In the fall of 2010, Brownwood and Brown County leaders requested to the Office of the Governor that Brownwood no longer be classified as being in the Panhandle Plains Region. Leaders asked Rick Perry to move Brownwood to the Hill Country Region of Texas, hoping that the move would increase tourism in the area. Shortly after, in early 2011, the City of Brownwood and Brown County were relocated to the Hill Country Region. Since then, Brown County has been in the midst of a terrible drought, one that the area never saw while being in the panhandle.
Just ask area farmers how they feel about the move, John Gregs offered his thoughts, “If I’d known that moving the county was going to cause a significant reduction to the amount of rain we receive, I would have fought the move.” Similar feelings of anger have been felt all around the county, “I heard they left Coleman County in the Pandhandle Plains Region, I’m thinking of moving back that way so I can be where I belong,” stated area farmer and rancher Chris Ulze. “My crops just can’t grow with this little of rainfall.”
Things have been even worse at Lake Brownwood. Shortly after the move, Lake Brownwood hit record lows, dipping to 18 feet below spillway. Although the lake has recovered some, it is still 11 feet low, and it has not been at spillway level since 2002. According to state park camper Joey Withers, the move to the Hill Country region is to blame, “back when we were in the Panhandle Plains Region, it seemed the lake would get to spillway level every 4 or 5 years or so, sometimes more often than that.” Withers further explained his theory on the low lake levels, “you see, a lot of our runoff comes from Coleman and Callahan County, those two counties are still in the Panhandle Plains Region so I feel that the relocation of Brown County messed up the flow of water coming from those counties. That water must flow somewhere else now.”
Area leaders proclaim that they expected the opposite to happen when Brown County was relocated south, “I fully expected us to get more rain. When I go down around the New Braunfels area, I’m always in awe at how full and how clear the rivers are. I expected by now the bayou to be full to its banks and to be clear down to the bottom,” stated former Brown County leader Terry Hyms, who was one on board with the requests to relocate the county.
Looking at average rainfall amounts across the state, one would expect Brown County to receive more rainfall now that it has been moved in to the Hill Country, as the hill country traditionally receives more rainfall than the Panhandle Plains. Hyms summed it up best, “I just don’t understand what went wrong, maybe we tried too hard, whatever it is, I wish we could go back to the Panhandle Plains.”
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