The U. S. Supreme Court stopped Lake Fastrill in its tracks Monday by denying Dallas’ appeal for the lake, Friends of the Neches River Co-chair Mike Banks said. This land, set to be placed across Anderson and Cherokee Counties, would have given Dallas a large reservoir for water supply.
Instead, it will now function as a wildlife refuge to benefit East Texans, Banks said.
“It’s been real exciting that this has finally been settled,” Banks said. “They’ve run out of appeals. This is it.”
Executive Director of the Texas Conservation Alliance Janice Bezanson said this gives East Texas residents a wonderful area for recreation and an incubator for wildlife.
“It stops a reservoir that wasn’t needed,” Bezanson said. “Dallas can get the water from existing reservoirs.”
Dallas First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers said the city of Dallas is disappointed in the decision.
“It’s a situation where the court gets thousands of requests a year and there’s no way they can hear them all,” Bowers said. The city will explore all its options.
He added Dallas will look into obtaining water from Oklahoma and Toledo Bend, as well as moving Fastrill south to smaller area and away from the wildlife refuge footprint.
“Water is going to become the new gold,” Bowers said. “Obtaining water is going to be more costly and difficult to obtain and will affect the growth of the state.”
Banks said there was a great deal of optimism for the court denying Dallas’ appeal by not hearing the case, something he said was a likely prospect. He added there will be 25,000 boundary acres with private land owners inside the refuge.
“It’s better this way,” Banks said. “If they had a reservoir they would take the land from the private owners through eminent domain and not pay a fair value for it.”
He said any land transfers between the wildlife refuge and land owners within the refuge will occur at each land owner’s behest.
In addition, Banks said the refuge will bring money to East Texas in spades.
“There will be a four to one ratio,” Banks said. “For every dollar that goes into the refuge four will go into our economy.”
Banks added the refuge will include such available activities as hunting, fishing, camping, kayaking, bird watching and more.
“All are an advantage of having a wildlife refuge,” he said.
Initial work should begin within the next few years and in the next two years residents and visitors will be able to walk in the refuge and experience parts of it, Banks said.
“This enhances an already bright future for East Texas,” he added.
Bezanson said she is delighted with the decision but also said it was ultimately up to the supreme court.
Fastrill reservoir plans ended
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