San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

DUANE TE GROTENHIS, a San Marcos resident and co-owner of TG Canoe & Kayaks, writes, “If Cape’s Dam is removed, the historical left channel and mill race will be paddled, fished, and enjoyed no more.” 



y wife Evelyn and I own and operate TG Canoes & Kayaks, probably the oldest outfitter selling and renting canoes and kayaks in the State of Texas.

We are in our 31st year of putting Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups, families, and individuals on the wonderful San Marcos River. TG Canoes and Kayaks also has a business concession with the city of San Marcos for put-ins and take-outs within the city limits. The left channel of Thompson’s Island is used for these purposes.

TG Canoes and Kayaks’ renters use the left channel, exclusively, to safely navigate and portage around Thompson’s Islands. We require our guests to use the left channel of Thompson’s Islands because it insures their safety while negotiating their way around the island. The left channel is slow moving, beautiful, peaceful, and safe for all our guests to paddle. TG Canoes and Kayaks puts 3,000 canoe and kayak renters down the left side of Thompson’s Island each year. Cape’s Dam makes this possible as it, alone, keeps both sides of the island’s river channels navigable and flowing.

The right channel does not offer a put-in or a take-out since the new concrete bridge was built a few years ago. Also, the new bridge is built low to the water so, during higher water levels, canoes and kayaks cannot go under it. There is not a place available to safely portage around the bridge. It is dangerous. The water in the right channel moves very quickly, in comparison to the river left channel, and has many turns. The right channel has more fallen trees, limbs, and obstacles. Blockage of the right channel poses a serious element of danger to those who do not have real good paddling skills. Scouts, church groups, and families normally do not have draw strokes, pry strokes, and the necessary paddling strokes to catch eddys at will and safely avoid the blockages. The right channel of Thompson’s Island is the only area in the first seven miles of the San Marcos River that consistently gives paddlers problems and, many times, more than they can handle.

The San Marcos River is the most paddled river in the State of Texas. It is used by most major universities, scouts, all sorts of groups, families, and individuals. It offers Texas river paddling at its finest.

Thompson’s Islands needs to be negotiated safely. Cape’s Dam is the reason the left channel flows, making safe passage around the island possible for all paddling recreationists. For the safety of our renters and many thousands of others who paddle the San Marcos River, it is our hope that Cape’s Dam is repaired and remains at the top of Thompson’s Island, allowing the left channel to continue to flow. If Cape’s Dam is removed, the historical left channel and mill race will be paddled, fished, and enjoyed no more.

All this information is to say, the decision on Cape’s Dam needs to include the safety of every San Marcos River paddler and the people that fish and use the left channel of the island. Anything less will end up in needless injuries and even loss of life.

San Marcos

The San Marcos Mercury welcomes original letters to the editor about issues of public interest. Send letters through our contact page or email them to Editor & Publisher Brad Rollins.

COVER: A canoeist and his young passenger on the San Marcos River in July 2014. FILE PHOTO by PATRICK LEWIS

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5 thoughts on “Letter: Why keep Cape’s Dam?

  1. So, is the writer saying that if the natural channel of the San Marcos river were restored, obstacles removed, & safe portage opportunities provided, the natural channel would be more viable for these activities tof occur?
    Many folks, including myself, kayak & tube the natural channel every day with no problems. No solution has been brought by the opposition against removing Cape’s Dam for making the dam safer, or brought actual proven data showing that a dam on the river is more ecologically beneficial than no dam.
    Also, *ensure.

  2. Seems to me that someone like Mr.Tegrotenhuis, who has 31 years of experience with all ages and skill levels and who knows the San Marcos river as well as he should, must have the expertise to advise on the matter. I’d listen to his concerns if I were making this decision.

  3. Unfortunately they did not even ask for his opinion. Dr. Hardy never involved them even though his report covered recreation. It’s very sad that a small percentage in habitat outweighs human safety

  4. Yet again Brian Olsen misrepresents the most recent of many studies, by many researchers, over many years. The city contracted the study to answer a specific question – to model the river at specific conditions. This was done, very well, and a report given to the city.

    It is NOT the researchers’ job to poll the community asking for opinions or input. It is the city’s task to weigh these concerns and make a decision. Brian Olson knows this full well,yet continues to try and drum up support for his vision NOT by calmly presenting and discussing, but instead by slandering and lying about the scientists, research, and groups that work hard to protect the river for everyone in San Marcos. It is a shame.

  5. If all the water is funneled to the main river channel, then the water will rise in this channel. People might not be able to go under Capes Road with as much head room as they have now. There were many people who were seriously injured by the low water bridge in Greune. Before they built a higher bridge there, someone was killed. You think you fix one problem – you create a new one. Or multiple problems. Hubris.

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