INTERVIEWEE: Terry McIntire (TM)
INTERVIEWERS: David Todd (DT) and David Weisman (DW)
DATE: October 16, 2000
LOCATION: Paluxy, Texas
TRANSCRIBERS: Lacy Goldsmith and Robin Johnson
Please note that the recording includes roughly 60 seconds of color bars and sound tone for technical settings at the outset of the recordings. Boldfaced numbers mark the time codes for the VHS tape copy of the interview. “Misc.” refers to various off-camera conversation or background noise, unrelated to the interview.
DT: My name is David Todd. It’s October 16th, year 2000, and we’re near Glen Rose, Texas, in a small community called Paluxy. And we have the good fortune to be interviewing Terry McIntire, who’s part of a family that’s been in this area for many years and who has been involved in organizing the fight against a dam that was proposed to inundate this part of this stream. I wanted to thank you for joining us.
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TM: Thank you—thank you.
DT: I thought we might start by talking about your childhood and whether there might have been people or experiences that first introduced you to being outdoors and to conservation.
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TM: Well, sure. I sort of grew up outdoors. I—I grew up in a stone house built here in the 1860’s. A—a tributary stream of the Paluxy River was just a little ways behind my house and I spent hours at a time, I guess, days at a time walking up and down the river with my fishing pole with my dog, riding my bicycle on some of the old abandoned county roads, my BB gun, what—whatever you do as a child. My wife—she’d see old pictures and she says “Gosh, you were Huckleberry Finn when you were little.” And I sort of was, I had—you know, was outdoors almost all day long all the time. Used to—turning over rocks to—to this day, I can’t see a rock in the river without turning over it and looking under it to see what’s there. Just—it was a great childhood, great place to grow up.
DT: And were there relatives or friends that shared this interest with you?
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TM: Yeah, there were a lot of other relatives, course, being a rural area, there were a lot of hunters in the family and so they had that love of the—of the land a lot. But just a—appreciation in—in being good stewards to the land, I think, was important to a lot of folks. I remember my grandfather who died when I was eight years old but spending time with him going around on the family farm with him, sometimes horseback and sometimes on foot, but seeing how much he loved the land that he had. It was like his religious experience for him, I think, was getting on his horse every Sunday morning and riding the perimeter of his—his fourteen hundred acre farm here.
DT: And how could you tell that it meant so much to him? The things that he would say or things that he would do?
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TM: I—yeah, I don’t know, I was young when he died but you could—you could tell there was some love in the land there. And—and—and then the stories I’ve heard since then about he started out with really nothing being an orphan and surviving the—the great hurricane in Galveston and had come to this part of the world where some of the family was here and just accumulated all the old family property. And he just seemed to have a great appreciation of it. He worked with some of like soil conservation groups, that sort of thing.
DT: Maybe you can tell us a little bit about your land here that he enjoyed so much and that you’ve fought hard to protect—the Paluxy River Valley and the Paluxy River that flows through it.
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TM: Well, yeah, first let me start by my family’s been here since the 1850’s. My great, great, great grandfather, John Meek, was the original white settler in this area. The cabin that’s attributed to be built by him is still standing today, which we might see later. And every generation since here has been here. We—the family cemetery is on the property not far from where we’re sitting today. As—every generation of the family since then—my great, great, great grandfather’s tombstone is there and there was stories in the family about how much they spent on the tombstone way back when, simple tombstone by today’s standards, but they were poor folks spending a hundred dollars or so on a tombstone was a—it was a great investment. You know, it’s a nice part of the world. It’s almost like a little bit of hill country that’s isolated away from the true hill country of Texas around the Glen Rose area. You have the—the river running through limestone area—limestone hills. It’s just a beautiful area. The river is one of the last free flowing rivers in the State of Texas. But it was just—the river, to my family, is—is probably more like a member of the family almost—the river valley—it’s just there’s a real close attachment to the land that—these—I guess you see many times with—with old farm families that—that become so attached to the land that they’re working.
DT: And how would they have used the land in this area?
