Last Updated on February 1, 2024
This series provides readers the opportunity to learn about the unique insight and experiences of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) Board of Directors and their personal connection to the San Antonio River in hopes of inspiring stewardship of area creeks and rivers.
Gaylon Oehlke was born and raised in Goliad County, where he attended Goliad High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University in 1972. During this time, Oehlke was a member of the Texas National Guard. Oehlke retired in March 2004 as president of the Kenedy and Robstown credit offices for Capital Farm Credit, ACA, after 32 years of service. He has been a board member at the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) since 2003, and his current term expires in 2025.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS AND TOP PRIORITIES AS A BOARD MEMBER IN 2024?
One of my top priorities for the coming year is completing Phase II of the Escondido Creek Parkway project. This exciting initiative will extend the scenic hiking and biking trails along Escondido Creek and connect them to the heart of downtown Kenedy. After several years of planning and coordination, it will be incredibly fulfilling to see this ambitious project brought to life.
Gaylon with his wife and Trip Ruckman, a fellow Karnes County River Authority Board Member, at Escondido Creek Parkway.
The new trails will provide additional miles of pathways for outdoor recreation and exercise. They will also help protect wildlife habitats along the creek by preserving green space. Most importantly, the parkway will improve the quality of life for Karnes County residents by creating a beautiful nature escape right in their backyard. I can’t wait to see locals and visitors enjoying the trails when we complete Phase II. It will be a significant accomplishment for our community and the River Authority.
WHAT NEW RIVER AUTHORITY INITIATIVES WOULD YOU LIKE TO HIGHLIGHT IN KARNES COUNTY?
Before the creation of the Escondido Creek Parkway, Karnes County did not have a park established by the River Authority within the area, making that project the motivator to develop and complete the Escondido Creek Parkway a main priority. With the Escondido Creek Parkway established, I’d like to highlight potential new River Authority initiatives in Karnes County. A project discussed in the past was the potential of developing a paddling trail along the San Antonio River in Karnes County. Currently, there are San Antonio River paddling trails in Goliad and Wilson counties and along the Mission Reach in San Antonio. These paddling trails promote outdoor recreation and allow people to experience these waterways up close. Connecting a paddling trail along the entire San Antonio River would be an ambitious and relatively long-term initiative.
Paddlers tackle the 29-mile SASPAMCO Paddling Trail in Wilson County.
DESCRIBE ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE MEMORIES RELATED TO THE RIVER.
I fondly recall my time serving as Board Chairman during the construction of San Antonio’s acclaimed Mission Reach project. It was incredibly rewarding to play an integral role in such a transformative initiative for the city. I vividly remember addressing large crowds at grand opening celebrations for new sections of the lush hiking and biking trails system. I pridefully spoke about the River Authority’s work to create a spectacular linear park system with wide pathways, historic portals connecting to missions, and other amenities. Driving home to Karnes County after those events, I often wondered – could we pursue a similar project locally? That spark of inspiration ultimately led to our Escondido Creek Parkway initiative years later. The Mission Reach project demonstrated what was possible and laid the groundwork for creating an exceptional recreation destination in my community. I’m proud to have been part of both signature achievements.
Mission Reach of the San Antonio River Walk