For decades, anglers have traveled from San Antonio, Austin, and Highland Lakes communities to go bank fishing just downstream from the Max Starcke Dam in Marble Falls. Now, the Lower Colorado River Authority has restricted access to the area because of safety concerns.
“The property immediately adjacent to Starcke Dam is a restricted area to protect public safety and the security of the dam,” LCRA Public Information Officer Clara Tuma said in an emailed statement to DailyTrib.com when asked why the area was closed. “Unscheduled water releases through hydroelectric generation can occur suddenly and without warning, putting anyone in the immediate area in grave danger.”
Previously, anglers would access the bank by walking down old trolley tracks built in the 1950s. The area, known by locals as “The Ramp,” runs alongside Cherie and Buddy Miller’s home.
The trolley was used by previous property owners as easy access to the riverbank. It was put out of service in 1982 when the property was purchased by Cherie’s late father, Charles G. Sivells, Buddy Miller said. The majority of the tracks are on the Miller’s property.
Unscheduled water releases from the dam can cause the area to unexpectedly fill up with water, creating a dangerous environment for anglers.
On March 4, officials from the LCRA visited the Millers to inform them that riverbank access would be restricted.
The river authority placed several clearly marked “stay out” signs that day, and, according to Tuma’s statement, intends to install a fence “over the coming months.” Anyone caught trespassing in the area is subject to a Class C misdemeanor as well as arrest if caught in the area again, Tuma said.
“People are welcome to continue to fish and enjoy the river from public areas further downstream or from private areas with the owner’s permission,” Tuma said.
Since then, several fishermen have visited The Ramp but were turned away. Because there’s no way to inform everyone of the change, the Millers expect visitors to continue to come by until word about the closure has spread, Buddy said.
“I understand that (the LCRA) have to keep people out of the channel, but part of the reason (Cherie’s) father bought (the property) was because he used to fish here,” Buddy said.