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TM: Well going back to my grandfather, seems like everything here he used. A—a lot of pecan orchard, native—native pecan trees and there’d be c—harvest of several thousand pounds of pecans every year. Beef cattle has always been a big industry here. There have been—on the family farm there’s been peanuts grown. My grandfather—use—he would—used to actually harvest the—the wild grapes and there’s—somewhere in the—one the family chest there’s some labels for the wine bottles that he—he used to do.
DT: Is this mustang grapes?
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TM: Yeah, indeed it is—yeah. I suspect it was not very good wine but nice family story anyway.
DT: Did they raise cotton?
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TM: They did raise cotton, yeah. In fact, a couple of times as a small child, before cotton pickers, I actually got to—to pick cotton on the family farm for—afternoons after school. Or—or hull peanuts when there was peanut farms and—yeah.
DT: And how did your family use the river?
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TM: The river has always been a s—a source of food for one thing. I mean, we’ve always fished a lot—or, used to fish a lot, more than we do now I suppose. It was a place for recreation too. We always come here to swim. It’s a good place to come on a hot summer afternoon. And that’s—yeah, my memory of the river as a child was either fishing or swimming primarily. I spent a lot of t—time doing both. Or just walking up and down the river seeing the wildlife.
DT: I understand that there was a proposal some years back to dam the river and flood some of these family lands. Can you tell about how you first heard of this proposal and what the proposal would have involved?
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TM: Yeah, the proposal was originally made, I believe, in 1981. And there was a—a mayor in Stephenville at the time, Mayor Cummings, he really pushed for the project. And I think he’s the one that probably got Somervell County involved, and this was about the same time that Somervell County was in the process of having a nuclear power plant built in the county. And Somervell County was to go from being one of the poorest counties in the state—tax based wise to one of the richest because of the nuclear power plant. So, all of a sudden, there was a lot of tax money to spend on—on some project. And the proposal originally was for water for—for municipal water supply for Glen Rose, Somervell County, and Stephenville. Granbury was in the project originally also. Granbury later dropped out of the—the project. They realized that they couldn’t legally be in the—in the river damming business. And then it continued primarily—primarily it was Somervell County doing the big push, although, a lot of the—the funding for the project came from—from Stephenville.
DT: And what sort of reaction did this cause in the family?
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TM: Well, whole family was obviously really upset. I mean, there was no—I—I guess there was never any indication we would not fight the project from day one as, you know, what can we do to stop this? We—we don’t want this. This is the family farms where our family’s always been. And we decided we’d—we attended a couple hearings about the project and then organized one Sunday afternoon, as I remember, under the tabernacle just up the hill from here and talked about it and decided to see what we could do. And I was living in a—in Austin at the time. And I called the Austin Chapter of the Sierra Club and asked if they could recommend someone that might help us with this. And they—they recommended Stuart Henry who was, at the time, the—the state—he’s sort of the state lobbyist for the Sierra Club. I don’t remember the exact title but that’s what he was doing at the time. And he came up and—and met—met with us and the family, and he—he still talks about how the first thing we took him to see was the family cemetery. He tells the story to this day but that was indeed one of the first things we saw, the family cemetery, and took him around to see the old structures and the river. And—and he met with all the old folks and now he’s been working for us now—gosh, it must be most of his career. It’s been almost 20 years.
DT: And what was the process that he has led you through? What were some of the flaws that he discovered with the proposal and what are some of the strategies he used to explain?
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TM: Well—well the major strategy—I guess (?) strategy this day was not to—not to wait for a—water rights to be granted. We were going to fight the project from the very beginning so that the—the powers that be trying to—to acquire water rights could never obtain water rights. And his idea was we would take potshots at them however we could. You know, if—every time they spent a hundred dollars, we could spend one dollar and, you know, do great damage to their cause. And—and that’s been fairly accurate. M—m—maybe we spent a little more than that but yeah, it’s been—been quite expensive battle.
DT: Could you talk about some of the drawbacks to the dam site that, I think, some people have talked about? The salinity of the water and the percolation problems?
