San Marcos park rangers enforcing new river rules on busy weekend

San Marcos park rangers increase patrol along river during busy holiday weekend. (KXAN photo)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – Memorial Day is historically one of the busiest days on the San Marcos River. In hopes of eliminating overcrowding at public parks, the City of San Marcos is implementing new rules which are being enforced for the first time over the Memorial Day Weekend.

The new park rules were approved by the city council May 2. The city says San Marcos Park Rangers, San Marcos Police and Marshals are all stepping up patrols for the holiday. Some of the new rules prohibit charcoal and wood grills, personal tables and limit propane grills and shelters to one each per city-installed fixed picnic table.

“We’re trying to give people space to enjoy the river,” San Marcos Parks Operation Manager Bert Stratemann told KXAN in February. “It would be a little more enjoyable if it wasn’t so crowded. We want to be able to get our safety personnel to the river. We want to be able to help and maintain and be able to clean up in the park.”

For those travelling in, the new rules came as a surprise. Johnny Aguilar and his family drove in from Houston with an ice chest full of chicken ready to grill. “Yeah, we got a lot of chicken and some red meat,” he said.

Within minutes of unpacking, a park ranger approached Aguilar and told him charcoal grills were no longer allowed. “I was sad for a few minutes. I was like oh, okay, they don’t do this anymore?” he said.

Aguilar says his family later went to the store to purchase a propane grill.

According to San Marcos Chief Park Ranger Scott Raven, rangers have been giving out verbal warnings all weekend.

“So far everybody has been really good about it; they’ve all packed up their stuff. We’ve had a few that said they would leave and go somewhere else and that’s okay too. If they don’t want to comply by our rules then they can leave and go find another place,” said Raven.

Chief Raven says the new rules have decreased the amount of medical calls regarding children stepping on hot coals and made the overall experience at the river more enjoyable for families.

“Before, we saw people with tents edge to edge along the river. We couldn’t access the river, no one else could and a lot of friction was there that other people were in other peoples space all the time,” said Raven.

Raven says no citations have been issued all weekend. However, there have been five arrests, all drug or alcohol related.

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