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Rockport man fights to bring back ADA compliant kayak launch sites

No ADA compliant kayak launch sites in the area
Posted at 10:01 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 10:51:28-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you are someone who is disabled, there are no places around where it’s easy to get into the water in a kayak. There are no public ADA-compliant kayak launch sites in the Coastal Bend.

“You can’t roll a wheelchair down here, in the mud, get out, get in your kayak and take off. That just doesn’t happen,” Jim White of Rockport said.

White is abled bodied but is fighting for an amenity for disabled people. He explained how a launch site at Lighthouse Lakes along Route 361 is not suitable for disabled kayakers.

In 2017, an ADA compliant dock was put in the water in Lamar, allowing disabled people to easily get in and out of kayaks. Six weeks later Hurricane Harvey wiped it out.

White said he’s been fighting for five years trying to get it replaced. He's spoken to local and state politicians, and state agencies. He even asked if FEMA could help replace it since it was destroyed by Harvey, but was told it wouldn't be a priority to replace.

“We have some of the best kayaking water anywhere," he said. "And we need accessibility for the handicap guys, the Heroes on the Water, Wounded Warriors.”

The coastal bend has two Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) paddle trails. One on Mustang Island and one at Lighthouse Lakes. White said while fun, the one at Lighthouse Lakes is especially dangerous because to start the trail, you have to cross the Aransas Channel which draws a lot of boat traffic. At least one kayaker has been killed there.

“Somebody that wants to kayak by themselves, or with another guy, or another partner or something like that, they couldn’t do. There’s no place that I know of that they could do it on their own, without a lot of effort,” Joseph Briones said.

Briones is the chapter coordinator for Heroes on the Water. They host kayaking events for veterans with some being disabled.

“We physically carry them and put them on the kayak. And once they’re in that kayak they’re equal to everybody else on the water," Briones said.

Briones is also a part of a TPWD ADA council in Austin, TX. He said there have been no talks to bring ADA-compliant launch sites here.

He recently joined a new group out of Flour Bluff that plans to look for ways to bring more kayak launch sites to the area.

“You’re going to have to build something where a boat ramp already exists," he said. "We have our adventures all over the bay and I have yet to see anything that's been built.”

Over 300 veterans and their families have taken part of Heroes on the Water. Their next event is on Oct. 15.

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