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TM: Well, yeah, salinity may or may not be a problem. I don’t that you can—further from here—the Brazos River—would certainly be salinity problem. But the water’s—is pretty pure and fresh. It’s over an aquifer recharge area and so there’s—some people thought the river would just leak, the—just—the water would just go under ground as fast as you filled the reservoir up. And, I suppose, other reservoirs have been sealed. Is that a good—a good opposition to the river (?) project or not, I’m not sure. Yeah, maybe, maybe not but it was one of many. The area is also home to a—a couple of endangered species, Golden-Cheeked Warbler has habitat here, as does the Brazos water snake. There’s probably not any really old growth trees but there’s some pretty old junipers around some of the hillsides that would be inundated and then destroyed with the development if—if not that. T—it’s free and it’s—a free flowing river. It’s just—it’s just nice that some things be left alone. But we were joined early in the battle by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, their opposition being the damage it would do to Dinosaur Valley State Park and if you’re not familiar with Dinosaur Valley State Park, it’s a state park probably about seven or eight miles downstream from where we’re sitting right now that has around ninety exposed dinosaur tracks in the bed of the Paluxy River. And the park has a—a national natural landmark designation and the reason it has that is because of the nature of the river. The river floods every few years and it uncovers new dinosaur tracks and then some of the old ones erode away, and it floods again, and some new ones are exposed. And, because of that, it has the—the designation as a—a national natural landmark and it would lose that designation if the dam was built. The dam would virtually cut the flow of wa—water off through the park. It would go from an average of fourteen cubic feet per second down to two cubic feet per second. And that would be (?), and by the time you get to Glen Rose there’d be virtually no water running down the river any time.
DT: Do you think that by cutting off this water that would somehow harm the tracks, or just keep them from being exposed?
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TM: Well, it would certainly keep new ones from being exposed because there would be no more flooding. You’d have encroaching vegetation into this—river banks all the way down to the edge of the waters you have any—if you go look in any place below a dam, you see that where the vegetation encroaches all the way down to the water’s edge and there’s no—no flooding to get rid of the—the trash and extra vegetation in the river and keep the—the river running free and clean.
DT: I heard one of the other problems with the dinosaur tracks is that if the water flow was reduced then there’s a possibility that the tracks that were exposed would fracture with freezing. Is that worth saying?
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TM: That—that’s—yeah, I—and that is a problem I ha—to what degree, I’m not sure, but yeah, some of the tracks, if the water level was lower would freeze and the water actually covering the tra—tracks—if you’ve been there, some of the tracks are just under the surface of the water and if the tracks were exposed they would freeze and then disintegrate more rapidly.
DT: One of the other criticisms I heard of the dam proposal was that—and please correct me if I’m wrong—but I had heard that there are other sources that could be exploited without the…
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TM: Oh, certainly there are and I think probably the reason Granbury dropped out is Granbury discovered they could use a desalinization plant for the—on the Brazos River. They have the—the—the like Granbury, which is a—a very large lake and they—they have water source there that they could use probably as economically as they could pump water from here. There’s enough—studies have been done that there’s enough groundwater to last both Somervell County and Stephenville, Erath County well into the next century—next forty or fifty years easily. There’s other sources of water. There’s proposals. In fact, Somervell County may be actually building a small reservoir in a tributary stream because a small reservoir, which would provide surface water if, indeed, they decide to use surface water.
DT: What do you think was spurring the interest in building this dam then if there were alternatives that weren’t so damaging and costly?
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TM: A lot of it would be opinion from our group based on some—some fact and some speculation. But there’s—a lot of would be water hustlers, people that would like to see the river developed and have a—a nice recreation lake to profit from, sell lake lots whatever just like they’ve seen—I guess, they’ve seen Granbury do and—and Glen Rose has a little bit of envy, there’s a little bit of city rivalry there, I suppose. And if Granbury has a reservoir, we should have one too kind of attitude.
DT: Can you talk about some of the proponents for the dam and how they came to support it and what they might say when you contested the dam?
