Skip Navigation to Content

Crisis in Texas Rivers

Texas Rivers Need Your Help!

[Picture of off-road vehicle shredding in the water]Sign the Petition!

In the past few years, Texas has seen a dramatic increase in the number of off-road vehicles being used capriciously in our rivers. You may have seen events like this when you've gone to the river. They've been spotted in many of our rivers including the ever popular Frio, Nueces, Guadalupe, Canadian, and Llano rivers as well as many creeks such as Spring Creek in the Houston area.

Because of this threat to Texas' rivers and watercourses, legislation has been introduced in the Texas Legislature to prevent this river destruction. House Bill 305 and Senate Bill 155 are the key to protecting our rivers from this assault.

Why This Bill?

Make no mistake. While the off-road vehicle groups are saying this is about river access, this is truly about the destruction of the rivers and the protection thereof. This is about the protection of limited natural resources owned by all Texans for future generations to come. In fact, we continue to promote access to the rivers for activities that are sustainable and will result in continued enjoyment by future generations.

Senate Bill 155 and House Bill 305 will simply ban motor vehicles from state streambeds with limited exceptions. Susan Combs, our Commissioner of Agriculture has been instrumental in their creation and most environmental and agriculture groups support them. However, ORV recreation groups with national affiliations are mounting a large campaign to defeat these bills "to navigate" (interpreted as drive) in Texas rivers. Please realize unless we are successful every streambed over 30 ft in width in Texas can be "wheeled". This amounts to over 1 million delicate riparian acres. We have read of ORV events that boast 3,000 participants in the Canadian River. There are events in the West that claim 50,000 participants on a holiday weekend. The situation on the Nueces and Llano can get much worse. We must stop this activity in our rivers this session!

More than 30 states already have laws on the books that prohibit this type of activity. Numerous citations of studies demonstrate that off-road vehicular activity is particularly destructive to natural settings of all types including river beds. And in one study, the results indicated that this usage will result in 90% or more of the vegetation being lost.

In Texas, there is currently no one in charge of enforcing the protection of our publicly-owned rivers and streams.This bill will put that caretaking into the hands of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the agency already tasked with the caretaking of public lands. Enforcement will be by any law enforcement agency.

Principles of HB 305 and SB 155

  • Provide for public safety
  • Protect fish, wildlife, water quality, and other natural resources
  • Protect public access points
  • Protect private property rights
  • Provide enforcement and fines

What Laws Currently Apply?

We're currently researching the details and will post it soon? But we'll keep you updated. From a Texas perspective, it's a grey area, and no one has been willing to assume the responsibility. This is why it's in the legislature right now.

Bill Endorsers

If you wish to endorse this bill or have been left off this list, please let us know!


Act Now!

[Sidebar Quotation]

"This is about river destruction and not about river access."

Larry McKinney
Texas Parks &
Wildlife Departmentt

[End Sidebar Quotation]


[Sidebar Quotation]

"Everyone has a right to enjoy the state Capitol's lawn in Austin, but no one has the right to drive their truck on this lawn and cut donuts on it." The cost of allowing such vehicular 'access' at treasured Texas sites - be they state monuments or rivers - is too great and must be restricted for the sake of future generations."

Susan Combs
Agricultural Commissioner

[End Sidebar Quotation]