A Visit to Peaceful, Clean County Parks Before the July 4th Parties Trash Them

 

San Angelo has a wonderful collection of parks and trails inside the city, but outside the city limits, there are even more you may not have heard of. Anticipating heavy use during the Fourth of July weekend of these parks, we wanted to show their beauty before the party, and post-party trash.

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Above: Old rock barbeque pits that need renovation at Spring Creek Park. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

Commissioner Bill Ford (Pct. 4) said an important focus of his since obtaining office has been rehabilitating and maintaining three county parks within his precinct.

Before the July 4 weekend starts, Ford gave us a tour. We started at Spring Creek, or Foster Park, southwest of San Angelo just off FM 2335.

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Above: Commissioner Bill Ford in his command center, a 2013 Ford F-150. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

This park was established during World War II, Ford said, using land given the county from the railroad. Not much has been constructed there since it was built. About all of the rock barbeque pits are dilapidated. The metal trashcans are rusting out.

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Above: Rusting trash cans at Spring Creek. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

The park is maintained, mowed and inviting to swimmers and campers year-round. Across Spring Creek, which flows into the north pool of the Twin Buttes Reservoir, the county has a cabin it rents out to overnight visitors. The natural beauty of the green grass along the banks of Spring Creek remains a sight to behold.

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Above: Swimming in Spring Creek. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

However, the county parks budget is tight. Ford said the county starts with giving all the parks just $10,000 per year for maintenance. Over the year, more money is found in grants, by using prisoner trustees to help clean the parks, and use fees.

To make more money for upkeep and upgrading the parks, Ford wants to add concessions and possibly a gated entrance where a small park fee can be charged for usage.

[[{"fid":"22328","view_mode":"preview","type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"A cool swimming hole at Mineral Wells Crossing. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)","title":"A cool swimming hole at Mineral Wells Crossing. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)","class":"media-element file-preview imgbody"}}]]
Above: A cool swimming hole at Mineral Wells Crossing. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

On the way to Christoval on U.S. 277, just before entering the small town, a turn west on Mineral Wells Rd. leads to a second county park Ford wanted to show us. This is Mineral Wells Crossing. There, along the eastern edge of the South Concho River, are picnic tables and easy access to swimming in the Concho. Ford said the dam there is from former landowners, and it makes a sizable swimming pool.

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Above: Looking south from the Mineral Wells Crossing. The water flows south to north in the S. Concho River here. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

The South Concho River is unique, Ford said, because it flows from south to north.

The next park on Ford’s list is Pugh River Park. Ford said the land for the park was given to the county by Mary Pugh in the early- to mid-20th century to settle a $2,100 tax lien on some land the family owned. Ford said he is not aware of any ancestors of the Pughs still around these parts.

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Above: Picnic tables that line the Concho River banks in Pugh Park south of Christoval. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

Pugh River Park features a long stretch of land adjacent to the South Concho River allowing easy swimming access to the water. There is also a new boat ramp Ford said he had built using a $250,000 grant from the state.

In the process of building the new boat ramp, rocks were positioned to block park patrons from parking their cars underneath the trees. The Oaks and Elms that line the Concho there have very shallow root systems. Heavy vehicles parking atop where the roots are packs the soil and eventually kills the trees, Ford said.

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Above: The rock barrier is in the foreground, and renovated baseball fields in the background, at Pugh park. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

Ford has not finished Pugh Park’s renovations. He wants to renovate the riverbank, build some cabins for rental, enhance the baseball fields and add parking. All it requires is a vision and desire.

With that being said, enjoy the county parks this weekend!

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Pugh River Park is where I used to go to pick up trash. It was always busy every time I went there, but folks tossed trash 25 feet from a garbage can. I stopped trying to clean it up when they fenced it off while they did some work nearby. It's not like I'm running for sainthood, I just never understood why it would be permissible to toss beer caps where kids were running barefoot. Sure, I sound like the grumpy old codger waving his cane in the air and raving...but the group I last saw were around 28 or so..surely they're aware that littering is not a good idea. $10,000 a year is in no way close to what's needed to care for these parks. But it would go a lot further if people recognized their value...and didn't trash them so badly. Wastes time, and resources. And if you can't walk 25 feet to use a trash can, we're screwed as a society anyway.

Wow, $250,000 you spent to redo the boat ramp. WHY!!! It's not Lake Nasworthy, nobody puts large gas guzzling boats in our small river, just small fishing boats, canoes & kayaks. What a waste of money Bill Ford. Now we got to wait till your vision and other people who never used our River in the past before we can freely enjoy it - your such a disappointment to the majority of the people that live in our beautiful town.

Oh we will see the aftemath of idiots and their July 4th poppers and such in these and other places, they must think the discarded fire works will just disovle away. Back in the day my family went out and did the poppers after we ran out of poppers ol dad would turn car lights on for kids to pack up trash. That what is called responsibilty and respect for country / enviroment. Not much of those kind of people in our country now.

Christoval's park was ruined for public access with Ford's "beautification" project. Now kids can't get to the bank from the water to safely get out except at the boat ramp (genius move, in a part of the country with an obesity epidemic) unless they want top risk breaking an ankle or neck climbing over jagged limestone rocks that will surely become cannonballs downstream during the next big flood. Idiotic on so many levels. Your tax dollars at work!

Erosion was a great excuse to put in the jagged rocks along the bank, yes. However, it also eliminates use by the public for what the park has been known for by generations. Problem solved, now that you can't safely access the water as an able bodied person. Now that there is no handicapped access, I'm wondering how they can get away with all these modifications and not include those as well since it's a county/public park.

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