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TM: When you have a—a fight going on this long—going on twenty years now, you—you tend to outlive some of your opponents. And then some of the others are getting really old. But one of the original opp—proponents of the reservoir, which Mayor Cummings, who’d been professor at—taught in state college in Stephenville—and I think he genuinely thought there was a need for river. He had—he crossed the river one time when it—at flood stage, he saw this water going down stream—he grew up in West Texas where there’s very little water—and thought, hey, we should be doing something with this water. He thought he was—he thought he was doing the right thing. No studies done at that time to show how much water that actually—as far as groundwater and other supplies (?). But he really thought he was doing the right thing. I think the—the officials in—in Somervell County thought that this was more of a—a project both for the prestige and the—and possibly monetary benefit. The county judge—a Somervell County, Judge Crump, was a very big proponent of the project and just pushed for it and did everything he could. We—we would say by hook or crook—and we’d actually had campaign against him in one of the elections way back when. Our group printed up several hundred Dump Crump bumper stickers and passed out in—in order to try to get him defeated in the election. We were—he was eventually defeated although I don’t know if it was anything that we actually did. I guess we should take credit for it anyway. I mean, but he’s deceased now. That’s one opponent we’ve outlived. And he tried to influence the—the water commission.
DT: Can you explain what happened there in the—in the situation between Commissioner Romer and Frank Brooks, I believe?
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TM: Frank Booth—Frank Booth. Frank Booth was the attorney for the opposing side.
DT: And then Judge Crump?
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TM: And Judge Crump, yeah. Judge—we went through a—a hearing process when they finally got to the point of doing something about granting water rights. And the hearing process lasted several weeks. It cost thousands and thousands of dollars for us and, at the end of the hearing, there was a—a hearing examiner that had been appointed by the water commission. And he said, “Well, it’s—it—I guess it’s okay for you to build the project,” was basically what his decision was, “but I’m going to put these restrictions on it. You have to—you can only build a reservoir this size,” it was much smaller than they wanted. And—and it only pumped less water—I don’t remember the exact amounts. It was less water and smaller reservoir than—than was proposed. It would have made the—it would basically have made the reservoir unfeasible. They wouldn’t have built the reservoir under those conditions really. And I think the hearing examiner probably had done our side a favor by that, after listening—going through all the hearings. And that was—we were—we would have been happy if he’d said, “No water rights at all,” but we were happy with what he did. You know, it was, you know, it was a good consolation to us. But the other side wasn’t happy. Obviously they wanted a bigger reservoir, the maximum size they could build. And so what—what happened when—what we allege happened is they went behind closed doors to try to inf—influence the water commission, which like ex parte communication laws and tried to influence the water commission. And Judge Crump had offered to try to get Commissioner Ralph Roman(?) reappointed by the new Governor of Texas. And there were other things that happened, the—the law firm taking the water commissioners on a—a hunting excursions to Mexico and other things that may or may not have been completely related to this case. But—but basically it was going behind the scenes and trying to influence the other side. And—and getting caught at it. And the stor—story I’ve always heard—I don’t—I’ve never heard this
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verified for sure but it was that Frank Booth was bragging about what he’d done and what we—his guys had done in one of the local watering holes in—in Austin and was overheard by someone that—that knew our attorney. And that was how we first got wind of this. And then we took—we went to district court suing then and Judge Davis in—in Travis County District Court—and I purs—it seems like several years of delays. There were quite a few delays. And finally the trial ended, I believe, in 1990, and then, five years later, we got a decision from Judge Hayes. But it basically took it—granted no water rights and—and said, yes, they were guilty of illegal activities. And that sort of created the ground for us—created the premises for us to possibly sue for damages, and in doing that, we’ll collect, hopefully, r—collect all of our legal fees in—including the ones we haven’t quite paid yet and also have enough money in a fund to protect the river from this point forward. And that’s what we hope to do. And that’s what we’ve proposed to do. And that will happen sometime within—well the lawyers say within next few months, in the—in the next couple years, that would still—that’d still make everyone happy.
