Denton Greenbelt Update

| October 20, 2021

Interview With Robbie Merritt & MY OPINION

Denton Greenbelt Debacle Update

My first meeting with TPWD’s new chief of operations at Lake Ray Roberts was another of those gut punches for those of us who used to love the fishing offered up by the Elm Fork of the Trinity River between Lake Ray Roberts and Lewisville Lake.

Robbie Merritt, TPWD’s new Park Superintendent, took valuable time out of his day to meet with me at his office inside the grounds of Isle duBois State Park. He gave me some background information that gave me no cause for optimism last Wednesday, October 13th.

Money has been allocated to “do a study” on the viability of even taking on the job of trying to clear the log jams of the Trinity River. He informed me that not only are the log jams a big problem, the silting in of that area (below 380) has also become a factor in whether the clearing will even be feasible. 

That’s because the widespread silting problem is not one that has any known solution. I can verify though, that the entire north end of Lewisville Lake (that reaches 380 and includes the Pecan Creek outlet) is an underwater desert now. I witnessed that earlier this year, and the underwater desert goes on for a number of square miles in that northern section of the lake. When I was observing that in real-time, it occurred to me this could be another water body that, like a private lake I am consulting on near Bowie, Texas, is suffering from the long-term effects the drought inflicted earlier in the last decade. Nevertheless, the silt just piles on another degree of difficulty to what is starting to look, to me, like an impossible situation. (One Question Though: Would clearing the river (of the log jams) increase the flow speed and push that silt drop further out into Lewisville Lake?)

There are immediate plans, and actions being taken on the Denton Greenbelt Corridor though. As you probably already figured out, none of these plans involve restoring the Trinity River to a recreational asset for citizens and visitors to enjoy.

Immediate plans include restoring the hike and horse paths where it is feasible, and creating some loops in those paths where the viability ends – turning folks back the way from which they came – when they become inoperable due to floods. What I did not realize is that much larger swaths of these paths have also been heavily damaged by the floods caused by water backing up-and-over locations like (just above) the Clear Creek confluence, and running off over these paths as the river tries to find its way. 

The restoration of the 380 Greenbelt Park is underway, but hitting the normal snags brought on by persistent flooding, the latest being the parking lot lighting that was fried by the water damage.

“Clearing the log jams, with a long term strategy to keep them cleared, is certainly still the long term goal for us and our partners.  However, that will take time to work through the assessment process, that the USACOE (Corps of Engineers) and City of Denton are working towards,” Robbie Merritt said in a recent email exchange to clarify my understanding.

“That area did flood a few times in the past, prior to the log jams, although the log jams and increased rainfall have certainly made that a much more common occurrence.  As we discussed, any time you build infrastructure along a river corridor, you do run the risk of flooding and it more than likely will flood again from time to time, even after we find a long term resolution to the log jam problem.  So, from a park management perspective, we’re simply trying to develop the best management strategy for the area so that we can provide the most recreational opportunity that we can, despite future flooding events,” Merritt said.

Denton Greenbelt Log Jam
This is the problem. You are the solution.


I came away from the meeting with Robbie Merritt TPWD Lake Ray Roberts Superintendent, confident that this environmental asset – Denton Trinity River Greenbelt – is on his radar. I am confident he will tackle any of the problems that are squarely within his jurisdiction. However, without the clarity of “Who’s on first?” overlapping jurisdictions and a lack of grass-roots pressure to solve the waterway problem? Deferring to other governmental agencies, by all the agencies involved? Think in terms of who has the deepest pockets, and I would say the State of Texas (TPWD) comes in second, with the malaise that is the City of Denton coming in a distant third.

All I can say is, “I have seen the promised land. I may not get there with you …” without persistent grass-roots-to-political pressure and demographic and economic research to back up the need for this waterway as a recreational outlet (and economic boom) for the Citizens of Denton County? What the “Fix Denton Greenbelt NOW!” community organization needs NOW? is a group of young, determined environmentally knowledgeable and active people to take this over the finish line. 

My time is limited, and at some point (sooner rather than later) it’s time for me to walk away – and stop the slow grinding of the government’s wheels over my brittle, aging bones. People on ALL governmental payrolls need to be inspired to do something to solve this problem. I know how to keep them at the job of solving the Denton Greenbelt debacle, remember I used to be in city government and know of what I speak, but there has to be a first push of that Sisyphean rock up this hill. The solution to the problem is the first problem, and once a solution that is found to be viable? Let’s stop all the “studies,” all the “research,” and all these things that perpetuate more of the same governmental paralysis, and get on with getting it done! 

Until the Denton Greenbelt Corridor waterway is cleared, the Denton Greenbelt is not “FIXED” by any stretching of the definition of the simplistic word fixed.

COMING SOON – Who’s Who? A Close Look at the Denton Greenbelt Coalition.

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Category: Causes, Denton Trinity River Greenbelt Corridor, Life Observed, Science and Environmental

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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