Bird lovers irked by bayou canoe trail

April 7, 2009 8:00:28 AM PDT
A battle over a bird sanctuary is pitting preservationists against people who use Buffalo Bayou. It has people with the city parks department frustrated, as well. The fight is all over a canoe trail that cuts to the bayou off Memorial and Westcott. [PHOTO: Photos of Houston from the bayou]

Bird lover Kathleen Pellicer would rather not walk a new trail to Buffalo Bayou. She said, "Someone came in without authorization to cut this trail for a canoe drop-off."

Actually, she can't believe the bumpy canoe trail even exists, and it didn't until someone cut through the bird sanctuary a few days ago.

"This is not a good input place for canoes," Pellicer said.

Apparently the city parks department, which supports the idea of a canoe ramp, was also caught off guard.

"We're trying to find out who cut the path, but it's not there yet," said Houston Parks Director Joe Turner. "We don't know who cut the path."

But Turner wasn't blindsided. The Bayou Preservation Association has worked for several years to add additional canoe ramps to various points along Buffalo Bayou. Association board member Claire Caudill says a canoe trail at the bird sanctuary can benefit a lot of people.

She said, "It's really a very nature-loving group of people, and this is a very low impact way to enjoy the outdoors in the middle of the fourth largest city in the United States."

Caudill doesn't see why canoeists and bird lovers can't coexist. Sanctuary supporters agree. They just want canoeists to enjoy the sanctuary, as long as they launch their canoes somewhere else.

"This just doesn't seem to fit the whole idea of being out and enjoying nature," said bird lover Katy Emde. "This seems to be detrimental to nature."

For now, both the canoeists and the bird sanctuary supporters appear to be at a standstill. The city says it doesn't know who cut this new path, but even if they find out who did, that person likely won't face any sanctions. That's because city officials say they have already approved a path in the very same location. They just didn't expect it to happen for a few weeks.

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