DT: Pending this settlement and getting these sanctions—how have you raised money to pay your legal bills and pay for your expert witnesses?
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TM: Well, started out, we just all chipped in out of our pockets. And we’re kind of a small group. We’re basically a—basically, three families that s—formed the core of the group, with a few other people occa—joining us for a while and then go—doing something else for a while and then going away and losing interest. But, for a while we paid out of our pockets. And it was—you know, originally our fees were thousands of dollars and then it was in tens of thousands of dollars and then it was hundreds of thousands of dollars and—and before it’s all over looks like our fees—you know, I hope they don’t hit major dollars, but, you know, at least hundreds of thousands. Let’s leave it at that. And the—our attorneys had been good about, you know, letting us pay what we could and—but, after a point, some of the people just became kind of tired of paying the money out of their pockets all the time. And we—it was a lot of money to pay for some of the—the older people probably contributed the most. And so we decided to try having fundraisers. And we started that about—I—I guess in the late—mid ‘80’s—no, it was the late ‘70’s, I guess, we started that to raise money by early ‘80’s. But, so many years have gone by, if this was—couldn’t be the ‘70’s, we started in ’81, so, it was about mid ‘80’s, I guess, we started doing fundraisers—fish fry fundraisers. And what we would do, we’d fry—fry—fry fish on the banks of the river one week out of the month, the fourth Saturday of the month from April to October, and—except when there—where there’s a chance of being cold or wet, we didn’t do it. We did it for about ten years and we—we kind of laugh about it. We said, “Maybe the good Lord didn’t want the reservoir either because we never got rained out in all those years.” I think we moved it to the tabernacle one time, ev—every other time it was outside. And it was—although it was a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun in which it—it—just enormously successful, other small groups have come to us and say, yeah—just amazed at what we did. But it was—it was a fun time for people. We would come out in the—and all the—the old folks would bring all their fish fryers. We’d line up probably around eight or ten fish fryers and—and
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someone—a couple of people would make giants vats of coleslaw, and these giant Dutch ovens full of pinto beans. And—and they’d bring, you know, maybe forty or fifty deserts. And we’d sit down at this table—we’d set up all these tables under pecan grove in a bend of the river, a—and we would s—we sent invitations to these people. I was—I sort of took care of the database for this whole thing. We invited people and—it was probably had a hundred people or so coming to the first ones. And I got everybody’s name that had came to the thing and printed up flyers to promote them and then, as I had names and addresses from checks or just mailing lists, whatever, I started mailing out postcards every month to every one that I knew that ever attended a fish fry would get a postcard one week before the event. And it turned out to be just enormously successful—it was marketing or just because people liked the fish fry, I don’t know. But it was—towards the end of the time we had fish fries, we actually had buses showing up. It would be a—like a church group would come from the Dallas-Fort Worth area with fifty people on it. You know, and they’d park a Greyhound bus there on the banks of the river. All the senior citizens would get off and everybody—by the time we started opening up the line for—for all the fish you can eat and—there might be a hundred people in line, you know. And we fed over five hundred people quite—quite a number of times. It was just—the kids—just people came and they’d sit on the river and they’d—they’d eat and they’d stay for a few hours. They’d stay and sit by the river and they’d—sometimes they’d just sit and talk until the sun went down. Some of the—my friends from the Sierra Club or other environmental groups might stay and camp the night. The kids would bring their footballs—their, you know, their baseballs and their fishing poles, whatever. It was just a—it was not quite a carnival atmosphere, but—but, not too far
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from it either. You had a—the people from curren—community would all pitch in to help. We’d—as I say, it was an enormous amount of work. We would—we’d haul these folding chairs and tables and things there, the s—the day we were having the fish fries and then, after it was all over that night, and we’d—we had lots of cars and spotlights. We’d load everything back up and—and leave it loaded on some trailers we kept just loaded it just seems like for the entire ten years. Well, supplies we’d take back and forth to set up on the river. But it was a—a—an enormously successful. People that—frequently asked me, “When are you going to start having the fish fries? You know, we really miss those fish fries.” And, say well you just don’t realize how much work that was. But it—it was great fun for everybody. My—my kids weren’t old enough to help and they think it was some of the best times they’ve had, “Well, why can’t we have the fish fries again?” My son thought about having a fish fry for his tenth birthday party, “I want to have a fish fry on the river,” and have a few hundred people again. But it—it was fun. And it was a—a—a sense of community. It—it brought people together probably—that got to know each other more from—from doing that, that would have never really known each other before. And that—in—in that respect, it was good for the community and good for the people that live here. Everybody met—knows your neighbors a little better than they would have otherwise. There was a few neighbors that were proponents to the reservoir and expected to profit from the river that never came to the fundraisers, of course, but those were a fairly small number of people.
