorge project, held just a week before, National Park Service Community Planner, Steve Bonner, who had been facilitating the meeting, disagreed with a presentation made by George Cushanick of WORD and walked out of the meeting. Bonner stated that he felt WORD violated its commitment with NPS by presenting a drawing created without public input.

Cote explained that there were many factors that led to WORD's decision on Tuesday.

"GBRA regrets that WORD will not be participating in the project," said Judy Gardner, Manager of Communications and Education for GBRA. "However, we will continue to pursue the project and look forward to working with the Corps of Engineers, local officials and citizens in developing a plan that will protect this resource while also making it available to the public for educational and other uses."

GBRA plans to review the ideas gathered since the meetings, and develop a planning process that includes opportunities for public input between now and early January.

"After reviewing the materials that have been gathered and discussions with all participating individuals and organizations, a list of tasks and schedule will be developed," said Gardner. "This will include a date for submission of the proposal to the Corps."

Many members of the WORD board hold a special interest in the gorge project; it had been a topic at many of their general meetings.

"The Board believes the Gorge project is very important to Comal County and Texas as a geological, historical and recreational wonder," said Cote, "and hopes the development of a Gorge plan will continue with GBRA and the US Army Corps of Engineers with support from the community."

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