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Not So Fastrill

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There's news, sort of, in the case of The City of Dallas v. H. Dale Hall, et al, currently sitting in U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis' court -- and that news is that the case isn't expected to budge much till at least next spring at the absolute earliest. This is the ongoing battle over the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge, which would consist of some 25,281 acres along 38 miles of the Neches River in Anderson and Cherokee counties north of Lufkin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the establishment of the reserve on June 12, 2006 -- only, Dallas says its needs the Fastrill Reservoir on that very spot to meet future water demands.

The Lufkin Daily News does a nice job of summing up the battle -- refuge vs. reservoir, simple as that (more or less). The federal case file's grown substantially in recent months, with the Texas Water Development Board filing an amended complaint loaded with exhibits and affidavits just last Friday. The city and state, both of which want the reservoir, will have to file amended complaints as well, as Solis last month dismissed some of the city's complaints -- among them, according to court documents, its request to get extra documents from the Fish and Wildlife Service, which Dallas says didn't do enough long-range research before establishing the refuge. Says Janice Bezanson, executive director of Texas Conservation Alliance, "It will be next spring before we have a ruling on the primary issues in the suit." The wood duck, paddle fish and bald eagles can rest easy till then, if nothing else. --Robert Wilonsky

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