DT: Did your introduction to environmental issues launch you on topics beyond Paluxy? Maybe things upstream? I think you mentioned something about the Erath County dairy farms.
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TM: Yeah it did, indeed. I guess my introduction to the Sierra Club was when we decided that we needed someone to—to f—help us with a fight in—with the river—and I contacted Sierra Club and I’d—was g—I couldn’t really call myself an environmentalist before that. I had conservation interests and—but hadn’t really pursued anything. Had been too busy with life, I suppose, as we—we are sometimes. But then, after becoming a member of the Sierra Club, which I joined at the same time that we—Stuart joined us, which was not—I’ve been a member of Sierra Club since 1981 and realized how many issues there were that were not getting the publicity they should and people weren’t knowing about. And it—and it’s kind of been my mission to talk to people about things, that I just meet in day-to-day life. And I—I work in outside sales. So, I come across a lot of people and I—it’s one of the common threads I look for with people I meet—the many people I meet on a daily basis is—is some environmental issue or something that they—we can relate to and no matter the politics, there’s almost—there’s almost always something—some issue that they—they feel near and dear to or there’s something that they—that they’re misinformed about more frequently. You know, that—there’s a party where someone was saying, “Well why is the rain forest burning anyway? Why don’t—why don’t, you know, why don’t we just put it out?” It’s just like some natural phenomenon and then to get, you know, what planet have you been on, you know? But, from there, I went on to become more active in Sierra Club. I was the chair of their Fort Worth Sierra Club for a couple of years back several years ago. And tried to steer the—the Sierra Club there toward some other issues. There was a—a serious project—serious problem upstream from here in—not only the upper reaches of the Paluxy river,
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but particularly the Bosque River and they’re both tributaries to the Brazos. With dairy farms that have come here from—from Colorado and Arizona, Southern California where the environmental laws are not as strict, and put these giant milk factories, basically, that have, you know, six thousand cows on a hundred acres, and there’s a serious water pollution problem and from Erath) County all the way to the Brazos River to—at least to Waco, probably further. And I got—not only did I get the Sierra Club involved with a couple of field trips there, I managed to get a freelance reporter with Dallas Morning News involved and they did a feature article with Dallas Life Magazine about the—the dairy farms and the impact they were having on the environment there with the—not only surface water pollution there, but ground—possible groundwater pollution where the nitrites were going up in groundwater there.
DT: Has there been much reaction from the legislature or from the Texas Resource Conversation Commission?
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TM: Not—you know, not very much. You know, the—the—in Texas the environmental laws aren’t very strong. You basically have a water commission, which is what we started out as and then later the Texas Department of Natural Resources is g—not exactly rubberstamped but they’re there to approve things. They’re not there to—to oppose things and I think our—our reservoir project here was one of the first things that was held up for so very long, it’s definitely precedent setting. And it’s opened up a lot of people’s eyes. We get calls from other groups that are—wanting to oppose reservoirs. Say, “Hey, we heard you guys did it. You know, what—what did you do? What sh—could we do this too?” People from, for instance, the group at Paradise, Texas, p—opposing a large reservoir for flood control on the Trinity River to keep Dallas-Fort Worth area from flooding but it would just be a giant mud flat, have come to us, and—and attended our fish fries even and they met us. And they talk, “Oh, yeah, maybe we should do something like this as well.” There’s a group in East Texas, I don’t remember the name of the river but it’s over in the Paris, Texas, area that have called us and—and asked what we did and who worked with us and we have put both of those groups in touch with people like the Sierra Club and also in touch with our attorney.
DT: Is there something you can point to that marked your success that you can try and pass on (?)?
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TM: Yes, it’s being persistent. You know, not—not—not just assuming that because something’s proposed, it’s going to be—it’s going to happen. You know, people say you can’t fight city hall but—can’t fight our government but you can. If it’s—if it’s on the wrong side you—you can, you should. You know, you’re not—you’re not stuck with something like this. I think our—our family—our group is—has pretty much proved that.
DT: I think one of the other long and hard fought fights in this area is the controversy over Comanche Peak.
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DT: Did you have much role in that or interest in that?
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TM: I had some interest but during a lot of the controversy time of year, I was busy with this project. I guess you have to pick your battles somewhat, and—and, yeah, I went to some of their meetings and—and—and helped with support. In fact, we had a—at one time we had a—a—a joint fundraiser with that group and we had this at Caravan of Dreams. It was a—a—an art auction and Larry McMurtry came and read a chapter out of Lonesome Dove to the group. It was—it was a fundraiser. It was well attended although I don’t remember us making very much money. But it was fun and we did that as a joint project with that group. And I—I think a lot of the—the folks in our group—some of them aren’t as much true contervis—conservationists who’s willing to protect their family property. So our group is not going too closely (?) with that, although some of them have them been. We have a—a photo of my—my father, who’s kind of gotten to be a conservationist. He’s in his 70’s now but he—he and one of the other old men from around here, a picture was taken standing in front of the power plant protesting, you know, why the power plant was here and—and how unsafe it might potentially be?
DT: And what were their criticism of the plant?
00:34:54 – 2108
TM: Well, I think the criticism here is, you know, the nuclear—the chance of a nuclear power leak but also anybody that opposed to it from our group—their primary concern was that the tax money was being misappropriated by the local government, that all of a sudden had this, went from very poor to very rich. And they were spending—you know, they were looking for projects to spend their money on instead of…
DT: I’ve heard that revenue bonds that were going to be used to pay for the Paluxy Dam were in part supported by the tax base of Comanche Peak, is that so?
00:35:28 – 2108
TM: Oh, indeed they were. Yeah, there was a water district formed for the purpose of—whether it could be there legally for that purpose, I don’t think it was ever established but it was established primarily to help pay for the—for the reservoir project. I think what would’ve happened, would have been another—Stephenville would have probably paid for the project and Somervell County had hoped to reimburse from this tax fund, I think, was what was proposed. Although, we weren’t privy to all those meetings, of course.
DT: We’ve talked a little bit about water supplies here at Paluxy and water pollution from some of the Erath County dairy farms and energy involving Comanche Peak. Among those or other issues, what do you think is going to be the great environmental challenges in the years to come?
00:36:23 – 2108
TM: You mean globally or local or the…
00:36:27 – 2108
TM: Well, yeah, I suppose water’s always going to be an issue—we’re in the midst of a—a huge drought now, so there’s—as—as long as we use water the way we do in this society, you know, water’s certainly going to become more and more of an issue. Energy will be, whether there’s going to be fossil fuel to fuel power plants. Who’s to say, at some point it has to give out, I guess, and so do we have to have things on nuclear energy? I—I don’t know, perhaps we do, but—but we need to make sure that they’re safe and—and done properly if that’s indeed the way we have to go. You know, I—I live in the—currently live in the Fort Worth-Dallas metroplex, which is now one of the most polluted cities in the country, I suppose, because of air pollution. If you pick up USA Today on any given day for the summer, there were two cities in the United States with unsafe air, they were Houston and Dallas. And that doesn’t speak well for what we’re doing as far as air pollution, you know, things like that. You know, the power plants and—that don’t meet standards in the Fort Worth-Dallas area to—to the cement kilns, which you know about, I think. And, you know, so many other things that are just, you know, the myriad of problems. Need more activists.
DT: If you were to speak to younger activists or people who might be recruited, what would you say to them? What kind of message would you want to give to future generations about conservation?
00:38:08 – 2108
TM: Well I think part of it’s got to be legacy. I mean, what, you know, if you don’t do something to oppose the problems we have today, I mean, what can you say to your grandchildren, you know? You know, why are we out of fossil fuel? Well we used it all in our SUVs back in the—in the ‘90’s and 2000’s. You know, sorry kids, you know, I—I don’t know. But, you know, legacy’s a big thing. You know, why—why do we have no water with no contaminants? Why is all our water polluted? Well we didn’t very good care of it back then, you know. Why—why is the brown haze worse every day over the city? Well, you know, one of our governors didn’t think air pollution was a high priority and—and we never did enough to—to pursue stopping the problem. I—I—I don’t know. It’s—a large part of it’s legacy. What—how do you want the future generations to live and how do they want their future generations to live?
DT: A question we often ask in closing is whether there’s a place that has meant a lot to you and that you might be able to describe to us as a part of nature that is particularly appealing?
00:39:23 – 2108
TM: Well, gosh, obviously the Paluxy River is—is important to me. It’s—it’s—and I—I grew up here. It’s just—it’s—it’s like a—we talk about defending the Paluxy River initially and it was almost as if it wasn’t a river or home, it was more like a family member and you—what do you do to save a family member? Well anything you can and that’s the—the—what we’ve done. In the background, you’re seeing the old gristmill that was built by—by some family members late 1800’s—1880’s. Things like this are important. It’s a place that was part of my playground when I was a kid. There’s a c—couple of old wooden bridges over the river, which are just near and dear to me. There’s a the little tributary stream, Pony Creek that runs into the Paluxy River behind the house where I grew up, used—used to spend hours, days, weeks, months there just walking up and down the river like I know—like I know the trees. You know, it’s the—and the animals I see here. There’s just, you know, just such a sense of—of belonging or a sense of knowing something so well. And I—I think that’s, you know, that—that’s basically it. There—there’s some near and dear things that I—as I grew up—at the old stone house, there’s an artesian—flowing artesian well behind the house. There used to be a few of those in this part of the country and I spent a lot of my childhood, you know, as a small child there playing in the water that was running out of the artesian well. It just—those kind of things are just really special—special memories to me.
DW: I was wondering about the piece of river that you see right here, how clean or dirty is it? If you wanted to put on your swimming trunks and flop around in there are you going to be getting nitrites or is this clean enough to use recreationally any more?
00:41:12 – 2108
TM: It’s still one of the cleanest rivers in the state. It’s still used that way. But it’s not as clean as it would be beca—primarily because of agricultural purposes. You know, there’s no good regulation on pesticides, fertilizers, animal waste, etc. It’s still a very clean river. I took a microbiology class in college where the professor actually lived on the Paluxy River and he told a story about in the—he was an old man, he taught the same microbiology class for years and years but he said he used to always come to the Paluxy River when he first taught his class and—and bring s—specimens from the river in to show water pollution and coliforms and water supplies. And somehow, in—in—around the 1940’s and 1950’s they disappeared. And he said, at that point, he said the water was probably as pristine and as pure as any water of any river outside of Alaska. His—his thinking on this was that houses and family farms went from having three rooms and a path—where you had outhouses and—and the farm yards built close to the river to three bedrooms and a bathroom or a bath. And that virtually at some point there became no known source of pollution for many years during that time before it became—the large dairy industry, things like that moved into the area. And we still—still eat the fish out of the river, still swim in the river, my kids still play in the river. It’s not as clean as it was but it’s still—it’s still very clean. And I think if we win our fight and have the money to help fight not only future damming of the river, I think we’ll probably pursue water quality as well, and I feel sure that we will.
DT: Thanks for your time.
00:43:08 – 2108
TM: Thank you—thank you.
End of reel 2108.
End of interview with Terry McIntire.